An identity refers to conscious awareness of oneself: a series of constructs that form the self. Organisations have an identity as indeed it has a self. For instance it has a personality, emotions and likes and dislikes that connects with others. Moreover, organisations are not an entity that only receives and gives money, but has meaning, a purpose. People also have a purpose and when the purpose of the organisation and its employee connects then motivation, positive energy and personal power will form. The person becomes driven because it believes what it is doing and can connect to it. The motivation becomes intrinsic. The question to ask is "has that aspect of an organisation been lost with the idea of productivity?" "What is the employee really engaged in?" "Is the employee only there to receive an income to pay their bills (extrinsic motivation which eventually fizzles out) or because they believe in what they are doing and driven by passion (intrinsic motivation which is long lasting)?".
As from the viewpoint of the relational self, when an employee identifies with the organisation's identity, they will expand their self concept and feel connected. It is similar with friendships or romantic partners. When the person loses that other part of self, they will have to redefine who they are, as the self concept they took from the other person is no longer there. They will notice that something is missing.
When an individual engages in an organisation as an employee then they will identify their sense of self as an "us" or "we". Especially when the identity of the organisation has concepts that the employee wants to be part. As in the model of the relational self, the individual will expand their self concept to the other. When the other is activated then the individual's confidence will increase. Have you ever seen or heard a person talk about their workplace with pride and their face lights up? That is because that organisation's identity has been formed as part of their own self concept which they positively identify with.
Studies have also identified that when suggestions of the other is made, the individual will either move toward (if the identity of the other is positive) or away (if the identity of the other is negative). The information of the other is stored in memory and activated unconsciously. How do you want your employees to unconsciously react, when others mention constructs that is part of the identity of that environment?
The organisation will essentially assist in forming the individual's occupational identity such as "I no longer like this type of career", "I no longer want to work in a similar environment", or "I need to expand, and even though this environment lacks opportunities, I would prefer something similar". Studies have suggested that, on average, the occupational self consists of 80% of the whole self and therefore an important aspect of the person's self construct.
On a last note, studies have suggested that the occupational identity is an important predictor of work performance, occupational and organisational commitment and continuity in one's work role (Skorikov & Vondracek, 2011).
Therefore it is important to consider what the identity of the organisation is and how it supports the identity of its people (and vise versa) to create a powerful and engaging environment.
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