The theory of work adjustment addresses reactive change vers…

The theory of work adjustment addresses reactive change versus active change. Which is more adaptive for the individual? What prevents people from making adjustments? Describe a work situation that you adjusted to either reactively or actively.


The theory of work adjustment examines the dynamics of individuals’ reactions and adjustments to their work environment. It explores the concept of reactive change versus active change and their adaptive value for individuals. This paper aims to analyze and compare these two types of adjustment and discuss the factors that may prevent individuals from making adjustments. Additionally, a personal work situation will be described to illustrate either a reactive or active adjustment.

Reactive Change versus Active Change

Reactive change can be described as an adjustment made in response to external pressures or demands. It is a response to changes that occur in the work environment, such as organizational restructuring, job task modifications, or shifts in work schedules. In contrast, active change refers to a proactive adjustment made by individuals to enhance their work experience or to achieve personal and professional goals. This type of adjustment involves actively seeking new opportunities or making deliberate changes to improve one’s work situation.

The adaptive value of reactive versus active change depends on various factors, such as the nature of the change, the individual’s personality traits, and the context in which the adjustment is made. Reactive change may be more adaptive in situations where external factors significantly impact the work environment, and individuals have limited control over the changes. In such cases, adjusting reactively allows individuals to cope with the new demands or expectations imposed on them.

On the other hand, active change can be more adaptive in situations where individuals have the autonomy to shape their work environment and can actively seek opportunities for growth and development. This type of adjustment empowers individuals to take control of their work lives and make changes that align with their values, preferences, and long-term goals. Active adjustment not only enhances individuals’ job satisfaction and well-being but also facilitates their professional growth and advancement.

Factors Preventing Adjustment

Despite the potential benefits of reactive and active change, various factors can impede individuals from making adjustments in their work situations. These factors may include:

1. Fear of the unknown: Change often introduces uncertainties, and individuals may be hesitant to make adjustments due to the fear of potential negative outcomes or the unknown consequences of change.

2. Lack of resources: Individuals may lack the necessary resources, such as time, skills, or support, to make adjustments to their work situation. Limited access to resources may hinder their ability to adapt to new circumstances.

3. Proximity to retirement: Individuals who are nearing retirement may be less motivated to make adjustments in their work situation as they may prioritize stability and familiarity over change.

4. Organizational culture: An organization’s culture, values, and practices may discourage or stifle individuals’ attempts to make adjustments. A rigid or hierarchical culture can create barriers to change and prevent individuals from taking active steps to improve their work situation.

Personal Work Situation

One personal work situation in which I made an adjustment was a change in job role and responsibilities within the same organization. I was initially hired as a research assistant, primarily responsible for data collection and analysis. However, as time progressed, my skills and interests expanded beyond the scope of my role, and I felt the need for more challenging and dynamic tasks.

In response to this need, I actively sought opportunities within the organization to take on additional responsibilities. I approached my supervisor and expressed my interest in taking on new projects that aligned with my developing skills and interests. After discussing the possibilities, my supervisor agreed to allow me to take on a more substantial role in research project management.

This adjustment to my work situation was an active change because it involved proactively seeking opportunities and taking deliberate steps to expand and enhance my role. This adjustment not only provided me with more stimulating and rewarding tasks but also allowed me to develop valuable skills in project management and leadership. Ultimately, this change contributed to my personal and professional growth within the organization.


The theory of work adjustment highlights the distinction between reactive change and active change and their adaptive value for individuals. While reactive change is typically a response to external pressures, active change involves proactive adjustments made by individuals to enhance their work experience and achieve personal and professional goals. Despite the potential benefits, various factors can prevent individuals from making adjustments, such as fear of the unknown, lack of resources, proximity to retirement, and organizational culture. Through a personal work situation example, it is evident that active adjustment can lead to personal and professional growth when individuals take the initiative to seek new opportunities and expand their roles within their work environment.