Corporates must do their best to engage with employees and boost their morale during an economic downturn.
The model could help management identify and acknowledge the impact of employee anxiety and implement workplace actions that help staff stay engaged, committed and improve job satisfaction.
Kenneth Green of the Southern Arkansas University and Bobby Medlin of the College of Business at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith collected data at the height of the 2009 US recession, during which gross domestic product fell dramatically and corporate bankruptcies were at its peak.
Workers were concerned about whether or not they would keep their jobs and whether or not they would be compensated if their company did not survive the recession.
The researchers used an obvious definition of employee engagement that said an employee is one who is fully involved in and enthusiastic about the work.
This might be qualified by adding that a fully engaged worker is prepared to offer discretionary effort or be willing to 'go the extra mile', they explained.
They added that intuitively one would assume that workplace anxiety would have negative consequences on level of engagement and earlier research has supported this notion in recent years.
The Arkansas team has now quantified this issue and suggested that it could be used by management to improve employee engagement, organizational commitment, and job satisfaction by helping individuals overcome their recession anxiety.
They recommended that managers acknowledge the impact of the anxiety generated during recessionary times and take actions to reduce the negative impact of workplace anxiety by providing employees with information related to the organization's current situation and each employee's status.