Distance Managers’ Wellbeing During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Role of Perceived Organizational Support

Christine Ipsen, Kathrin Kirchner, Signe Tønnesen Bergmann, Maria Karanika-Murray

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Abstract

Introduction: With the COVID-19 pandemic where working from home (WFH) for long periods of time has become common and is putting a lot of strain on employees, support from their organization has a large impact on feelings of appreciation, engagement, and work behaviors (Biron et al., 2021). A considerable amount of research has been conducted focusing on employees' experiences and behaviors in the change to WFH during the pandemic. However, much less, if any, attention has been paid on how managers experience distance or hybrid management and how they perceive organizational support in this role. Research has shown that leadership is a dynamic role where leaders must develop and be supported in tandem with an organizational change or intervention (Ipsen et al., 2021). Hence, additional studies are needed to understand managers’ perceptions of organizational support in order to create a pathway for utilizing organizational support in practice, for those acting in a management role and as a distance manager. The present study investigates managers’ perceived organizational support (POS) during the Danish lockdowns in spring 2021 and whether POS contributed to the well-being and appreciation of the job (WBA) for direct and middle managers in a Danish context. Finally, it examines what organisations should be aware of in terms of the future of work, which is now taking a more hybrid form world-wide.

Methods: Based on the literature, a survey including demographics, POS and WBA was developed. Most questions used a 5-point Likert scale. Data was collected from members of the Danish Association of Managers and Executives, Lederne, in March 2021 when restrictions were lifted and the numbers of COVID-19 cases were decreasing. Data collected from 1016 managers were included in the data analysis. The relationship between POS and WBA (each measured with 5 items) was calculated using a PLS model. Results: The managers (n=1016) reported that 60% of their employees were working partly from home or in the office, where 70% of the managers shifted between the office and the workplace. Overall, the study shows, that 72% of managers found distance management demanding and not motivating. It also shows that the key sources of support came from their direct reports (71%) and less from their manager (51%) and internal support function (45%). The Cronbach Alphas of the two constructs POS and WBA were above 0.7. The PLS model showed that POS positively influenced WBA (β =0.337, p<.001) with R2=0.114, NFI=0.8 and SRMR=0.089. In light of these findings, if workplaces aim to become fully remote or hybrid, it is essential to take into account the sufficient POS in order to maintain managers WBA. The changes in management locality should align to their skills and preferences (present or acquired). Not taking into account such skills and preferences may risk increased stress and anxiety and potentially ineffective management. Consequently, organisations would need to reconsider the support provided to their managers in the transition so that they, the managers, can develop in tandem with the changes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 15th EAOHP Conference 2022
Publication date2022
Pages152-153
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event15th European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology Conference - University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France
Duration: 6 Jul 20228 Jul 2022
Conference number: 15
https://www.eaohp.org/conference.html

Conference

Conference15th European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology Conference
Number15
LocationUniversity of Bordeaux
Country/TerritoryFrance
CityBordeaux
Period06/07/202208/07/2022
Internet address

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