Mental Health and Well-Being


In Business-to-Business Markets, Special issue of Industrial Marketing Management; Deadline 1 Jul 2023


Author: Willy Bolander


Call for Papers

Mental Health and Well-Being in Business-to-Business Markets

Overview and purpose of the special issue

Within business-to-business (B2B) markets, employees have long struggled with mental health – defined as one’s condition with regard to their emotional, psychological, and social well-being (CDC 2021). Yet, it is only recently that understanding and managing mental health and well-being in the workplace has commanded significant scholarly attention (Aarons-Mele 2018). At a broad level, well-being is an umbrella term that individuals use regarding their lives, bodies, and minds, along with the circumstances and events they experience (Diener 2006). Aspects of mental health and well-being – including one’s levels of anxiety, burnout, depression, satisfaction, and stress from both a professional or personal perspective – often spill over into an employee’s work environment. Therefore, in order for B2B organizations to continue to survive and thrive (Sheth 2020), it is paramount that employee well-being is constantly well nourished and maintained.

By most accounts, the recent COVID-19 pandemic made things even worse for the mental health and well-being of B2B employees (Hartmann and Lussier 2020; Mora Cortez and Johnston 2020). Indeed, according to a global study of over 2,700 employees across more than 10 industries, 75% of workers feel more socially isolated; 67% report higher stress; 57% perceive greater anxiety; and 53% are more emotionally exhausted than ever before (Smith 2020). Consider that in 2019, 40% of salespeople reported struggling with their mental health – a number three times higher than those working in non-sale roles (Beute 2021) – and that B2B sales jobs are among the top occupations associated with mental health issues (Worth 2011). Further, 54% of employees believe that mental health is a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issue (Greenwood and Anas 2021), where underrepresented groups are more likely to leave their job for mental health issues. As these statistics and other practitioner-related content reveal, employee mental health and well-being is an extremely relevant topic for managers and firms to consider.

Although most recent academic research recommends examining people-, processes-, and performance-related questions to help advance employee well-being (Dugan et al. 2022), the B2B literature has largely neglected research questions that consider these trends. With the exception of a few recent papers (Benraïss-Noailles and Viot 2021; Chaker et al. 2021; Habel et al. 2021; Lussier et al. 2021a; Lussier et al. 2021b), many questions are left unanswered regarding the different antecedents, processes, boundary conditions, and outcomes of the mental health and well-being of employees (e.g., managers, salespeople, service employees, customer success managers, internal business teams, customers, and external business partners) in B2B markets.

Thus, there remains a need for advancing theoretical and managerial insights to guide practitioners and scholars.

Sample topics

We are thus calling for academic papers on the mental health and well-being of employees in business-to-business markets. Topics for special issue submissions may include the following (among others):

Aspects of different B2B employee roles. Examples include: 

  • Boundary-spanning nature of the job and its impact on emotions, stress, and well-being
  • Constant contact with internal and external customers, and business partners
  • Increased levels of stress and pressure due to the changing environment
  • Objectives and earnings being highly uncertain and variable
  • Ambiguous and complex social environments
  • Dealing with customer objections on a daily basis
  • Consistently facing rejection and failure
  • Digital transformations persistently spreading throughout the selling process
  • Technology use and mental health issues
  • Time and territory management

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) of B2B employees. Examples include:

  • How stereotypes, prejudice, and beliefs impact well-being
  • Generational diversity and well-being
  • Micro-aggressions in the workplace
  • Maternity/Paternity leave, postpartum return to work, and its impact on well-being
  • Well-being challenges that the B2B workplace places on women
  • Employees belonging to marginalized and underrepresented groups (e.g., Millennials and Gen Zers, LGBTQ+, Black, Indigenous and people of color, to name a few)
  • Discrimination on the basis of gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, race, color, national origin, age, marital status, disability, religion, height, or weight (among others)
  • DEI differences with regard to coworkers, managers, and customers
  • DEI-related policies, guidelines, and training

Changes in B2B markets environment. Examples include:

  • Fast-paced and constant changes to the work environment
  • Business markets perpetually increasing in complexity
  • Politically unstable environments
  • Developing and emerging markets
  • Morality and religiosity settings
  • Global climate changes and employee well-being
  • Impact of different laws and regulatory environments on work-related practices
  • Work-related trends (e.g., quiet quitting, 4 day work week, working from home, hybrid work, increased flexibility in the workplace, etc.)
  • Working during and post international crises (e.g., COVID-19)

Leading and managing B2B employees. Examples include:

  • How to lead employees with different belonging to different backgrounds and groups
  • How to promote and/or support frontline employees to ensure motivation, productivity, and well-being?
  • Recruitment, assessment, and selection of B2B employees belonging to different backgrounds and groups
  • How to best train, develop, and promote B2B employees?
  • How do you ensure equal pay for equal work (e.g., KPIs)?
  • Managing employees during and post international crises (e.g., COVID-19)
  • Differences in sales leadership styles across different B2B markets
  • Navigating cross-cultural issues

The topics listed above should be seen as suggestions, and papers on other topics that advance knowledge on mental health and well-being of employees in business-to-business settings are also welcome. Since the emphasis of the special issue is on papers that exclusively consider business-to-business marketing-related phenomena, submissions that focus on other phenomena that mainly use business-to-business employees as an empirical context are outside the scope of the special issue.

The special issue includes only full-length articles and is open to different methodologies such as experiments, modeling, case studies, meta-analysis, surveys, qualitative studies, and others. In addition, conceptual papers that offer a substantial contribution to the business-to-business or industrial marketing literature are welcome.

Preparation and submission of papers and the review process

Papers that are submitted must not have been published, accepted for publication, or are presently under consideration for publication elsewhere. Submissions should be about 6,000 – 8,000 words in length, uploaded on Industrial Marketing Management’s homepage through the editorial management system (using the dropdown box for the special issue on VSI: Mental health well-being).

Papers not complying with the notes for contributors or are poorly-written will be desk-rejected. Suitable papers will be subjected to a double-blind review process. Consequently, authors must not identify themselves in the body of their papers. Manuscripts that are within the scope of the special issue (as described above), and are deemed to have a reasonable chance of conditional acceptance after no more than two rounds of revisions, will enter the review process.

Important dates

  • Submission opens: May 1, 2023
  • Deadline for submission: July 1, 2023

Special Issue Guest Editors


Aarons-Mele, M. (2018). We need to talk more about mental health at work. Harvard Business Review(accessed December 17, 2018), [available at].

Benraïss-Noailles, L., & Viot, C. (2021). Employer brand equity effects on employees well-being and loyalty. Journal of Business Research, 126, 605-613.

Beute, E. (2021). Mental health in sales: More than 40% struggle. BombBomb, accessed on April 14, 2020, available at:

CDC (2021). About mental health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed on  June 28, 2021, available at:

Chaker, N. N., Nowlin, E. L., Walker, D., & Anaza, N. A. (2021). Alone on an island: A mixed-methods investigation of salesperson social isolation in general and in times of a pandemic. Industrial Marketing Management, 96, 268-286.

Diener, E. (2006). Guidelines for national indicators of subjective well-being and ill-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(4), 397-404.

Dugan, R., Ubal, V. O., & Scott, M. L. (2022). Sales well-being: a salesperson-focused framework for individual, organizational, and societal well-being. Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, forthcoming, doi:10.1080/08853134.2022.2093733.

Greenwood, K., & Anas, J. (2021). It’s a new era for mental health at work. Harvard Business Review, accessed on October 04, 2021 available at:

Habel, J., Alavi, S., & Linsenmayer, K. (2021). Variable compensation and salesperson health. Journal of Marketing, 85(3), 130-149.

Hartmann, N. N., & Lussier, B. (2020). Managing the sales force through the unexpected exogenous COVID-19 crisis. Industrial Marketing Management, 88, 101-111.

Lussier, B., Hartmann, N. N., & Bolander, W. (2021a). Curbing the undesirable effects of emotional exhaustion on ethical behaviors and performance: A salesperson–manager dyadic approach. Journal of Business Ethics, 169(4), 747-766.

Lussier, B., Philp, M., Hartmann, N. N., & Wieland, H. (2021b). Social anxiety and salesperson performance: The roles of mindful acceptance and perceived sales manager support. Journal of Business Research, 124, 112-125.

Mora Cortez, R., & Johnston, W. J. (2020). The Coronavirus crisis in B2B settings: Crisis uniqueness and managerial implications based on social exchange theory. Industrial Marketing Management, 88, 125-135.

Sheth, J. (2020). Business of business is more than business: Managing during the COVID crisis. Industrial Marketing Management, 88, 261-264.

Smith, R. (2020). How CEOs can support employee mental health in a crisis. Harvard Business Review, Accessed on May 1, 2020, Available at:

Worth, T. (2011). 10 careers with high rates of depression. Health  accessed on February 26, 2011, available at: