Researching Employee Experiences and Behavior in Times of Crisis: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations and Implications for Human Resource Management

Abstract

Over the past two years, numerous empirical studies in the fields of human resource management, organizational behavior, and industrial, work, and organizational psychology have investigated employee experiences and behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of this paper is to take a step back and to outline several theoretical and methodological considerations when researching employee experiences and behavior in times of crisis more generally. These insights may be useful when developing conceptual models, designing empirical studies, and managing people in the context of future crises. We first review theoretical approaches that could be applied to explain changes in employee experiences and behavior in times of crisis, including stress theories, theories of adjustment to work-related changes, career construction theory, event system theory, transition-adaptation theories, the crisis management and resilience framework, and the social identity model of identity change. Second, we outline methodological considerations and best practices regarding the research design of quantitative empirical studies, sampling, measurement, and analytic strategies. Throughout, we highlight empirical studies on employee experiences and behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic that have adopted these theoretical approaches and methodological best practices. We conclude with several suggestions for future theory development and empirical studies on employee experiences and behavior as well as human resource management in times of crisis.

Publication
German Journal of Human Resource Management