Culture dictates how we cope with Covid at work

20 Aug 2020 By Elizabeth Howlett

Research finds personal and national values impact the stress we feel as a result of the pandemic

Culture plays a key role in how people manage the impact of the coronavirus crisis on their work, new research from Durham University Business School has revealed. 

Researchers Yanjun Guan, Hong Deng and Xinyi Zhou reviewed research on personal culture such as values and thinking styles, as well as national culture and its influence, to assess how people cope with the stress created by the pandemic. They found in collectivistic cultures, such as China and Japan, people’s worries can extend beyond personal career development to concern about organisations. By contrast, people in cultures with low inequality like the UK, who may have more control over their work and lives, are less likely to be affected and will potentially experience lower stress levels.

But Guan pointed out that in a “globalising world”, people also take influences from foreign cultures by accessing international media. “This suggests we’re capable of developing multiple cultural identities, and these can be primed and activated by relevant cues to help individuals adapt to the changing situational demands,” Guan said, adding that taking this approach helps to understand cross-cultural differences in coping strategies and career management during the pandemic.

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