Stephanie Andel was in just her second semester as a professor of psychology in IUPUI's School of Science when COVID-19 brought the world to a halt.
Quickly redirecting her focus, Andel gathered insight from employees to understand how the pandemic is influencing their health, well-being, and work experiences. Her work has potential to inform change at organizational and policy levels. For example, her study findings can inform legislative policies that may be needed to address staffing issues during pandemics and may provide organizations with information on the types of support employees are most likely to benefit from, as well as the training that supervisors may need to deliver those supports.
“Ultimately, our hope is that the findings will contribute to a safer, healthier, and better-prepared environment for all workers in the years to come,” Andel said.
Andel’s research discovered that specific factors, such as job insecurity, inconsistent communication from employers about how they are handling COVID, and remote work, were associated with higher levels of work-related loneliness. And that work-related loneliness was in turn associated with higher levels of depression and lower "organizational citizenship behavior", Andel said. This means these individuals were less likely to go "above and beyond" to help the organization and/or others at work.
The research team also found that self-compassion is an important resource. Individuals who engage in more self-compassion seem to be a bit more resilient, and their work-related loneliness was less likely to be associated with depression.
Those higher in self-compassion also engaged in even fewer organizational citizenship behaviors than those low in self-compassion, according to the study, suggesting that self-compassionate people are protecting their mental resources and giving themselves needed breaks to get through the pandemic.