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03-11-2023 | Empirical Piece

Understanding Coping at Work During Socio-Environmental Jolts: A Person-Centered Investigation

Authors: Mahira L. Ganster, Maira E. Ezerins, Allison S. Gabriel, Nitya Chawla, Christopher C. Rosen, Rebecca L. MacGowan, Jerel E. Slaughter

Published in: Journal of Business and Psychology

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Abstract 

Coping with work-related stress is a key component of several theories that focus on employee well-being and performance. Yet, despite the myriad of ways that employees can cope, little is known about the complexities surrounding how employees may deploy multiple coping strategies in conjunction, particularly during unprecedented, uncontrollable, and novel socio-environmental events that disrupt work life, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing from the cybernetic theory of stress, we posit that taking a person-centered approach to coping may uncover the complex ways that employees cope with stress simultaneously, generating distinct profiles of coping. To illustrate this, we focus on employee coping within a context that has served as a significant socio-environmental jolt—working during the COVID-19 pandemic. Across two studies, we first consider distinct profiles of coping that may emerge (Study 1). We then consider antecedents related to the pandemic (i.e., work uncertainty, work location, and work arrangement autonomy) as well as outcomes of profile membership, including somatic complaints, job satisfaction, turnover intentions, and job performance (Study 2). Combined, our research contributes to the coping and stress literatures by adopting a person-centered approach that identifies how profiles of coping—rather than any one particular strategy in isolation—may facilitate employee well-being, work attitudes, and performance during periods of heightened work stress and uncertainty.

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Appendix
Available only for authorised users
Footnotes
1
Data in both studies have been reported in two publications; however, there is no overlap in variables used in each study (see Appendix A). Although data are not available, all output results for both studies are posted in an Open Science Framework (OSF) repository, available at: https://​osf.​io/​cqk6m/​?​view_​only=​43d290060a384cb2​b82b3cc4490ceede​.
 
2
In a prior version of this manuscript, we also considered number of children at home and perceived vulnerability to COVID-19. Results of these antecedents in predicting COVID-19 coping profiles are available upon request.
 
3
In a prior version of our manuscript, we also considered employees’ general health (Goldberg & Williams, 1988). Results of these analyses are available upon request.
 
4
Twenty-eight participants were removed for failing attention checks (e.g., “please select ‘strongly agree’”), and 33 were removed for careless responding in the Time 2 or Time 3 survey (e.g., completed our survey in less than 360 s, did not adhere to reverse scoring patterns). We also removed 10 participants at Time 2 whose identification numbers could not be matched to participants at Time 1.
 
5
We also compared these person-centered analyses to multiple types of variable-centered (i.e., regression) analyses to assess how our person-centered approach provided new insights into how employees cope. Generally, our hypothesized antecedents were positively related to coping, but did not distinguish well between the combination of strategies that employees deployed. Likewise, we found limited results in terms of significant relationships between coping and our three outcomes. Generally, the variable-centered analyses were not able to capture heterogeneity in our sample due to profile membership or differences due to the combinations of coping enacted (e.g., differences between compromisers and moderate copers). Full results are available in Appendix B in our online OSF repository.
 
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Metadata
Title
Understanding Coping at Work During Socio-Environmental Jolts: A Person-Centered Investigation
Authors
Mahira L. Ganster
Maira E. Ezerins
Allison S. Gabriel
Nitya Chawla
Christopher C. Rosen
Rebecca L. MacGowan
Jerel E. Slaughter
Publication date
03-11-2023
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Journal of Business and Psychology
Print ISSN: 0889-3268
Electronic ISSN: 1573-353X
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-023-09915-6