PLoS One 17 (3) e0265029 [2022-03-18; online 2022-03-18]
The response of small business managers to an external event such as the pandemic can have a profound effect on the work environment, health and well-being for themselves and their employees. Previous research on small business managers during the pandemic has mainly focused on traditional pathogenic effects, and there is a lack of studies looking at the issue from a salutogenic health promotion perspective. The aim of this study is to explore whether a sense of coherence and general resistance resources were experienced by small business managers in Sweden and Norway during the Covid-19 pandemic. A qualitative design was applied through exploratory interviews with 16 managers of small businesses in Sweden and Norway. A content analysis of the interviews was conducted using the sense of coherence concept by Aaron Antonovsky, with the three main components of comprehensibility, meaningfulness and manageability acting as a conceptual framework for the analysis process. Within the three main sense-of-coherence categories, six general resistance resources were identified as being important for the managers to handle uncertainty during the pandemic. These were understanding rules and regulations, social support, optimism, proactivity, problem-solving and flexibility and cooperation. The small business managers handled the pandemic in a way that worked well in their contexts, and the pandemic generally did not have a negative effect on their businesses or themselves. A salutogenic approach, through which the managers focused on identifying and using resources, was an important factor for managing stressors and adversity during the pandemic. Hence, the concept of salutogenesis may be used as an intervention to foster better health in small businesses, both at a personal and organisational level in order to handle future challenges effectively.