In difficult economic times, many people become increasingly anxious about job security and potential financial worries, and less engaged with work. Researchers have now developed tools that could help management identify and acknowledge the impact of employee anxiety, help staff stay engaged and committed, and improve job satisfaction.
Kenneth Green of the Department of Management at Southern Arkansas University and Bobby Medlin of the College of Business at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith collected data from several hundred full-time employees in a range of jobs regarding job satisfaction and worries.
The researchers noted that distressed and disengaged employees could have a negative impact on a company’s products or services, possibly furthering the company’s decline and even collapse. They then modeled how employee engagement can change during an economic downturn.
The data was collected at the height of the 2009 U.S. recession, during which gross domestic product fell dramatically and corporate bankruptcies were at a level not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Workers were rightly concerned about whether or not they would keep their jobs and whether or not they would be compensated if their company did not survive the recession.
The team used an obvious definition of employee engagement: An engaged employee is one who is fully involved in and enthusiastic about the work. This might be qualified by adding that a fully engaged worker is prepared to offer discretionary effort or be willing to “go the extra mile,” the team explained.
They added that intuitively one would assume that workplace anxiety would have negative consequences on level of engagement, and earlier research has supported this notion in recent years.
The Arkansas team quantified this issue and suggested it can be used by management to improve employee engagement, organizational commitment, and job satisfaction by helping individuals overcome their recession anxiety.
The team recommends that managers acknowledge the impact of the anxiety generated during recessionary times and take actions to reduce the negative impact of workplace anxiety by providing employees with information related to the organization’s current situation and each employee’s status.
Source: Inderscience Publishers