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The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Employee Engagement in the Airline Industry


Background of The Study

Pandemics have always affected the people and led to changes in the lives of the people. Covid-19 was a highly contagious disease that affected the interaction of people and led to the new system of the remote workplace. Across the world, social distance protocols were being implemented, and many businesses implemented systems that prevented the physical interactions between their employees and customers (Ahmed et al., 2020, p.589). The initial step by the employers was to implement remote working and work from home. Working from home was vital in decongesting the businesses and reducing new infections. However, many employers and employees realized the benefits of working from home and integrated these methods into their systems (Fazlurrahman et al., 2020, p.363). The Covid-19 pandemic led to changes in the conventional working system where businesses and employers promoted the remote-working, and virtual offices were also implemented. As a result, the companies were being built on the most efficient remote-working conditions (De-la-Calle-Durán and Rodríguez-Sánchez, 2021, p.5470). To the employees, the remote working environment meant reduced supervision, increased flexibility, and increased output. Despite the paradigm shifts witnessed in the offices, the employees have reported some disadvantages, including social exclusion and a lack of proper change management strategies in these organizations. Whereas studies by (De-la-Calle-Durán and Rodríguez-Sánchez, 2021, p.5470) have been conducted on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on employee performance, few studies have been done on how the pandemic influenced employee engagement.

Aims and Objectives

The aim is to examine the impact of Covid-19 on employee engagement in the Airline and aviation industry. The study seeks to answer the question of what effect has the Covid-19 had on employee engagement in the aviation industry. To specifically answer this question, the following objectives will be vital.

  1. How did the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic reduce the trust in leadership in the aviation industry?
  2. How did the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic contribute to reducing the positive work environment in the aviation industry?
  3. How did the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic influence the supportive management in the aviation industry?

Literature Review

The covid-19 pandemic has reshaped how employees interact and relate with their employers. Ojo, Fawehinmi & Yusliza (2021, p.2902) submitted that Covid-19 changed people’s behaviour and employer relationships. Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has restructured the systems and relationships, it has also presented new and unique characteristics of the people (Hafshah et al., 2022, np). Ojo, Fawehinmi & Yusliza (2021, p.2902) also argued that Covid-19 could be connected to the behaviour and the psychological impacts it has generated among people (Hashem et al., 2022, p.10). Most companies either reduced their workforce or made their employees work for half pay (Ojo, Fawehinmi & Yusliza, 2021, p.2902). The psychological risks due to the uncertainties caused by Covid-19 have been huge (Jeha, Knio & Bellos, 2020, p.131). Whereas the changes have influenced many individuals in the interactions, most people were psychologically affected by the loss of jobs and the pay cuts their organizations were implementing (Giménez-Espert, Prado-Gascó and Soto-Rubio, 2020). Therefore, Covid-19 can be determined to have both negative and positive consequences on the employees.

Personal life and the environment of the employees determine their performance. The covid-19 pandemic impacted private and work life (Adhitama & Riyanto, 2020, p. 7). Adhitama & Riyanto (2020, p.8) also argue that the critical aspects of employee engagement were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Whereas the pandemic also had several positive impacts on the organizations, the employees were affected by the decisions that these organizations made (Miawati, Tukiran and Anggorodi, 2021, p.131). Most individuals have been affected by the critical aspects of Covid-19, which has influenced their link to their organizations (Amah, 2023, np). Most of the employees became detached from their organizations in the periods after the pandemic (Tao et al., 2021, np). The detachment was also due to the lack of ownership of the companies and the inability of these organizations to integrate the most critical activities and steps (Kuzior, Kettler and Rąb, 2022, np). The processes that have remained essential in developing the systems can impact understanding the organizations (Andrlić, Priyashantha and De Alwis, 2023, p.987). Employee performance has presented mixed results depending on the sector. Whereas some industries realized increased employee performance, others witnessed a change in employee performance and a dip in different activities (Chaudhary et al., 2021, p.571). Therefore, the Covid-19 pandemic has also influenced the interactions between people and the outcomes due to the engagements. Trust between the employees and the proper activities have also been essential in controlling the core issues in performance.

The models and theories that best explain employee engagement due to the Covid-19 pandemic are Zinger’s model and Kahn’s employee engagement model. These two models demonstrate how businesses achieve their objectives while developing a critical understanding of some important businesses. The employee engagement model includes curiosity, responsiveness, anticipation, discovery, initiation, persistence, and investigation. This engagement helps explain how the employees perceive their organizations and work type (Allande-Cussó et al., 2021, p.253). Therefore, the processes have been evaluated to present some of the most critical steps in the organizations. Employee engagement is vital in connecting employees and their employers (Pass and Ridgway, 2022, p.254). From the literature review, there is a philosophical lacuna on the impact of Covid-10 on employee engagement (Chanana, 2021, np). The available studies on the topic are primarily subjective; it intends to objectively evaluate Covid-19 on employee engagement. Employee engagement involves different factors that include leadership trust, a positive work environment, and supportive management (Surma et al., 2021, np). The aviation industry is essential in handling different activities and influencing the changes between people. Critically change management during Covid-19 has always been critical for managing different shifts and the steps involved in the process (Giauque et al., 2022, p263). Therefore, this literature review attempts to critically evaluate how the organizations perform and how these steps can be used in further planning the pandemics in the future.

Research Design and Methodology

Research Design

This study employs the deductive research design, where the theory informs the research design and methodology. The methodology that will be used is the qualitative research design. Qualitative research design is preferred because of the ability to capture the ideas, opinions, feelings, and expressions of the population (Tenny, 2017). Qualitative research methodology is also a critical methodology that is relied on because of the need to accurately understand the happenings and to precisely paint a picture of what is happening in the aviation industry due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In this research, the data obtained are mainly from the expressions and the extracts that remain essential in understanding different activities. In the qualitative research design, different research designs will help understand different activities and developing systems crucial to understanding how Covid-19 has influenced employee engagement.

Phenomenological Research methodology

The phenomenological research methodology will be used to study the impact of Covid-19 on employee engagement in the Airline industry. Phenomenological research design is vital in understanding a topic and presenting how this can be understood (Sun et al., 2020, p592). Phenomenological research design offers a universal understanding of the Covid-19 pandemic. This study will be hinged on this research methodology and remains crucial in developing an objective evaluation of the topic. The study has always remained important in handling different activities and presenting the systems and processes that can be identified (Sun et al., 2020, p.592). The phenomenological research design assumes that people face universal problems which can affect individuals interactions. A phenomenological research design is also critical in understanding the human resource practices in the aviation industry.

The phenomenological research methodology will use a sample size of 21 participants. The sample will be drawn from the population using the snowballing sampling method. The snowballing sampling method is a non-probability sampling where the participants are used to identify other participants and then recruited into the study. In this study, both primary and secondary data sources will be relied on. The primary data sources will be collected directly from the field, while the secondary data will be collected from the secondary source, like census reports. Three focus group discussions of 7 members will be used to collect the information from the participants. After data collection, Thematic Analysis will be used to extract the themes. Thematic AnalysisAnalysis is an essential qualitative data analysis that involves the extraction of the themes from the extracts.

Grounded Theory Research Methodology

Grounded theory will also be used since it has been a deductive research methodology. This research design is a qualitative research design that works by a generation of the theory and can be used in understanding the outcomes based on the theories that have been developed. Grounded theory has always been essential in understanding some of the most critical aspects of the topic (Sun et al., 2021, np). The grounded theory research study can also draw highly from the established theories. Therefore, this research design will be essential in developing systems to understand the outcomes based on the theories developed and the core changes evaluated and presented from data collection.

An estimated 21 participants will be drawn from the population using quota sampling. Quota sampling is a non-probability method that draws the participants into a predetermined group. The sample size has been predetermined to be 21 participants. Therefore, the population will be drawn into this group. Data will be collected using an online survey. The choice of online survey is because of the speed and reduced costs that can be used to collect data. An estimated 21 participants remain essential for explaining the ideas, feelings, and expressions of the participants. The data collected will be analyzed using summative content analysis. Summative Content Analysis can be used to identify the contents of the data that have been collected.

Ethnography Research design

Ethnography research will also be used, from data collection using the interviews and presentation for AnalysisAnalysis. Ethnography is one of the essential types of qualitative data that can be used to analyze employees’ behaviour and engagement during Covid-19. The ethnography will be used to identify the topic and establish the patterns that exist in the topic. The primary data will be from the employees in the aviation industry. The primary data will be recruited following the inclusion and exclusion criteria developed (Natow, 2020, p.151). The participants recruited will be between 25 and 55 years old. These individuals will be those employed in the aviation industry for over five years. Individuals may be from any level within their respective organizations. Secondary sources of data will primarily be from the census reports. The secondary data sources are those from other studies (Sun et al., 2021). Therefore, the primary and secondary data ensure that accurate sources are relied on for validity and reliability.

An estimated 15 participants will be interviewed. The purposive sampling methodology will be used when recruiting the participants. The purposive sampling methodology is a non-probability sampling that helps draw the sample from the population. Purposive sampling is also critical in drawing the samples representing the highest possibility of finding the outcomes. Therefore, these steps remain critical in collecting the data. The data collected will be analyzed using two means of data analysis. Summative Content Analysis and Thematic Analysis will be used to analyze the data. The summative content analysis will be critical in handling different activities. Summative content analysis has always been critical in comparing and analyzing texts to describe the results.

Ethics and Confidentiality

The main issues on ethics and confidentiality are protecting the participants from being exposed. The privacy and confidentiality of the participants, their identifiers, and their rights will be considered as they participate. Participants will be critical in handling different activities, including the studies and the AnalysisAnalysis. Maintaining privacy and confidentiality is also critical in building a system based on integrity. The proposal will also be taken to the Ethics and Review Board to ensure that the individuals are protected and not harmed. The participants will have the right to withdraw at any point should they feel like withdrawing. One of the objections that can occur when collecting the data is the possibility of the databases compromising the data collection. The identification of the data can be essential in handling different activities. There are restrictions to publishing the contents of this research online. The restriction is because of the need to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of the research processes.

Risks and Contingencies

One of the risks is due to the psychological triggers it can bring to some of the participants. Psychological triggers can be prevented by using psychologists to manage some of these problems when identified early enough. Loss of confidentiality can also be a significant risk. The contingency is maintaining anonymity and using unique identifiers. The project will be completed within the time stipulated. The project will also go according to the plans. The criteria for the quality of the research are the true value of the evidence that will be provided and the consistency of the evidence. I have considered the willingness and the ability to provide the required data.


The aviation industry is one of the industries drastically affected by the cessation of movements. Therefore, it intends to analyze how Covid-19 affected employee engagement in the airline industry. It will use the qualitative research methodology and focuses on three main research designs, including ethnographic, grounded theory, and phenomenology research designs of the qualitative methodology. Therefore, it will be based on the qualitative methodology that will focus on different aspects of the impact of pandemics on employee engagement.

Reference List

Adhitama, J. and Riyanto, S., 2020. Maintaining employee engagement and employee performance during the Covid-19 pandemic at PT Koexim Mandiri Finance. Journal of Research in Business and Management8(3), pp.6-10.

Ahmed, T., Khan, M.S., Thitivesa, D., Siraphatthada, Y. and Phumdara, T. (2020). Impact of Employees engagement and knowledge sharing on organizational performance: Study of H.R. Challenges in COVID-19 Pandemic. Human Systems Management39(4), pp.589–601.

Allande-Cussó, R., García-Iglesias, J.J., Ruiz-Frutos, C., Domínguez-Salas, S., Rodríguez-Domínguez, C. and Gómez-Salgado, J., 2021, March. Work engagement in nurses during the covid-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional study. In Healthcare (Vol. 9, No. 3, p. 253). MDPI.

Amah, O.E., 2023. Linking the COVID-19 work experience of SMEs employees to post-COVID-19 superior SME productivity. Journal of the International Council for Small Business4(2), pp.128-142.

Andrlić, B., Priyashantha, K.G. and De Alwis, A.C., 2023. Employee engagement management in the COVID-19 pandemic: A systematic literature review. Sustainability, 15(2), p.987.

Chanana, N., 2021. Employee engagement practices during COVID‐19 lockdown. Journal of public affairs21(4), p.e2508.

Chaudhary, V., Mohanty, S., Malik, P., Mary, A.A.S., Maroor, J.P. and Nomani, M.Z.M., 2022. Factors affecting virtual employee engagement in India during Covid-19. Materials Today: Proceedings51, pp.571-575.

De-la-CalleDurán, M.C. and Rodríguez-Sánchez, J.L., 2021. Employee engagement and wellbeing in times of COVID-19: A proposal of the 5Cs model. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health18(10), p.5470.

Fazlurrahman, H., Wijayati, D.T., Hadi, H.K., Rahman, Z., Nugrohoseno, D. and Wahyudi Rahman, M.F., 2020. Analysis of work engagement measurement at work from home due to the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. Technium Soc. Sci. J.14, p.363.

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Giménez-Espert, M.D.C., Prado-Gascó, V. and Soto-Rubio, A., 2020. Psychosocial risks, engagement, and job satisfaction of nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Public Health8, p.566896.

Hafshah, R.N., Najmaei, M., Mansori, S. and Fuchs, O., 2022. The Impact of Remote Work During COVID-19 Pandemic on Millennial Employee Performance: Evidence from the Indonesian Banking Industry. Journal of Insurance and Financial Management7(2).

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