Research profile: Dana Kabat‑Farr

Dana Kabat-Farr, Rowe School of Business

Testing the benefits of increases in perceived support during the pandemic

Research conducted with Dr. Benjamin Walsh of Grand Valley State University

By and large, people benefit when they are supported at work. This is consistent with Hobfoll’s (1989) Corollary 1 of conservation of resources theory which proposes that individuals with access to greater resources are less likely to experience resource loss. It follows that researchers have called for supervisors and employers to double-down their levels of support during the COVID-19 pandemic (Sinclair et al., 2020). For example, Marsh & McLennan CEO Dan Glaser is quoted as saying “I want to say to all of you that while we are in the thick of this global pandemic, your job is secure” (McGregor, 2020, para. 2). But to what extent are increases in support during the pandemic beneficial to employees?

With this in mind, we examined consequences of within-person increases in perceived support from supervisors (family-supportive supervision; Hammer et al., 2009) and organizations (perceived organizational support; Eisenberger et al., 1986). Utilizing 3-wave weekly longitudinal survey data (N = 368), we tested the within-person changes (using random-intercepts cross-lagged panel modeling) in employee well-being (i.e., job insecurity, job satisfaction, anxiety, and depression) in response to increases in support. We found limited evidence that organizational supports are sufficient to promote well-being during the pandemic. We suggest that extreme ecological contexts – such as a pandemic or downsizing – may force scholars and managers to reconsider the type of supports needed.