Employees' Motivation and Professional Identity during a Rapid Organisational Change: An Investigation with Covid-19 as Starting Point for a Rapid Organisational Change

Stine Krag Nielsen & Klara Amalie Klemmensen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

The aim of our thesis “Employees’ motivation and professional identity during a rapid organisational change” is to investigate employees’ experiences and reactions during a rapid organisational change. More precisely, we investigate how Covid-19, as a rapid organisational change, affects employees’ motivation and professional identity, by providing an answer to our research question: “How does a rapid organisational change affect employees’ motivation and professional identity?”
Our research is carried out in a clinical microbiology department at a Danish hospital. We perform an explorative, qualitative single case study, and our research is based on social constructivism and elements of grounded theory. Our data consists of 12 interviews with employees and managers from the department. Through our coding process of the collected data we identify six key themes that we theoretically conceptualize, which lead us to the phenomena of motivation and professional identity. The themes that explain the effects of the rapid organisational change on motivation are: work pres-sure, negative atmosphere at the workplace and the desire to work in the department. The themes that explain the effect of the rapid organisational change on professional identity are: to work with Covid-19 tasks, collegial unity and ”corona is not the most important thing”.
Our findings conclude that there is a strong relationship between the phenomena of motivation and professional identity due to mutual reinforcement, and that the relationship is affected by the employees’ sensemaking process. We further conclude that employees are affected differently by the rapid organisational change according to seniority and function in the department. These two factors influence the employees’ sensemaking process and thereby determine what meaning they create of the change, and thereby how their motivation and professional identity are affected by the rapid organisational change. On this basis, we define three employee types that are affected differently by the rapid organisational change and should be handled differently by leaders.
We provide a number of recommendations to leaders on how to manage the different employee types during rapid organisational changes. Further, we contribute with academic insights to the literature on rapid organisational changes by taking an individual approach to changes and present a strong relationship between motivation and professional identity, which is affected by the sensemaking process. Further, our implication for practice provides leaders with a concrete tool on how to handle different employee types during rapid organisational changes.

EducationsMSc in Psychology, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2021
Number of pages131
SupervisorsEva Boxenbaum