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Covid-19 Increases Stress Resulting in Less Engagement of Employees, Says Study

Representation purpose only.

Representation purpose only.

The anxiety and engagement of the employees were influenced by the type of employer or their boss.

A new study has proposed that Covid-19 pandemic has lead people to wonder about their own mortality. The research has found that these people have the highest level of stress and the least involvement at work. Moreover, the study also observes that “The right kind of boss may help to relieve stress and increase engagement and the social behaviour of the employees who are anxious about Covid-19.”

The study that takes place in China and the United States was published online in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Lead author Jia (Jasmine) Hu said, “A global pandemic can lead some people to think about their own mortality, which will understandably make them more stressed and less engaged at work.” She is also an associate professor of management and human resources at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.

The researchers conducted three studies in which one of the study data is collected from the 163 employees of an IT company in eastern China. The employees work to fill out surveys twice a day during the peak escalation of Covid-19 in the country. As a result, the workers seem more anxious about pandemic related deaths and less engaged with their jobs.

However, the anxiety and engagement of the employees were influenced by the type of employer or their boss. The workers excel in their work if their boss associates with them in what is known as ‘servant leadership’. In this, the leader prioritises the fulfilment of the workers need, attend to their emotional suffering, empowering them, and emphasize on serving the community.

In the survey, the employees rated their supervisor on a scale of 1 to 7. Among those rated their boss higher on servant leadership showed less anxiety and were more engaged with their work than other employees.

The findings depicted that employees who rated their supervisor higher on servant leadership are more likely to engage in pro-social behaviour including volunteering for a charitable cause in their community. “Servant leaders encouraged their employees to find an alternative to convert their anxiety into a positive behaviour such as helping unfortunate people in their communities,” the associate professor said.

Such types of leaders made it easier for their employees to cope with the anxiety associated with the pandemic. The outcome was found in the two US-based research who include Americans with full-time jobs. The participants were asked to imagine as a consultant advising a retail company on the improvement of their sales.

In both the research, the participants first study about Covid-19. Some of the participants are provided with information on dangers of Covid-19 while others are given to read on less stressful information on Covid-19, like how to prevent the transmission of the virus.

The results are similar to the study in China which states that those participants who read about the dangers of Covid-19 are reported to have a higher level of anxiety.

Those participants who had servant leaders in their work environment showed less anxiety, which is similar to Chinese employees that impact on their pro-social behaviour.

The studies found that companies play a major role in helping their employees to cope with Covid-19 related stress and anxiety.

first published:October 15, 2020, 15:22 IST