Working in Person During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Job Demands and Resources of Reopening the Economy
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
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This study investigated the effects of working in person during the COVID-19 pandemic on perceived job demands and resources for employees. The job demands-resources (JD-R) model of employee stress indicates that workplace stressors can result in various negative employee outcomes when not adequately buffered by job resources. We extended this model to working in person during the COVID-19 pandemic. We posited that two job demands related to working in person during the pandemic (i.e., the perceived risk of transmitting the disease and job insecurity) would directly influence employee stress. Moreover, we expected that these added job demands would negatively impact employee well-being when organizations do not provide adequate resources to mitigate the risk of disease transmission. Through the lens of pandemic, we contended that any workplace in which employees are susceptible to transmitting the disease may be considered a high-risk environment. Applying previous literature of occupational stress in high-risk workplaces, we discussed how the current health crisis in the United States may increase burnout for employees. To this end, we proposed a model of employee well-being, on which we conducted a path analysis to determine how working in person during the COVID-19 pandemic impacts one’s occupational stress and burnout. Analyses indicated that our proposed model did not possess good fit. However, results supported the overall notion that job demands resulting from an increase in perceived risk of the pandemic does indeed increase general work stress, which in turn, increases employee burnout. Implications for reducing the harmful effects of job demands by providing resources which mitigate risk are discussed.