Exploring compassionate managerial leadership style in reducing employee stress level during COVID-19 crisis: the case of Nigeria

Oruh, Emeka Smart and Mordi, Chima and Dibia, Chianu Harmony and Ajonbadi, Hakeem Ajonadi (2021) Exploring compassionate managerial leadership style in reducing employee stress level during COVID-19 crisis: the case of Nigeria. Employee Relations. ISSN 0142-5455

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Purpose – This study explores how compassionate managerial leadership style can help to mitigate workplace stressors and alleviate stress experiences among employees — particularly in an extreme situation,
such as the current global COVID-19 pandemic. The study’s context is Nigeria’s banking, manufacturing and healthcare sectors, which have a history of high employee stress levels.

Design/methodology/approach – Using a qualitative, interpretive methodology, the study adopts the thematic analysis process (TAP) to draw and analyse data from semi-structured telephone interviews with 10
banking, 11 manufacturing and 9 frontline healthcare workers in Nigeria.

Findings – It was found that a compassionate managerial leadership can drive a considerate response to employees’ “fear of job (in)security”, “healthcare risk” and concerns about “work overload, underpayment and delayed payment”, which respondents considered to be some of the key causes of increased stress among employees during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Research limitations/implications – The study is limited to exploring the relationship between compassionate managerial leadership and an organisation’s ability to manage employee stress in the COVID-19 situation, using 30 samples from organisations operating in three Nigerian cities and sectors. Future studies may involve more Nigerian cities, sectors and samples. It may also possibly include quantitative combination to allow generalisation of findings.

Practical implications – In order to survive in extreme situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, organisations are forced to take drastic and often managerialist-driven work measures which can trigger high
stress levels, low productivity and absenteeism among employees. Hence, organisations would benefit from implementing compassion-driven policies that are more inclusive and responsive to the workplace stressors
facing employees.

Originality/value – Employee stress has been widely explored in many areas, including definitions, stressors, strains, possible interventions and coping strategies. There remains, however, a dearth of scholarship on how management-leadership compassion can help to reduce employee stress levels in extreme conditions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic — particularly in emerging economies.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1108/ER-06-2020-0302
8 February 2021Accepted
30 April 2021Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Stress, COVID-19, Compassion, Managerial leadership, Nigeria
Subjects: CAH17 - business and management > CAH17-01 - business and management > CAH17-01-05 - human resource management
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > College of Business, Digital Transformation & Entrepreneurship
Depositing User: Hakeem Ajonbadi
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2021 15:24
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2023 11:48
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11894

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