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Change ubiquity: employee perceptions of change prevalence from three countries

Paulette L. Brazzale (Management, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
Helena D. Cooper–Thomas (Management, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
Jarrod Haar (Management, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)
Roy K. Smollan (Management, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 9 March 2021

Issue publication date: 29 March 2022

445

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to address assumptions about the prevalence of change in human resource management (HRM) and organizational change literature, providing evidence from employee perceptions across three countries. The results indicate change was commonplace even before the pandemic disruptions of 2020.

Design/methodology/approach

Given this study's exploratory, employee perspective, a cross-sectional self-report survey was used. Three survey panel samples were collected in 2017: US (n = 718), Australia (n = 501) and New Zealand (n = 516). Analysis of variance was used to test whether the prevalence of change differed significantly between countries or specific groups of employees. An analysis of comments on change types and emotional response provides further insights.

Findings

The paper provides evidence of the ubiquity of change: 73% of employees are experiencing change at work and 42% perceived it as moderate to massive, with little variation between countries. Employees commonly experience more than one change, with those experiencing large amounts of change reporting predominantly negative emotional impacts.

Research limitations/implications

The research provides a snapshot across three countries during a prosperous and relatively stable period, providing a point of comparison for the turbulent times we have faced in 2020. Since change can be arduous, the authors recommend that HRM researchers consider change prevalence as a contextual factor, and practitioners heed employee reactions to change, particularly during periods of significant change.

Originality/value

In providing foundational evidence of change ubiquity in contemporary workplaces, this paper enables more accurate discussions regarding change.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the generous feedback on this manuscript from James Greenslade-Yeats. The first author was a recipient of the AUT Vice-Chancellor' Doctoral Scholarship and would like to acknowledge this support while completing this paper.

Citation

Brazzale, P.L., Cooper–Thomas, H.D., Haar, J. and Smollan, R.K. (2022), "Change ubiquity: employee perceptions of change prevalence from three countries", Personnel Review, Vol. 51 No. 2, pp. 770-786. https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-04-2019-0211

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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