Recent research found that COVID-19 caused many full-time employed adults to struggle with work-life balance and work stress, according to UNT Assistant Professor Hoda Vaziri.
Vaziri, who teaches management in the G. Brint Ryan College of Business, evaluated data from full-time employed adults to uncover the impact COVID-19 had on how employees manage their work and family and explored organizational practices that can enhance employee well-being and functioning during such times.
“We found that those who experienced technostress (feeling overwhelmed by new technology), found it particularly difficult to manage their work and family during the pandemic,” Vaziri says. “On the other hand, those who had a compassionate supervisor during the initial stages of the pandemic were better able to manage their work and family roles.”
Her findings allowed her to work with her fellow researchers to develop “best practices” for organizations to adopt in order to better serve their employees and increase job satisfaction and work-life balance. The researchers recommended organizations take six specific steps to prepare for a societal crisis event:
- Develop policies and practices to help employees manage work and family effectively.
- Train managers on the importance of compassion during societal crisis events.
- Recognize and reward compassionate supervisor behaviors.
- Proactively adopt new technologies that support remote work in general and in times of societal crisis.
- Provide support services and training to employees on new technologies.
- Train employees on various coping mechanisms, such as emotion versus problem-focused, and appropriate situations in which to use them.
“By proactively supporting work-family needs, employers can better position employees to navigate work and family roles effectively before and during disruptive events like COVID-19, which might lead to increased job satisfaction and organizational commitment,” Vaziri says.
In addition to proactive efforts, Vaziri and her fellow researchers also offered strategies that can be employed during a societal crisis such as the current pandemic:
- Emphasize to leaders the importance of compassion and reward compassionate leaders.
- As an act of compassion, make an “employee health first” policy and then walk the talk.
- Recognize employee technostress and provide on-demand support services.
- Be supportive of employee preferences to keep work and family separate and provide tips and training to help employees create boundaries between work and home when working remotely.
- Provide real-time coping tips that emphasize problem-solving coping and reduce the use of emotion-based coping.
Vaziri hopes that her findings will help organizations work to mitigate negative responses and improve employee satisfaction.
The research, titled “Changes to the work–family interface during the COVID-19 pandemic: Examining predictors and implications using latent transition analysis,” was co-authored by Wendy Casper at the University of Texas at Arlington, Julie Wayne of Wake Forest University and Russell Matthews of the University of Alabama, and accepted into The Journal of Applied Psychology, a Financial Times top-50 publication.