Psychological capital can help workers cope better with stress during the pandemic, according to a new study.
The study from Salisbury University and West Virginia University was conducted to see how psychological capital (PsyCap) influenced self-perceived stress levels. PsyCap is a positive state of mind characterised by self-efficacy, optimism, hope and resiliency.
The study was conducted in May 2020 around the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – respondents were full-time workers and had an average age of 35.
Results revealed workers using adaptive coping strategies such as exercise, meditation or social networking were able to cope better with stress than workers using maladaptive coping strategies like binge drinking or substance abuse.
Findings revealed this latter group displayed a high perception of stress.
Study author and management professor Jeffery Houghton wanted to see if this dynamic changed in people working from home. He predicted the effects of maladaptive coping on stress levels would increase.
The results revealed workers using adaptive coping strategies coped better with work and exhibited lower levels of stress.
“You’ve still got a strong, positive relationship between PsyCap and adaptive coping, but for the people working at home, that doesn’t seem to affect their stress. That’s interesting and may be because of additional stressors at home,” Houghton said.
He recommends employers offer training or workshops designed to enhance psychological capital and increase the health and happiness of their workers.
“Workshops to help people improve their level of this cognitive resource can in fact make them more adaptive with their coping styles.”
According to Houghton, research suggests PsyCap training will see better outcomes if the four components of self-efficacy, optimism, hope and resiliency are treated as a package rather than singular concepts.
“PsyCap is something that’s considered to be malleable. It can change and be improved.”
Findings were published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management.
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