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Maertz, Wiley, LeRouge, and Campion (2010) learned that survivors of layoffs experienced the lowest levels of perceived organizational performance, job security, affective and calculative attachments to the organisation, and elevated turnover intentions than a non-downsizing comparison group. Mishra, Mishra, and Spreitzer (2009) presented a gripping question: “How can managers and employees rethink their organisations even as they confront the need to downsize?” Managers and employees can rethink their organisations by developing organisational flexibility as part of the organisational culture, empowering line managers and HR in helping design and lead organisational change efforts, promoting innovation and creativity, and enhancing communication with stakeholders. Rethinking organisations requires changing how downsizing is perceived and defined and one of the ways to do this is through developing organisational flexibility as part of the organisational culture. Mishra et al. (2009) explained that flexibility can take different forms, such as work flexibility and management flexibility (41). They stressed: “Greater organisational flexibility can enhance human capital” (Mishra et al. 2009: 41). Enhanced organisational flexibility can take place when employees cross-train each other, while also engaging customers and suppliers. When employees and the management see organisational flexibility as part of organisational life and culture, they will be more prepared of organisational changes, including downsizing. Openness to changes is demonstrated through several cases. Mishra et al. (2009) gave the example of Rhino Foods Inc., a dessert producer in Burlington, Vermont, who created a strategic response to downsizing, which enhanced organisational flexibility. Ted Castle, Rhino Foods president, requested his best employees to volunteer for tasks outside the company, instead of just laying them off. He promised to rehire them when economic conditions are better (Mishra et al. 2009: 41). Survivors had the opportunity to learn new knowledge and skills, so that they can replace lost employees. Rhino Foods continued this program, which expanded to five partner companies who hired Rhino employees during low-peak season. Mishra et al. (2009) believed that this practice enhanced organisational flexibility because the organisation discovers new talents. Organisational flexibility must be embedded in the organisational culture through work redesign and other transformed work patterns. The organisation must prepare employees and managers for openness to thinking about work, without losing sight of the strategies, mission and vision of the organisation. Organisational flexibility should be tied to psychological flexibility too. Lynch (1989) asserted that organisational flexibility requires re-examining work per se and how it can and should be done, the existing technologies, and the ways organisations are structured to do work. This paper extends an understanding of future technologies and changing social patterns because they impact future organisational demands and the actions of competitors. Although organisational flexibility requires organisational level changes, they cannot be attained without meaningful individual-level changes. Bond, Flaxman and Bunce (2008: 645) define psychological flexibility as the “ability to focus on the present moment and, depending upon what the situation affords, persist with or change one’s (even inflexible, stereotypical) behaviour in the pursuit of goals and values.”
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