The Role of Leadership and Related Work Factors Caused by COVID-19: The Impact on Employee Effectiveness

The Role of Leadership and Related Work Factors Caused by COVID-19: The Impact on Employee Effectiveness

Adel Ismail Al-Alawi, Arpita Anshu Mehrotra, Samah Sabri Ali, Fatima Ali Al-Ammar
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6948-1.ch018
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This chapter aims to analyze the role of leadership and related work factors caused by COVID-19, the impact on employee effectiveness, and workforce performance in the workplace. Several studies have examined the effect of such crises in different sectors and countries that shed an interesting comparison and distinction. Still, there is limited research published on the workplace's impact due to COVID-19 concerning employee productivity. However, most studies highlight different independent variables on employees and the organization's work effectiveness. A limited number of systemic research studies have led to various studies conducted based on new theoretical frameworks. The literature on change management's effectiveness during such a pandemic is not widely available. Future research should cover various factors such as motivation, remuneration, global environment, employee stress, health and safety, and HRM policies. Moreover, demographic variables should be taken into account as studies have briefly found that some age groups are affected differently than others.
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The Novel Coronavirus outbreak in 2019 (COVID-19) has caught the world by surprise as it continues to spread and successfully disrupt everyday lives. In March 2020, the virus was officially considered a pandemic by the World Health Organization (Singh & Singh, 2020). The virus has caused the need for social distancing measures to prevent the rapid spread of infection, and as a result, a social and economic impact has been created. These preventative measures have caused many groups to experience severe states of stress.

A key role in implementing proactive approaches stems from intuitive organizations that can determine processes to achieve organizational recovery in the time of crises (Bowers et al., 2017). As the working trait changes with each generation, it has become necessary for managers to change their leadership style in accordance (Wolor et al., 2020). However, proactive approaches entail new policies and processes that could lead to disorientation without significant change management.

During a crisis, leadership means to lead under pressure due to the uncertainties caused by unforeseen events (Brandebo, 2020). Despite the obvious measures that could be implemented by understanding acceptable practices, sometimes there is the reluctance to deal with difficult situations and therefore lead to uncertainties with employees (Al-Alawi et al., 2019). Poor leadership achieves the contrary to what it aims. For this reason, proactive leadership that enables right decision is essential to ensure that the organization takes a holistic approach towards implementing policies for unforeseen situations.

According to Singh & Singh (2020), several groups of people have been forced to work from home, avoid social gatherings, and avoid travel. The stressful states have led to a sense of fear as well as mental disorders. Well-being has been identified as a significant part of human life that has been affected by this ordeal in various areas.

In work, the challenges faced have come from substantial changes in work process arrangements and conditions. Additionally, to the previous point, these have brought about new challenges psychologically both in the scope of health and well-being of employed workers. This affects all workers – frontline, remote-workers, or those who have been unfortunately made unemployed (Papandrea&Azzi, 2020).

In general, stressors can decrease organizational performance and employees’ overall performance, leading to reduced work quality and high staff turnover (Al-Alaw & Al-Alawi, 2014; Pandey, 2020). This has become a significant issue for many organizations worldwide. As a result, itis paramount to understand the influences of such stresses and the impact of the critical work factors, practices, and policies that can overcome this (Al-Alawi & Al-Alawi, 2014).

Studies lack amplitude of factors that can bring substance to research, such as geographical exposure, sample size, and data collection. This causes a missed opportunity in performing longitudinal analysis for a study in pandemic scenarios and its correlation to leadership and work effectiveness (Sembiring et al., 2020). While pandemic situations cause panic and therefore lead to decreased performance, there is a lack of literature on the possibility of mitigation from workplace practices.

Evidence of studies that have analyzed the effect of such crises in different sectors and countries shed interesting comparisons and distinctions (Refer to Tables 1 to 4).

In a study conducted on employees of McKinsey & Company, addressing the basic needs of employees during COVID-19, it has been found that the top three experience factors are organizational stability, compensation and benefits, and trust in leadership. While these do shed light on this study's direction, it appears that need fulfillment can be accomplished by establishing motivation elements (Emmett et al., 2020).

Studies that determine the effectiveness of implementing electronic forms of training and leadership and accomplishing work-life balance related to work motivation are needed to explore further. A study by Wolor et al. (2020) has been calling attention to the factors that keep employees motivated amid challenging times, specifically during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In another study conducted by Sembiring et al. (2020)primary concern was to analyze the factors that affect the banking employee’s performance and investigate the remuneration effect on employee motivation during the outbreak of COVID-19. It has been seen that the banking sector in Indonesia found that the impact of remuneration on employees’ performances had major influence.

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