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A Student Perspective on Work & Well-Being 2014: Chicago

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Guest post by Stephanie Andel, Sodexo Research Fellow

I recently had the honor of serving as a student volunteer at the 2014 Work & Well-Being conference in Chicago on September 11th and 12th. In case you have never heard of it, this conference is presented by the APA Center for Organizational Excellence with the mission to unite psychology and business practices in order to ultimately create health promotion and wellness efforts that are impactful, successful and sustaining.

Among other things, one unique and inspiring aspect of this particular conference that I noticed was the attendance and participation of both scientists and practitioners in a variety of different areas (including counseling psychology, clinical psychology, consulting psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, nursing and more!). There was something incredibly refreshing about this integration of empirical evidence and practical implementation. Through witnessing this collaborative effort, I was exposed to just how much of an impact we can make on changing organizations for the better if we continue to close the scientist-practitioner gap that is often so evident in psychology.

The conference was packed with informative and novel information related to psychologically healthy workplace practices that are imperative for organizations to acknowledge when designing initiatives aimed at enhancing employee well-being. For instance, in his opening address, Dr. David Ballard explained how in the past, organizations generally saw safety prevention and health promotion as two separate issues. However, recent research suggests that combining these programs yields a synergistic effect that has beneficial outcomes for both the employer and employee.

This impressive and informative opening then set the stage for the rest of the conference, which was chock-full of ways to make these comprehensive health programs both feasible and practical. For instance, speakers discussed various empirically-based healthy practices that could be integrated to improve employees’ workplace experience, including the promotion of coping strategies stemming from the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) model and the importance of sleep. Further, we discussed ethical issues that are relevant to organizational consulting and learned various techniques to improve innovation and creativity—both of which will surely come in handy when attempting to design and implement programs that promote employee health and wellness.

In addition to all of the aforementioned topics, we also had the opportunity to hear from Thomas J. Walter, who is the CEO of the Chicago-area company Tasty Catering. Tasty Catering has won various local, regional and national awards, and was also the recipient of APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award. Such recognition is due to the attention and focus the company gives to ensuring that employees have an optimal, healthy and fulfilling workplace experience. It was truly an honor to be exposed to all of the wonderful and innovative ways in which Tasty Catering has developed such a wholesome and collaborative workplace culture.

Throughout his presentation, Mr. Walter discussed how employees are encouraged to speak up, voice their ideas, treat others with respect and work as a team. It is apparent that every single employee’s opinion counts and is heard. Ultimately, it was refreshing to see not only how valuable the company sees each employee, but also how much the employees truly felt a desire to give back to the company as a result of being treated with so much respect. Tasty Catering’s approach to enhancing its employees’ workplace experience is unprecedented, and it was great to see a company truly embrace and champion our mission for companies to promote both psychological and physical employee health.

Overall, I left the Work and Well-Being Conference with a vast amount of knowledge, development, networking experience and energized passion for the field. I very much look forward to future Work and Well-Being Conferences and I am especially excited to see the beneficial impact of such collaboration in organizations all over the world. Thank you to all of the organizers and attendees for such a rewarding experience.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/e_monk / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. David Ballard published on November 6, 2014 9:41 AM.

Employees, Should You Really Tweet That? Social Media in the Workplace & Beyond was the previous entry in this blog.

Work-Life Weirdness is the next entry in this blog.

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