Original Research

The relationship between readiness to change and work engagement: A case study in an accounting firm undergoing change

Megan Matthysen, Chantel Harris
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 16 | a855 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v16i0.855 | © 2018 Megan Matthysen, Chantel Harris | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 August 2016 | Published: 22 March 2018

About the author(s)

Megan Matthysen, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa
Chantel Harris, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: Readiness to change is a critical element for the successful implementation of organisational change. Work engagement ensures that employees are committed to the organisations’ goals and is an important driver for organisational success. It is important that organisations sustain work engagement during organisational changes.

Research purpose: To investigate the relationship between readiness to change and work engagement within an accounting firm.

Motivation for the study: A change process can only be implemented successfully if there is a level of readiness to change. When readiness exists, resistance to change is reduced. Engaged employees remain enthusiastic about their organisation and choose to remain with the organisation. Change agents need to consider work engagement as an integral part of the change process, that is, before, during and after change has taken place. Work engagement and readiness to change are important elements for successful organisational change.

Research design, approach and method: A cross-sectional survey design was utilised to collect the data. A convenience sample of employees and top management from the accounting firm (n = 340) were included. Cronbach’s alpha coefficients, Pearson’s product-moment correlations, analysis of variance (ANOVA), Scheffé tests, confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modelling were used to analyse the data.

Main findings: Results indicated a practical and statistically significant relationship between readiness to change and work engagement. High levels of work engagement will generate high levels of readiness to change. Further to this, readiness to change is influenced by employees’ work engagement and an organisation’s change processes.

Practical or managerial implications: An employee’s work engagement and an organisation’s processes of change influence an employee’s readiness to change. Therefore, organisations need to sustain work engagement and improve change processes.

Contribution: The contribution of this study is that it has provided new insights into the relationships between readiness to change and work engagement in a South African context.

Keywords

readiness to change; work engagement; trust in leadership

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