Daily Self-Leadership and Playful Work Design: Proactive Approaches of Work in Times of Crisis

Arnold B. Bakker, Kimberley Breevaart, Yuri S. Scharp, Juriena D. de Vries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates how employees may use proactive work strategies to satisfy their basic psychological needs during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We use self-determination theory to hypothesize that daily self-leadership (e.g., goal setting, constructive cognition) and playful work design (PWD; redesigning work to be more fun/challenging) satisfy basic psychological needs and facilitate job performance. We also predict that the use of these proactive strategies is particularly important when individuals ruminate a lot about the COVID-19 crisis. Daily diary data collected among a heterogeneous group of employees largely confirm these theoretical predictions. For organizational practitioners, this study thus suggests that it is important to encourage employees to be proactive. Although this may be challenging during crises, leaders could provide autonomy and feedback to foster self-leadership and PWD. In addition, organizations may offer training interventions so that employees learn to apply these proactive work strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-336
Number of pages23
JournalThe Journal of Applied Behavioral Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • basic needs
  • COVID-19
  • playful work design
  • self-determination theory
  • self-leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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