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Work Stress Hampering Employee Performance During COVID-19: Is Safety Culture Needed?

Work Stress Hampering Employee Performance During COVID-19: Is Safety Culture Needed? fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 1 ORIGINAL RESEARCH published: 26 August 2021 doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.655839 Work Stress Hampering Employee Performance During COVID-19: Is Safety Culture Needed? 1 2 3 Farida Saleem *, Muhammad Imran Malik and Saiqa Saddiqa Qureshi Department of Management, College of Business Administration, Prince Sultan University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2 3 Department of Management Science, COMSATS University Islamabad, Attock, Pakistan, Department of Business Administration, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan During uncertain situations, such as the COVID-19 partial lockdown, maintaining satisfactory levels of employee performance (EP) is an important area of concern for many organizations. The current study examines the relationship of work stress due to COVID-19 (COVID-19 STR) and EP. Using social exchange theory (SET), safety culture (SC) is presented as a moderator for stress and performance relationships. A sample of 213 bank employees was collected using a convenient sampling method. Data were analyzed using stepwise linear regression and PROCESS Macro by Hayes (2013). Results revealed that COVID-19 STR has a negative impact on task and contextual performance (CP) and a positive impact on adaptive performance (AP). Similarly, the prevalence of SC significantly moderates the stress and performance relationships. Edited by: Keywords: COVID-19, employee performance, work stress, safety culture, social exchange theory Rita F. De Oliveira, London South Bank University, United Kingdom INTRODUCTION Reviewed by: Vincenzo Cupelli, Stressful life situations such as pandemics can have significant negative implications for the mental Retired, Florence, Italy health and psychological functioning of an individual. Stress, anxiety, mental confusion, social Mashura Shammi, deprivation, and depression are a few examples of these mental and psychological issues (Yıldırım Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh and Arslan, 2020). Brooks et al. (2020) also support that quarantined experiences due to COVID-19 *Correspondence: lead to stress, fear, and frustration in individuals. Similarly, uncertainty due to COVID-19 is also Farida Saleem associated with significant changes in our daily routines that can increase stress, depression, and fsaleem@psu.edu.sa anxiety (Arslan et al., 2020; Talaee et al., 2020; Mergel and Schützwohl, 2021). Likewise, a recent systematic review on the COVID-19 pandemic and mental health by Vindegaard and Benros (2020) Specialty section: This article was submitted to and a narrative review on COVID-19 related mental health effects in the workplace by Giorgi et al. Performance Science, (2020) also concluded that COVID-19 has resulted in increased levels of depression, anxiety, and a section of the journal poor sleep quality. Other prior literature has investigated work stress having an impact on various Frontiers in Psychology work practices (Ram et al., 2011; Kinyita, 2015; Yunita and Saputra, 2019) under normal conditions, Received: 19 January 2021 but the literature has not taken into account the effects of work stress on employee performance Accepted: 24 June 2021 (EP) in uncertain conditions such as the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Published: 26 August 2021 Organizations continuously try to survive and sustain themselves (Bishwas and Sushil, 2016) Citation: requiring well-performing employees (Rani et al., 2013; Mensah et al., 2016). However, it becomes Saleem F, Malik MI and difficult for organizations to maintain consistency in their operations in uncertain external Qureshi SS (2021) Work Stress situations that can affect the well-being of their employees. These uncertain situations, such as Hampering Employee Performance the COVID-19 pandemic, can develop stress which hampers the performance of employees. The During COVID-19: Is Safety Culture hazards prevailing in the work environment due to pandemics not only distract the attention Needed? Front. Psychol. 12:655839. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.655839 of employees from work but also threaten their survival at the workplace by causing health Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 1 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 2 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 problems (Carroll et al., 2009). In a recent study, Yunita and their burnout (Luceño-Moreno et al., 2020; Yıldırım and Solmaz, Saputra (2019) noted that a change in the environment is a 2020), work life balance (Magnavita et al., 2020), psychological common phenomenon that is frequently faced by employees wellbeing and anxiety (Denning et al., 2021; Galbraith et al., 2021; in organizations. The changes taking place may cause stress Mo et al., 2021), and their willingness to work (Maraqa et al., among employees and this may lead to the generation of 2020) during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, very little is interpersonal conflicts that damage the working patterns of known about the impact of stress due to COVID-19 (COVID-19 individuals (Kinyita, 2015). Correspondingly, stressed employees STR) on the performance of banking staff who had to be available may experience depression and become unable to concentrate on duty during these tough times. Lastly, this study examines on their work, thus resulting in decreased performance the influence of SC as a boundary-condition for the relationship (Yunita and Saputra, 2019). between work COVID-19 STR and EP. The studies on workplace stress have considered two main streams that help in understanding how stress is created. The THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK first stream highlights the traditional job-related stress (Roster and Ferrari, 2019; Yunita and Saputra, 2019; Jex and Beehr, 1991). These researchers examined how stressful psychosocial Social Exchange Theory aspects of work environments, such as increased workloads, The SET by Cook et al. (2013) gives a common understanding role conflict, lack of autonomy, and lack of social support, for how workers are likely to react when their psychological states can lead to job strains and hamper performance (Beehr et al., are changed due to work pressures coming from the environment 2001; Kinyita, 2015; Kozus ˙ znik et al., 2018). The second stream in which they work. According to SET, there exists a reciprocal looked at the environmental aspects examining how worker relationship between the employees and their work environment. abilities and their physical environment affects performance and The SET assumes that all human relations are established how a person-environment “misfit,” if any, leads to adverse on the basis of “cost-benefit” analysis and a comparability of psychological or physiological responses (Lazarus and Cohen, alternatives (Nguyen et al., 2016). Previous studies recommend 1977; Ram et al., 2011; Yunita and Saputra, 2019). However, that psychological contracts help to explain the conditions of the there is another important perspective that can create stress in social exchange relationship between employees and employers employees: uncertainty and threatful situations in the external (Ahmad et al., 2019; Turnley et al., 2003). These relations environment. As such, elements of the physical environment comprise deliberate activities that all parties take part in with the interfere with workers’ ability to perform or pose undue demands assumption that all stakeholders will reciprocate these activities on workers, thereby impeding the performance of employees by in one way or another. producing stress (McCoy and Evans, 2005). The current study proposes a model based on the imminent The question now is how organizations can reduce the work stress due to the COVID-19 situation and its impact negative impact of COVID-19 stress on performance of on EP. The employees may feel more conscious about their employees. To address this, the current study synthesizes health while coming to their workplaces, which may harm their the literature of stress and performance with safety culture work performance. There is an element of reciprocity where the (SC). Social exchange theory (SET) is used for introducing managers who are willing to support their employees by ensuring SC as a moderator for COVID-19 stress and performance their safety through safe working conditions are likely to receive relationship. According to SET, social exchanges taking place reciprocity from employees in the form of higher performance in the organization fosters trust in employees. The provision levels. It is likely that SC will initiate social exchanges between of SC by the top management encourages employees to return the employees and their employers and will develop into a win- by showing their sincere efforts toward achieving organizational win situation for both parties. goals (Cropanzano and Mitchell, 2005). SC can thus act as The SET provides the foundation for the proposed research a boundary-condition between the relationship of stress and framework in two ways; first, the exchange is perceived by performance under situations created by COVID-19. the employees in the presence of a threatening environment This study contributes to the existing literature in many prevailing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Secondly, the bank ways; firstly, the current investigation is focused on the impact employees have to deal with various documents received via of external factors like the outbreak of COVID-19 on stress mail or in person from the customers coming to the bank. This and performance relationship. However, internal organizational exchange causes a threat to the employees and their morale factors affecting employee stress and performance has dominated may go down and may hamper their performance. Thirdly, the the existing literature. Secondly, the current study has developed exchange takes place between the management and employees and tested the proposed model in the banking sector of a in the case of sharing SC and using ways for protection. The developing country where, due to limited use of online banking employees with a perception of safety being provided by the services, the banking staff had to come to the bank during the employer may remain committed to their work and hence show outbreak of COVID-19. As the service providers, the employees better performance outcomes, not only related to their tasks, working in the banks have more vulnerability toward prevailing but also toward maintaining good relationships in the workplace hazards of COVID-19 due to the frequent human-to-human and adopting various ways to protect themselves and others by interactions. Similarly, we do find literature focusing on the showing consistency in their work. Based on SET we propose a stress and mental health of healthcare workers and its impact on research framework in Figure 1. Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 2 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 3 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 harms the motivation, morale, and performance of employees in Employee Work Stress Due the workplace. Moreover, it has a negative relationship with job Performance to COVID-19 satisfaction that interferes with one’s energy to work and results 1- Task in lower performance levels (Ram et al., 2011). The stressed 2- Contextual Safety Culture employees are faced with bad health conditions in addition to 3- Adaptive having worse work experiences in the workplace. This further decreases their energy to concentrate on their work and thus their performances decrease. The negative effects of work stress FIGURE 1 | Proposed research framework. on the psychological and physical states of employees may threaten their health and result in damaged cognitive processes, short-term memory loss, and, in severe cases, hampered re- LITERATURE REVIEW call of knowledge and distracted attention to the work assigned (Al-Hawajreh, 2011). Work Stress and Employee Performance The sources of stress in the workplace, such as role overload, The EP is performing the job-related responsibilities diligently role ambiguity, and role conflicts, lead to disturbed flow of (Bartol, 1999; Briscoe and Claus, 2008). According to Atatsi work. It is evident that the work stress and its more severe et al. (2019), it is the degree to which employees fulfill the forms are increasingly prevalent in the work environment under demands of the job assigned in a well-managed way within the the current circumstances of COVID-19 (Yıldırım and Solmaz, given resources. EP is a combination of task performance (TP), 2020; Denning et al., 2021; Galbraith et al., 2021; Mo et al., contextual performance (CP), and adaptive performance (AP) 2021). The employees who experience high degree of stress (Koopmans et al., 2011). TP is related to performing the essential may have low commitment and satisfaction from their job job-related tasks. Motowidlo (2000) views TP as involvement in (Saleem and Gopinath, 2015; Kuzey, 2018) that distracts their accomplishing assigned tasks by an organization. Furthermore, attention from their important work-related tasks and hampers it pertains to a person’s participation in attaining organizational their overall performance. Alternatively, the employees who efficiency by performing activities that are part of the official feel more satisfaction at their workplace are more productive compensation system, and that details the specifications as and have the capability to handle complex situations. The highlighted in the job descriptions (Kuranchie-Mensah and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic may lead toward Amponsah-Tawiah, 2016). Various terms represent the same disturbance in the flow of work and can result in role concept, such as technical proficiency or in-role performance overload, role ambiguity, and role conflicts which may lead to (Koopmans et al., 2013). TP is related to the employee actions increased stress and decreased performance in organizations. The that are formally prescribed in the job description and are banking sector is generally perceived as a stressful profession evaluated by the management. Johnson and O’Leary-Kelly (2003) characterized by strict regulatory policies, heavy workloads, and indicated that an employee’s level of TP is determined by their ever-changing demands of the customers. These challenges can psychological ability rather than their sociability. Colquitt et al. harm the psychological and physical health of the employees (2012) indicated that psychological trust generates a sense of (Huber, 2000). Similarly, under the current COVID-19 situation, security in employees and makes them comfortable to keep task employees working in the banking sector are exposed to more related exchanges with the organization. stressful situations. Similarly, CP is viewed as behaviors that go beyond the A combination of stressful events, such as the compliance officially described work objectives (Koopmans et al., 2011). It pressures from the organization, interpersonal conflicts, and lack is a popular research subject studied in relation to companies of professionalism, may affect the performance of employees. and the person (Koopmans et al., 2013). Social facilitation Inadequate skills to deal with the job and the mismatch and job commitment are the main characteristics of CP (Van between efforts made and the rewards received are common Scotter, 2000). AP is about employees learning new things in factors that create stress among employees and affect their their workplace. Individual task adaptability is the degree to TP (Bijleveld et al., 2011). Literature provides evidence for which people deal with, react to, and/or support changes that factors such as excessive workloads, inadequate workspace, affect their positions as a worker. It is affected by technological inadequate resources, deficient company HRM policies, and strict innovation, work enhancement, and changes in techniques, thus deadlines (Botha and Pienaar, 2006) having negative effects on requiring workers to modify their workplace actions (Griffin job performance. Similarly, the work stress hampers one’s self- et al., 2007). Adopting changes taking place in the workplace is efficacy and, as a result, employees feel they have less control about AP (Pulakos et al., 2002). Adaptive people are likely to over their work (Mo et al., 2021). This sense of lower self- have better concentration on their tasks, thus enhancing their TP efficacy may result in hampering CP by creating inadequacies (Shoss et al., 2012). in communication and damaged relationships with co-workers Among factors hampering employees’ performance, stress is and managers. The stressed employees see their workplaces as the foremost factor that has negative implications (Ram et al., having deficient social support and may develop a lack of trust 2011; Kinyita, 2015; Yunita and Saputra, 2019). Stress is noted (Wickham et al., 2014) that also negatively influences their CP. At to have a negative effect on the psychological, behavioral, and the same time, the work stress may harm the thinking processes physiological status of the individuals (Musyoka et al., 2012). It of employees and hinder their new practices’ adopting capacity. Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 3 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 4 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 This slows down their pace of work, thus hampering their AP developed to ensure EP through SC. Halligan and Zecevic (2011) (Roster and Ferrari, 2019). view SC as “the product of individual and group values, attitudes, The perceptions of mistrust in any organization may lead competencies, and patterns of behavior that determine the to mental disturbances and employees to show compromising commitment to an organization’s health and safety programs.” behaviors that negatively affect their AP (Saunders and Thornhill, The SC is the combined responsibility of all employees to 2004). Several studies have seen stress as having a negative ensure the commencement of safe working practices that foster effect on performance. However, it is not always the case. trust and support among employees. It is noted that the For example, Siswanto et al. (2019) noted work stress as a availability of the high levels of support from supervisors and motivator to adopting new practices for better performance. In co-workers removes the negative effects of high-strain jobs and another recent study, Harras (2019) is argued that stress may the levels of performance can be enhanced (Sargent and Terry, invert the U-shaped relationship with employee’s performance. 2000), thus the working environment has a great influence on At first, the stress enhances motivation to work and after a employees’ mental health. certain threshold, it starts decreasing the motivation to work Safety culture enables employees to learn the practices that and diminishes performance due to unjustified work distribution, are necessary to perform work from one another as illustrated work irrelevance, complexity, and monotony. Moreover, it is by the SET (Griffin and Neal, 2000). The removal of errors argued that the performance of an individual improves with helps employees become more engaged in their work and their capacity to handle work stress up to a certain threshold. fosters extending support to one another while at the workplace. However, after reaching that point, increased work stress may This leads them to minimize the stress levels as they perceive result in diminished performance (Jackson and Frame, 2018). their workplace to be supportive and well managed, which Literature has also found a significant relationship between work enhances their capability of being productive. People who stress and performance. Hence, based on the above literature are satisfied with their work environment show extraordinary findings, we propose that work COVID-19 STR in banking contributions toward their job (Hsu et al., 2016). SC protects employees will have a significant impact on their tasks, both employees against any harm in the organization. It provides contextual and adaptive. the sense of being protected and makes employees satisfied while at their workplaces. This sense of safety keeps them H1a: Work stress due to COVID-19 significantly affects motivated to perform well in the organization (Fulwiler and employees’ task performance Gerlach, 2014). The employees who are safe and secure have H1b: Work stress due to COVID-19 significantly affects better decision-making capabilities and they perform their employees’ contextual performance work by using resources efficiently. The organizations with H1c: Work stress due to COVID-19 significantly affects SC encourage developing positive work behaviors in their employees’ adaptive performance employees as they remain committed to safety and their work (Reason, 2000). While analyzing the impact of safety Safety Culture as Moderator measures taken during COVID-19 on the work performance of A positive SC is characterized by communication based on Japanese employees, Sasaki et al. (2020) concluded that intensive mutual trust by shared perceptions of the importance of safety, implementation of workplace measures responding to COVID- and by confidence in the efficacy of preventive measures. The 19 reduce employees’ psychological distress and means they mere presence of safety standards or cursory implementation maintain their work performance. of these standards at the workplace cannot guarantee safety In the light of the above findings, it is argued that the (Griffin and Neal, 2000). Proper implementation and application employees will be in a position to perform well when they of these standards is required. It demands employees strictly feel safe at their workplaces. SC reduces potential threats follow safety standards to not only ensure their own safety but prevailing in the work environment and provides a sense of that of others as well. SC ensures the removal of errors and taking satisfaction and reduced stress in employees (Didla et al., 2009). care of others that fosters trust among employees and supports Moreover, it is noted that in an organizational context, the performance by sharing their knowledge and skills, removing accidents are not the only danger that threaten the employees, hazards, solving each other’s problems, and working without develop stress, and negatively influence their performance; making mistakes, ensuring required standards of performance. external environmental factors such as floods, earthquakes, The SC can be used to mitigate the negative effects of work and pandemics also have similar effects. Taking these different stress on performance, especially when organizations are faced challenges on board, developing a SC seems paramount to with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is further asserted that work providing a sense of protection to employees and helps in stress is a function of internal and external forces, pressures, decreasing the stress due to uncertainty by making them feel and cultures that require customized interventions (Muscroft safe, ensuring consistent performance. Due to the equivocal and Hicks, 1998). Therefore, it is important to examine SC as finding in literature regarding the impact of work stress an intervention to reduce the negative effects of work stress on on the performance of employees, we propose that under EP relationships. uncertain situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, SC acts as Ensuring safety in the workplace is very important for a boundary condition and moderator for relationships existing achieving performance targets as it ensures higher commitment between work stress and performance. Hence, the following and performance by employees. Several mechanisms can be hypotheses are proposed: Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 4 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 5 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 TABLE 1 | Demographic information, n = 213. H2a: The safety culture moderates the relationship of work stress due to COVID-19 and employees’ task performance Variables Category Frequency Percentage H2b: The safety culture moderates the relationship of work stress due to COVID-19 and employees’ contextual Gender Male 112 53 Female 101 47 performance Age (years) 26–35 20 9 H2c: The safety culture moderates the relationship of work stress due to COVID-19 and employees’ adaptive 36–45 148 69 46–55 45 21 performance Job status Top level 55 25 Middle level 83 39 METHODOLOGY First level 75 35 Education Below Graduation 16 15 Sample and Data Collection Graduation 62 29 Masters 120 56 Bank employees were selected for this study because they were supposed to come to work even under the threatening situation Experience (Years) <1 30 14 1–5 112 53 of COVID-19. Along with their normal workload, the threatening 6–10 49 23 conditions of COVID-19 added to their work stress, and they >10 22 10 were deemed to be the most suitable people to respond to our questionnaire for examining the developed framework. The Source: field data. questionnaire used for data collection was presented to and approved by the ethical committee at COMSATS University have already made these arrangements for the people visiting Islamabad, Attock Campus, Pakistan. We have used a non- banks for their transactions and other purposes. The number of probability convenience sampling technique for data collection visitors was further controlled by making a queue outside the due to the COVID-19 situation as all bank employees were bank (each branch) and allowing a limited number of visitors at working from their offices. We planned a visit to different banks a given time. The questionnaire was written in plain English to after contacting the branch manager via telephone and getting avoid any confusion while reading the questionnaire. Anonymity their approval for data collection from their branch employees. and confidentiality were ensured, and the respondents were We visited sixteen different bank branches in Rawalpindi and assured that their responses will not be shared with any manager Islamabad, Pakistan, collecting data in the month of May or any other employee working in the bank. Moreover, it was 2021. Bank employees willingly participated in the questionnaire ensured that the responses will only be used for the research survey. We contacted 375 bank employees working from their purpose that gave employees more confidence to provide their offices during the COVID-19 pandemic. We received 245 filled genuine responses. questionnaires. After careful scanning and due to missing information, we removed 32 responses. The response rate was Instrumentation 56% and the final usable sample size was 213. We selected the bank employees who were working from their offices during A closed-ended questionnaire was used to record the responses the COVID-19 situation and were working from 10am to 3pm of bank employees who were working from offices during partial (reduced working hours due to COVID-19). These employees lockdown for COVID-19. All the statements for measuring were in direct or indirect contact with customers who visited the constructs were assessed on a five point Likert scale the selected banks. from “strongly disagree” as 1 to “strongly agree” as 5, In the collected data, 53% of respondents were male and 47% except the demographic variables. We have collected data were female. More than half of the respondents (69%) were related to all variables at a single time due to difficulty in between 36 and 45. Thirty-nine percentage respondents were visiting the respondents again and again under the partial working at the middle level of management in different branches lockdown situation. The questionnaire was primarily compiled of the banks followed by the first line managers (35%). It is in English language which was easily completed by the bank also noted that nearly half of the respondents had 16 years of employees as the official language of Pakistan is English education (56%) and the majority of the respondents had work and bank employees have enough educational background to experience of 1–5 years (53%). The demographic information of understand the language. respondents is presented in Table 1. Work Stress Due to COVID-19 Procedure Work COVID-19 STR was measured using the four-dimensions The bank employees were approached by seeking prior (anxiety, impact on duty, depressive symptoms, and sleep permission from the senior branch manager. All possible disturbance) scale adopted from Zaki et al. (2020). Each measures for social distancing (keeping at-least six feet distance) dimension was measured with separate questions. Anxiety due to and personal protection (wearing masks and hand gloves and COVID-19 was measured using nine questions. Sample questions using sanitizer) were taken before handing over and retrieval of are “I can’t stop imagining catching COVID-19” and “I feel the questionnaires on both sides, researcher – respondent. Banks helpless.” COVID-19 impact on duty was assessed with the help Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 5 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 6 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 TABLE 2 | Results of confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). of three questions and the sample question is “has COVID- 19 impacted your employment?” Depression symptoms were Construct/Variable Factor loadings Alpha CR AVE measured with the help of three questions. The sample question Stress due to COVID 19: is “I lost motivation and interest in aspects of life.” Sleep Anxiety and fear 0.92 0.92 0.58 disturbance was also measured with the help of three questions ANX1 0.694 and the sample question is “My sleep/wake routine is different ANX2 0.838 after COVID-19.” ANX3 0.748 ANX4 0.853 Employees’ Performance ANX5 0.805 The questionnaire for the employees’ performance was adopted ANX6 0.798 from Koopmans et al. (2013, 2014) with three underlying ANX7 0.848 dimensions: TP, CP, and AP. TP was measured with the help of ANX8 0.607 seven items adopted from Koopmans et al. (2014). The sample ANX9 0.621 items are “In the past 3 months I managed to plan my work so Impact on duty 0.91 0.92 0.79 that it was done on time” and “In the past 3 months I was able to IOD1 0.899 perform my work well with minimal time and effort.” 8-itemed IOD2 0.893 CP scale adopted from Koopmans et al. (2014) was used for the IOD3 0.875 measurement of CP of respondents. The sample items are “In the Depression 0.88 0.89 0.74 past 3 months I took on extra responsibilities” and “In the past DEP1 0.794 3 months I came up with creative solutions to new problems.” DEP2 0.945 The AP was measured with the help of a 5-itemed scale adopted DEP3 0.832 from Koopmans et al. (2013). The sample item is “I was able to Sleep disturbance 0.79 0.79 0.56 cope well under uncertain and unpredictable situations at work.” SLD1 0.758 SLD2 0.810 Safety Culture SLD3 0.679 The scale for the SC was adopted from Lee et al. (2017) with five Safety culture 0.90 0.90 0.65 items. They have reported Cronbach’s alpha value of 0.884. The SC1 0.753 sample items included in the SC scale were “I feel safe by being SC2 0.754 here,” “I am encouraged by my colleagues to report any safety SC3 0.795 concerns I may have,” and “the culture in this organization makes SC4 0.852 it easy to learn from the errors of others.” SC5 0.880 Task performance 0.96 0.96 0.80 TP1 0.883 DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS TP2 0.879 TP3 0.939 Control Variables TP4 0.891 We have used ANOVA test to identify the significant impact TP5 0.879 of the demographic variables on the proposed model. It was TP6 0.867 identified that the experience of respondents was not significantly TP7 0.910 related to any variable presented in the model. Education was Contextual performance 0.97 0.97 0.82 related to AP (F: 3.6; p: 0.05). Job status was significantly related CP1 0.916 to AP (F: 6.3; p: 0.01). Age was related to CP (F: 2.7; p: 0.07) and CP2 0.902 COVID-19 STR (F: 3.3; p: 0.04). Gender was significantly related CP3 0.893 to SC (F: 4.7; p: 0.03). Hence, all these variables were taken as CP4 0.896 control variables for further analysis. CP5 0.881 CP6 0.906 Scale Validation CP7 0.901 For scale validation we have performed both exploratory CP8 0.945 and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) for work COVID-19 Adaptive performance 0.92 0.92 0.70 STR and performance scale. We have used the exploratory AP1 0.756 factor analysis for these two constructs because they have AP2 0.869 their underlying dimensions. The parameter values of Kaiser- AP3 0.865 Meyer-Olkin and Bartlett’s sphericity test provide justification AP4 0.887 for the use of exploratory factor analysis technique for AP5 0.803 work COVID-19 STR and performance scales. We have used Goodness of fit indices. 2 2 principal component analysis with varimax rotations as a factor $ = 1642; d.f. = 830; $ /d.f. = 1.98; p < 0.001; CFI = 0.91; GFI = 0.75; AGFI = 0.71; RMR = 0.05; RMSEA = 0.07. extraction method. The exploratory factor analysis identified Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 6 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 7 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 the underlying dimensions of COVID-19 STR and performance order factor with underlying dimensions. The measurement scales. After exploratory factor analysis we have conducted model with latent and observed factors produces acceptable CFA using AMOS 17. The CFA, also called the measurement model fit indices. The results of CFA are presented in model, was run taking work COVID-19 STR as second Table 2. TABLE 3 | Descriptive statistics and correlations. Variable No of items Mean s.d. 1 2 3 4 5 1 COVID-19 STR 18 3.83 0.63 0.67 2 SC 5 2.14 0.79 0.02 (0.30) 0.65 3 TP 7 2.26 1.07 0.15** (0.27) 0.33* (0.24) 0.80 4 CP 8 2.40 1.10 0.12*** (0.24) 0.28* (0.30) 0.83* (0.36) 0.82 5 AP 5 3.19 0.69 0.18* (0.18) 0.20* (0.21) 0.31* (0.34) 0.21* (0.32) 0.70 COVID-19 STR, stress due to COVID-19; SC, safety culture; TP, task performance; CP, contextual performance; AP, adaptive performance. Shared variance in parenthesis; AVE in diagonal; *P < 0.01; **P < 0.05; ***P < 0.10; s.d., standard deviation; AVE in bold and diagonal. TABLE 4 | Stepwise linear regression. DV: TP DV: CP DV: AP Un-standardized coefficient t-Value Un-standardized coefficient t-Value Un-standardized coefficient t-Value Step1 (Control variables) Gender 0.016 0.239 0.138 2.083** 0.049 0.731 Age 0.039 0.592 0.010 0.146 0.076 1.121 Education 0.077 1.204 0.058 0.887 0.064 0.968 Experience 0.040 0.620 0.017 0.253 0.012 0.178 Job Status 0.065 0.995 0.013 0.197 0.104* 1.736* Step2 (Independent variables) COVID-19 STR 0.258* 2.369* 0.225** 2.002** 0.173* 2.360* SC 0.447* 5.167* 0.385* 4.221* 0.166** 2.873* Model fit F -value 15.91 10.96 6.28 R2 0.13 0.10 0.10 p-value 0.00 0.00 0.00 COVID-19 STR, stress due to COVID-19; SC, safety culture; TP, task performance; CP, contextual performance; AP, adaptive performance; *p < 0.01; **p < 0.05; ***p < 0.10. TABLE 5 | Five thousand bootstrap results for process model no.1 simple moderation analysis. DV: TP DV: CP DV: AP Estimate SE LL 95% CI UL 95% CI Estimate SE LL 95% CI UL 95% CI Estimate SE LL 95% CI UL 95% CI Gender 0.092 0.143 0.189 0.373 0.354** 0.149 0.061 0.649 0.071 0.095 0.116 0.257 Age 0.076 0.134 0.189 0.341 0.062 0.141 0.215 0.339 0.104 0.089 0.280 0.071 Education 0.093 0.095 0.084 0.294 0.087 0.100 0.110 0.285 0.038 0.064 0.087 0.163 Experience 0.031 0.083 0.195 0.133 0.037 0.087 0.135 0.285 0.008 0.055 0.101 0.117 Job Status 0.094 0.091 0.273 0.085 0.043 0.095 0.230 0.144 0.105* 0.060 0.223 0.014 COVID-19 STR 0.271* 0.113 0.047 0.495 0.269** 0.119 0.034 0.504 0.220* 0.075 0.072 0.369 SC 0.444* 0.087 0.271 0.617 0.406* 0.092 0.225 0.587 0.164* 0.058 0.279 0.049 COVID-19 STR* SC 0.362** 0.172 0.022 0.702 0.377** 0.180 0.021 0.732 0.273** 0.114 0.047 0.498 Model Fit F -value 5.03* 4.05* 3.40* R2 0.16 0.14 0.12 R2 Change 0.02** 0.18** 0.03** COVID-19 STR, stress due to COVID-19; SC, safety culture; TP, task performance; CP, contextual performance; AP, adaptive performance; *p < 0.01; **p < 0.05; ***p < 0.10. Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 7 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 8 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 insignificant (B = 0.031, ns) while it is significant for high SC Reliability and Validity (B = 0.569, P < 0.01). This finding supports H2b, which suggests The output of the measurement model was used for reliability that in cases of high COVID-19 STR, individuals who perceive and validity measurement checks. For reliability, we have used high SC show high CP whereas in cases of high COVID-19 STR, Composite Reliability and Cronbach Alpha values. The values of individuals who perceive low SC show low CP. both indices were greater than the proposed cutoff value of 0.70 The interaction graph of COVID-19 STR and AP relationship (Nunnally and Bernstein, 1994). Similarly, for validity we have (shown in Figure 4) suggests that this relationship is significant used AVE values that were more than 0.5, convergent validity for SC. The slope test shows that the slope for low SC is where all observed variables were successfully loaded into their insignificant (B = 0.003, ns) while it is significant for high SC respective construct. Results are presented in Table 2 (B = 0.438, P < 0.001). This finding supports H2c, which suggests Lastly, we checked the discriminant validity using Fornell that in cases of high COVID-19 STR, individuals who perceive and Larcker (1981) criterion, where the values of AVE for all high SC show high AP whereas in cases of high COVID-19 STR, constructs were greater than the shared variances. Results of individuals who perceive low SC show low AP. correlation and discriminant validity are presented in Table 3. Hypotheses Testing DISCUSSION Stepwise Linear Regression Analysis To test the first set of hypotheses (H1a, H1b, and H1c) we have Through this study we have examined the relationship of used stepwise linear regression in SPSS. In the first step we work COVID-19 STR and the performance of banking sector entered all control variables and in the next step we entered the employees during partial lockdown. By using SET, we also independent variable and the moderator. The results of three propose the moderating role of SC for the relationships of stepwise linear regression analysis with respect to each dependent work COVID-19 STR and EP. We have treated EP as a three- variable are presented in Table 4. dimensional construct having task, contextual, and adaptive The results identified that COVID-19 STR has a significant dimensions. The first important finding is related to the negative impact on TP (B = 0.258; P < 0.01) and CP relationship of COVID-19 stress and task and CP. The results (B = 0.225; P < 0.05) while it has a significant positive impact revealed that work COVID-19 STR has a significant negative on AP (B = 0.173; P < 0.01) in the presence of control variables impact on task and CP of banking sector employees. However, and moderator. Hence, H1a, H1b, and H1c are accepted. this negative impact is much stronger for TP followed by CP. Moderation Analysis These results are consistent with the prior literature on work For the testing of the second set of moderation hypotheses (H2a, stress and EP in general (Jex and Beehr, 1991; De Ruyter H2b, and H2c), we conducted a moderated regression analysis et al., 2001; Saleem and Gopinath, 2015; Kozus ˙ znik et al., 2018; by using PROCESS Macro (extension in SPSS) by Hayes (2013). Roster and Ferrari, 2019) and under the COVID-19 pandemic in We preferred to use PROCESS Macro over SEM and simple particular (Giorgi et al., 2020; Garcia et al., 2021; Kumar et al., regression analysis due to its robustness. PROCESS Macro uses 2021). a bootstrapping approach with biased corrected 95% confidence The employees experiencing work stress feel that their intervals and calculates the Johnson-Neyman outputs for the autonomy is decreasing, and they may not perform as per the interaction term. We have used Model No 1 of PROCESS required standards, thus resulting in low TP (Pulfrey et al., Macro by centering the variables that define product term and 2013). At the same time, the employees working in a risky conditioning values at mean and  1SD. Johnson-Neyman environment also look for increased pay packages and if they outputs for the interaction term were also calculated. Results are are not given the increased packages or the allowance to work presented in Table 5. in a threatened environment, that also contributes toward their The results identified that all interaction terms were significant decreased productivity. The health hazards not only affect the and there is no zero in the lower and upper bound of individuals in their individual capacity but also add to the cost 95% confidence interval of interaction terms. We plotted an of the organization in terms of employee absence and turnover of interaction graph for low and high (Mean  SD) values of employees (McCalister et al., 2006). moderator (SC) for all proposed moderation hypotheses. The The second important finding of the current investigation is interaction graph of COVID-19 STR and TP relationship (shown related to the relationship of COVID-19 STR and AP. The results in Figure 2) suggests that this relationship is significant for SC. found that work COVID-19 STR has a significant positive impact The slope test shows that the slope for low SC is insignificant on AP. This result is also consistent with some recent findings. (B = 0.018, ns) while it is significant for high SC (B = 0.559, Garcia et al. (2021), after studying the impact of COVID-related P < 0.01). This finding supports H2a, which suggests that in case stress in university faculty members, found both positive and of high COVID-19 STR, individuals who perceive high SC show negative effects of stress on work performance. Wong et al. high TP whereas in cases of high COVID-19 STR, individuals (2021) also supported the positive impact of COVID-19 related who perceive low SC show low TP. stress on the job performance while examining the responses The interaction graph of COVID-19 STR and CP relationship of hotel employees in the United States. Similarly, Siswanto (shown in Figure 3) suggests that this relationship is significant et al. (2019) identified work stress as a motivator to adopt new for SC. The slope test shows that the slope for low SC is practices that may be useful for protecting employees from the Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 8 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 9 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 4.5 3.5 Low SC High SC 2.5 1.5 Low COVID-19 STR High COVID-19 STR FIGURE 2 | Interaction effects of stress due to COVID-19 (COVID-19 STR) and safety culture (SC) on task performance (TP). 4.5 3.5 Low SC High SC 2.5 1.5 Low COVID-19 STR High COVID-19 STR FIGURE 3 | Interaction effects of COVID-19 STR and SC on contextual performance (CP). 4.5 3.5 Low SC High SC 2.5 1.5 Low COVID-19 STR High COVID-19 STR FIGURE 4 | Interaction effects of COVID-19 STR and SC on adaptive performance (AP). harmful effects of COVID-19 while performing at work. Our (McGowan et al., 2006). According to this notion, under stressful finding related to AP is in line with the notion that stressors situations people try their best to use newer ways to perform can act as motivators for determining enhanced job performance their work and to perform better and quicker than others in Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 9 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 AP CP TP fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 10 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 the workplace. Work stress motivates employees for adoption of decreased engagement, poor work quality, and errors, eventually better ways to work, thus enhancing their AP in the workplace. threatening the organization’s survival in these difficult times. The characteristic of having adaptability encourages employees The strategies that can possibly help managers to cope with these to learn more and use their knowledge in a direction to achieve difficult times include developing a sense of a safe and secure organizational goals. work environment and full-time availability of support from the Similarly, this result also supports that employees want to organization. Although stress has a negative impact on certain adopt practices that make them safe from COVID-19. The aspects of an employee’s performance, the intervention of SC may flexibility in working allows them to adopt new ways of doing prove to be a stress management tool that helps in decreasing work through the use of information technology, internet, and stress and improving performance. other communication technologies. This adaptability helps them Another practical implication is taking SC as a base for perform well while doing their office work without getting enhanced performance. The managers can use the technology stressed out due to COVID-19. The adaptive people quickly to keep distance between employees and between employees understand the requirements of the work environment and and customers so that they feel safe and work with diligence. respond quickly without compromising their work routines Furthermore, the “at-home” work structures are a useful (Shoss et al., 2012) as the performance of an individual is way to continue work as well without being threatened by significantly affected by their capacity to handle work stress the COVID-19 spread. The managers must focus on the (Yunita and Saputra, 2019). employee’s AP and develop mechanisms to reward it in an The third important finding of this study is related to the effective way. The COVID-19 has become an accelerator for proposed moderating role of SC. Results provide support for workplace transformations. The employee’s AP has gained more the SC as a significant moderator. Our finding related to SC is importance in the times of COVID-19. Hence, the individuals consistent with the finding of Sasaki et al. (2020) who found and organizations who adopt the precautionary measures quickly that rigorous application of workplace measures responding will face less stress and uninterrupted performance. to COVID-19 reduce employees’ psychological distress and Lastly, training is seen to have positive effects on the maintains their work performance. With this finding, we performance of employees but, in the times of COVID-19, it generalize the SET in the COVID-19 context. According to becomes inevitable to train employees to safeguard themselves this theory, social exchanges that are taking place between the from the threats of COVID-19 for better performance outcomes top managers and the staff help in strengthening SC in the (Giorgi et al., 2020). Additionally, the frequent communication organizations. The safety measures taken by an organization from the top managers regarding protection measures and the trigger reciprocity behavior in the form of high performance facilities available at the bank will help employees to have by employees. Due to safety measures taken by organizations good performance. and maintaining the SC, employees feel safe and secure, which not only reduces their stress levels but also positively impacts their performance. Moreover, the exchange takes place between LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS the management and employees in the form of sharing SC and using ways for protection from situations such as COVID-19 The major limitation of our study is that data were collected help in the maintenance of SC in the organization. Employees through self-reported measures and cross-sectional sampling with perceptions of safety may remain committed to their work design which might produce common method variance and hence show better performance. Due to COVID-19, it (Podsakoff et al., 2003). We have used Herman’s single factor appears that people are more concerned about themselves and analysis to rule out common method variance issues. However, others and with helping them, in addition to ensuring the safety future studies can use longitudinal sampling design and collect measures that contribute positively toward their performance at data from supervisors and subordinates to limit common their workplaces. method variance. The second limitation is related to the generalizability of results to sectors other than banking and to developed economies as the infrastructure and availability of technology is quite variable in developed and developing PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS economies. For generalizability of results of the current study, Our study has several important practical implications. One future investigations can collect data from other sectors and important implication for managers in the banking sector is developed countries. Lastly, we have considered only one to anticipate the possible adverse effects of COVID-19 STR boundary condition “SC”; future studies can include other on EP. Managers need to understand that in the fast-paced moderators and/or explanatory variables as an extension of the banking industry, the employees are already working in stressful current model for better understanding of how stress is linked situations. The fear and COVID-19 STR can further increase with positive and negative effects on performance. the stress levels of employees. The COVID-19 outbreak is significantly impacting employees’ work and non-work lives that is resulting in the development of anxiety, frustration, and CONCLUSION burnout, further leading to health problems that affect their work performance. If the managers are unable to take care To meet the challenges of banking during COVID-19, the job of the anxiety and COVID-19 STR, it may lead to employees’ performance of employees is of vital importance. Decreasing Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 10 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 11 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 stress by maintaining a SC is necessary for improving the TP of AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS employees. At the same time, the existence of a certain level of stress boosts the AP of employees. SET seems effective in terms FS has developed the overall manuscript and collected data. MM of developing exchange relationships within an organization, has done the proofreading and data analysis for the manuscript shaping the SC and strengthening the task, contextual, and AP. developed. SQ has assisted in data in revised data collection and Furthermore, it is concluded that not only is TP important in revisions of this manuscript. All authors contributed to the article banks, but behavioral performance (CP) and using new ways to and approved the submitted version. get to the targets (AP) are also important. DATA AVAILABILITY STATEMENT ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be The authors would like to thank Prince Sultan University made available by the authors, without undue reservation. for their support. or trust as uncertainty reducer? J. Appl. Psychol. 97, 1–10. doi: 10.1037/a002 REFERENCES Ahmad, I., Donia, M., Khan, A., and Waris, M. (2019). Do as I say and do as I Cook, K. S., Cheshire, C., Rice, E. R., and Nakagawa, S. (2013). “Social exchange do? The mediating role of psychological contract fulfillment in the relationship theory,” in Handbook of Social Psychology, eds J. Delamater and A. Ward between ethical leadership and employee extra-role performance. Pers. Rev. 48, (New York, NY: Springer), 61–88. 98–117. doi: 10.1108/PR- 12- 2016- 0325 Cropanzano, R., and Mitchell, M. S. (2005). Social exchange theory: Al-Hawajreh, K. (2011). Exploring the relationship between occupational stress an interdisciplinary review. J. 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PLoS One 9:e105140. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105140 Publisher’s Note: All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors Wong, A. K. F., Kim, S. S., Kim, J., and Han, H. (2021). How the COVID-19 and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of pandemic affected hotel employee stress: employee perceptions of occupational the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in stressors and their consequences. Int. J. Hosp. Manag. 93:102798. doi: 10.1016/ this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or j.ijhm.2020.102798 endorsed by the publisher. Yıldırım, M., and Arslan, G. (2020). Exploring the associations between resilience, dispositional hope, preventive behaviours, subjective well-being, and Copyright © 2021 Saleem, Malik and Qureshi. This is an open-access article psychological health among adults during early stage of COVID-19. Curr. distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). Psychol. 1–11. doi: 10.1007/s12144-020-01177-2 [Epub ahead of print]. The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the Yıldırım, M., and Solmaz, F. (2020). COVID-19 burnout, COVID-19 stress and original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original resilience: initial psychometric properties of COVID-19 Burnout Scale. Death publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No Stud. 1–9. doi: 10.1080/07481187.2020.1818885 [Epub ahead of print]. use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 13 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Frontiers in Psychology Pubmed Central

Work Stress Hampering Employee Performance During COVID-19: Is Safety Culture Needed?

Frontiers in Psychology , Volume 12 – Aug 26, 2021

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fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 1 ORIGINAL RESEARCH published: 26 August 2021 doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.655839 Work Stress Hampering Employee Performance During COVID-19: Is Safety Culture Needed? 1 2 3 Farida Saleem *, Muhammad Imran Malik and Saiqa Saddiqa Qureshi Department of Management, College of Business Administration, Prince Sultan University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 2 3 Department of Management Science, COMSATS University Islamabad, Attock, Pakistan, Department of Business Administration, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan During uncertain situations, such as the COVID-19 partial lockdown, maintaining satisfactory levels of employee performance (EP) is an important area of concern for many organizations. The current study examines the relationship of work stress due to COVID-19 (COVID-19 STR) and EP. Using social exchange theory (SET), safety culture (SC) is presented as a moderator for stress and performance relationships. A sample of 213 bank employees was collected using a convenient sampling method. Data were analyzed using stepwise linear regression and PROCESS Macro by Hayes (2013). Results revealed that COVID-19 STR has a negative impact on task and contextual performance (CP) and a positive impact on adaptive performance (AP). Similarly, the prevalence of SC significantly moderates the stress and performance relationships. Edited by: Keywords: COVID-19, employee performance, work stress, safety culture, social exchange theory Rita F. De Oliveira, London South Bank University, United Kingdom INTRODUCTION Reviewed by: Vincenzo Cupelli, Stressful life situations such as pandemics can have significant negative implications for the mental Retired, Florence, Italy health and psychological functioning of an individual. Stress, anxiety, mental confusion, social Mashura Shammi, deprivation, and depression are a few examples of these mental and psychological issues (Yıldırım Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh and Arslan, 2020). Brooks et al. (2020) also support that quarantined experiences due to COVID-19 *Correspondence: lead to stress, fear, and frustration in individuals. Similarly, uncertainty due to COVID-19 is also Farida Saleem associated with significant changes in our daily routines that can increase stress, depression, and fsaleem@psu.edu.sa anxiety (Arslan et al., 2020; Talaee et al., 2020; Mergel and Schützwohl, 2021). Likewise, a recent systematic review on the COVID-19 pandemic and mental health by Vindegaard and Benros (2020) Specialty section: This article was submitted to and a narrative review on COVID-19 related mental health effects in the workplace by Giorgi et al. Performance Science, (2020) also concluded that COVID-19 has resulted in increased levels of depression, anxiety, and a section of the journal poor sleep quality. Other prior literature has investigated work stress having an impact on various Frontiers in Psychology work practices (Ram et al., 2011; Kinyita, 2015; Yunita and Saputra, 2019) under normal conditions, Received: 19 January 2021 but the literature has not taken into account the effects of work stress on employee performance Accepted: 24 June 2021 (EP) in uncertain conditions such as the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Published: 26 August 2021 Organizations continuously try to survive and sustain themselves (Bishwas and Sushil, 2016) Citation: requiring well-performing employees (Rani et al., 2013; Mensah et al., 2016). However, it becomes Saleem F, Malik MI and difficult for organizations to maintain consistency in their operations in uncertain external Qureshi SS (2021) Work Stress situations that can affect the well-being of their employees. These uncertain situations, such as Hampering Employee Performance the COVID-19 pandemic, can develop stress which hampers the performance of employees. The During COVID-19: Is Safety Culture hazards prevailing in the work environment due to pandemics not only distract the attention Needed? Front. Psychol. 12:655839. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.655839 of employees from work but also threaten their survival at the workplace by causing health Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 1 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 2 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 problems (Carroll et al., 2009). In a recent study, Yunita and their burnout (Luceño-Moreno et al., 2020; Yıldırım and Solmaz, Saputra (2019) noted that a change in the environment is a 2020), work life balance (Magnavita et al., 2020), psychological common phenomenon that is frequently faced by employees wellbeing and anxiety (Denning et al., 2021; Galbraith et al., 2021; in organizations. The changes taking place may cause stress Mo et al., 2021), and their willingness to work (Maraqa et al., among employees and this may lead to the generation of 2020) during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, very little is interpersonal conflicts that damage the working patterns of known about the impact of stress due to COVID-19 (COVID-19 individuals (Kinyita, 2015). Correspondingly, stressed employees STR) on the performance of banking staff who had to be available may experience depression and become unable to concentrate on duty during these tough times. Lastly, this study examines on their work, thus resulting in decreased performance the influence of SC as a boundary-condition for the relationship (Yunita and Saputra, 2019). between work COVID-19 STR and EP. The studies on workplace stress have considered two main streams that help in understanding how stress is created. The THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK first stream highlights the traditional job-related stress (Roster and Ferrari, 2019; Yunita and Saputra, 2019; Jex and Beehr, 1991). These researchers examined how stressful psychosocial Social Exchange Theory aspects of work environments, such as increased workloads, The SET by Cook et al. (2013) gives a common understanding role conflict, lack of autonomy, and lack of social support, for how workers are likely to react when their psychological states can lead to job strains and hamper performance (Beehr et al., are changed due to work pressures coming from the environment 2001; Kinyita, 2015; Kozus ˙ znik et al., 2018). The second stream in which they work. According to SET, there exists a reciprocal looked at the environmental aspects examining how worker relationship between the employees and their work environment. abilities and their physical environment affects performance and The SET assumes that all human relations are established how a person-environment “misfit,” if any, leads to adverse on the basis of “cost-benefit” analysis and a comparability of psychological or physiological responses (Lazarus and Cohen, alternatives (Nguyen et al., 2016). Previous studies recommend 1977; Ram et al., 2011; Yunita and Saputra, 2019). However, that psychological contracts help to explain the conditions of the there is another important perspective that can create stress in social exchange relationship between employees and employers employees: uncertainty and threatful situations in the external (Ahmad et al., 2019; Turnley et al., 2003). These relations environment. As such, elements of the physical environment comprise deliberate activities that all parties take part in with the interfere with workers’ ability to perform or pose undue demands assumption that all stakeholders will reciprocate these activities on workers, thereby impeding the performance of employees by in one way or another. producing stress (McCoy and Evans, 2005). The current study proposes a model based on the imminent The question now is how organizations can reduce the work stress due to the COVID-19 situation and its impact negative impact of COVID-19 stress on performance of on EP. The employees may feel more conscious about their employees. To address this, the current study synthesizes health while coming to their workplaces, which may harm their the literature of stress and performance with safety culture work performance. There is an element of reciprocity where the (SC). Social exchange theory (SET) is used for introducing managers who are willing to support their employees by ensuring SC as a moderator for COVID-19 stress and performance their safety through safe working conditions are likely to receive relationship. According to SET, social exchanges taking place reciprocity from employees in the form of higher performance in the organization fosters trust in employees. The provision levels. It is likely that SC will initiate social exchanges between of SC by the top management encourages employees to return the employees and their employers and will develop into a win- by showing their sincere efforts toward achieving organizational win situation for both parties. goals (Cropanzano and Mitchell, 2005). SC can thus act as The SET provides the foundation for the proposed research a boundary-condition between the relationship of stress and framework in two ways; first, the exchange is perceived by performance under situations created by COVID-19. the employees in the presence of a threatening environment This study contributes to the existing literature in many prevailing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Secondly, the bank ways; firstly, the current investigation is focused on the impact employees have to deal with various documents received via of external factors like the outbreak of COVID-19 on stress mail or in person from the customers coming to the bank. This and performance relationship. However, internal organizational exchange causes a threat to the employees and their morale factors affecting employee stress and performance has dominated may go down and may hamper their performance. Thirdly, the the existing literature. Secondly, the current study has developed exchange takes place between the management and employees and tested the proposed model in the banking sector of a in the case of sharing SC and using ways for protection. The developing country where, due to limited use of online banking employees with a perception of safety being provided by the services, the banking staff had to come to the bank during the employer may remain committed to their work and hence show outbreak of COVID-19. As the service providers, the employees better performance outcomes, not only related to their tasks, working in the banks have more vulnerability toward prevailing but also toward maintaining good relationships in the workplace hazards of COVID-19 due to the frequent human-to-human and adopting various ways to protect themselves and others by interactions. Similarly, we do find literature focusing on the showing consistency in their work. Based on SET we propose a stress and mental health of healthcare workers and its impact on research framework in Figure 1. Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 2 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 3 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 harms the motivation, morale, and performance of employees in Employee Work Stress Due the workplace. Moreover, it has a negative relationship with job Performance to COVID-19 satisfaction that interferes with one’s energy to work and results 1- Task in lower performance levels (Ram et al., 2011). The stressed 2- Contextual Safety Culture employees are faced with bad health conditions in addition to 3- Adaptive having worse work experiences in the workplace. This further decreases their energy to concentrate on their work and thus their performances decrease. The negative effects of work stress FIGURE 1 | Proposed research framework. on the psychological and physical states of employees may threaten their health and result in damaged cognitive processes, short-term memory loss, and, in severe cases, hampered re- LITERATURE REVIEW call of knowledge and distracted attention to the work assigned (Al-Hawajreh, 2011). Work Stress and Employee Performance The sources of stress in the workplace, such as role overload, The EP is performing the job-related responsibilities diligently role ambiguity, and role conflicts, lead to disturbed flow of (Bartol, 1999; Briscoe and Claus, 2008). According to Atatsi work. It is evident that the work stress and its more severe et al. (2019), it is the degree to which employees fulfill the forms are increasingly prevalent in the work environment under demands of the job assigned in a well-managed way within the the current circumstances of COVID-19 (Yıldırım and Solmaz, given resources. EP is a combination of task performance (TP), 2020; Denning et al., 2021; Galbraith et al., 2021; Mo et al., contextual performance (CP), and adaptive performance (AP) 2021). The employees who experience high degree of stress (Koopmans et al., 2011). TP is related to performing the essential may have low commitment and satisfaction from their job job-related tasks. Motowidlo (2000) views TP as involvement in (Saleem and Gopinath, 2015; Kuzey, 2018) that distracts their accomplishing assigned tasks by an organization. Furthermore, attention from their important work-related tasks and hampers it pertains to a person’s participation in attaining organizational their overall performance. Alternatively, the employees who efficiency by performing activities that are part of the official feel more satisfaction at their workplace are more productive compensation system, and that details the specifications as and have the capability to handle complex situations. The highlighted in the job descriptions (Kuranchie-Mensah and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic may lead toward Amponsah-Tawiah, 2016). Various terms represent the same disturbance in the flow of work and can result in role concept, such as technical proficiency or in-role performance overload, role ambiguity, and role conflicts which may lead to (Koopmans et al., 2013). TP is related to the employee actions increased stress and decreased performance in organizations. The that are formally prescribed in the job description and are banking sector is generally perceived as a stressful profession evaluated by the management. Johnson and O’Leary-Kelly (2003) characterized by strict regulatory policies, heavy workloads, and indicated that an employee’s level of TP is determined by their ever-changing demands of the customers. These challenges can psychological ability rather than their sociability. Colquitt et al. harm the psychological and physical health of the employees (2012) indicated that psychological trust generates a sense of (Huber, 2000). Similarly, under the current COVID-19 situation, security in employees and makes them comfortable to keep task employees working in the banking sector are exposed to more related exchanges with the organization. stressful situations. Similarly, CP is viewed as behaviors that go beyond the A combination of stressful events, such as the compliance officially described work objectives (Koopmans et al., 2011). It pressures from the organization, interpersonal conflicts, and lack is a popular research subject studied in relation to companies of professionalism, may affect the performance of employees. and the person (Koopmans et al., 2013). Social facilitation Inadequate skills to deal with the job and the mismatch and job commitment are the main characteristics of CP (Van between efforts made and the rewards received are common Scotter, 2000). AP is about employees learning new things in factors that create stress among employees and affect their their workplace. Individual task adaptability is the degree to TP (Bijleveld et al., 2011). Literature provides evidence for which people deal with, react to, and/or support changes that factors such as excessive workloads, inadequate workspace, affect their positions as a worker. It is affected by technological inadequate resources, deficient company HRM policies, and strict innovation, work enhancement, and changes in techniques, thus deadlines (Botha and Pienaar, 2006) having negative effects on requiring workers to modify their workplace actions (Griffin job performance. Similarly, the work stress hampers one’s self- et al., 2007). Adopting changes taking place in the workplace is efficacy and, as a result, employees feel they have less control about AP (Pulakos et al., 2002). Adaptive people are likely to over their work (Mo et al., 2021). This sense of lower self- have better concentration on their tasks, thus enhancing their TP efficacy may result in hampering CP by creating inadequacies (Shoss et al., 2012). in communication and damaged relationships with co-workers Among factors hampering employees’ performance, stress is and managers. The stressed employees see their workplaces as the foremost factor that has negative implications (Ram et al., having deficient social support and may develop a lack of trust 2011; Kinyita, 2015; Yunita and Saputra, 2019). Stress is noted (Wickham et al., 2014) that also negatively influences their CP. At to have a negative effect on the psychological, behavioral, and the same time, the work stress may harm the thinking processes physiological status of the individuals (Musyoka et al., 2012). It of employees and hinder their new practices’ adopting capacity. Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 3 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 4 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 This slows down their pace of work, thus hampering their AP developed to ensure EP through SC. Halligan and Zecevic (2011) (Roster and Ferrari, 2019). view SC as “the product of individual and group values, attitudes, The perceptions of mistrust in any organization may lead competencies, and patterns of behavior that determine the to mental disturbances and employees to show compromising commitment to an organization’s health and safety programs.” behaviors that negatively affect their AP (Saunders and Thornhill, The SC is the combined responsibility of all employees to 2004). Several studies have seen stress as having a negative ensure the commencement of safe working practices that foster effect on performance. However, it is not always the case. trust and support among employees. It is noted that the For example, Siswanto et al. (2019) noted work stress as a availability of the high levels of support from supervisors and motivator to adopting new practices for better performance. In co-workers removes the negative effects of high-strain jobs and another recent study, Harras (2019) is argued that stress may the levels of performance can be enhanced (Sargent and Terry, invert the U-shaped relationship with employee’s performance. 2000), thus the working environment has a great influence on At first, the stress enhances motivation to work and after a employees’ mental health. certain threshold, it starts decreasing the motivation to work Safety culture enables employees to learn the practices that and diminishes performance due to unjustified work distribution, are necessary to perform work from one another as illustrated work irrelevance, complexity, and monotony. Moreover, it is by the SET (Griffin and Neal, 2000). The removal of errors argued that the performance of an individual improves with helps employees become more engaged in their work and their capacity to handle work stress up to a certain threshold. fosters extending support to one another while at the workplace. However, after reaching that point, increased work stress may This leads them to minimize the stress levels as they perceive result in diminished performance (Jackson and Frame, 2018). their workplace to be supportive and well managed, which Literature has also found a significant relationship between work enhances their capability of being productive. People who stress and performance. Hence, based on the above literature are satisfied with their work environment show extraordinary findings, we propose that work COVID-19 STR in banking contributions toward their job (Hsu et al., 2016). SC protects employees will have a significant impact on their tasks, both employees against any harm in the organization. It provides contextual and adaptive. the sense of being protected and makes employees satisfied while at their workplaces. This sense of safety keeps them H1a: Work stress due to COVID-19 significantly affects motivated to perform well in the organization (Fulwiler and employees’ task performance Gerlach, 2014). The employees who are safe and secure have H1b: Work stress due to COVID-19 significantly affects better decision-making capabilities and they perform their employees’ contextual performance work by using resources efficiently. The organizations with H1c: Work stress due to COVID-19 significantly affects SC encourage developing positive work behaviors in their employees’ adaptive performance employees as they remain committed to safety and their work (Reason, 2000). While analyzing the impact of safety Safety Culture as Moderator measures taken during COVID-19 on the work performance of A positive SC is characterized by communication based on Japanese employees, Sasaki et al. (2020) concluded that intensive mutual trust by shared perceptions of the importance of safety, implementation of workplace measures responding to COVID- and by confidence in the efficacy of preventive measures. The 19 reduce employees’ psychological distress and means they mere presence of safety standards or cursory implementation maintain their work performance. of these standards at the workplace cannot guarantee safety In the light of the above findings, it is argued that the (Griffin and Neal, 2000). Proper implementation and application employees will be in a position to perform well when they of these standards is required. It demands employees strictly feel safe at their workplaces. SC reduces potential threats follow safety standards to not only ensure their own safety but prevailing in the work environment and provides a sense of that of others as well. SC ensures the removal of errors and taking satisfaction and reduced stress in employees (Didla et al., 2009). care of others that fosters trust among employees and supports Moreover, it is noted that in an organizational context, the performance by sharing their knowledge and skills, removing accidents are not the only danger that threaten the employees, hazards, solving each other’s problems, and working without develop stress, and negatively influence their performance; making mistakes, ensuring required standards of performance. external environmental factors such as floods, earthquakes, The SC can be used to mitigate the negative effects of work and pandemics also have similar effects. Taking these different stress on performance, especially when organizations are faced challenges on board, developing a SC seems paramount to with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is further asserted that work providing a sense of protection to employees and helps in stress is a function of internal and external forces, pressures, decreasing the stress due to uncertainty by making them feel and cultures that require customized interventions (Muscroft safe, ensuring consistent performance. Due to the equivocal and Hicks, 1998). Therefore, it is important to examine SC as finding in literature regarding the impact of work stress an intervention to reduce the negative effects of work stress on on the performance of employees, we propose that under EP relationships. uncertain situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, SC acts as Ensuring safety in the workplace is very important for a boundary condition and moderator for relationships existing achieving performance targets as it ensures higher commitment between work stress and performance. Hence, the following and performance by employees. Several mechanisms can be hypotheses are proposed: Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 4 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 5 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 TABLE 1 | Demographic information, n = 213. H2a: The safety culture moderates the relationship of work stress due to COVID-19 and employees’ task performance Variables Category Frequency Percentage H2b: The safety culture moderates the relationship of work stress due to COVID-19 and employees’ contextual Gender Male 112 53 Female 101 47 performance Age (years) 26–35 20 9 H2c: The safety culture moderates the relationship of work stress due to COVID-19 and employees’ adaptive 36–45 148 69 46–55 45 21 performance Job status Top level 55 25 Middle level 83 39 METHODOLOGY First level 75 35 Education Below Graduation 16 15 Sample and Data Collection Graduation 62 29 Masters 120 56 Bank employees were selected for this study because they were supposed to come to work even under the threatening situation Experience (Years) <1 30 14 1–5 112 53 of COVID-19. Along with their normal workload, the threatening 6–10 49 23 conditions of COVID-19 added to their work stress, and they >10 22 10 were deemed to be the most suitable people to respond to our questionnaire for examining the developed framework. The Source: field data. questionnaire used for data collection was presented to and approved by the ethical committee at COMSATS University have already made these arrangements for the people visiting Islamabad, Attock Campus, Pakistan. We have used a non- banks for their transactions and other purposes. The number of probability convenience sampling technique for data collection visitors was further controlled by making a queue outside the due to the COVID-19 situation as all bank employees were bank (each branch) and allowing a limited number of visitors at working from their offices. We planned a visit to different banks a given time. The questionnaire was written in plain English to after contacting the branch manager via telephone and getting avoid any confusion while reading the questionnaire. Anonymity their approval for data collection from their branch employees. and confidentiality were ensured, and the respondents were We visited sixteen different bank branches in Rawalpindi and assured that their responses will not be shared with any manager Islamabad, Pakistan, collecting data in the month of May or any other employee working in the bank. Moreover, it was 2021. Bank employees willingly participated in the questionnaire ensured that the responses will only be used for the research survey. We contacted 375 bank employees working from their purpose that gave employees more confidence to provide their offices during the COVID-19 pandemic. We received 245 filled genuine responses. questionnaires. After careful scanning and due to missing information, we removed 32 responses. The response rate was Instrumentation 56% and the final usable sample size was 213. We selected the bank employees who were working from their offices during A closed-ended questionnaire was used to record the responses the COVID-19 situation and were working from 10am to 3pm of bank employees who were working from offices during partial (reduced working hours due to COVID-19). These employees lockdown for COVID-19. All the statements for measuring were in direct or indirect contact with customers who visited the constructs were assessed on a five point Likert scale the selected banks. from “strongly disagree” as 1 to “strongly agree” as 5, In the collected data, 53% of respondents were male and 47% except the demographic variables. We have collected data were female. More than half of the respondents (69%) were related to all variables at a single time due to difficulty in between 36 and 45. Thirty-nine percentage respondents were visiting the respondents again and again under the partial working at the middle level of management in different branches lockdown situation. The questionnaire was primarily compiled of the banks followed by the first line managers (35%). It is in English language which was easily completed by the bank also noted that nearly half of the respondents had 16 years of employees as the official language of Pakistan is English education (56%) and the majority of the respondents had work and bank employees have enough educational background to experience of 1–5 years (53%). The demographic information of understand the language. respondents is presented in Table 1. Work Stress Due to COVID-19 Procedure Work COVID-19 STR was measured using the four-dimensions The bank employees were approached by seeking prior (anxiety, impact on duty, depressive symptoms, and sleep permission from the senior branch manager. All possible disturbance) scale adopted from Zaki et al. (2020). Each measures for social distancing (keeping at-least six feet distance) dimension was measured with separate questions. Anxiety due to and personal protection (wearing masks and hand gloves and COVID-19 was measured using nine questions. Sample questions using sanitizer) were taken before handing over and retrieval of are “I can’t stop imagining catching COVID-19” and “I feel the questionnaires on both sides, researcher – respondent. Banks helpless.” COVID-19 impact on duty was assessed with the help Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 5 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 6 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 TABLE 2 | Results of confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). of three questions and the sample question is “has COVID- 19 impacted your employment?” Depression symptoms were Construct/Variable Factor loadings Alpha CR AVE measured with the help of three questions. The sample question Stress due to COVID 19: is “I lost motivation and interest in aspects of life.” Sleep Anxiety and fear 0.92 0.92 0.58 disturbance was also measured with the help of three questions ANX1 0.694 and the sample question is “My sleep/wake routine is different ANX2 0.838 after COVID-19.” ANX3 0.748 ANX4 0.853 Employees’ Performance ANX5 0.805 The questionnaire for the employees’ performance was adopted ANX6 0.798 from Koopmans et al. (2013, 2014) with three underlying ANX7 0.848 dimensions: TP, CP, and AP. TP was measured with the help of ANX8 0.607 seven items adopted from Koopmans et al. (2014). The sample ANX9 0.621 items are “In the past 3 months I managed to plan my work so Impact on duty 0.91 0.92 0.79 that it was done on time” and “In the past 3 months I was able to IOD1 0.899 perform my work well with minimal time and effort.” 8-itemed IOD2 0.893 CP scale adopted from Koopmans et al. (2014) was used for the IOD3 0.875 measurement of CP of respondents. The sample items are “In the Depression 0.88 0.89 0.74 past 3 months I took on extra responsibilities” and “In the past DEP1 0.794 3 months I came up with creative solutions to new problems.” DEP2 0.945 The AP was measured with the help of a 5-itemed scale adopted DEP3 0.832 from Koopmans et al. (2013). The sample item is “I was able to Sleep disturbance 0.79 0.79 0.56 cope well under uncertain and unpredictable situations at work.” SLD1 0.758 SLD2 0.810 Safety Culture SLD3 0.679 The scale for the SC was adopted from Lee et al. (2017) with five Safety culture 0.90 0.90 0.65 items. They have reported Cronbach’s alpha value of 0.884. The SC1 0.753 sample items included in the SC scale were “I feel safe by being SC2 0.754 here,” “I am encouraged by my colleagues to report any safety SC3 0.795 concerns I may have,” and “the culture in this organization makes SC4 0.852 it easy to learn from the errors of others.” SC5 0.880 Task performance 0.96 0.96 0.80 TP1 0.883 DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS TP2 0.879 TP3 0.939 Control Variables TP4 0.891 We have used ANOVA test to identify the significant impact TP5 0.879 of the demographic variables on the proposed model. It was TP6 0.867 identified that the experience of respondents was not significantly TP7 0.910 related to any variable presented in the model. Education was Contextual performance 0.97 0.97 0.82 related to AP (F: 3.6; p: 0.05). Job status was significantly related CP1 0.916 to AP (F: 6.3; p: 0.01). Age was related to CP (F: 2.7; p: 0.07) and CP2 0.902 COVID-19 STR (F: 3.3; p: 0.04). Gender was significantly related CP3 0.893 to SC (F: 4.7; p: 0.03). Hence, all these variables were taken as CP4 0.896 control variables for further analysis. CP5 0.881 CP6 0.906 Scale Validation CP7 0.901 For scale validation we have performed both exploratory CP8 0.945 and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) for work COVID-19 Adaptive performance 0.92 0.92 0.70 STR and performance scale. We have used the exploratory AP1 0.756 factor analysis for these two constructs because they have AP2 0.869 their underlying dimensions. The parameter values of Kaiser- AP3 0.865 Meyer-Olkin and Bartlett’s sphericity test provide justification AP4 0.887 for the use of exploratory factor analysis technique for AP5 0.803 work COVID-19 STR and performance scales. We have used Goodness of fit indices. 2 2 principal component analysis with varimax rotations as a factor $ = 1642; d.f. = 830; $ /d.f. = 1.98; p < 0.001; CFI = 0.91; GFI = 0.75; AGFI = 0.71; RMR = 0.05; RMSEA = 0.07. extraction method. The exploratory factor analysis identified Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 6 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 7 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 the underlying dimensions of COVID-19 STR and performance order factor with underlying dimensions. The measurement scales. After exploratory factor analysis we have conducted model with latent and observed factors produces acceptable CFA using AMOS 17. The CFA, also called the measurement model fit indices. The results of CFA are presented in model, was run taking work COVID-19 STR as second Table 2. TABLE 3 | Descriptive statistics and correlations. Variable No of items Mean s.d. 1 2 3 4 5 1 COVID-19 STR 18 3.83 0.63 0.67 2 SC 5 2.14 0.79 0.02 (0.30) 0.65 3 TP 7 2.26 1.07 0.15** (0.27) 0.33* (0.24) 0.80 4 CP 8 2.40 1.10 0.12*** (0.24) 0.28* (0.30) 0.83* (0.36) 0.82 5 AP 5 3.19 0.69 0.18* (0.18) 0.20* (0.21) 0.31* (0.34) 0.21* (0.32) 0.70 COVID-19 STR, stress due to COVID-19; SC, safety culture; TP, task performance; CP, contextual performance; AP, adaptive performance. Shared variance in parenthesis; AVE in diagonal; *P < 0.01; **P < 0.05; ***P < 0.10; s.d., standard deviation; AVE in bold and diagonal. TABLE 4 | Stepwise linear regression. DV: TP DV: CP DV: AP Un-standardized coefficient t-Value Un-standardized coefficient t-Value Un-standardized coefficient t-Value Step1 (Control variables) Gender 0.016 0.239 0.138 2.083** 0.049 0.731 Age 0.039 0.592 0.010 0.146 0.076 1.121 Education 0.077 1.204 0.058 0.887 0.064 0.968 Experience 0.040 0.620 0.017 0.253 0.012 0.178 Job Status 0.065 0.995 0.013 0.197 0.104* 1.736* Step2 (Independent variables) COVID-19 STR 0.258* 2.369* 0.225** 2.002** 0.173* 2.360* SC 0.447* 5.167* 0.385* 4.221* 0.166** 2.873* Model fit F -value 15.91 10.96 6.28 R2 0.13 0.10 0.10 p-value 0.00 0.00 0.00 COVID-19 STR, stress due to COVID-19; SC, safety culture; TP, task performance; CP, contextual performance; AP, adaptive performance; *p < 0.01; **p < 0.05; ***p < 0.10. TABLE 5 | Five thousand bootstrap results for process model no.1 simple moderation analysis. DV: TP DV: CP DV: AP Estimate SE LL 95% CI UL 95% CI Estimate SE LL 95% CI UL 95% CI Estimate SE LL 95% CI UL 95% CI Gender 0.092 0.143 0.189 0.373 0.354** 0.149 0.061 0.649 0.071 0.095 0.116 0.257 Age 0.076 0.134 0.189 0.341 0.062 0.141 0.215 0.339 0.104 0.089 0.280 0.071 Education 0.093 0.095 0.084 0.294 0.087 0.100 0.110 0.285 0.038 0.064 0.087 0.163 Experience 0.031 0.083 0.195 0.133 0.037 0.087 0.135 0.285 0.008 0.055 0.101 0.117 Job Status 0.094 0.091 0.273 0.085 0.043 0.095 0.230 0.144 0.105* 0.060 0.223 0.014 COVID-19 STR 0.271* 0.113 0.047 0.495 0.269** 0.119 0.034 0.504 0.220* 0.075 0.072 0.369 SC 0.444* 0.087 0.271 0.617 0.406* 0.092 0.225 0.587 0.164* 0.058 0.279 0.049 COVID-19 STR* SC 0.362** 0.172 0.022 0.702 0.377** 0.180 0.021 0.732 0.273** 0.114 0.047 0.498 Model Fit F -value 5.03* 4.05* 3.40* R2 0.16 0.14 0.12 R2 Change 0.02** 0.18** 0.03** COVID-19 STR, stress due to COVID-19; SC, safety culture; TP, task performance; CP, contextual performance; AP, adaptive performance; *p < 0.01; **p < 0.05; ***p < 0.10. Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 7 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 8 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 insignificant (B = 0.031, ns) while it is significant for high SC Reliability and Validity (B = 0.569, P < 0.01). This finding supports H2b, which suggests The output of the measurement model was used for reliability that in cases of high COVID-19 STR, individuals who perceive and validity measurement checks. For reliability, we have used high SC show high CP whereas in cases of high COVID-19 STR, Composite Reliability and Cronbach Alpha values. The values of individuals who perceive low SC show low CP. both indices were greater than the proposed cutoff value of 0.70 The interaction graph of COVID-19 STR and AP relationship (Nunnally and Bernstein, 1994). Similarly, for validity we have (shown in Figure 4) suggests that this relationship is significant used AVE values that were more than 0.5, convergent validity for SC. The slope test shows that the slope for low SC is where all observed variables were successfully loaded into their insignificant (B = 0.003, ns) while it is significant for high SC respective construct. Results are presented in Table 2 (B = 0.438, P < 0.001). This finding supports H2c, which suggests Lastly, we checked the discriminant validity using Fornell that in cases of high COVID-19 STR, individuals who perceive and Larcker (1981) criterion, where the values of AVE for all high SC show high AP whereas in cases of high COVID-19 STR, constructs were greater than the shared variances. Results of individuals who perceive low SC show low AP. correlation and discriminant validity are presented in Table 3. Hypotheses Testing DISCUSSION Stepwise Linear Regression Analysis To test the first set of hypotheses (H1a, H1b, and H1c) we have Through this study we have examined the relationship of used stepwise linear regression in SPSS. In the first step we work COVID-19 STR and the performance of banking sector entered all control variables and in the next step we entered the employees during partial lockdown. By using SET, we also independent variable and the moderator. The results of three propose the moderating role of SC for the relationships of stepwise linear regression analysis with respect to each dependent work COVID-19 STR and EP. We have treated EP as a three- variable are presented in Table 4. dimensional construct having task, contextual, and adaptive The results identified that COVID-19 STR has a significant dimensions. The first important finding is related to the negative impact on TP (B = 0.258; P < 0.01) and CP relationship of COVID-19 stress and task and CP. The results (B = 0.225; P < 0.05) while it has a significant positive impact revealed that work COVID-19 STR has a significant negative on AP (B = 0.173; P < 0.01) in the presence of control variables impact on task and CP of banking sector employees. However, and moderator. Hence, H1a, H1b, and H1c are accepted. this negative impact is much stronger for TP followed by CP. Moderation Analysis These results are consistent with the prior literature on work For the testing of the second set of moderation hypotheses (H2a, stress and EP in general (Jex and Beehr, 1991; De Ruyter H2b, and H2c), we conducted a moderated regression analysis et al., 2001; Saleem and Gopinath, 2015; Kozus ˙ znik et al., 2018; by using PROCESS Macro (extension in SPSS) by Hayes (2013). Roster and Ferrari, 2019) and under the COVID-19 pandemic in We preferred to use PROCESS Macro over SEM and simple particular (Giorgi et al., 2020; Garcia et al., 2021; Kumar et al., regression analysis due to its robustness. PROCESS Macro uses 2021). a bootstrapping approach with biased corrected 95% confidence The employees experiencing work stress feel that their intervals and calculates the Johnson-Neyman outputs for the autonomy is decreasing, and they may not perform as per the interaction term. We have used Model No 1 of PROCESS required standards, thus resulting in low TP (Pulfrey et al., Macro by centering the variables that define product term and 2013). At the same time, the employees working in a risky conditioning values at mean and  1SD. Johnson-Neyman environment also look for increased pay packages and if they outputs for the interaction term were also calculated. Results are are not given the increased packages or the allowance to work presented in Table 5. in a threatened environment, that also contributes toward their The results identified that all interaction terms were significant decreased productivity. The health hazards not only affect the and there is no zero in the lower and upper bound of individuals in their individual capacity but also add to the cost 95% confidence interval of interaction terms. We plotted an of the organization in terms of employee absence and turnover of interaction graph for low and high (Mean  SD) values of employees (McCalister et al., 2006). moderator (SC) for all proposed moderation hypotheses. The The second important finding of the current investigation is interaction graph of COVID-19 STR and TP relationship (shown related to the relationship of COVID-19 STR and AP. The results in Figure 2) suggests that this relationship is significant for SC. found that work COVID-19 STR has a significant positive impact The slope test shows that the slope for low SC is insignificant on AP. This result is also consistent with some recent findings. (B = 0.018, ns) while it is significant for high SC (B = 0.559, Garcia et al. (2021), after studying the impact of COVID-related P < 0.01). This finding supports H2a, which suggests that in case stress in university faculty members, found both positive and of high COVID-19 STR, individuals who perceive high SC show negative effects of stress on work performance. Wong et al. high TP whereas in cases of high COVID-19 STR, individuals (2021) also supported the positive impact of COVID-19 related who perceive low SC show low TP. stress on the job performance while examining the responses The interaction graph of COVID-19 STR and CP relationship of hotel employees in the United States. Similarly, Siswanto (shown in Figure 3) suggests that this relationship is significant et al. (2019) identified work stress as a motivator to adopt new for SC. The slope test shows that the slope for low SC is practices that may be useful for protecting employees from the Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 8 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 9 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 4.5 3.5 Low SC High SC 2.5 1.5 Low COVID-19 STR High COVID-19 STR FIGURE 2 | Interaction effects of stress due to COVID-19 (COVID-19 STR) and safety culture (SC) on task performance (TP). 4.5 3.5 Low SC High SC 2.5 1.5 Low COVID-19 STR High COVID-19 STR FIGURE 3 | Interaction effects of COVID-19 STR and SC on contextual performance (CP). 4.5 3.5 Low SC High SC 2.5 1.5 Low COVID-19 STR High COVID-19 STR FIGURE 4 | Interaction effects of COVID-19 STR and SC on adaptive performance (AP). harmful effects of COVID-19 while performing at work. Our (McGowan et al., 2006). According to this notion, under stressful finding related to AP is in line with the notion that stressors situations people try their best to use newer ways to perform can act as motivators for determining enhanced job performance their work and to perform better and quicker than others in Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 9 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 AP CP TP fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 10 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 the workplace. Work stress motivates employees for adoption of decreased engagement, poor work quality, and errors, eventually better ways to work, thus enhancing their AP in the workplace. threatening the organization’s survival in these difficult times. The characteristic of having adaptability encourages employees The strategies that can possibly help managers to cope with these to learn more and use their knowledge in a direction to achieve difficult times include developing a sense of a safe and secure organizational goals. work environment and full-time availability of support from the Similarly, this result also supports that employees want to organization. Although stress has a negative impact on certain adopt practices that make them safe from COVID-19. The aspects of an employee’s performance, the intervention of SC may flexibility in working allows them to adopt new ways of doing prove to be a stress management tool that helps in decreasing work through the use of information technology, internet, and stress and improving performance. other communication technologies. This adaptability helps them Another practical implication is taking SC as a base for perform well while doing their office work without getting enhanced performance. The managers can use the technology stressed out due to COVID-19. The adaptive people quickly to keep distance between employees and between employees understand the requirements of the work environment and and customers so that they feel safe and work with diligence. respond quickly without compromising their work routines Furthermore, the “at-home” work structures are a useful (Shoss et al., 2012) as the performance of an individual is way to continue work as well without being threatened by significantly affected by their capacity to handle work stress the COVID-19 spread. The managers must focus on the (Yunita and Saputra, 2019). employee’s AP and develop mechanisms to reward it in an The third important finding of this study is related to the effective way. The COVID-19 has become an accelerator for proposed moderating role of SC. Results provide support for workplace transformations. The employee’s AP has gained more the SC as a significant moderator. Our finding related to SC is importance in the times of COVID-19. Hence, the individuals consistent with the finding of Sasaki et al. (2020) who found and organizations who adopt the precautionary measures quickly that rigorous application of workplace measures responding will face less stress and uninterrupted performance. to COVID-19 reduce employees’ psychological distress and Lastly, training is seen to have positive effects on the maintains their work performance. With this finding, we performance of employees but, in the times of COVID-19, it generalize the SET in the COVID-19 context. According to becomes inevitable to train employees to safeguard themselves this theory, social exchanges that are taking place between the from the threats of COVID-19 for better performance outcomes top managers and the staff help in strengthening SC in the (Giorgi et al., 2020). Additionally, the frequent communication organizations. The safety measures taken by an organization from the top managers regarding protection measures and the trigger reciprocity behavior in the form of high performance facilities available at the bank will help employees to have by employees. Due to safety measures taken by organizations good performance. and maintaining the SC, employees feel safe and secure, which not only reduces their stress levels but also positively impacts their performance. Moreover, the exchange takes place between LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS the management and employees in the form of sharing SC and using ways for protection from situations such as COVID-19 The major limitation of our study is that data were collected help in the maintenance of SC in the organization. Employees through self-reported measures and cross-sectional sampling with perceptions of safety may remain committed to their work design which might produce common method variance and hence show better performance. Due to COVID-19, it (Podsakoff et al., 2003). We have used Herman’s single factor appears that people are more concerned about themselves and analysis to rule out common method variance issues. However, others and with helping them, in addition to ensuring the safety future studies can use longitudinal sampling design and collect measures that contribute positively toward their performance at data from supervisors and subordinates to limit common their workplaces. method variance. The second limitation is related to the generalizability of results to sectors other than banking and to developed economies as the infrastructure and availability of technology is quite variable in developed and developing PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS economies. For generalizability of results of the current study, Our study has several important practical implications. One future investigations can collect data from other sectors and important implication for managers in the banking sector is developed countries. Lastly, we have considered only one to anticipate the possible adverse effects of COVID-19 STR boundary condition “SC”; future studies can include other on EP. Managers need to understand that in the fast-paced moderators and/or explanatory variables as an extension of the banking industry, the employees are already working in stressful current model for better understanding of how stress is linked situations. The fear and COVID-19 STR can further increase with positive and negative effects on performance. the stress levels of employees. The COVID-19 outbreak is significantly impacting employees’ work and non-work lives that is resulting in the development of anxiety, frustration, and CONCLUSION burnout, further leading to health problems that affect their work performance. If the managers are unable to take care To meet the challenges of banking during COVID-19, the job of the anxiety and COVID-19 STR, it may lead to employees’ performance of employees is of vital importance. Decreasing Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 10 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839 fpsyg-12-655839 August 21, 2021 Time: 17:49 # 11 Saleem et al. Work Stress and Performance During COVID-19 stress by maintaining a SC is necessary for improving the TP of AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS employees. At the same time, the existence of a certain level of stress boosts the AP of employees. SET seems effective in terms FS has developed the overall manuscript and collected data. MM of developing exchange relationships within an organization, has done the proofreading and data analysis for the manuscript shaping the SC and strengthening the task, contextual, and AP. developed. SQ has assisted in data in revised data collection and Furthermore, it is concluded that not only is TP important in revisions of this manuscript. All authors contributed to the article banks, but behavioral performance (CP) and using new ways to and approved the submitted version. get to the targets (AP) are also important. 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PLoS One 9:e105140. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105140 Publisher’s Note: All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors Wong, A. K. F., Kim, S. S., Kim, J., and Han, H. (2021). How the COVID-19 and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of pandemic affected hotel employee stress: employee perceptions of occupational the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in stressors and their consequences. Int. J. Hosp. Manag. 93:102798. doi: 10.1016/ this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or j.ijhm.2020.102798 endorsed by the publisher. Yıldırım, M., and Arslan, G. (2020). Exploring the associations between resilience, dispositional hope, preventive behaviours, subjective well-being, and Copyright © 2021 Saleem, Malik and Qureshi. This is an open-access article psychological health among adults during early stage of COVID-19. Curr. distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). Psychol. 1–11. doi: 10.1007/s12144-020-01177-2 [Epub ahead of print]. The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the Yıldırım, M., and Solmaz, F. (2020). COVID-19 burnout, COVID-19 stress and original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original resilience: initial psychometric properties of COVID-19 Burnout Scale. Death publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No Stud. 1–9. doi: 10.1080/07481187.2020.1818885 [Epub ahead of print]. use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 13 August 2021 | Volume 12 | Article 655839

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