Study suggests right kind of boss may help reduce stress, increase engagement in work

DN Bureau

A research study suggested that the right kind of boss can help reduce stress and increase engagement and pro-social behavior in their workers who were anxious about COVID-19.

File Photo
File Photo

Ohio: A research study suggested that the right kind of boss can help reduce stress and increase engagement and pro-social behavior in their workers who were anxious about COVID-19.

It further stated that coronavirus pandemic may lead people to ponder their own mortality. These people were the ones who showed the highest levels of stress and the least engagement at work.

The researchers conducted three studies in China and the United States, which was published online recently in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

"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," said Jia (Jasmine) Hu, lead author of the study and associate professor of management and human resources at The Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business.

"But business leaders who are attentive to employees' emotional needs and unite them behind a common purpose made a positive difference and helped workers stay engaged at work and contribute to their communities."

One study involved 163 workers at an information technology company in eastern China who filled out surveys twice a day over three weeks while cases of COVID-19 were surging in the country.

The results projected that the employees felt more anxious on the thought about COVID-19 related deaths and the less engaged they were in their jobs.

But the employees' anxiety and engagement were influenced by the type of boss they had. Employees did better if their boss exhibited what is called 'servant leadership.' As the name implies, servant leaders prioritize fulfillment of others' needs, attend to employees' emotional suffering, work to empower employees, and emphasize serving the community.

Employees in the study rated on a scale of 1 to 7 of how much 'My supervisor makes my career development a priority' and other statements that measured servant leadership.

Those who rated their supervisors higher on servant leadership showed less anxiety and were more engaged with their jobs than other employees, Hu said.

But once again, in both American studies, those who had servant leaders in their scenarios showed less anxiety, even after reading about how deadly the disease was. Similarly, in Chinese employees, the type of leadership had an impact on pro-social behavior.

Overall, the three studies showed that companies play an important role in helping their employees cope with the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hu said, which benefits both the firms and their communities.

"We found that the servant leaders who keep their employees' well-being as a top concern can help their anxious workers stay engaged at work and encourage them to contribute to the broader community," she said. (ANI)








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