Kiwis carry on calmly during COVID-19

28 Apr, 2020
Jarrod Haar

Feeling like most people in New Zealand are handling the COVID-19 lockdown well?

New research conducted by AUT’s Professor of Management Jarrod Haar and Massey University’s Dr David Brougham confirms this is the case.

As part of an ongoing research project (not specifically COVID-19 related), Professor Haar sampled 628 New Zealand employees in paid work (57% female, average age 40 years, working 36-40 hours/week). The cohort comprised 317 employees surveyed before the lockdown notification (the control group), 311 employees surveyed after the lockdown notification, and 224 (of the 311) who responded to the survey while in lockdown. The survey of this latter group ended about a week into lockdown.

Our findings were surprising: regardless of their groups, the responses of all those surveyed were identical. All reported similar levels of well-being (across job stress, work-life balance, anxiety, depression, sleep-related issues, and life satisfaction) and work outcomes (job insecurity, job satisfaction, career satisfaction, turnover intentions, and work engagement).

What does this mean? The findings give insight into the psyche of the New Zealand workforce – at least those who were still working just before and into the early part of lockdown. Because this event occurred while the study was underway, the survey also provides a unique “natural experiment” comparing the reactions of employees between the notification of and the official lockdown.

Ultimately, our survey shows that New Zealand employees remained calm across this time and did not appear to react with greater anxiety or stress around their job. This is likely due to several factors, but key will be the consistent and calm messaging from leaders at this time of crisis. A current follow-up study is being conducted to determine whether these effects remain after the four weeks of lockdown.

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