Purpose – This research explored the role of hope and optimism in facilitating task adaptivity, individuals’ positive behavior response to change affecting their core task. Design/methodology/approach – Study 1 explored the relationship of hope and optimism with task adaptivity in a short longitudinal study of insurance company employees in the UK (N = 43). Study 2 was conducted in a UK police force and utilized supervisor ratings of task adaptivity (N = 111). In Study 3 (N = 299) we investigated whether hope and optimism predicted objective performance of insurance agents in China via their effect on task adaptivity. Findings – In Study 1, hope, but not optimism, was positively related to later task adaptivity. In Study 2 employees’ levels of hope but not optimism were positively related to supervisor-ratings of employee task adaptivity. In Study 3, hope had a significant indirect effect on insurance agents’ commission via task adaptivity, while the indirect effect of optimism was not significant. Implications – Our findings highlight the importance of hope, an individual factor that is open to development, and provide preliminary support for the idea that organizations might encourage constructive responses to change in their workforce by increasing levels of hope through training or mentoring. They further provide support for the importance of task adaptivity for objective performance. Originality/value – This is one of the first papers to investigate the relationship of hope and optimism with task adaptivity. Three studies in different organizational settings highlighted the unique role of hope in supporting individuals’ continuous adaption to change.