Employer-Sponsored Sports Programs Help Lessen the Impact of COIVD-19

Bridging Social Capital' Contributes to Well-Being by Reducing Job Insecurity
Participating in employer-sponsored sports programs during the COVID‑19 pandemic may lessen the impact of job insecurity on employee well-being, reports a study in the April Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

In particular, a type of social support called "bridging" social capital seems to moderate the relationship between job insecurity and well-being, according to the new research by Youngbum Kwon, PhD, of University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Hyomin Seo, PhD, of Chosun University, Gwangju-si, South Korea.

The researchers analyzed survey responses from 473 employees who were enrolled in sports clubs (such as yoga, running, bicycling, tennis, Pilates, etc.) subsidized by their employer. The study was conducted after the first wave of the pandemic in South Korea, when gyms and fitness facilities were officially reopened.
In study surveys, higher perceived threat of COVID-19 was directly related to decreased employee well-being. Perceived threat of COVID-19 was also related to job insecurity, which had an additional, indirect effect on well-being.

The analysis also showed a significant moderating effect of bridging social capital, which refers to building social connections with "people with a different occupational or organizational background." That's distinguished from "bonding" social capital, which refers to connections with people of similar backgrounds, such as peers or coworkers. For employees reporting higher benefits of interacting with a broad range of people at their sports club, median well-being score was about 4 on a 5-point scale, compared to 3 out of 5 for those with lower ratings of bridging social capital.

"This study reveals that employer-sponsored sports programs serve to mitigate the negative influence of job insecurity on employee well-being by providing a chance to socialize with people other than their coworkers, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak," Drs.Kwon and Seo conclude. The findings are consistent with previous reports on the role of social support for coping with job insecurity.
The researchers add: "[S]trong bridging social capital through employer-sponsored sports programs is more likely to be effective in buffering the negative influence of job insecurity on well-being than weak bridging social capital."
About the Author
Dr. Kwon may be contacted for interviews at ybkwon@umich.edu.
ACOEM (www.acoem.org), an international society of 4,000 occupational physicians and other health care professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments.
About the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (www.joem.org) is the official journal of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Edited to serve as a guide for physicians, nurses, and researchers, the clinically oriented research articles are an excellent source for new ideas, concepts, techniques, and procedures that can be readily applied in the industrial or commercial employment setting.


Kwon Y, Seo H. Employer-sponsored sports programs amid covid-19: the approach of social capital. J Occup Environ Med. 2021;63(4):285-290.