The workplace of today is global, fast paced and under intense pressure to stay competitive and achieve financial results. This makes change an inevitable part of any organisation because in order to survive and thrive in this environment organisations need to continuously change and re-invent themselves. This study was conducted in a mining company and the industry has been one of the biggest contributors to the South African economy for over a century. There have been many changes and developments within the mining industry over the years. The mining industry has also experienced a lot of transformational activities such as mergers, acquisitions, downsizing and restructuring. During these changing and uncertain times it is important to pay special attention to the employees in the organisation as people still remain the most important asset in any organisation. Change can be a pleasant or traumatic experience for people and this makes it important to ensure that with all changes to the work environment employees are well looked after and their wellbeing is maintained. Employee wellness has been a subject of much interest for many years and it has been found that organisations that invest in the wellness of their employees have greater benefits and are more successful at managing change. This study was conducted to investigate the impact of a restructuring exercise on the wellness of middle managers. The study aimed to determine the impact/effect of a restructuring exercise on employee wellness in a sample of employees in the middle management category. This research investigated possible wellness factors that were impacted on during this organisational restructuring exercise. Three wellness dimensions were looked at and these included: physical, mental and social dimensions of wellness. The intention is to use the information collected as guidelines in the development of future employee wellness programs, taking into account change management and how to better handle it. A qualitative approach was followed and employees from a mining company were asked to participate in the study. Data was collected firstly through the use of an open ended questionnaire and thereafter two focus groups were conducted. The focus group sessions were recorded and the data was transcribed. A process of coding was used to analyse and get the central themes from the data. In conclusion the results indicated that the restructuring exercise had a significant impact on the wellness of middle managers. The general responses were negative and indicated that people’s wellness was definitely impacted on. The key themes and sub themes that emerged across all dimensions were grouped into the following: communication, trust, personal health management (nutrition, physical health and fitness and sleeping habits), mental wellbeing (stress and anxiety, morale, uncertainty), workplace environment and social status. The role of managers/leaders was seen as key during this process. Also it was clear that the development and implementation of relevant wellness programs was important to manage employee wellness during such activities. Therefore recommendations and strategies for managing change and wellness offered in this study take into account the responses from the participants and the key issues identified. This study was conducted in a specific organisation with a limited number of participants from the Corporate Office and therefore the findings should not be generalised to other middle managers in other organisational contexts without a degree of caution. Another important limitation to consider is that this research was taken at a specific time during this restructuring exercise. The negative responses could have been influenced by the timing of this research, in that, although there was a lot of communication pertaining to the changes envisaged to employees, there however were no final decisions made or implemented yet. Employees were in a waiting period and they did not know what was going to be the extent of the impact of these changes on them. A recommendation is that this research is undertaken at a later stage when all changes are implemented. In this case this was however not possible due to a time factor from the researcher’s side and delays within the organisation.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2013.