Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

The Relationship between Readiness to Change and Work Engagement: A Case Study in an Accounting Firm Undergoing Change

Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

The Relationship between Readiness to Change and Work Engagement: A Case Study in an Accounting Firm Undergoing Change

Article excerpt



In times when change is the rule rather than the exception, the ability of organisations to be flexible has become paramount (Bouckenooghe, De Vos & Van den Broeck, 2009). Readiness to change is essential for a change to be implemented successfully (Bouckenooghe et al., 2009). When readiness exists, the organisation is primed to embrace change and resistance could be reduced. When the converse is true, the change may be rejected. Work engagement is viewed as a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to the organisation’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success and simultaneously to enhance their own sense of well-being (McLeod & Clark, 2009). Mangundjaya (2012) believes that high work engagement encourages readiness to change. With this in mind, the purpose of this study is to determine the relationship between readiness to change and work engagement.

Literature review

Readiness to change is a critical element for the successful implementation of organisational change (Weiner, 2009), and work engagement is an important driver for organisational success (Lockwood, 2007). It is important that organisations sustain work engagement during organisational changes. Both readiness to change and work engagement are important aspects of a successful organisation. An introduction to the literature review will be discussed in the following section and should provide a better understanding regarding the concepts under scrutiny.

Conceptual literature

Readiness to change

Readiness to change takes its roots in early research on organisational change (Walinga, 2008). The greatest challenge lies with the common assumption in organisational change literature that employees need to ‘be made ready’ for organisational change (Armenakis & Harris, 2002). Walinga (2008) explains that facilitating employee readiness to change entails exploring how leaders can ‘get ready’ to ‘get employees ready’ for change. Readiness to change emerged as one of the core attitudes affecting success and failure of change interventions (Zayim, 2010). According to Weiner (2009), it involves employees’ beliefs in their potential and efficacy for the change efforts.

Readiness to change is conceived as a multifaceted concept that comprises an emotional dimension, a cognitive dimension and an intentional dimension of change (Bouckenooghe et al., 2009). Intentional readiness to change refers to the extent to which employees are willing to put their energy into the change process (Oreg, 2003). Cognitive readiness to change refers to the beliefs and thoughts that people hold about change (Oreg, 2003). According to Bouckenooghe and De Vos (2007), the cognitive component refers to what people think about change. Emotional readiness to change refers to the affective reactions towards change (Oreg, 2003). Resistance is associated with fear of the unknown. Therefore, emotional readiness is fuelled by cognitive readiness. It is believed that intentional, cognitive and emotional reactions towards change transpire at different stages in the change process and do not necessarily coincide (Bouckenooghe et al., 2009). Although this three-dimensional framework is useful in handling different aspects of change-related attitudes of individuals, they are also dependent on each other in the way that feelings regarding change are generally associated with the thoughts and behavioural intentions about the change (Oreg, 2003). As a result, in this study, this three-dimensional framework was adopted and investigated to better comprehend readiness to change.

Work engagement

Work engagement is defined as ‘a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterised by vigour, dedication and absorption’ (Schaufeli, Salanova, Gonzalez-Romá & Bakker, 2002 , p. 74). Vigour is portrayed by high levels of energy, mental resilience, willingness to invest effort, as well as persistence (Schaufeli et al. …

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