• Coworker Support Amplifies Reactions to the COVID-19 Pandemic for Working Parents

      Donnelly, Lilah; O'Brien, Kimberly; Shepard, Agnieszka (2021)
      The COVID-19 pandemic directly threatened our health and safety, while contradictory scientific and media reports generated uncertainty. Employees likely relied on their coworkers for emotional support and to make sense of the confusion. In this study, we evaluate the role of coworker support, which has been shown in the past to have either ameliorative (as a resource) or exacerbating (as social information) results. We use data, collected from a heterogeneous sample of working parents in May of 2020 (when most states were getting ready to lift their stay-at-home orders), to illustrate the path from resilient personal resources (measured as optimism, generalized self-efficacy, and internal locus of control) to fear of COVID-19 to workplace outcomes in a multiphasic study design. Employees with more optimism, generalized self-efficacy, and internal locus of control reported less fear of COVID-19, and in turn, less decrement to their workplace outcomes. This mediation is moderated by coworker support, such that the indirect effect is amplified by coworker support. This is consistent with previous research, which shows that coworker support can unintentionally corroborate and amplify employee stress perceptions. We therefore recommend that, when faced with significant adversity, organizations provide communication training oriented toward increasing positive coworker interactions and guiding social information.