Tuning in to Employees' Experiences of Ongoing Change: An Investigation of Employees' Tri-Dimensional Attitudes to Change and Work-Related Outcomes

Wang, Xinyue
Cooper Thomas, Helena
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Master of Business
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Auckland University of Technology

Turbulence and uncertainty are the signatures of today’s dynamic business environment. Extensive research has focussed on employees’ reactions to planned change contexts (Bouckenooghe, 2010; Oreg et al., 2011). Nevertheless, studying employees’ reactions to planned change in isolation to normal circumstances does not approximate employees’ experiences of ongoing and pervasive change as part of their work life (Brazzale et al., 2020; Kiefer, 2005; Loretto et al., 2010; Tsoukas & Chia, 2002). The overarching goal of this study is to obtain a richer understanding of employees’ experiences of ongoing change. To achieve this, I draw on Piderit’s (2000) tri-dimensional model to conceptualise employees’ attitudes to change (affect, thoughts, and behavioural intents) in order to differentially predict two work-related outcomes, namely job satisfaction and organisational citizenship behaviours directed to the organisation (OCBO). To understand these relationships further, I incorporate a trait component, that is, to explore whether employees’ openness to experience (OE) influences the effect of employees’ attitudes to change on work-related outcomes.

Hypotheses were tested using data from an online survey collected through a third-party platform, Prolific. The sample comprised 834 participants from the United States, aged 18 or over who were currently working at least 20 hours per week and were experiencing change(s) at work. The findings show that employees’ attitudes to ongoing change are significantly correlated with their job satisfaction and OCBO. Specifically, the multiple regression analyses uncovered unique direct relationships: (a) employees’ affective and cognitive attitudes to ongoing change positively predict job satisfaction; (b) employees’ cognitive and behavioural attitudes to ongoing change positively predict OCBO. Surprisingly, the confirmatory factor analyses revealed that OE emerged as two distinct facets of Openness_creativity and Openness_intellect, hence, the moderation effects were assessed for each of these. In contrast to predictions, no significant moderation effects were observed for either facet of OE. Additionally, the Openness_creativity facet showed a direct positive relationship with both work-related outcomes; job satisfaction and OCBO. However, these associations are relatively small compared to the direct effects of attitudes to ongoing change when predicting employees’ work-related outcomes.

During this dynamic era, this study sheds light on employees’ experiences of ongoing change that they encounter as part of contemporary work life. The findings highlight the importance of investigating employees’ attitudes to ongoing change in relation to the broader context of workplace outcomes. Moreover, employees’ attitudes to change are much more complex than assumed by uni-dimensional constructs. The tri-dimensional framework is a fruitful starting point for future research to further investigate employees’ attitudes to ongoing change and explore the unique relationships between the attitude components and different types of work-related outcomes. Implications for researchers and practitioners are discussed.

Organisational change , Ongoing change , Attitudes to change , Micro-level perspective , Employees' experiences of change at work
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