Psychosocial effects of organisational restructuring : a study among non-academic staff at the University of Durban-Westville.
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Change is inevitable and will be the hallmark of our lives. This study was undertaken against the background of the restructuring plans at the University of Durban Westville (UDW). It was motivated by a concern for the psychosocial consequences of organisational restructuring relating to non-academic employees at the university. A further motivation was the increased number of staff seeking counselling related to their anxiety, following the introduction of the voluntary severance packages. The basic premise of this study is that, while transformation is essential, it must be given a humane face. Organisational restructuring is placed within the broader rubric of change. The study was guided by the following research questions: • What are the psychosocial consequences of organisational restructuring for nonacademic staff at UDW? • How do non-academic staff react to the changes arising out of the restructuring process? • What are the views of non-academic staff about the organisational changes? Systems Theory and Crisis Theory have been used in the study to explain how individuals respond to change. The sample comprised 40 individuals who were employed by the University for a period ranging from under one year to 25 years. The research procedure adopted was one of triangulation. Data, both qualitative and quantitative in nature, were collected through the use of questionnaires, interviews and non-participant observation. Quantitative data was analysed using frequency distribution tables and cross tabulation tables. "Inductive analysis" was used for the formal analysis of qualitative data. The major finding of this study was that the respondents had no problem with transformation per se, but they were concerned about the manner in which it was being implemented at UDW. The majority of them felt that in attempting to meet transformational goals, the university management had compromised the fundamental requirements of fairness and sensitivity. Moreover, respondents believed that "unplanned change" was taking place too rapidly. This, they believed, contributed to a state of uncertainty and disorganisation. Changes needed to be phased in. The key recommendations regarding restructuring include the need for a commitment on the part of Management to the principles of fairness, justice and respect. A case is made for incremental and, manageable change. Programmes for employee development and counselling are crucial. The need for a participatory and transparent programme of change is also stressed. In short, wide ranging consultation, sound communication, an effective human resource team and a shared vision are all identified as essential elements for successful organizational restructuring.