The COVID 19 pandemic has negatively affected many aspects of human life, changing the usual lifestyle of people. Remote communication has become the basis of business relationships, and the burden on the economy has led to a redistribution of financial flows. In addition, the pandemic and preventive measures such as quarantine had a negative impact on the labor market. Primarily, it is due to the change in the usual working mode to remote due to quarantine and social isolation. Thus, the main problem that was considered in the paper is related to the return of people to work in the post-pandemic period. This problem includes the fact that individuals experience discomfort and anxiety after returning to work. The consequences of this problem are the deterioration in the performance of employees, the company, and the business as a whole. One cannot function normally and focus on work and therefore cannot demonstrate maximum efficiency. Moreover, the problem includes post-traumatic stress syndrome, namely when one experiences anxiety after returning to the place or circumstances where the trauma occurred. The workplace is associated with the pre-pandemic period, which leads to feelings of anxiety.
The pandemic has significantly affected the labor market, changed the normal market relations and working principles. Primarily, this is due to the fact that the pandemic has caused many program cuts and layoffs. In addition, remote work has become the main working mode. It led to the fact that many people experienced stress due to the inability to adjust to a new mode of work (Carnevale & Hatak, 2020). In addition, for some individuals, it was not possible due to the difficulties of working from home (Jones, 2022). However, the rapid popularity of remote work has led to the development of the online spectrum, deliveries, information technology, and the emergence of new professions (Amuri et al., 2022). Thus, one can highlight some of the positive aspects of the impact of the pandemic. The central aspect is the incentive for the development of online technologies, which contributes to the overall technological progress.
However, the pandemic has contributed more to deterioration than to improvements in the business and labor market aspect. The main problem is the fact that people experience discomfort when returning to the workplace after quarantine or social isolation. It leads to a decrease in efficiency and a deterioration in the performance of the company. In addition, some individuals get used to the new working regime, as a result of which there is no desire to return to office conditions.
Based on the current problem, one needs to develop potential proposals for developing strategies for leveling the issue. In this case, for the current problem, it is necessary to determine the main objectives of the work. It will allow one to more effectively separate the main tasks and find a solution to the problem in stages. In addition, it will promote a closer look at this problem and its components, namely quarantine measures and pre-pandemic workflows. After that, one will be able to determine the impact of quarantine on work processes and establish new principles. Therefore, the main objectives of the work are following:
- To identify basic working principles of pre-pandemic period
- To determine the factors producing a negative impact on the worker’s motivation in the digital realm
- To define how small/medium-sized companies may improve employees’ motivation in the context of the post-COVID-19 digital workplace setting.
Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks
The theoretical framework includes established relationships related to the research question of the work. This research concerns the issue of motivating employees after Covid-19 pandemic, which greatly affected their work and lives, resulting in different perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs about work and work life. Research studies in both psychology and business fields have shown that employees develop different attitudes and perceptions towards work and work life after a traumatizing or life-changing event (De Vito et al., 2018). One of the most affected aspects of employees is their motivation, which can either increase or reduce depending on the event itself, how it affected the employees and their work, and how it was managed. Consequently, this study is pegged to motivational theories.
To examine the theories of motivation, it is imperative to consider what motivation for employees imply. According to De Vito et al., 2018, motivation implies the condition or state of having a strong reason and will to act in a certain manner. As Helfrich and Dietl (2019) assert, motivation is an internal state that is influenced by a person’s working environment that creates external behaviors. The implication is that motivation of an individual or employee cannot be instilled by a leader through a single act or conversation. Rather, the management of an organization cannot supply motivation to the employees but they can control the working conditions and focus on developing the workplace in such a manner that it positively impacts motivation.
Understanding the concept of motivation in the workforce and its outcomes requires a review of the existing theories of motivation. The human needs of employees that motivate the individual and performance in a workplace have been studied through the four mainstream theories. These theories are Abraham Maslow (hierarchy of needs theory), Fredrick Herzberg (two-factor theory), Chris Argyris (the individual and the organization theory), and Edward Deci/Richard Ryan (self-determination theory) (De Vito et al., 2018). These theories have been studied, analyzed, critiqued, evaluated, and applied in both academic and practice.
Developed in 1943, the theory of human needs by Abraham Maslow seeks to organize the various needs of human into a hierarchical grouping. The levels are basic, psychological, and self-fulfillment categories (De Vito et al., 2018). As shown in figure 1, the hierarchy of human needs has five levels- physiological, safety, belonginess, esteem, and self-actualization needs.
Maslow’s theory of motivation has been used as the core framework for understanding the main factors behind employees’ motivation for a while. However, over time, issues with its representation of motivation factors have been identified, the key one being its lack of consideration for culture differences and the resulting issues with its applicability to different workplace contexts (). Furthermore, with no specific measurement standards for determining the extent of employees’ motivation, quantifying the existing evidence is nearly impossible, which makes Maslow’s framework especially challenging to apply (). Nevertheless, the framework provides a basic understanding of the needs that define the extent of motivation and engagement in staff members, which makes it suitable for constructing a theoretical and conceptual framework for this research.
This theory is based on the idea that once a person fulfils the basic needs, then there is an urge to fulfil the safety needs, which then triggers the need to develop. In essence, the basic needs are the most important as they supportive the human body’s survival, after which the need for safety becomes the next priority. According to Ramírez García, Del Cerro Ramón, and Fornells Herrera (2019), fulfilled needs do not necessarily motivate the behavior of an individual. This implies that as the needs on the lower part of the hierarchy are met, the employee motivators will then need to move to higher level needs. Consequently, job security and good pay alone cannot impact behaviors fully. Instead, workers will develop high-level needs when their lower-level needs have been met.
In the Two Factor Theory of Motivation, Frederick Herzberg (1959) introduced the idea of combating the restrictions on motivation in Maslow’s hierarchical structure. According to this theory, human needs can be grouped into hygiene factors and motivators (Chiat and Panatik, 2019). Hygiene factors are similar to the low-level needs in Maslow’s approach and includes psychological, physical, and belongingness needs. On their part, motivators are the needs on the higher levels of the hierarchy and include esteem and self-actualization. Hygiene factors are the needs related to the job setting, such as salary and working conditions, which tend to create short-term results when effectively addressed. In addition, Herzberg argued that these needs must constantly be upkept (Chiat and Panatik, 2019). On the contrary, motivators are the factors associated with the job content such as career advancement and recognition in the workplace.
Representing an improvement over Maslow’s approach, Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory should also be seen as an essential component of understanding employees’ motivation. Specifically, the nature of motivation as an internal and complex phenomenon is recognized in Herzberg’s theory, which allows approaching the needs of staff members in a nuanced manner (). Furthermore, the fact that the financial aspect of motivation is regarded as secondary allows focusing on the type of needs that facilitates the development of long-term loyalty in employees, which makes Herzberg’s approach more feasible as the means of understanding motivation than the framework offered by Maslow.
Such factors tend to create long-term, benefits as they have motivation as the ultimate reward. Even though hygiene factors can the capacity to reduce job dissatisfaction, only the motivating factors can increase an employee’s job satisfaction (De Vito et al., 2018). Consequently, it is necessarily that organizations ensure that the working environment is designed in such a manner that it avoids dissatisfaction through such approaches as effective job management and policies, effective salaries and job security, and job satisfaction.
However, there is another way of investigating the nature of motivation in the workplace. Chris Argyris developed the individual and the organization theory of motivation in 1962 by expanding on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. According to this approach, the higher-level needs are not met in government institutions even though the lower-level needs are fulfilled. This is because the organizational structure is pyramidal, which often results in excessive function specialization and the need for employees to be dependent on and subordinate to the management. Therefore, employees gain little control over the work environment and cannot pursue their higher-level needs (De Vito et al., 2018). Argyris argues that the management should be enlightened such that they treat their employees as creative value and encourage them to participate in the organization business processes. Though being seemingly feasible in the context of contemporary organizations, Argyris’ approach implies the necessity to introduce a ubiquitous approach across all organizations in terms of organizational decision-making, leadership, and governance by offering staff members to make relevant decisions independently (). Though the described approach does make sense in the context of smaller organizations where the context of decision-making remains local; and the range of issues to be embraced are few, it may fail in the settings where a complete overview of key extraneous and internal factors is required for decision-making (). Therefore, the perspective of increased employee agency can be borrowed from the specified framework, yet the theory itself does not seem to be applicable to all organizational contexts.
Professional growth and career opportunities Finally, one must consider employees’ willingness to expand their potential and engage in professional development as the core motivation factors. Edward Deci and Richard Ryan’s theory of self-determination posits that every person has some natural tendency to seek for growth through a need for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Competence means being satisfied with behaviors and skills, autonomy means being in control over personal life while relatedness means connection with others (De Vito et al., 2018). According to this view, psychological needs tend to generate intrinsic motivation, which creates behaviors in people as they are inherently engaging and satisfying. The specified theoretical framework refuses to examine external issues shaping employees’ motivation and engagement rates, which devalues its significance, yet it offers a profound and insightful analysis of employees’ interposal perception of their workplace, thus, offering a plethora of tools for shaping internal motivation rates. Thus, it should be incorporated into the general conceptual and theoretical framework as well.
Thus, the conceptual framework of the work includes the elements such as the extent of satisfying employees’ immediate needs, providing them with the opportunity for professional development, understanding their internal motivations, and manipulating the external factors to create the workplace environment that meets the staff members’ demands (see Fig. 2). The first stage is to collect the necessary information, both theoretical and practical. Practical information includes information obtained through surveys and interviews. Accordingly, theoretical information characterizes literary sources, books, and online resources. The second stage of the work is the analysis of the information received, which will make it possible to draw up a theoretical foundation for the study. After that, certain statements will be drawn up, which, on the basis of the theory, will either be confirmed or refuted. In this case, it formulates a statement that the pandemic has more negatively affected the job market and employees.
COVID-19 Pandemic and Impact on Employment
The prevailing environment greatly affects the productivity of an individual. Since late 2019, the workforce environment has been affected following the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has spread across all regions of the globe. In response to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, many governments across the world introduced drastic measures to control its spread among their citizens. Social distancing, hygienic practices, and restriction on human movement and transportation are among the common measures the governments have been using since the outbreak, as several studies explain (). Moreover, many sectors of the economy were closed, including schools, factories, markets, and transportation businesses to prevent human overcrowding, the major cause of the rapid spread of the virus. The outlined phenomena have produced an undeniable effect on the extent of companies’ performance, yet the impact that the pandemic and the relevant measures may have had on the levels of employees’ motivation is yet to be researched and debated.
Specifically, the emergence of a new framework of organizing workplace processes and relationships between staff members due to the transition to remote work should be mentioned. Multiple studies have indicated that the transition to the confinements of employees’ own homes has affected their work productivity negatively, which can be justified by a substantial drop in the range of opportunities for traditional cooperation between staff members (). In addition, reports mention the fact that the lack of control, especially when observed in the setting with low workplace engagement and organizational responsibility, is likely to cause a drop in motivation and, therefore, performance rates among the staff (). The observed assessment of the situation provided by aaa () and aaa () can be considered quite sensible given the existing motivational theories. Indeed, applying Herzberg’s motivational theory to the observed phenomenon, one will realize that the drop in motivation levels aligns with the removal of external factors affecting employees’ performance in the traditional workplace environments, particularly, the presence of managers’ supervision and control (). Thus, the described shift is quite expected, and the outcomes reported by the experts in question can be considered credible.
At the same time, one should mention that the identified approach to understanding the effects of the pandemic on the levels of employees’ motivation lacks the understanding of intrinsic motivational factors. Namely, the presence of internal motivation in staff members as the product of a company’s successful HRM policy and the active promotion of corporate values, specifically, CSR, is likely to help balancing out the adverse effects of remote work, which is supported by Herzberg’s two-factor theory (). Therefore, the proposed way of interpreting the changes in employee’s motivation should also be recognized for the presence of certain biases in it.
The situation has made it hard for most individuals to work in crowded settings. Researchers have warned against ignoring the chance of another wave. In turn, all these changes have the capability to greatly affect the wellness of an individual. Global growth is approximated to have reduced by five percent in 2020, a figure that represents the biggest economic crisis witnessed since the end of the Second World War (van der Kolk, van Veen-Dirks, and ter Bogt, 2019). Employees faced serious crises, with many losing their jobs or facing pay cuts. Others had to adjust to the new working conditions, including shifting their workplaces from offices or sites to homes, working in isolated spaces to prevent interactions with others, and other new measures.
For those who lost their employment recently, finding a new job during an economic crisis is difficult. The second reason is that many employees, even while in paid work, had to work for fewer hours due to the pandemic. Thus, looking at drops in total hours worked gives a full picture of the labor market effect of the crisis. According to the ILO, in the second quarter of 2020, worldwide working hours dropped by seventeen percent (ILO, 2020). This is equal to a loss of four hundred and ninety-five million full-time jobs. By December in the same year, total working hour drops accumulated to around four times more than during the Great Recession in 2009. The significant drops in working hours have been followed by equally dwindling of earnings. Labor income globally dropped by more than eight percent in 2020, totaling to three trillion and seven hundred billion dollars’ loss (Wilson, 2021). Such changes possibly have significant consequences on the wellbeing of individuals. Furthermore, one must acknowledge the presence of increasing levels of uncertainty in the economic and business contexts due to the specified permutations. Consequently, one could conclude that the increase in uncertainty rates as one of the core adverse factors shaping employees’ motivation according to Herzberg’s framework must have had a direct impact on the extent of employees’ engagement and motivation in the workplace (). The described outcome appears to be particularly applicable to the remote work context, where the impact of corporate values and the relevant support systems becomes comparatively weak due to a less rigid control (). Therefore, the described outcomes can be considered expected, albeit understandably negative for all organizations.
Researchers have discovered that the unemployed are five to fifteen percent less satisfied with their lives than the employed. In high-income nations, the difference is even greater (Athar, 2020). For instance, in North America and Western Europe, fulltime workers are found to be 1.31 and 1.11 points happier than the unemployed workers, respectively (Athar, 2020). In contrast to other life circumstances, being unemployed is as well less subject to wellness adaptation over time. Yet, the relationship between wellness and work goes beyond just unemployment. Previous studies have documented very adverse effects of underemployment and labor market inactivity (Albanesi and Kim, 2021). In some studies, the impact of working hour drops, as well as inactivity on life contentment, is even greater than the negative effect of unemployment (Albanesi and Kim, 2021). Whereas the impacts of the pandemic on the labor market have been widespread, they have as well been highly unequal. Thus, most studies indicate that, even when affecting different areas of employees’ performance, the specified factor still remains one of the core issues shaping the staff members’ motivation (). The specified outcome aligns with the essential tenets of Maslow’s Needs Theory, specifically, the need for safety, which constitutes one of the foundational requirements for employees to become motivated in the workplace (). Thus, since the increase in unemployment rates has led to a rise in uncertainty and, therefore, affected the staff members’ perception of their own careers’ stability, their motivation rates have been affected as well. Consequently, the effects of the pandemic on employees’ motivation rates appears to be undeniable.
Among the obvious effects of the pandemic is the exacerbation of existing socio-economic inequalities. In almost all European countries, low-income, as well as low-skill workers, were more likely to have lessened their working hours in the initial stages of the crisis (Nagarajan, Annamalai, and Arulkirubakaran, 2020). In places such as Ireland, the number of low-income workers who reduced their working periods is double that of high-income workers (Oliver et al., 2020). In Sweden, low-skill workers faced drops in a working period that was almost thrice as the national average (Kanfer et al., 2020). Similar trajectories have been witnessed in Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
About one-third of low-income households in the United Kingdom had lost more than twenty percent of their income by the first wave’s end, whereas only one-fifth of high-income households reported similar happenings. Educated workers were six percent less probably to have lost their employment in April relative to less educated workers (Caligiuri and De Cieri, 2021). The employment rates in the United States for low-income workers dropped by twenty-four percent as by the end of 2020 (Caligiuri and De Cieri, 2021). For high-income workers, the recession had ended by the same period. Those who seemed vulnerable were at more risk of being affected health-wise even before COVID-19.
The observed phenomena indicate that the impact of the COVID-19 on the levels of employee motivation rates is bound to have been detrimental. Indeed, as emphasized above, the increase in the levels of uncertainty, specifically, regarding the presence of foundational needs required for employee satisfaction, staff members are unlikely to display high rates of commitment and engagement (). In turn, the trends observed across Europe confirm the specified conclusion, leading to the assumption that a change in the approach toward meeting employees’ needs and managing their motivation rates is required in the digital context (). Remarkably, the specified supposition does not entail the necessity to change the paradigm of needs assessment; on the contrary, the studies indicate that the employees’ needs remain largely the same (). It is the framework for satisfying them that must undergo a significant change, as the available resources indicate (). For this reason, an array of digital tools for shaping staff members’ motivation and engagement in the context of the post-COVID-19 environment must be suggested. Additionally, measures for keeping staff members certain about their career prospects, which has turned out to be an evident need due to the pandemic effects must be incorporated into the corresponding HRM talent management strategies.
Despite many studies on the pandemic and how it affected the lives of workers globally, there are gaps that still exist. For instance, many have failed to look at those who worked for small businesses before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic (Manolova et al., 2020). Many of such businesses failed as compared to large businesses mainly because of the funds needed to maintain operations at such a time (Mani and Mishra, 2020). Strain in finances to run the small businesses forced many employers to fire other employees while reducing the working hours as well as pay rates for the remaining ones (Monitor, 2020). When earnings changed, this meant that individuals working at the small businesses had to adjust their lives, including spending. Such things make individuals lose the motivation they once approached work with (Wang et al., 2020). Though the described approach to data collection allows for a broad overview of the effects that the COViD-19 pandemic has produced on the extent of employees’ motivation, it also has a disadvantage of relying primarily on anecdotal evidence, which creates a problem for the further assessment of data and production of credible results. Therefore, the focus on collecting a broader range of data could be advised.
More importantly, the evidence represented in the specified research is indicative of the necessity of introducing appropriate models for change management into the organizational context. Specifically considering the provided data closer will show that the studies under analysis portray challenges and struggles with embracing change and adjusting to it among most employees (). Therefore, the change in motivation rates among staff members observed in the context of the post-Covid-19 environment can be attributed to people’s unwillingness and inability to accept the changes that the transition to the remote work context have brought. Indeed, studies show that most of the issues, ranging from the lack of corporate control to the failure to manage deadlines could be managed by staff members themselves, yet the specified demographic has mostly chosen to observe the obstacles passionlessly (). Correspondingly, the necessity to introduce a change management framework that organizations could implement to manage the fluctuations in employee’s motivation rates becomes evident.
Research Method Analysis
For this study, appropriate methods would be a questionnaire and observation. The purpose of the questionnaire was that the selected employees of the three businesses get asked questions about how they feel motivation-wise post-pandemic. Observation is important because it helps in identifying elements such as body language when a particular employee is subjected to different conditions at work similar to those during the pandemic. While answering the questions in a questionnaire, it is easy for an individual to provide information that is incorrect (Yadav et al., 2020). It is, however, difficult for someone to lie with their body language. Several small businesses were identified, and three were chosen and given names X, Y, and Z. In the three businesses, ten employees in each were selected for participation in the study.
During selection, there was a condition for them to fulfil. For instance, all of these participants had to have worked in those companies for more than three years, which is ideal as it dates back before the pandemic. This provides an individual with the ability to explain how they felt before COVID-19, how they had to adjust during it, and how they are coping currently (Terziev and Klimuk, 2020). The questionnaire was first handed to the participants for them to give responses on how they felt amidst the various changes. For instance, some of the topics handled in the questionnaire included fewer earnings, fewer working hours, and strict rules such as social distancing, to prevent infections.
For the purpose of avoiding bias in the responses, the participants were assured that their responses would remain anonymous. This is important because it allows a participant to be completely open about a situation and can give reliable responses. Many times individuals choose to answer questions in a manner that will not allow their companies to seem bad. This is because they want to maintain their jobs and livelihood. In a study like this, the individuals cannot be concerned about this since their responses are kept hidden from an outside party, that is, anyone not participating in the process.
After the questionnaire, the researchers chose to proceed to observation. The study mimicked some of the conditions that existed before the pandemic, during, and after the pandemic. This part of the research was divided into three parts. The first part involved the individuals working closely with colleagues without the social distance restriction. The second part involved them working while maintaining some distance from each other. During this part, when the individuals finished a task similar to ones they do in their jobs, the supervisor could not pat them on the back. The last part involved the individuals being replaced in the midst of their tasks to mimic reduced working hours. During all these parts, the participants were observed, and changes in their body language were noted.
Upon completion of the process, the results were compiled, and findings were shared with the employers. To prevent them from discovering which employee might have shared what information, the findings were placed in the same document for all three businesses. Some of the participants reported that when their working hours were reduced, they could not pay for the other bills that they had been paying for before the pandemic. For instance, one of them mentioned that they had been paying for their relative’s medical expenses. Even with the reduced hours, it was hard to raise the money to do so, but after the changes, it became harder.
As mentioned earlier, the approach the study used was deploying different methods of data collection. For instance, the researchers chose observation and questionnaire. The decision to utilize the techniques was due to their common usage in studies that involve people. The participants were selected from three organizations in different sectors and secluded from their usual work settings. They were subjected to a questionnaire that consisted of questions concerning their experience at work before, during, and after the pandemic. Afterward, the research moved to the second part of the information-gathering process, that is, observation. The respondents were advised to show different emotions when their surroundings are changed.
Understandably, the differences in the approaches toward the study of the factors at hand were justified largely by the research design and the need to make the research outcomes as credible and generalizable as possible. In retrospect, some of the articles and reports considered during the review of the available evidence could have used greater variability in the information collected for the research, as well as the methods chosen to analyze it. The specified change would have facilitated a greater and a more complex analysis of the issue, thus, providing a better understanding of the key variables and the interactions between them. For instance, the use of the mixed research method as a way of gauging the extent of specific factors’ impact on employees’ motivation and the opportunity to compare the effects of different factors on a quantitative level should have been considered. However, even with the utilized range of methodological tools, the studies in question have provided a rather profound insight into the problem of employee motivation in the post-COVID-19 setting.
For example, a room was set in a manner that in a five-minute period, there were twenty-one participants. In the next five-minute period, the number was reduced to twelve and eventually to six in the next five-minute duration. The observation was conducted through the cameras installed inside the particular room. From the methods, it was discovered that most individuals were affected mentally by the situation created by the pandemic. Some implied that the reduction of employees in organizations made the work environment less motivating. Additionally, it was observed that the majority of the participants became less inspired by the new surroundings that consisted of fewer people. One limitation of this study was that there is a possibility that some of the participants had not been employed in the past. Furthermore, it is not a guarantee that if they worked prior to the pandemic, they were operating in the same organizations (Lund et al., 2020, 4). The researchers considered confidentiality to allow the respondents to be free of fear of their personal information being disclosed to third parties.
The study was conducted with participants who were workers in the selected organizations that had been affected by the pandemic. In this case, the study population was estimated to be around 2 million, given the population of the working class in the study region. Using a confidence level of 95%, a margin error of 5%, a population proportion of 50%, and the total estimated population of 20,000, the sample size was calculated using the conventional finite formula, which gave a result of 357. Therefore, the research attempted to collect data from at least 100 respondents.
The issues of reliability and validity were of important concern in the study. It was acknowledged that personal biases may have had impact on the findings. To reduce such biases, the researcher avoided to reveal to the respondents the expected expectations of the research in terms of their levels of motivations and attitudes of their work. In addition, the researcher ensured meticulous record keeping to demonstrate a clear decision trail and ensuring that data interpretation was consistent and transparent.
One assumption made before the research process was that employees in small businesses had been impacted the most by the adjustments made after the pandemic. In such businesses, the employees receive considerably less money than other individuals working in large corporations. This is enough to destroy their motivation, but they still find ways to be happy and contented. They are able to support families and sometimes friends with the same income they earn from work. When this is taken away from them or their colleagues at work through losing a job or reduced working hours, it becomes difficult to approach work in the same way they did before then. Money is an important aspect of employment as it acts as a reward for someone’s hard work. Every employee wishes that the amount they receive would only rise as time goes by and not reduce. Therefore, when employees in small businesses experience harsh realities of even fewer earnings, they cannot remain inspired to perform at a high level.
Why Employee Motivation is Important in Small Business
Previous studies have investigated employees’ motivation in workplace environment by relying on SDT to explore the relationship between the extrinsic and intrinsic motivations according to this theory, intrinsic motivation come from within while the extrinsic motivation is obtained from outside. In essence, it implies that intrinsic motivation involves a person doing something because of personal rewards of benefits obtained from that action (De Vito et al., 2018). On the contrary, extrinsic motivation involved doing something because there is a reward or to avoid punishment upon taking that action.
When applied in business organizations, this theory suggests that intrinsic motivations can lead workers to engage in activities that are satisfying and interesting. On the contrary, extrinsic motivations tend to necessitate external goals that entice the workers to pursue certain behaviors. Many employers strive to motivate their workers for the purpose of performance and productivity (De Vito et al., 2018). Some studies have shown that individuals’ intrinsic motivations can decrease if there is perception that external contingencies such as rewards are used as enticement to engage them in certain tasks or to accomplish certain activities in the expected manner (De Vito et al., 2018). Even though employees are coerced to follow the desired behaviors in their workplace, their actions may be caused by personal desires and interests.
Various studies have been conducted on whether motivation of an employee is directly proportional to their output. Most of them have revealed that a human being needs morale to produce highly (Lund et al., 2020, 5). This had pressured many organizations into using multiple techniques to improve their employees’ motivation at work. They have realized that individuals in an organization are the most vital component in any firm (Lund et al., 2020, 5). Moreover, one cannot operate or run a company without dedicated, knowledgeable as well as highly inspired employees. Even after employing individuals, one can encounter issues if they are not well motivated, taken care of, or happy. Thus, one has to treat employee motivation with respect it deserves to guarantee effective running of the organization (Lund et al., 2020, 7). It is important to understand that motivation means inducement or incitement to act for more. In a workplace environment, it refers to doing a subordinate act in the desired way. Individuals are not machines, and motivation is what makes them accomplish required tasks.
The described perspective allows shaping the current approach toward motivation in the digital context. Remarkably, before the pandemic and the global transfer to the digital setting, the importance of recognizing employees as human beings with unique needs was a unanimously understandable and generally accepted fact. However, in the context of the digital workplace, the specified knowledge appears to be abandoned. The outlined effect must indicate not the failure to acknowledge each staff member’s uniqueness but, instead, the inability to shape the HRM strategy in the manner that would allow demonstrating managers; awareness of the specified issue. In other words, the overview of the issue at hand as represented by Lund et al. (2020) indicates the problem of mismanaging an HRM strategy in the digital workplace environment rather than the complete inability to recognize staff members’; uniqueness and the importance of meeting their needs. Therefore, the further course of managing the issue requires designing the framework that would allow transferring the approaches generally adopted in the realm of the offline workplace setting to the digital context seamlessly.
Motivation may be intrinsic and extrinsic in a workplace environment. The former is associated with the particular job an individual is doing. For instance, when a trained and knowledgeable operative performs a task well, they get a sense of satisfaction (Lund et al., 2020, 9). What satisfies the creative instinct in an individual is intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is considered to be external to a task or job. For instance, fiscal incentives for exceptional performance or offering higher production may inspire the employees. Other external forms of motivation include praise from the superior for great work, acknowledgment as well as an award. Others include better working conditions as well as other facilities and admiration from peers.
There are several determinants of employee motivation, for example, individuals, organizational components, and external variables. To understand what can inspire employees, one needs to know their target, goals as well as values (Lund et al., 2020, 7). Human needs are complex and numerous, plus usually difficult to recognize. An employer must observe the personal behavior and actions of employees during work. Through this, they can interpret the same regarding underlying motivation. Specifically, general responses toward common issues, as well as discrepancies in managing the tasks that are typically handled in the offline setting without any issues, need to be analyzed carefully. Thus, managers will elicit the data that will inform the creation of an appropriate HRM strategy that will meet the needs of diverse staff members in the digital workplace setting.
Regarding organizational structure, some of the surrounding internal problems of a firm influence its motivation. Such problems include organizational structure, physical facilities, and technological systems, among others. Some machines inspire individuals to work better and with inspiration, while others make the same people feel bored (Lund et al., 2020, 9). Regarding external variables, an employee’s life away from the organization is a vital factor impacting their willingness or motivation to work. In case an employee encounters problems at home, it is clear that they will fail to work effectively. Moreover, one can play a great motivational role through customs and norms, culture, among others.
Traits of Employee Motivation
The first trait is that different people have different sources of motivation. One economic drive that determines behaviors does not exist (Jensen, 2018). In the same manner goals and desires of people vary, so do things that motivate them. One person may be motivated to do a job because it is lucrative. Another individual may do the same job because it gives them a sense of accomplishment, while a third person may choose to do it because it allows them an opportunity to serve a cause.
The second characteristic is that employee motivation is very situational. An individual may work exceptionally in one firm and poorly in another one in the same job type despite being asked of the same responsibilities. The performance varies because of the difference in the type of overseeing and working conditions. The third characteristic is motivation change, whereby individuals’ motivation varies from time to time. Even if an individual behaves in the same manner for an extended period, their motivation may still vary. For instance, a temporary employee may work more at the start of the job to attain permanence.
After permanent employment, the individual may continue to work more to obtain promotions. The last characteristic is that people express their motivation differently. Needs and the manner in which they are translated into practical actions may differ from one person to another. Different people may as well react differently to the successful or unsuccessful satisfaction of their needs. One may get frustrated when they fail to meet their needs. They may as well put more effort into accomplishing the fulfilment of their needs.
However, the described traits of employee motivation suggests that creating a homogenous strategy for motivating staff members to participate with equally strong engagement and investment in the company’s performance is impossible. Furthermore, the idea that discrepancies in the range of factors that motivate staff members to perform are far too numerous to embrace them would lead to suggesting that the causes of employees losing their motivation are just a robust and multiple. Nonetheless, given the situation with the rapid drop in engagement and motivation rates among employees across industries in the post-COVID-19 setting, one may conclude that the specified assertion is rather erroneous. Therefore, tools for building a coherent employee motivation framework can still be identified and deployed successfully.
Looking at the findings of the study, it is important that employers find ways to motivate their employees post-pandemic. There are various things that they can do to achieve this, for instance, working together with them (Hitka, Kozubíková, and Potkány, 2018). This has become more relevant and truer, regardless of either someone is working in an office with full or part-time attendance or working from home. In-person or virtual interactions are the essence of creating relationships with one’s employees in small businesses. With most of the restrictions uplifted and the staff wishing to get back to the office environments, dealing with their frustrations is even harder. Therefore, it is recommended that employers carry out group calls as well as create systems that assist in motivating and encouraging employees as they adjust work post-pandemic.
Since most individuals in the businesses had to adjust and start working for fewer earnings, it would be great for them to receive a commitment from the employers that their pay and working hours will be evaluated after things get better financially. This not only allows them to focus but gives them something to look forward to (De Sousa Sabbagha, Ledimo, and Martins, 2018). It is important that when an issue affecting an individual’s morale arises, the cause is known and dealt with directly. Obviously, there are others the employees can be motivated, but it will take the businesses to deal with the main issues, which include earnings, to solve their problems completely regarding low motivation post-pandemic.
Additionally, employers are encouraged to attend all team-building activities. During the period before the pandemic, heading out on team excursions was fun. However, in the post-pandemic period, going out for such activities might not be possible (Lorincová et al., 2019). Still doing fun as well as engaging team building activities is of great importance as it would assist employees in becoming refreshed while offering them a different outlook of work. Employers need to understand that their teams need time to relax plus rejuvenate. Carrying out recreational activities such as board games or listening to music together are all ideas to inspire motivation in employees.
The other way of luring one’s employees’ attention is through setting up digital signage as well as showcasing different kinds of content on the digital platform. Through this, one can display various kinds of content and simplify the communication (Pererva et al., 2018). They are recommended to display content such as motivational quotes, appreciation posts as well as company updates. The purpose of the display on a digital screen is to capture the employees’ attention plus keep them informed while entertained.
Additionally, one can utilize a social wall on digital signage to inspire the employees’ attention by keeping them informed concerning what individuals worldwide have to say about the business. A social wall is an aggregation of information developed on social media platforms by fans, users, plus employees through mentions and hashtags. Utilizing platforms such as Taggbox Display, an employer can gather, curate as well as showcase the content plus share the messages of togetherness and empathy. This motivates the employees, encourages them to create information as well as uplift their spirits. Apart from using a social way, another way to motivate employees in the post-pandemic period is conducting fun and interactive gaming sessions. Doing this is not difficult for any work environment (Ozkeser, 2019). One can create a space for the fun activities in the schedule as well. The activities create refreshing as well as interactive surroundings for the employees plus keep them looking forward to their day.
Another way employers can inspire employees is by identifying their issues through surveys. The surveys can help them in gauging the motivation levels of the employees. Monitoring their mental wellness is vital for having a productive as well as motivated staff. Many individuals report having anxiety when getting back to work after the pandemic (Hanaysha and Majid, 2018). Some of them may have been affected by the disease in terms of having colleagues who find going back to the office setting stressful after months of self-isolation. This is the reason why it is good to monitor the emotions plus identify any insecurities among the staff concerning their time at work after the pandemic (Kauppila, 2018). The employers can as well complement the surveys by having face-to-face meetings. The findings will enable the employers to set goals based on the employees’ current capabilities without risking reducing their motivation even further.
Setting goals is an important aspect of performing in an organization. However, setting short-term goals is the way to go during this period as there are other countries that show indications of another wave of the pandemic (Reizer, Brender-Ilan, and Sheaffer, 2019). This will allow businesses to remain flexible as well as to adapt faster to unanticipated changes. Additionally, setting short-term goals allows employees to accomplish results plus get recognition fast which inspires a positive reaction from them as it allows them to have confidence in their own capabilities. Apart from setting short-term goals, it is important that employers learn to set small as well as realistic stretch goals (Satriani, Zigrang, and Bailey-Wheaton, 2020). Stretch goals are those that individuals set for when someone accomplishes the initial goals. Achieving a goal is a positive thing and boosts employee’s morale and therefore, having multiple wins is even greater as long as an individual does not burn out in the process due to much workload.
Employers are encouraged to boost employees’ morale with common targets. Getting them involved in defining their own goals has become more important now than ever. By involving them in setting up their own targets, one can help them be more invested in their jobs (Shafi, Liu, and Ren, 2020). Furthermore, this increases the transparency of the employer to the employees and, thus, reputation. One can as well set shared targets for various teams to boost teamwork as well as collaboration (Sharp, Bye, and Cusick, 2019). After a long time of working for fewer hours, the employees may have lost connection with some of their peers. Thus, this is a brilliant way of getting them to rekindle their relationships at work.
The COVID-19 pandemic emerged and changed how people operate, including businesses. Ever since many small businesses have closed due to various reasons, those in the retail industry were the most impacted as the purchasing power of people decreased significantly (Sobaih et al., 2021). This resulted in many businesses laying off employees as they could not afford to pay them as before. Others opted to reduce the number of working hours for employees to reduce the amount needed to pay the employees (Tkach and Kurpayanidi, 2020). Adjusting to the new changes has been difficult for many people, and the rules have made it worse. For instance, before the pandemic, colleagues could be close to one another, which established a bond between them. Social distancing has affected this, and they are now forced to interact in a manner they do not appreciate. All these issues have resulted in them failing to remain motivated to work.
Motivation is important for all human beings in all sectors and aspects of life. Without it, people cannot perform at a high level, and thus, it becomes difficult for the businesses to enjoy the same profits or even higher than what they used to get. Employees who are motivated approach their jobs differently and work towards not only their goals but the organizational goals. It is important that businesses realize that work for an employee should not just be a source of income. It should mean more to them to leave others and report to work. For instance, someone who is motivated will attend work because they feel like they are impacting someone else’s life.
Approaching work with passion is an indication of motivation, and employers should note this. Since most employees lost their motivation during and post pandemic, it is important for business owners to find ways to inspire employees. For instance, an employer committing to increasing employees’ salaries once the business improves is a sure way to boost the employees’ morale. The individuals working in such businesses have responsibilities, and they take care of the people around them. Most of them have tougher responsibilities, such as covering medical bills for other people close to them. Giving them something to look forward to increases their morale and helps them to remain optimistic.
Saunders is an expert who developed the research onion model to aid in describing the phases through which someone ought to pass during an effective methodology. It is this approach that has informed major parts of this project particularly the study of employees post the COVID-19 pandemic (Menni et al., 2021, 945). The strategy is helpful as it enables to uncover or resistance layers in a research proposal (Martinengo et al., 2019, 11). In the event the meaning is not clear enough, it prompts use of a different explanation (Salvatore et al., 2020, 723). In his invention, Saunders explained that there were three methods researchers or investigators would use to conduct study, that is, mono, mixed as well as multi methods (Zhou et al., 2019, 7). The main approach used in this study concerning employees’ motivation after the pandemic is mixed-methods whereby both qualitative and quantitative methodology.
The methodology chosen for the study was implemented by integrating two methods of data collection, including observation and use of questionnaires. The techniques were selected due to their accuracy and reliability when it comes to study of phenomena that involve humans and social life. In a matter involving motivation and how individuals feel, it is important to consider the behaviour of the individuals. In the field of psychology, it has been established that one can determine what, how, or why someone feels a certain way by observing their physical cues. In order for the outcomes to be deemed dependable, the second technique was introduced to ascertain from the employees or participants themselves.
Participants were selected for the study from three companies and secluded for the duration of the data collection. The choice of settling for three companies was to ensure accuracy of the outcomes so that when the conclusions are drawn, the information can be dependable and used in other areas of life. For instance, obtaining data from only one company limits the responses given as the respondents’ answers could be influenced by their management (Hewitt et al., 2020, 444). It is a common practice to see employees of some organizations be in fear of losing their jobs (Popelo et al., 2021). Therefore, they hide any piece of data that may suggest that their situation or workplaces are not great (Luthans, Rosenkrantz, and Hennessey, 2019, 170). It is better to rely on information from people in various firms especially in different sectors.
One limitation in this study is that the observation method used in detecting or studying the participants may be inaccurate since it is easy to confuse someone’s personality with physical cues showcasing a feeling. For example, there are people who are always calm and collected in various situations (Bujang et al., 2018, 122). Establishing that as being less motivated is not right and might lead to unreliable conclusions. Another limitation is that there are high chances of meeting new employees in the selected firms. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, most organizations reduced the number of people working for them to reduce the chance of contracting the disease as a result of close contact.
Many individuals lost their jobs and thus it is possible that the people currently employed are different. This makes it hard to understand whether they were previously motivated or that is just their usual personality. Confidentiality was the main ethical consideration to be made in the research project. It was important to hide information about the respondents to ensure that they do not be influenced by fear of being known by their respective managements.
Observation is an ideal method of data collection, especially when dealing with participants such as human beings who are not only social beings but communicate through body language as well. Non-verbal cues are the most telling since someone can state something about a particular thing and lie about it, but the cues cannot. For instance, it is easy to notice an individual who is uncomfortable even without them stating that. This method is ideal since it does not require any expenses. After the participants were chosen, the researchers monitored how they reacted to various issues in the office. For instance, how they embraced the requests by their employers to perform various tasks. This was important since there was additional evidence of how the particular individuals behaved in the past before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The proof is in the videos captured by the CCTV cameras inside and outside the buildings. Using a comparison between what is currently observed and what was seen in the past helps to reach a definitive conclusion. For instance, if a particular person moved with a sense of urgency in the past but is now lazily approaching the same tasks, it shows that they are not motivated. Someone with morale is driven and inspired and exudes a joyful aura (Chen et al., 2020). The opposite happens when the same individual is uninspired (Bloom et al., 2021). This method is perfect for this study and provides the needed information more than any other technique of data collection.
Apart from observation, questionnaires were issued to the observed individuals to help obtain more data on the topic. Using more than one method helps in covering for the limitations of the other. For instance, someone can claim that it is the pandemic that led to a particular person losing morale at work, but maybe there are other personal issues. For example, there is a chance that some of the individuals monitored and showed a lack of urgency in their work recently divorced or separated from their spouses. This is a good reason why a person can lose focus and morale in their jobs (Brown et al., 2020, p.385). Another instance is that the people are probably overworked, which means that their reason for lacking their past inspiration has nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The other method helps in answering some of the questions reviewers may pose regarding the results and conclusions after the study is completed and the information analyzed. Using questionnaires helps to confirm some of the observations made. For instance, the questions are designed in a manner that they help to understand how the pandemic may have affected how they approach their work at the current times. Some of the questions include: “Were you allowed to work during the pandemic?” “Did you lose any friends, relatives, or colleagues to the disease?” “Do you approach your work with the same level of motivation as before?” “Are you happy at your current job as you were prior to the pandemic?”
The questions allowed the research team to understand if what they observe is reflective of their low morale caused by the pandemic or not. The answers would help to answer the research questions determined at the start of the study. These include how the morale of employees affected by the changes during the pandemic period was? How did the reduction in working hours and thus income affect their motivation towards work? How can employers fix the issue of motivation post-pandemic? Individuals answering questions in a questionnaire are prone to lying in their responses or showing bias for various reasons, including fear of losing their jobs. To ensure that the process enables the collection of accurate data, the participants were promised anonymity.
It is important that participants of a study are allowed to choose whether their identity remains confidential or not. This is a good practice in the field of research as it allows more participation in the future. Someone working for a company as a manager is entitled to preserve the image of the organization. Therefore, they are more than tempted to answer in a manner that will not appear that they tarnish the reputation of their employer (De Sousa Sabbagha, Ledimo, and Martins, 2018). Their job is on the line, which may be the only way they earn and help feed their families. Anonymity allows the individuals participating to be free from worries like that, and therefore their responses are reliable and accurate since they remain hidden from third-party. The questions were kept short and few to encourage participation. Individuals do not appreciate studies that are tiring which many queries in a questionnaire might cause.
In the same manner, videos captured by CCTV cameras prior to the pandemic are used to complement the observation method, document analysis is used complementing the questionnaires. For instance, individuals claiming that their morale has gone down can be checked in the company files to understand their productivity in the past. A graph indicating a drop in production means that there must be a reason for what is seen. For example, a line graph showing a downward movement from 2018 to 2022 suggests that there is a reduced level of production. One that moves upwards, which is the opposite direction, reveals that there is an improvement over the particular duration. Finally, one that is constant shows that there is zero change observed, which means that no improvement nor reduction has been witnessed.
Reviewing company documents allows the researcher to understand how the participants performed in the past and how much change is seen and what may be the cause. Similar to the observation method, the use of questionnaires has its limitations, including the main one, which is bias. When scholars evaluate the study after it is completed, the results and conclusions made, there are questions that may be posed to ensure the credibility of the research. Using another technique to help cover the weaknesses of the main method is important. The review is conducted to enable growth in the field of research since the information gathered can assist in teaching others how to approach studies. The data is useful in educating about the researched topics in schools which means that accuracy is of great essence (Dua et al., 2020). To apply a particular piece of knowledge in educational institutions requires that particular people responsible are sure of their work.
To conclude, there are two methods of analysis that were chosen, that is, qualitative analysis and quantitative analysis. The latter helps to answer questions such as why, how, or what. Each of the questions is answered using the questionnaire technique. For instance, the research wanted to determine how the employees were affected motivation-wise by the COVID-19 pandemic (Buchheim et al., 2021). Additionally, it was important for the researchers to understand what might have brought down the morale of employees of various organizations or why the situation is the way it is. To answer such questions, one needs a questionnaire that prompts a participant to respond in a way that reveals the truth behind the queries.
For instance, upon collection of data using the questionnaire, some of the participants claimed that they were not allowed to work during the pandemic. This forced them into difficult times financially as most of them were the sole bread winners in their homes. Others were in debt before being asked to wait at home as the businesses tried to survive the pandemic period (Cavallo and Forman, 2020, p.143). This meant that they had to spend more on paying the loans they owed as fines were charged upon failure to pay as initially discussed by lenders. Additionally, there are others who revealed that they lost close people in their lives, such as relatives, friends, or colleagues. In the workplace environment, people form a bond, especially if they have worked together for a long time.
Sometimes, the connection between workmates grows to the point they feel that the other person is a family member. When a tragedy happens to one of them, it causes them much grief, and it is difficult for the other one to go to the same place and not find the other. However, professionalism dictates that they put their emotions aside and try to get themselves back to thinking about company goals and what is expected of them while at work, the morale is not there anymore. As mentioned earlier, most of the employees are the providers in their homes, which means that their partners, children, or other family members are the motivation for going to work (Core and De Marco, 2021). Losing one of those people leaves an individual with no reason to approach the work with same urgency as before. There are individuals who claimed that they were not happy with their jobs as asked in the questionnaire. The responses help to understand why the situation exists.
Apart from the qualitative analysis, statistical analysis was done to discover the reasons for the regress observed among employees post-pandemic. This technique helps to provide an explanation of the information discovered from the document analysis conducted to complement use of questionnaires. Here, graphs are drawn based on the employee performance data found from 2018 to 2022. How the graph looks determines whether the production has dropped or improved. For instance, upon collection of the data, a line graph indicated a drop in productivity among most of the participants during that period. This shows that a large portion of individuals have lost their morale due to the pandemic.
From 2018 to 2019, the line showed an upward movement which is the period before the COVID-19. From 2019 to mid-2020, the line graph showed a near-constant change which is the period when the pandemic started hitting various parts of the world after the first case was discovered in China. This means that during this time, the morale level remained the same. From 2020 to 2022, the line graph showed a downward movement which is suggestive of the decrease in inspiration. In statistical analysis, data from methods such as observation can be utilized.
For instance, during information gathering, participants can be monitored and discovered to record altercations, particularly verbal with colleagues, at a higher rate than before. A good researcher uses such elements of the research to understand the whole situation (Craven et al., 2020). Minor details such as frequency of altercations of number of times individuals report late at work should not be ignored. They provide a chance to compare which is important in a study such as this particular one. Graphs are essential since they make it easy for the observer to understand how the data varies at different times.
During the whole research period, there were challenges encountered that included a lack of adequate time to complete the procedure of data collection and analysis on time. Others are unwillingness by the companies to offer access to some of their documents, fatigue, lack of trust from participants, and poor communication. After human resource, data is the most important component in an organization, and it is the reason why most firms would not allow the research to involve access to some files. The information can be used by individuals hired by other companies to create a competitive advantage over them, which is a risk they were not ready to take. As much as this is understandable, it is difficult to conduct the study without having full access to company profiles and information about the employees participating in the research.
Another challenge was the limited time allowed by the three organizations. The employees were permitted to spend no more than two days off work while participating in the study. Data collection such as observation requires much time to allow much information to be obtained. It is difficult to observe data such as the number of times someone reports late to work or the frequency of altercations when only given one day for that. Such data requires at least seven days which makes up one week of studying the dynamics in the particular workplace. Additionally, allowing only a single day for the process meant that more people were needed to help in observing the participants. This increases the expenses of the research as the individuals would demand to be paid. When the time limit affects the data collection process, it affects the analysis and thus the conclusions made (Caligiuri and De Cieri, 2021). Instead of producing well-detailed information that would inform great recommendations, it leads to unreliable data.
In any research, the aspect of time is always the factor that determines the success of the study. For instance, less time means more work is supposed to be accomplished with more effort. This causes fatigue on the part of the researcher, which might result in unreliable and incorrect conclusions. In statistical analysis, especially when using the statistics from various years from 2019 and 2022, it is difficult to draw a conclusion from a line graph that only some parts of the whole data and limited time. For example, the graphs needed that someone draws the performance score and productivity level of every participant against the years.
Without enough time, it is easy to see how the data can be misinterpreted since the researcher is working towards finishing the work within the allocated period. This means that the fatigue caused due to overworking is likely to cause the individual to use exaggerated information to generate a conclusion about the situation. Another challenge is the lack of trust from the participants in the research process. This is mainly in the questionnaire part of data collection whereby the individuals are asked to provide data that is accurate without fear of being exposed to their employers
Many individuals who are currently working either worked for fewer hours during the pandemic or were laid off and asked to be asked back when things get better. It was during that time when they suffered a lo financially which means that when things at work returned to norm, the were more than happy. Going to the same individuals and asking them to provide information about the workplace and understanding how their relationship with the employer could be affected, it is hard for them to open. This means that they only provide answers that cannot make them look bad in the eyes of the organizations at which they work. For instance, a question such as if they are happy at their current job. When an employer finds out that an employee’s answer to that query is negative, they feel that it is only right to let them go.
An unhappy employee will not perform at their absolute best which means that the company goals are unlikely to be achieved. This in turn affects the profits and revenue generated by the organization. Apart from that, the particular individual will create an environment that is toxic and affects others adversely. Such a workplace setting is not a recipe for success. The other challenge is a lack of clear communication between the researcher, the participants and the organization. For instance, the duration requested for the study was initially one week. However, the organizations could not allow that and thus allocated two days. They communicated this late which is on the morning of the first day and thereby disrupting all the plans. This is a huge challenge since it not only impacts how the study is carried out but seems like something done intentionally to sabotage the entire research.
For the field of research to continue growing, it is important that the government through its agencies to prompt organizations to allow access to information that is not sensitive to the researchers. This not only help in coming up with conclusions about a certain topic but also assists in forcing the companies to understand how they can improve in future (Athar, 2020). For instance, in the paper, it is clear that humans are the most important resource in an organization. Additionally, an individual who is not motivated while at work is expected to perform poorly which means that the goals set for the organization are likely not to be accomplished. Employee motivation is a reason why some of the businesses have failed. Such information shows the importance of doing research (Apedo-Amah et al., 2020). It is thus the responsibility of the local, state and federal governments to find a way to make it possible for individuals to conduct studies without fear of being denied some information.
Apart from access of information, time is an important aspect of research. When it is inadequate, then it becomes difficult to trust the results and the conclusions made after completion. The paper shows that there are two main methods of data collection that have been utilized, that is questionnaire and observation (Albanesi and Kim, 2021). The latter technique requires the researcher to take enough time to monitor the behavioural features of the participants for a set period. For instance, a detail such as the number of times an employee is involved in verbal altercations cannot be fully comprehended if it is only for one single day. This is essential since low morale might not be the reason behind the fight that day but other things. Observing the person for multiple days will inform a more detailed narrative.
Apart from data collection, time limit affects the analysis of the results. This study involves two types of analysis which include statistical and qualitative. The former technique requires more than enough time since the researcher has to collect the results and draw conclusions from things such as graphs. Illustrating the data using a graph for participants of one company and going to the other needs ample time. Lack of it results in unreliable data that cannot be useful in a serious study. Even as the various levels of government encourage cooperation from organizations regarding accessing files and documents needed, the should insist that enough time be allowed.
Researchers need to understand that when an individual decides to participate in a study, whatever information they give should not be released to a third party with their identity disclosed without consent. Such behavior leads to a notion that the whole field acts unprofessionally. Therefore, when one conducts research especially one that involves employees and organizations that they work in, they decline to provide answers that are accurate. There are many cases in the past of such behaviour on the part of the researcher whereby individuals’ identity is disclosed to someone else, and the persons lose their jobs in the process. This is very unethical and should be discouraged from the field by ensuring that no such incidents exist.
Lack of ethics in a field or area of specialization leads to lack of trust from others. Building back the trust is not an easy task and thus, confidentiality of people should not be taken for granted. Lastly, it is important that researchers allow themselves to be flexible and open to involve other methods of data collection even after settling for specific ones. For instance, in the paper, there are two main methods applied for gathering of information for the study. On the one hand, the observation technique is complimented by CCTV camera videos of the past to offer a bigger picture and more detail. On the other hand, the questionnaire technique is complimented by document analysis which helps in comparison of employee data over a certain period. Settling only for the main techniques will hinder one from collecting enough data that can offer a better interpretation.
The questions addressed by this study are descriptive, exploratory, and discovery-oriented in nature. For instance, how is the employees’ morale affected by the changes during the pandemic period? The research is aimed at collecting an in-depth comprehension of human behavior as well as reasons that dictate human behavior, which constitutes qualitative research (Draper et al., 2018, p.5). A variety of aspects of behavior could have a foundation on values, individual perception, contextual circumstances, and experience.
The qualitative study explores the why as well as how and not just who, what, or where. Thus, the need is for smaller samples instead of large and random. Additionally, with a small sample size, more data can be gathered from every respondent. Smaller sizes lead to reduced expenses in terms of investigation procedure and faster results. The analysis involves grouping information in patterns as the primary basis for arranging and reporting outcomes.
The researcher relies on various techniques to collect data, that is, survey and observation methods. Even though it is common to identify a discrepancy between quantitative and qualitative aspects of scientific studies, a mixed-methods strategy is usually applied (Draper et al., 2018, p.10). In some instances, qualitative research is instrumental to gaining comprehension of a phenomenon as a foundation for quantitative research. In this case, it is enriching people’s understanding of the findings. The data found is non-numeric, for instance, the video recordings in the study of the employees in their work environment (Draper et al., 2018, p.15). In this analysis, there are five types that are applied, including content analysis, narrative analysis, discourse analysis, framework analysis, and grounded theory. In the next section, the paper highlights the available research analysis tools to the researchers.
Content analysis refers to a process of grouping behavioral information to summarize, classify and tabulate data. Obtaining information as well as analyzing it to draw a certain conclusion has various levels to follow before stakeholders get to see it (Gaur and Kumar, 2018, p.285). Scholars refer to this as a tool researchers can utilize to establish the availability of particular concepts with given data (Gaur and Kumar, 2018, p.285). Using it, they are able to quantify as well as analyze relationships and meanings of the concepts.
The procedure happens in five steps, the first one being identifying and collecting data. There are various ways in which the information for qualitative content analysis can be obtained. Both verbal as well as non-verbal; techniques can be utilized to achieve that from participants involved in the study (Kleinheksel et al., 2020). As mentioned earlier, survey and observation methods were in use. The main elements for conducting this type of scrutiny include words, items, concepts, and semantics.
It is important that one captures the essential data required for the process so that there is adequate information for the intended purpose. The sample needs to be sufficient to depict the whole population under study (Kleinheksel et al., 2020). For instance, in the study, the number of employees used was adequate to represent the workers in the corporate world (Lindgren et al., 2020, p.103632). The other step in the process is establishing the categories in coding. Measurement of the content in the process has a basis on structured observation, which is a systematic observation according to particular written rules. The latter informs how the information needs to be grouped. These categories described for the analysis ought to be mutually exclusive. The rules aid in making replication easier as well as improving dependability.
To analyze the data, it is essential to categorize the whole content into various sets for better management. This is a procedure of selective reduction whereby the text is changed to classes so that the researcher can focus on the groupings for particular words as well as patterns that respond to the questions. The codes could look similar to phrases, numbers, words, or emotions. The third step in this process involves coding the content. A code refers to a label that one assigns to a text that needs analysis. For instance, in this study, the word employee is allocated whenever there is a mention of any individual working in a company (Kauppila, 2018). During the procedure, a number needs to be assigned to every group (Mahdavinejad et al., 2018, p.165). The code ought to be mutually exclusive, as suggested by (Khudhair et al., 2020). Coding refers to a collection of rules that illustrate the technique of observing the content in a particular text. It will highlight the key characteristics, including direction, frequency, space, and intensity.
Frequency is the number of times a specific code happens. Direction refers to the manner in which the information appears, for instance, negative, positive, support, or the opposite. Intensity represents the amount of strength in a specific direction. Space is the size of the message, or the quantity allocated to the text. Coding collects much dependable information depending on the availability or absence of the phrase or word (Mahdavinejad et al., 2018, p.170). Coding software is utilized to distinguish the phrases, words as well as images on a website. There is a lexical mapping computer program that is capable of identifying numerous themes. The frequency is calculated, and a table is produced to represent the data. The fourth step is checking validity as well as reliability.
The next phase involves testing the codes that have been created. The codes should be validated for dependability. The code must go through testing to check whether it actually measures what is expected and if there is consistency in the results (Nistor and Hernández-Garcíac, 2018, p.336). Validity of sampling refers to the assessment and authentication of the sample that was chosen for the analysis. Semantic validity looks at if the various phrases or words have similar meaning after being identified to be part of a group. The connection has to be checked to understand whether a measure can be replaced for another one. Reliability or dependability check of the information is essential to check if the researchers can depend on it, which means that it ought to be consistent during the whole measuring procedure.
A check on reproducibility is done by having several individuals code a data sample and compare the outcomes. The information can be scrutinized for its stability, whereby a check is carried out to examine the extent of consistency within a period (Nistor and Hernández-Garcíac, 2018, p.337). Additionally, an accuracy check is performed to identify if the procedure conforms to the standard as anticipated and if it gathers the findings based on what for it is designed. Determining reliability is crucial as any outcome without proper validation or dependability is not helpful. The final step is scrutinizing as well as presenting the discoveries. After finishing the whole procedure, there will be numerous collections of data arranged as files. This must resemble a report so that a recipient is able to understand it.
The review of the outcome is involved in addition to identifying patterns, organizing every piece of information in a sequence, and lastly, presenting it. The initial sections should address every basic data concerning the report, including study period, location, aim and objective, sources, and explain the various tools as well as methods utilized during the research. The findings section must contain facts about factors in observation. The findings need support from data and should be presented in the form of matrices and graphs. Presenting the information makes it easy for a reader to comprehend as well as interpret the report. The findings section needs to offer a thorough analysis and summary of observations that were collected in the process. The researcher has to include the key discoveries and avoid much information that can obscure the actual results (Nistor and Hernández-Garcíac, 2018, p.337). The findings ought to attempt to narrate the discoveries without adding unnecessary solutions. This part should provide a direction to the top stakeholders for additional discussion and evaluation of the scenario and encourage them to decide according to the report.
Narrative analysis is a method that involves the reformulation of stories availed by participants considering the context of every case and various experiences of all of them. In simple terms, it is the revision of primary qualitative data by a researcher. No agreed-upon technique of narrative analysis exists. There are numerous types of designs in this process. Apart from that, there is a step-by-step procedure that one follows (Nistor and Hernández-Garcíac, 2018, p.338). The first step includes coding the narrative blocks. A researcher inductively codes the blocks they find in the data collection. For instance, stories concerning how companies chose to stop operating for a while.
The second step in this procedure includes grouping and reading life events. The researcher needs to read over every narrative that they coded with the above-used code. As they do that, they should be aware of the differences as well as similarities. This is the start of the analysis process. After that, the following step involves creating nested narration structure codes. For all codes, they need to be created and nested according to the story structure scheme of choice. For instance, narratives concerning decisions on reducing the number of working employees.
The fourth step in the narrative analysis is delving into the story structure. At this point, the researcher can collate every life event by the code. For example, within a narrative about deciding to reduce the number of employees, one can focus on orientation. In each story, they can compare as well as contrast how various participants oriented their stories. Differences and similarities can be noted down during observation. The former can further be coded to aid in analysis. For instance, if the participants commonly spoke about the company’s financial status, they may end up with something like:
- Electing to reduce the number of employees
The fifth step in narrative analysis involves comparison across story structures. As one breaks up the blocks by structure, they are required not to lose sight of the overarching story. They need to switch between reading the blocks as a whole and diving into every code. It is important to be attentive to how the story structure codes associate across a life incident. Respondents who detailed about losses may construct meaning in a different manner than those who experienced profits. They might discover after comparison of the orientation and evaluation.
The sixth step in this process is telling the core narrative. In the end, one will have completely explored every block. A researcher will have a clear comprehension of how the participants’ narrations relate and how they vary. Through the procedure, one may have a theory of why the stories vary. For every incident, a researcher ought to take the structure used. Then, they are supposed to write the main narration that encompasses the discords between respondents. If they discover discrepancies within the study base, they can record that in a single narrative. They can break a life occurrence into multiple narrations and contrast them. In the example used above, one may write a single-core narration from the view of participants whose company experienced losses and other profits.
Discourse analysis refers to a method of analysis of natural talk and every type of written text. Conducting the technique means assessing how language works as well as how the meaning is established in various social contexts (Leipold et al., 2019, p.450). This can be utilized in either oral or written language and non-verbal aspects of communication, for example, gestures and tone. Materials that are fitting for this procedure include newspapers, books, periodicals, or conversations (Leipold et al., 2019, p.451). By analyzing the variety of discourse, a researcher aims to obtain a comprehension of social groups as well as how they interact.
Unlike other linguistic strategies that target rules on language use only, discourse analysis stresses the contextual meaning of language. It looks at the social aspects of communication as well as the ways individuals utilize language to accomplish particular effects. Rather than using less considerable language units such as sounds, the technique is used in exploring many considerable portions (Mullet, 2018, p.120). There are many approaches and methods people use to carry out discourse scrutiny.
The first step involves defining the question targeted to be answered and choosing the content that requires analysis. One begins with a well-defined research problem that will direct the whole process. Afterward, they choose a variety of material that is proper to respond to it (Riley and Wiggins, 2019, p.241). Discourse analysis refers to a method that is applicable to both large and small quantities of the sample depending on the timescale and objectives of the study. The second step is gathering information and looking at the theory in the context.
The researcher has to establish the historical as well as the social context in which the material was generated and aimed to be received. They are required to collect facts concerning where and when the information was produced, the author, publisher, and the recipient (Buchheim et al., 2021). Apart from comprehending the real-life background of discourse, one can as well conduct a review of the literature on the topic as well as design a scheme to direct the analysis. The next step is analyzing the information to recognize any themes or patterns available.
At this stage, the researcher closely examines multiple elements of the material present, for example, words or paragraphs, and relates them to characteristics, patterns, or themes relevant to the study problem. They scrutinize the chosen content for statements and wording that show the responses to the question (Riley and Wiggins, 2019, p.245). For instance, this study aims to discover whether employees lost their motivation after the COVID-19 pandemic (Brown et al., 2020, p.380). There are issues that repeatedly show up as data in the process and thus form a pattern or a theme.
The fourth step involves reviewing or assessing the results as well as drawing conclusions. Once a researcher has assigned certain characteristics to elements of the content, it is important that they reflect on the outcomes to assess the meaning and function of the language. They will consider analysis regarding the broader context that they established initially to reach conclusions that react to the study problem.
The purpose of research in the real world is to ensure that particular issues in society are dealt with appropriately. For instance, in the nursing field, every study conducted aims to help the nurses or doctors work better to attain the highest standards pertaining to their practice. These could be important details on how to conduct diagnosis better or treatment. Improvement in those two areas can help better the chances of healing for individuals seeking medical help. Additionally, the information discovered can help the patients understand more about various health conditions, thus improving the life quality of people in society. In information technology, individuals have benefited as they have realized more ideas about innovations and other inventions (Harjoto, Rossi, and Paglia, 2021). In the business sector, particularly marketing, companies have hired professionals in the research field to help them understand more about the market and other factors that impact their market share.
After the first case was announced in China and thereafter in other parts of the world, companies had to determine whether operations would continue in the same manner before or not. The reason for this is due to many of them not being digitally managed before. For instance, Walmart and Amazon are almost the same organization but only defer on how they carry out their operations. The former uses physical stores, while the other utilizes online stores or e-commerce. When the pandemic hit, those that had previously established themselves in e-commerce did not have any worries concerning their sales (Caligiuri and De Cieri, 2021). In fact, the sales increased more than twice since most of the people abandoned the shops and ordered items online.
The same thing happened with employment as the companies that failed to sustain operations as before the pandemic had to close to avoid losses. Others closed a few months after the first wave since they could not sustain themselves in the midst of all the losses they were experiencing (Victor et al., 2021). A few opted to reduce the number of employees so that it could be easier to manage the costs incurred (Cavallo and Forman, 2020, p.142). As this is financially and business-wise proper, it failed to consider the wellbeing of the employees. People who had depended on the earnings from their work to support their families had to look for other ways to achieve that (Core and De Marco, 2021). The governments elected to implement restrictions that aimed to control the spread of the disease.
All these events led to people becoming mentally unstable since there was no definitive date issued by the health sectors of any country or even the World Health Organization regarding the pandemic’s end. For those who remained at work, they had to endure reduced earnings, which meant that most things in their lives had to be adjusted (Chen et al., 2020). Additionally, since the disease was deadly, some of them lost colleagues to the disease and had to live with memories every time they stepped into the same work environment (Craven et al., 2020). When one looks at the whole issue and events that have taken place in the last two years, it is clear that individuals have suffered psychologically and thus affected their performance.
Motivation is very important in the workplace as it not only affects how one individual performs but can be infectious and influence the whole organization. Companies that have succeeded in their industries have realized that human resource is an essential part of the organization (Hanaysha and Majid, 2018). In the digital era, many have thought that the innovations such as computer programs that run on robots will help replace humans from the work settings. However, this has led to many of them faulting at the way they handle workers and resulted in losses due to low production.
Individuals have emotions and are susceptible to matters that happen around them. It is possible that an employee who continued to do his job despite many being laid off and still earning the same amount as before is traumatized as well. Issues such as diseases and death can harm a human’s psychological wellbeing and thus require important treatment (De Sousa Sabbagha, Ledimo, and Martins, 2018). After the pandemic and when various governments reduced the restrictions and mandates, many companies resumed operations as normal. This does not mean, however, that the workers were okay (Dua et al., 2020). For instance, the level of intensity individuals approaches work with change.
In the past year, a time when many firms resumed work as normal, the number of suicide cases has risen. Psychologists claim that the main reason is due to the fact that the majority of the victims had t re-adjust their lives financially. This is one of the reasons but is less accurate and cannot be the main reason. In addition to the fiscal constraints, people had to deal with other factors in life as well. For instance, if a person worked for company X at a particular position at the management level, the amount of work required for them to accomplish is either the same as before or more. One has to remember that the particular individual is still trying to acclimate to an environment though not new, it is different.
The firms with the urgency to regain the lost time are piling much pressure on the manager and asking them to deliver or be fired or demoted. The person ultimately gives in to the pressures or ideas of finding a peaceful place which, to most, is, unfortunately, death (Apedo-Amah et al., 2020). Apart from suicide, the reported cases of drug addiction have risen, which is a testament to people trying to relieve themselves from the stress of their workplace environments. The number of corporate individuals who had to be restrained by law enforcement or other agencies is at an all-time high.
Additionally, the issue has infiltrated the family setting, whereby there are increased cases of child abuse, partner abuse, or gender-based violence. When speaking to some of the participants before the study, many claimed that it was like entering a new place and expected to perform at a high standard, as suggested by (Athar 2020). The organizations have failed in trying to help them adapt and become better mentally, as suggested by Nyberg et al. (2020). There are those who reported that they lost their close relatives to the pandemic, which is tragic (Hitka, Kozubíková, and Potkány, 2018). Athletes have been seen to perform worse when they are battling family issues such as the death of a sibling or parent. For instance, in the National Basketball Association, a player named Karl Towns had to be allowed some time off the sporting activities (Albanesi and Kim, 2021). This was after he lost his mother to the COVID-19 and himself being isolated after contracting it for an extended period.
The case above shows that it is important for a person to heal mentally before getting back to normal activities. Rather than focusing on how to regain the lost time and money, it was important that companies focus on helping people. There are seminars that are held about how to deal with mental issues and work pressures (Apedo-Amah et al., 2020). Paying and enabling them to attend for free would go a long way to prevent future events that not only hurt the employee, his family, but the organization. A mentally unstable person can cause an unanticipated accident at work, which may lead to harm to others around them (Juergensen, Guimón, and Narula, 2020). For instance, a police officer suffering from PTSD is prone to turn to colleagues or family members as the memories of a painful event come up. Treating such an individual means protecting everyone around them and thus the whole society.
In a financial institution such as a bank, it is important that the leaders, for instance, in the senior management, propose and help set aside funds. These will aid in finding psychological assistance for every individual working in the organization with the intention of allowing them to deal with tragic memories they have. Once they deal with the issues, it would be easier for them to act better and cope with any matters concerning the topic (Ejiogu et al., 2020). It is the responsibility of the governments through various agencies to ensure that the employees are treated according to labor rights (Huang et al., 2020). Someone does not need to deal with issues for the sake of maintaining a job (Humphries, Neilson, and Ulysses, 2020). It is understandable that a year ago, they did not have any work, but it is unacceptable for a government to allow its people to be exploited by greedy business owners. The main job is protecting the citizen who voted for them, and this is one instance of when an individual needs his or her leaders to stand for them.
The companies used in the study were selected since they are large enough to the extent that they have employed more than five hundred employees. Additionally, they have existed for more than a decade, which means they are mature enough to understand the various issues that affect businesses (Bloom et al., 2021). Thirdly, the organizations are led by individuals from various backgrounds, and even the workers-base is diverse (Jensen, 2018). This means that the information gathered was going to be beneficial in terms that it gives a representation of a large society.
Selected Research Analysis Tool
Choosing the right method of analysis was difficult since the study aimed to help many people and organizations in the world. The narrative analysis technique was selected over other methods since it allows the investigators to focus on a specific topic and analyze the information gathered from observations and surveys, two methods used in this study. The narrative scheme serves as a lens through which the apparently independent and disconnected elements of existence are seen as related parts of a whole. Therefore, narrative enables the researcher to gather and analyze information from multiple dimensions and has the capacity to present the relatedness between interdependencies. This methodology enables the researcher to synergize and bring together a number of key elements when approaching or analyzing an organizational problem or testing a hypothesis which contributes to presenting a holistic way of understanding a particular organizational issue.
Since narratives are fundamentally adductive, it allows for different views to emerge. This method allows the researcher to study interdependent issues and, from this, explore and analyze differences that impact organizational performance. Narrative stories express multiple, possibly conflicting viewpoints, these are often choral-like, three-dimensional, self-reflexive, and dynamic. In today’s changing world, managers are faced with managing ambiguity and paradox, which requires a research methodology that can deal with uncertainties. The breadth, complexity, and richness of stories offer a holistic way of collecting data.
Organizational phenomena, such as leadership, strategic management, culture, and change, are narratives that have a historical context, which is quantifiable and measurable. When understood from a dynamic perspective differing and new narratives do emerge. The narrative analysis encompasses both the told and the telling. This implies that narrative not only addresses the present reality, but it shapes future direction. Let us consider organizational strategy as an example. Traditionally, strategy is a story of the past and the expected future that is usually articulated through text and performance objectives for key stakeholders. The narrative analysis provides a medium for an organization to express their current reality and the multiple stories that describe and predict their future. This has powerful implications for organizations in a future context as they move away from the individual, oncological organizations to virtual or throw-away ones. These discarded organizations will require narratives that can cope with blurred organizational boundaries.
The paper investigates the status of employees in terms of motivation post-pandemic. Despite affecting most of them directly through infection, or losing friends, family, or colleagues, it created conditions around them that led to loss of motivation. For instance, the disease caused much damage economically in a manner that has not been witnessed in a long time (Nyberg et al., 2020). The global growth approximately reduced by almost five percent as of two years ago (Apedo-Amah et al., 2020). Experts claim that this is a figure that exceeds the previous highest economic crisis (van der Kolk, van Veen-Dirks, and ter Bogt, 2019). By the end of 2019 and early 2020, individuals participated less in consuming products and services that seemed luxurious and not a necessity (Beland, Fakorede, and Mikola, 2020). The estimated loss in terms of percentage is approximately forty-nine percent (Yunikewaty et al., 2021). For instance, owners of retail shops and recreational facilities such as swimming pools and beach resorts experienced a decline in revenue.
For practitioners in the field of research, the observed situation suggests that the further collection of data and the design of the strategy that would allow embracing the diverse needs of employees, thus, building a framework for creating a comfortable workplace environment for them, should be the focus. In other words, with the core factors affecting the employees’ motivation in the remote work setting being discovered, tools for promoting active change must be designed. In addition, strategies for managing resistance to change observed in the target population will have to be created. Thus, the further research field is robust and exciting.
Situations affect the decision-making process of a buyer or consumer. It is difficult in a situation where it is unknown when things economically will get better, and individuals choose to spend on luxury instead of basic needs (Tkach and Kurpayanidi, 2020). The situation was worst in Europe, as documented by the United Nations as well as business reviews. The estimated decline was above seventy percent (Yunikewaty et al., 2021). Other sectors were impacted as well, including air transport, whereby more than fifty thousand flights were canceled on a daily basis. While various parts of the world were in recovery status from the first wave of the pandemic, others were yet to face a second one (Oliver et al., 2020). Even as of 2022, experts remain skeptical and urge governments to be vigilant as the economy can still be affected by another wave.
As businesses experienced losses due to the drop in purchases and consumption of both products and services, the employees were the most impacted by the entire situation. More than ninety percent of businesses closed, and those still in operation required only half or less the usual number of workers. For those nations that were highly impacted by the pandemic, unemployment was great (Victor et al., 2021). This is despite the failure to determine the actual values in terms of levels as a result of people out of jobs not searching for any (Khudhair et al., 2020). When someone is classified as inactive, it becomes difficult to place them in the same group as the unemployed, and thus, the statistics can be incomplete.
As mentioned earlier, employers only needed half or less the number of people to work for them mainly due to reducing the chances of infections. There is a section of business owners that preferred fewer hours per employee so that they could not lose their jobs completely (Hitka, Kozubíková, and Potkány, 2018). This information details much about the impact that COVID-19 had on employees’ motivation even after returning to work (Harjoto, Rossi, and Paglia, 2021). The ILO details that throughout the world, the working hours decreased by almost twenty percent in the second quarter of 2020. The figure equals a loss of more than four hundred million full-time job opportunities.
The significant decline in working hours was followed by an equal drop in earnings per employee. Throughout the world, labor income decreased by around twenty percent in 2020, which totals to more than three trillion dollars’ loss, as suggested by (Wilson, 2021). This was the start of the loss of motivation from workers across various sectors (Wang et al., 2020). Through research, it was discovered that employed individuals are five percent more satisfied with their lives than the unemployed. It gets worse in developed nations, whereby the difference is even greater (2020, p. 149). For example, in Western Europe and North America, fully employed people are on averagely 1.20 points happier than others (Athar, 2020). When compared to other circumstances in life, having a job is less subject to well-being adaptation over time.
The association between work and the well-being of a person is beyond unemployment. Past research has detailed great impacts of underemployment as well as labor market inactivity (Albanesi and Kim, 2021). Some of them claim that the impact is greater than the adverse effects that unemployment has on people. Among the clear impacts is the exacerbation of the socio-economic inequalities. In every European country, low-income earners were more likely to experience a drop in working hours, especially at the beginning when the number of infections started surging (Nagarajan, Annamalai, and Arulkirubakaran, 2020). Ireland, for instance, had more low-income employees working for fewer hours than high-come ones (Monitor, 2020). Low-skill workers in Sweden faced a drop in the working period that is thrice when compared to the national average (Kanfer et al., 2020). Similar projections were witnessed in the United States, United Kingdom, and some parts of Asia, such as Japan.
On the one hand, around one-third of low-income earners in the United Kingdom lost above twenty percent of their income by the end of the first wave. On the other hand, it is only a fifth of the high-income households reported similar occurrences (Manolova et al., 2020). In terms of education level, the most educated had more likelihood of retaining their jobs than the less or un-educated individuals (Caligiuri and De Cieri, 2021). As of the end of 2020, the rate of employment in the U.S. for low-income earners has seen a dip of about twenty-five percent (Caligiuri and De Cieri, 2021). Individuals that appeared more vulnerable were more likely to be affected mentally and physically.
In spite of the various scholarly works concerning the topic and how it impacted many lives throughout the world, there are still loopholes that offer a chance for further study. For example, some failed to address the issue of those that worked for small enterprises, that is, their status before and after the pandemic (Shafi, Liu, and Ren, 2020). The majority of such businesses failed in contrast to larger ones primarily due to funds in need for maintenance of operations (Mani and Mishra, 2020). Challenges in terms of finances to run operations in small enterprises prompted many owners to lay off a portion of the staff while reducing the working period of the remaining ones.
When earning levels went lower, it meant that people working for small businesses had to change how they lived, that is, majorly their spending habits. Such occurrences cause a loss in motivation with which employees approach work (Lund et al., 2020, 5). Therefore, this study was conducted to understand how the morale of the workers was affected so that a plan could be implemented to restore it. Before the start of the research process, some questions were designed to act as a guide. They aimed to direct the study towards discovering information about how COVID-19 impacted employees, the relationship between working period and morale, and ways to fix the situation. The researchers utilized two methods of data collected that seemed suitable for such a study that is questionnaire and observation.
A survey is essentially a combination of questions, methodologies, and processes that seek to analyze as well as interpret information. While it may always involve a questionnaire, the latter is a small part of the process. It is viewed as the main tool for a researcher to collect information from a target. It includes open-ended or closed-ended questions or both in the same questionnaire. This enables an investigator to gather data that is qualitative in nature with regard to the needs. In contrast to other techniques, for example, interview, it aids in bringing greater structure to any study, which can assist in maximizing the success of whatever one is attempting to explore and answer.
Using a questionnaire offers certain advantages to the research process, for instance, anonymity and data accuracy. In contrast to various approaches, including over the telephone or face-to-face questioning, the capacity to offer anonymity with a virtual questionnaire is a great benefit. This is especially when one is looking to survey respondents on a confidential issue. When it exists, it instantly places participants at ease and empowers them to avoid dishonesty which is great when a researcher is trying to get a more correct and honest picture of the study subject. Additionally, whereas techniques such as over the telephone and face-to-face questionnaires need an interviewer to process responses, the virtual questionnaire responses are automatically input into databases or spreadsheets, reducing any chance of errors.
The aim of a questionnaire in the study was to get answers to the research questions from selected employees of three businesses chosen to represent all organizations in the world. The other method is observation is important as well as it aims to identify body language, which can be revealed how humans feel on the inside. It can aid in situations whereby the participants are exposed to various conditions at work. There are certain benefits that this technique offers that led to its choice, for instance, it can be helpful for forming a hypothesis and only proper for specific cases.
Observation is among the primary bases for framing a hypothesis. By constantly observing a phenomenon, an investigator is likely to get acquainted with the subject. They may identify their likes, habits, dislikes, perception, problems, various activities, as well as many other issues. All of that information aids much in formulating hypotheses on them, and thus, it is important that an investigator be a great observer. Additionally, this method can be used in situations whereby verbal communication is less needed than behavior or feeling.
While responding to questions in a questionnaire, it is easy for an individual to provide information that is incorrect (Yadav et al., 2020). However, it is hard for someone to lie with their body language. The research focused on three organizations that are classified among small businesses. The three were named X, Y, and Z and in each, ten workers were identified and chosen to participate. During the selection process, it was compulsory for them to have an experience of above three years. The reason behind this was to ensure that they worked for the companies even before the pandemic (Terziev and Klimuk, 2020). This enables them to explain how they felt before COVID-19, how they had to adjust during it, and how they are coping currently.
During the information gathering process, the questionnaire was the first one to be given to the respondents. Topics tackled in the questionnaire consisted of fewer working hours, fewer earnings, and strict rules such as maintaining a social distance even with colleagues. To prevent bias from impacting the data from the study, the participants were assured that their responses would remain anonymous. As mentioned earlier, anonymity enables a respondent to be completely truthful about a situation and can offer reliable answers. The rationale behind full anonymity was to protect participants from suspension or firing by their employers when they give information that does not impress their respective organizations’ management.
Since the research process consisted of two techniques, after receiving responses from the questionnaire, observation was implemented. The study mimicked some of the conditions that existed pre-pandemic, during, and after the pandemic. The observation was conducted in three parts, that is, working when close to colleagues, with a social distance in between, and the last part consisted of employees being replaced in the midst of doing tasks. The final segment aimed to mimic the idea of reducing working hours for employees during the pandemic (Terziev and Klimuk, 2020). Humans are motivated when their supervisor commends them for good work. However, due to social distancing, this was impossible in all work settings. The observer focused on participants and noted obvious changes in their body language.
After collecting the information needed, the results and findings were compiled and prepared for the analysis process. Some participants reported that after a reduction in their working periods, they were unable to cater to certain expenses in their lives. For example, one mentioned that they had been catering for a relative’s medical costs. Even with fewer hours, it was difficult to raise money to achieve that, but after the change at work, it became harder. The situation meant that the individuals started receiving less compensation for their work. Apart from taking care of their families, the employees are humans with other desires such as recreation. Because the money they received from work was reduced, they had to deny themselves some of these needs.
Additionally, the rules for coping with the pandemic in the workplace environment, including social distance, resulted in many losing touch with their colleagues. It became difficult for them to communicate and interact with one another as before. Before COVID-19, most of them had created deep connections with one another and even had become friends (Terziev and Klimuk, 2020). The majority of the participants admitted that they had lost motivation due to all these changes (Sobaih et al., 2021). Working the same job for an extended period and instead of promotion, they get demoted to lower incomes, destroying their morale and how they approach the work. This was notable during the observation stage, as most reported late.
All this time, the body language of the participants was negative, revealing that they did not enjoy the surroundings. Not being in touch with colleagues due to the social distance restriction and layoffs destroyed the morale of the employees as well (Satriani, Zigrang, and Bailey-Wheaton, 2020). In a workplace setting, peers form a bond with one another in a manner that is clear when they support each other when issues arise. By destroying them, the employers ensured that the employees could not be motivated to go to work. In fact, most admitted that they only go to work now because of the money, which means that they do not care about their performance.
Since it is a qualitative type of research, the ideal method of analysis was narrative analysis. This refers to a technique that involves the reformulation of stories availed by participants, considering the context of every case and various experiences of all of them. In simple terms, it is the revision of primary qualitative data by a researcher. No agreed-upon technique of narrative analysis exists (Sharp, Bye, and Cusick, 2019). There are numerous types of designs in this process. Apart from that, there is a step-by-step procedure that one follows. The first step includes coding the narrative blocks. A researcher inductively codes the blocks they find in the data collection. For instance, stories concerning how companies chose to stop operating for a while.
The second step in this procedure includes grouping and reading life events. The researcher needs to read over every narrative that they coded with the above-used code. As they do that, they should be aware of the differences as well as similarities. This is the start of the analysis process. After that, the following step involves creating nested narration structure codes (Sharp, Bye, and Cusick, 2019). For all codes, they need to be created and nested according to the story structure scheme of choice. For instance, narratives concerning decisions on reducing the number of working employees.
The fourth step in the narrative analysis is delving into the story structure. At this point, the researcher can collate every life event by the code. For example, within a narrative about deciding to reduce the number of employees, one can focus on orientation (Sharp, Bye, and Cusick, 2019). In each story, they can compare as well as contrast how various participants oriented their stories. Differences and similarities can be noted down during observation. The former can further be coded to aid in analysis.
The fifth step in narrative analysis involves comparison across story structures. As one breaks up the blocks by structure, they are required not to lose sight of the overarching story. They need to switch between reading the blocks as a whole and diving into every code (Sharp, Bye, and Cusick, 2019). It is important to be attentive to how the story structure codes associate across a life incident. Respondents who detailed losses may construct meaning in a different manner than those who experienced profits. They might discover after comparison of the orientation and evaluation.
The sixth step in this process is telling the core narrative. In the end, one will have completely explored every block. A researcher will have a clear comprehension of how the participants’ narrations relate and how they vary. Through the procedure, one may have a theory of why the stories vary. For every incident, a researcher ought to take the structure used. Then, they are supposed to write the main narration that encompasses the discords between respondents. If they discover discrepancies within the study base, they can record that in a single narrative (Sharp, Bye, and Cusick, 2019). They can break a life occurrence into multiple narrations and contrast them. In the example used above, one may write a single-core narration from the view of participants whose companies experienced losses and other profits. Choosing the right method of analysis was difficult since the study aimed to help many people and organizations in the world. The narrative analysis technique was selected over other methods since it can be applied to organizational studies.
Organizations use various techniques to improve human behavior as well as an attitude among employees towards work. Individuals in an organization are the most vital component of any firm. Moreover, one cannot operate or run a company without dedicated, knowledgeable as well as highly inspired employees. Even after employing individuals, one can encounter issues if they are not well motivated, taken care of, or happy. Thus, one has to treat employee motivation with respect it deserves to guarantee the effective running of the organization (Sharp, Bye, and Cusick, 2019). It is important to understand that motivation means inducement or incitement to act for more. In a workplace environment, it refers to doing a subordinate act in the desired way. Individuals are not machines, and motivation is what makes them accomplish required tasks.
Survival, as well as the growth of a firm considerably, relies on the employees’ performance which is dependent on two factors. The factors include their ability as well as will to work. One can determine the first factor by the education quality, training, plus experience that an employee has obtained. Even if one finds deficiencies, one can improve them via further training. However, the will to work is one that cannot be taught through training. A motivated or inspired workforce is important for efficient performance and optimum productivity, and hence for achieving organizational goals. To make any managerial decision more meaningful, it is required that one changes it into practical action (Sharp, Bye, and Cusick, 2019). Almost all problems people encounter at work have motivational elements. All aspects of the human resource function are previously connected to motivation. Therefore, in a small business, one has to consider the concept and principles of motivation in the management philosophy. An essential component of an employee assessment is to assist the firm in establishing the status of an employee regarding their performance.
Motivation may be intrinsic and extrinsic in a workplace environment. The former is associated with the particular job an individual is doing. For instance, when a trained and knowledgeable operative performs a task well, they get a sense of satisfaction. What satisfies the creative instinct in an individual is intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is considered to be external to a task or job. For instance, fiscal incentives for exceptional performance or offering higher production may inspire the employees (Sharp, Bye, and Cusick, 2019). Other external forms of motivation include praise from the superior for great work, acknowledgment as well as an award. Others include better working conditions as well as other facilities and admiration from peers.
There are several determinants of employee motivation, for example, individuals, organizational components, and external variables. To understand what can inspire employees, one needs to know their target, goals as well as values. Human needs are complex and numerous and usually difficult to recognize (Sharp, Bye, and Cusick, 2019). An employer must observe the personal behavior and actions of employees during work. Through this, they can interpret the same regarding underlying motivation.
Regarding organizational structure, some of the surrounding internal problems of a firm influence its motivation. Such problems include organizational structure, physical facilities, and technological systems, among others. Some machines inspire individuals to work better and with inspiration, while others make the same people feel bored. Regarding external variables, an employee’s life away from the organization is a vital factor impacting their willingness or motivation to work. In case an employee encounters problems at home, it is clear that they will fail to work effectively. Moreover, one can play a great motivational role through customs and norms, culture, among others.
One of the traits of employee motivation is that different people have different sources of motivation. One economic drive that determines behaviors does not exist (Jensen, 2018). In the same manner goals and desires of people vary, and so do things that motivate them. One person may be motivated to do a job because it is lucrative (Humphries, Neilson, and Ulysses, 2020). Another individual may do the same job because it gives them a sense of accomplishment, while a third person may choose to do it because it allows them an opportunity to serve a cause.
The second characteristic is that employee motivation is very situational. An individual may work exceptionally in one firm and poorly in another one in the same job type despite being asked for the same responsibilities. The performance varies because of the difference in the type of overseeing and working conditions. The third characteristic is motivation change, whereby individuals’ motivation varies from time to time. Even if an individual behaves in the same manner for an extended period, their motivation may still vary. For instance, a temporary employee may work more at the start of the job to attain permanence.
After permanent employment, the individual may continue to work more to obtain promotions. The last characteristic is that people express their motivation differently. Needs and the manner in which they are translated into practical actions may differ from one person to another. Different people may as well react differently to the successful or unsuccessful satisfaction of their needs. One may get frustrated when they fail to meet their needs. They may as well put more effort into accomplishing the fulfillment of their needs.
Looking at the findings of the study, it is important that employers find ways to motivate their employees post-pandemic. There are various things that they can do to achieve this, for instance, working together with them (Hitka et al., 2018, p. 83). This has become more relevant and true, regardless of either someone is working in an office with full or part-time attendance or working from home. In-person or virtual interactions are the essence of creating relationships with one’s employees in small businesses. With most of the restrictions uplifted and the staff wishing to get back to the office environment, dealing with their frustrations is even harder. Therefore, it is recommended that employers conduct group calls as well as create systems that assist in motivating and encouraging employees as they adjust work post-pandemic.
Since most individuals in the businesses had to adjust and start working for fewer earnings, it would be great for them to receive a commitment from the employers that their pay and working hours will be evaluated after things get better financially. This not only allows them to focus but also gives them something to look forward to (De Sousa Sabbagha, Limo, and Martins, 2018). It is important that when an issue affecting an individual’s morale arises, the cause is known and dealt with directly. Obviously, there are others the employees can be motivated, but it will take the businesses to deal with the main issues, which include earnings, to solve their problems completely regarding low motivation post-pandemic.
Additionally, employers are encouraged to attend all team-building activities. During the period before the pandemic, heading out on team excursions was fun. However, in the post-pandemic period, going out for such activities might not be possible (Lorincová et al., 2019). Still, doing fun as well as engaging team building activities is of great importance as it would assist employees in becoming refreshed while offering them a different outlook on work (Liguori and Pittz, 2020). Employers need to understand that their teams need time to relax plus rejuvenate. Carrying out recreational activities such as board games or listening to music together are all ideas to inspire motivation in employees.
The other way of luring one’s employees’ attention is through setting up digital signage as well as showcasing different kinds of content on the digital platform. Through this, one can display various kinds of content and simplify communication (Pererva et al., 2018). They are recommended to display content such as motivational quotes, appreciation posts as well as company updates. The purpose of the display on a digital screen is to capture the employees’ attention plus keep them informed while entertained.
Additionally, one can utilize a social wall on digital signage to inspire the employees’ attention by keeping them informed concerning what individuals worldwide have to say about the business. A social wall is an aggregation of information developed on social media platforms by fans, users, plus employees through mentions and hashtags. Utilizing platforms such as Taggbox Display, an employer can gather, curate as well as showcase the content plus share the messages of togetherness and empathy. This motivates the employees, encourages them to create information as well, and uplifts their spirits. Apart from using a social way, another way to motivate employees in the post-pandemic period is conducting fun and interactive gaming sessions. Doing this is not difficult in any work environment (Ozkeser, 2019). One can create a space for fun activities in the schedule as well. The activities create refreshing as well as interactive surroundings for the employees plus keep them looking forward to their day.
Another way employers can inspire employees is by identifying their issues through surveys. The surveys can help them in gauging the motivation levels of the employees. Monitoring their mental wellness is vital for having a productive as well as motivated staff. Many individuals report having anxiety when getting back to work after the pandemic (Hanaysha and Majid, 2018). Some of them may have been affected by the disease in terms of having colleagues who find going back to the office setting stressful after months of self-isolation. This is the reason why it is good to monitor the emotions plus identify any insecurities among the staff concerning their time at work after the pandemic (Kauppila, 2018). Employers can as well complement the surveys by having face-to-face meetings (Juergensen, Guimón, and Narula, 2020). The findings will enable the employers to set goals based on the employees’ current capabilities without risking reducing their motivation even further.
Setting goals is an important aspect of performing in an organization. However, setting short-term goals is the way to go during this period as there are other countries that show indications of another wave of the pandemic (Reizer, Brender-Ilan, and Sheaffer, 2019). This will allow businesses to remain flexible as well as to adapt faster to unanticipated changes. Additionally, setting short-term goals allows employees to accomplish results plus get recognition fast which inspires a positive reaction from them as it allows them to have confidence in their own capabilities. Apart from setting short-term goals, it is important that employers learn to set small as well as realistic stretch goals. Stretch goals are those that individuals set for when someone accomplishes the initial goals. Achieving a goal is a positive thing and boosts employees’ morale; therefore, having multiple wins is even greater as long as an individual does not burn out in the process due to much workload.
Employers are encouraged to boost employees’ morale with common targets. Getting them involved in defining their own goals has become more important now than ever. By involving them in setting up their own targets, one can help them be more invested in their jobs. Furthermore, this increases the transparency of the employer to the employees and, thus, reputation. One can as well set shared targets for various teams to boost teamwork as well as collaboration. After a long time of working for fewer hours, the employees may have lost connection with some of their peers. Thus, this is a brilliant way of getting them to rekindle their relationships at work.
The COVID-19 pandemic emerged and changed how people operate, including businesses. Ever since many small businesses have closed due to various reasons, those in the retail industry were the most impacted as the purchasing power of people decreased significantly. This resulted in many businesses laying off employees as they could not afford to pay them as before. There are those who chose reduction of working periods for workers to save on money that they could have paid them. Adjusting to the new changes has been difficult for many people, and the rules have made it worse. For instance, before the pandemic, colleagues could be close to one another, which established a bond between them. Social distancing has affected this, and they are now forced to interact in a manner they do not appreciate. All these issues have resulted in them failing to remain motivated to work.
Motivation is important for all human beings in all sectors and aspects of life. Without it, people cannot perform at a high level, and thus, it becomes difficult for businesses to enjoy the same profits or even higher than what they used to get. Employees who are motivated approach their jobs differently and work towards not only their goals but the organizational goals. It is important that businesses realize that work for an employee should not just be a source of income. It should mean more to them to leave others and report to work. For instance, someone who is motivated will attend work because they feel like they are impacting someone else’s life.
Approaching work with passion is an indication of motivation, and employers should note this. Since most employees lose their motivation during and post-pandemic, it is important for business owners to find ways to inspire employees (Huang et al., 2020). For instance, an employer committing to increasing employees’ salaries once the business improves is a sure way to boost the employees’ morale. The individuals working in such businesses have responsibilities, and they take care of the people around them. Most of them have tougher responsibilities, such as covering medical bills for other people close to them. Giving them something to look forward to increases their morale and helps them to remain optimistic.
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