Impact has kicked the New Year off with a bang by attending the annual Division of Occupational Psychology (DOP) Conference in Chester earlier this month. ‘Thriving at Work’ was this year’s conference theme, which explored the questions ‘what does Thriving at Work mean’ and ‘what needs to be in place for it to happen?’. This theme allowed us to reflect on the contribution that we, as occupational psychologists, can make to support individuals and organisations to thrive.
We spent two days listening to inspirational speakers, both academics and practitioners, covering a wide range of research topics within Occupational psychology, gaining great insight into current trends and research in the field. We would like to share with you our top 3 highlights from the conference!
1. Flourishing at Work Workshop
Impact’s Business Psychologist, Tamara Sutton, attended a ‘Flourishing at Work’ workshop on the first day of the DOP Conference. Facilitated by Bailey and French, the workshop was rooted in Martin Seligman’s positive psychology research, which focuses on human strengths and how these can be cultivated to encourage flourishing and thriving in our lives. Seligman’s evidence-based model of wellbeing, the PERMA model, was used to guide the session. The PERMA model presents 5 core pillars that make up the building blocks of wellbeing and happiness, which can be applied to our personal as well as professional lives.
Positive emotions – Feeling good
Engagement – Being completely absorbed in activities
Relationships – Being authentically connected to others
Meaning – Belonging to and serving something that you believe is bigger than the self
Accomplishment – A sense of achievement and success
An interactive PERMA tool (based on the pillars above) was used to stimulate discussions within groups, which helped to identify levels of wellbeing at work and provided the opportunity to share personal experiences and thoughts on how wellbeing can be strengthened. A ‘quick win’ action that Tamara took away from the session to improve wellbeing at work is to keep a gratitude log, by reflecting on what has been achieved at the end of the working day.
The PERMA tool gives a pulse check on where an individual, team or organisation are in terms of their wellbeing and can be used as a platform for managers and leaders to identify the areas that require attention and development.
2. Dr Evangelia Demerouti’s research on Job Crafting
Professor Dr Evangelia Demerouti’s keynote session was a highlight for our Assistant Business Psychologist, Anya Moore, whose MSc dissertation on wellbeing with the Police was based on Demeorouti’s Job demands resources model (JD-R) and research on job crafting. The JD-R model proposes that individuals who have a demanding yet resourceful job (e.g. support and job control) experience higher levels of work engagement, characterised by vigour, dedication and absorption. However, high job demands in the absence of job resources can result in burnout, a state of exhaustion, cynicism and detachment from work.
Individuals can redesign their own jobs in ways that can foster engagement and prevent burnout by increasing job resources and challenges and decreasing hindering job demands. This is called job crafting, a relatively recent concept that has become increasingly popular in Occupational Psychology. Demerouti discussed her recent research on job crafting, including its role in organisational change and leadership, the effect of job security and performance on crafting and the longitudinal effects of crafting. Finally, she shared an example of an intervention where individuals can be trained to job craft through a personal crafting plan involving setting SMART goals.
Read Anya’s research on the JD-R model in the Police here.
3. Symposium on Racism at work
Various speakers passionately addressed the issue of Racism at Work. Professor Binna Kandola, a diversity, assessment and development specialist and author of ‘Racism at Work’, expressed that racism is still present in the workplace but in a different way than before, describing it as more oblique and covert. For example, modern racism may take the form of small indirect signals that people from minority groups are not welcome such as ignoring them in meetings, not making eye contact and making no effort to pronounce a person’s name correctly.
Kandola argued that psychologists perpetuate the problem by failing to acknowledge it. He said there is a relative absence of theoretical and empirical attention on issues of racism within all branches of psychology e.g. leadership models ignore race, the use of racial stereotypes and the use of tests that do not represent all minorities. He highlighted the need to address racism within the profession and suggested 5 rules for psychologists:
The second speaker was Guilaine Kinouani, a final year Doctoral student in clinical psychology, an equality consultant and an award nominated writer. She shared the findings of a workplace wellbeing and discrimination survey completed by 758 employees from various work sectors. The aim of the study was to investigate experiences of workplace race discrimination, employee’s well-being and the relationship between experience and wellbeing across different ethnic/racial groups of employees. Results revealed that 62% of the participants felt they were frequently or occasionally ignored or not taken seriously by their boss, 37% reported their co-workers frequently or occasionally use racial slurs, and 40% reported being frequently or occasionally assumed to work in a lower status job than the job they work in. The overall wellbeing score for the sample was very low with 88% reporting that they occasionally, frequently or constantly believe the way they feel is directly related to their work situation. Race/ethnicity had a significant effect on wellbeing, perceived discrimination and support at work with BAME employees reporting more frequent experiences of race discrimination, lower levels of perceived support and lower wellbeing scores. Kinouani ended her presentation with recommendations for psychologists, employers and employees to address racism within the profession and the workplace:
As evidence-based practice is at the heart of what we do at Impact, attending the DOP conference is a fantastic way to keep up to date with the latest research. The conference is also a great opportunity to network with other like-minded people who share a passion for understanding human behaviour and in particular helping people thrive at work.
If you would like to find out more about how Impact apply psychology to the workplace and how we help individuals, teams and organisations to release their full potential, get in touch here.