Rumination about COVID-19 and employee well-being: The role of playful work design.

Arnold B. Bakker, Jessica van Wingerden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted normal life and has resulted in considerable stress. One important reason for reduced well-being is rumination about COVID-19. This study used proactivity theory to propose that playful work design (i.e., the process through which employees proactively create conditions within work activities that foster enjoyment and challenge) may buffer the impact of rumination on employee well-being. In May 2020, we collected data at two time points among 501 employees of a large bank cooperation. At Time 1, participants reported about rumination about COVID-19 and playful work design, and 1 week later (Time 2), they reported depressive symptoms, exhaustion, and vigor. Results of hierarchical regression analyses showed that rumination about COVID-19 had a negative relationship with well-being (increased depressive symptoms and exhaustion, decreased vigor). Designing fun was negatively related to exhaustion and positively related to vigor, whereas designing competition was positively related to vigor. As hypothesised, designing fun (not designing competition) moderated the link between rumination and well-being. Rumination was positively related to depressive symptoms and exhaustion and negatively related to vigor when participants scored lower on designing fun. These findings suggest that employees may use playful work design to deal with ruminative thoughts about COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCanadian Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • employee well-being
  • playful work design
  • proactive behaviour
  • rumination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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