The only constant in this world, is change.


For my final blog post, I have decided to gear away (a little) from the topics we have discussed during our OB seminars and to pen down some thoughts about Change. Every organization, in some point in time, would seek to improve itself (in various aspects) in order to be in a competitive position to out-perform their rivals. Many leaders, when appointed to plan and implement a change, often overlook the fact that being given such an opportunity puts them in a position to strengthen the togetherness of a company through its vision or culture. Instead, they often focus on their own performance and take a more task-oriented approach to achieving their goals, forgetting the fact that employees are the ones who make up the organization and their opinions are of great importance as well. This leads to increased chances of employees having a bad experience of change and hence greater resistance to future changes. Therefore, it is important that change be managed in a way that benefits both the organization and its employees.

Organization and Change

I hope this video gives you a good brief introduction to change and change management, as well as the various implications they entail.

There are usually two forces that cause change in an organization: external forces and internal forces. External forces are those outside of the organization that the organization has no direct control over (e.g. regulations, the economy, unemployment levels and inflation). Changes in these areas could have a direct bearing on an organization’s operations. Internal forces may cause change to occur and also reflect external forces upon the organization. (e.g. top management’s change in company strategy, increased productivity standards, and quality control standards). Understanding where external and internal changes come from is one of the keys to properly preparing for change.

How can an organization prepare for change? Planned change is by far the best method – it is designed and implemented in an orderly and timely manner through anticipation of future events. Reactive change is harder on the organization. Changes of this nature have a multitude of problems as it is usually put together within a short period of time and it increases the potential for further reactive change within a plan.

Why are changes important?

Changes are needed whenever the forces of an industry are altered.

  1. Keeping up with technology: If changes have not been made and communication methods have not been constantly updated, business leaders would still be wasting time on information being sent back and forth between different parties and productivity would not have been achieved
  2. Customer Needs: customer needs change and grow, creating new demand for new types of products and services
  3. The Economy: A strong or weak company can impact organizations in both positive and negative ways. The ability to manage both ends of the spectrum is critical.
  4. Growth opportunities: Change allows employees to learn new skills, explore new opportunities and exercise their knowledge in ways that are different and better than before.

Resistance to Change

The biggest challenge to carry out a change in an organization is the employees’ resistance to the change. Employees have been doing things a certain way and do not like to be told “You have to do things differently”. Change usually brings about the “10/80/10” rule: 10% of employees will actively embrace the change, 80% will be fence-sitters, and 10% will actively fight it. The 10% against the change will have the influence and ability to negatively infect the 80%. Therefore, the negative 10% is the threat to the change and efforts need to be focused on influencing this group of employees. Therefore, employees’ opinions are very important in implementing changes. Some usual reasons for their resistance are as follows:

  1. Uncertainty: employees usually become nervous and anxious about the change and are primarily concerned about their job security and ability to meet new job demands. Such internal emotional controls may not allow them to fully comprehend how the change will affect them.
  2. Threatened Self-Interests: employees with personal power and position power within the organization would not want to see their influence diminish within the organization, so they fight the change.
  3. Different Perceptions: everyone has their own idea about the change. Thus, they may not see the change as beneficial for them, their workgroup, or the customers that are served.
  4. Feelings of loss: change disrupts social networks develop within organizations. A relationship could be affected through a change in power or status.

The Change Process

The change process has to take into consideration both the technical aspects and relational aspects, to make sure that the change is successful and that employees are accepting towards the change.

The technical aspect: Here is a list of some generalized steps in which organizational leaders can use to carry out the planning and completion of change successfully:

  1. Recognition of the need for change: Identify the problem that is adversely affecting the organization, define parties that will be affected by the change and enlist them in change planning efforts
  2. Establish goals: Without an end goal, sub-goals cannot be established for attaining intermediate goals. Once a goal is formed, parties that will be affected by the change should be enlisted in the change planning efforts.
  3. Diagnose relevant variables: Establish variables that may have an influence on the change. For example, the external and internal forces.
  4. Select the appropriate change technique
  5. Plan for the implementation of the change: Communication is of utmost importance in this step. Everyone should be aware of the timeline.
  6. Implement the change
  7. Evaluate and follow-up

The relational aspect: Consideration for employees’ feelings and emotions during the change process is of paramount importance as employees are the ones who will be bringing about the change and who will be most affected by the change.

  1. Communicate the threat of NOT changing: keeping communications as wide open as possible reduces the anxiety and uncertainty about the change.
  2. Involve your team in decision making (when possible): when employees are given the chance to express their ideas and listen to others in the planning process, their own personal buy-in increases and makes the change easier for the organization.
  3. Minimize uncertainty for the employees
  4. Celebrate successes in moving towards the goal to motivate employees
  5. Keep explaining the reasons to change


In conclusion, even though change is often resisted by employees in organizations, change is essential and usually brings about more good than harm to the organization and its people, provided that the change process is carried out in a way that effective and sensitive to employees’ needs. In my opinion, knowing the steps to implementing a change is not sufficient, unless the change is implemented well. Even though the lists above are not exhaustive, they do give us an idea of how employees would feel more included in the change process. An organization is made up of its employees and understanding the reasons behind employees’ resistance to any ideas is important for any positive progress to be made. Any subjective negative feelings that employees experienced from the change process could snowball into greater ramifications that affect the organization negatively in the future. Therefore, leaders should look past any change process as being just a ‘task’ and consider further involvement of and discussion with employees for more positive effects of any changes in organizations.


Just FYI – here is another short clip on why change is so difficult, from a psychological perspective.


Thank you Prof. Audrey for the insightful seminar sessions and for being so lively and humorous during class, I have enjoyed myself throughout the course of this module! 🙂 lastly, good luck to everyone who has final exams!




Corporate Social Responsibility: Is it really what it claims to be?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. It is a corporate initiative to assess and take responsibility for the company’s effects on the environment and impact on social welfare. It is a term that applies to company efforts that go beyond what may be required by regulators or environmental protection groups to promote positive social and environmental change.

CSR is being used today as a “tool” to recruit, retain, and engage employees. Increasing numbers of young people worldwide aspire for “something more” from a job. People want to work for an organization that “cares about how it impacts and contributes to society” and whose social/environmental activities make them feel loyal to their organization.

CSR and Employee Engagement

There are three different approaches organizations make use of to engage their employees through CSR and each of these three approaches is grounded in a “psychological contract” between a firm and its employees.

1. a transactional approach (versus relational), where programs are undertaken to meet the needs and interests of those employees who want to take part in the socially responsible efforts of a company

2. a relational approach, where an organization and its employees together make a commitment to social responsibility, ceating a socially responsible culture + Improved Organizational Image/Identity

3. a developmental approach, where a company aims to more fully activate and develop its employees and the firm to produce greater value for business and society creating socio-commercial Innovation + Enhanced Impact on Business & Society

Several studies aimed directly on the linkage between CSR and employee engagement have found a strong correlation between employee’s commitment to their organization and how they rate its social responsibility. Employees who approved of their company’s commitments to social responsibility, compared to those who did not approve, were found to be far more engaged on their jobs and more apt to believe that their employers were interested in their well-being. They also had more favorable perceptions of their management’s integrity and rated their companies as more competitive.

While giving back to society through CSR, organizations gain employees’ loyalty at the same time. Win-win situation, it seems. What then contribute to critics’ cynicism towards CSR?

The flip-side: Is CSR really about CSR?

It has been critiqued that CSR is a game that big businesses play. A game by which they talk a great deal about the desires and ambitions to act ethically and responsibly, where they introduce policies and practices for presentation purposes, but in effect, they change little and continue to maximize profit regardless of whether this is at the expense of society and the environment or not.

Do you think that there are any businesses out there that would claim to take social, environmental or ethical issues seriously but, in a stark reversal of what they say they are doing, are actually seeking only to extend their hegemony and self-interest?

I do. And I am not alone.

It was found in a research testing public attitudes to business and business responsibility that there are dramatic increases in cynicism and scepticism towards businesses and the claims they make about their social, environmental or ethical practices.

The problem with teasing these organizations apart is that nearly all the biggest companies in the world now do CSR. And as with all marketing and communications we encounter everyday, it is often impossible to determine where the fact ends and the fantasy begins. It could even be that organizations are implementing CSR only because of the fear of lagging behind their competitors and losing out on possible indirect gains from CSR e.g. employee engagement without actually believing in its purpose.

CSR vs Social enterprises

Social enterprises depend on communicating how they do things differently, how their social purpose is as important as their commercial success. Having a social purpose, having their stakeholders understand and buy in to their social purpose, is what gives social enterprises their competitive edge over mainstream businesses.

Now that the big businesses are increasingly investing in CSR, beneficiaries gain something positive from these efforts, and this is almost in line with goals that social enterprises set out to achieve. Will a company that says it does CSR simply be regarded similarly as a company that says it is a social enterprise? Will that then make life unsustainable for social entrepreneurs and genuine innovators for public good?

CSR and Employee Engagement: Revisited

On one hand, there is a strong correlation between employee’s commitment to their organization and how they rate its social responsibility (depending on their approval of their company’s commitments to social responsibility). On the other, cynicism and scepticism towards businesses and their claims on their practices are increasing.

Even though subjects from these studies do not coincide (at all), there are some questions we can all think through given the results of these studies.

  • Are employees who approve of their company’s commitments fully convinced that their efforts are generating positive gains for beneficiaries or could these employees be supporting these efforts in search of the sense of personal fulfillment they get whenever they do CSR?
  • Could it be that the cynicism people face regarding a company’s practices is secondary to their regard for job prospects at the same company? (Such that they do not mind working for a company that introduces and implements policies and practices for presentation purposes)
  • What about you?

Cheers, Mel





Emotional Labour and the Burnout Syndrome

facial expressions


Emotional Labour

When we had the discussion on the topic of emotions and mood during class, what attracted my attention the most was the term emotional labour.

Emotional labour, defined as a situation in which an employee expresses organizationally desired emotions during interpersonal transactions at work, is a concept that emerged from studies of service jobs.

Some dilemmas with Emotional Labour:

1. Burnout

It has been found that doctors can lose their ability to care when suffering from emotional burnout (Persaud, 2004). Given that care is an integral part of a doctor’s job, losing care due to emotional labour or burnout will definitely thwart the expectations that a regular patient has of a doctor and this could lead to negative repercussions.

At the same time, burnout can also lead to dissatisfaction with quality of work completed and doubt about the effectiveness of the work.

2. Source of Job Satisfaction

Emotional labour can be a source of job satisfaction depending on whether employee is experiencing surface acting or deep acting as discussed during class. It is conceivable that if a person is deep acting, the emotional labour that he/she is experiencing would be rather rewarding. However, if a person is only surface acting, a great amount of stress could amount. Evidently, emotional labour could be a double-edged sword. Unfortunately, though, it has been found that, to a larger extent, people tend to surface act (Persaud, 2004).

Putting Emotional Labour and Burnout Syndrome together

I happen to chance upon this research paper that compared two perspectives of emotional labour as predictors of burnout beyond the effects of negative affectivity. I found the research rather interesting and meaningful hence I have decided to share the gist of the study.

Just a brief introduction about the burnout syndrome, as stated in the paper – The burnout syndrome entails three distinct states in which employees feel emotional exhaustion, depersonalization (display detached attitude toward others) and diminished personal accomplishment (experience low sense of efficacy at work) (Maslach & Jackson, 1986).

The study found that job-focused emotional labour (work demands regarding emotional expression) does not significantly predict the burnout rate of employees. This shows that personal accomplishment is a separate dimension of burnout, and is preceded by predictors that are dissimilar from those that predict emotional exhaustion and depersonalization.

However, it was found that employee-focused emotional labour (regulation of feelings and emotional expression) could predict the burnout rate of employees. It was found that surface acting indeed contributed to a diminished sense of personal accomplishment, whereas deep acting contributed to a greater sense of personal efficacy at work.

Interestingly, the study also found that employees in “people work” did not report significantly higher levels of emotional exhaustion than did respondents employed in other occupations.


These results, though intuitive, could have potential implications on how an organization would prevent its employees from burning out.

Given that employees in “people work” (e.g. service sectors) were not found to experience emotional exhaustion/burnout any more than employees from other industries, have we been (wrongly) putting too much emphasis on how the nature of a job leads to the possibility of burnout through the experiencing of emotional labour? I.e. consistently assuming that employees in the service industries experience much more emotional labour and hence should also experience a higher rate of burnout

Have we been overlooking the fact that employees do have the autonomy and choice to regulate their feelings and emotional expression in such a way that their chances of burning out are minimized?

To conclude, more research on both emotional labour and burnout rate would definitely be required for a deeper understanding on this topic. When these findings are replicated and more or less robust, then sending employees to workshops/courses that aid them in their regulation of feelings and emotional expressions could possibly be more helpful to the employees to reduce burnout as compared to brainstorming on how the nature of a job could be altered to reduce employees’ emotional labour and hence burnout rate.