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May 2017 Archives

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Hardly a week goes by without some headline discussing the dire state of engagement. Typically, these headlines are propagated using data from a consulting firm, whose data indicate that scores of people are disengaged or, at the very least, unengaged.

However, APA’s national poll in 2014 using a scientifically validated measure of work engagement (as opposed to a consulting firm’s made up definition of engagement) showed that in the general population work engagement manifests as a close approximation of the bell curve, just with a slight negative skew (i.e., more people fall into the higher engagement categories that the lower engagement categories). While those results are now a bit dated (after all, that was more than two years ago), I would suspect that a more updated poll would show much the same thing.

This issue surrounding many of the engagement headlines is a big reason why I was pleasantly surprised to read a piece written by Rodd Wagner last month in Forbes. He echoes the rallying cry against this engagement alarmism (or the Chicken Littles as he refers to them). When considered within the context of other data I have discussed on this blog, along with some of the scholarly research that has been published, here are few of the key pragmatic, non-alarmist and rational takeaways about the state of engagement in the workplace.

  • There is a difference between work engagement (a scientifically validated construct) and employee engagement (a consulting firm’s hodgepodge of satisfaction and commitment items).
  • Work engagement is about the employee working experience and its pleasantness/unpleasantness. Employee engagement is about how the company can convince employees to work harder and longer (i.e., “discretionary effort”).
  • Work engagement exists as a normal distribution, with a somewhat higher percentage of employees in the high engagement group than in the low engagement group. However, the vast majority of people will report average levels of engagement.
  • Employees do not have to be in the high engagement category to be high performers, and in fact, there is some evidence that higher performers are not always the most engaged.
  • In terms of a psychologically healthy workplace, work engagement is most associated with employee involvement, growth and development, and health and safety practices.

There is room for improvement when it comes to the way organizations approach work engagement, but most employees will not be enticed by cheap gimmicks (Don’t tell some of the tech companies that rely on said gimmicks to keep employees at the office for longer hours). If organizations want to actually enhance work engagement, they will need put forth their own discretionary effort to address issues in the corporate culture, in the way work is designed and in more adaptive and flexible work environments.

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Psychologists attending the Work, Stress and Health Conference can earn up to 14.5 hours of continuing education credit. There are dozens of sessions to choose from during the three days of the conference, all for a single fee of $60.

Unlimited CE credit will be offered for designated conference sessions. A single fee of $60 allows you to earn CE credits for as many of these identified conference sessions as you would like to attend.

Sessions offering CE credits for psychologists have been reviewed and approved by the American Psychological Association Continuing Education in Psychology Office. The APA CEP Office maintains responsibility for the content of the sessions. Full attendance at each session is required to receive CE credit.

Learn more about the conference and how to register at apa.org/wsh.

Sessions that are approved for CE

Thursday, June 8

9:30-10:45 AM

  • Worker well-being: Concept, measurement, impact (Paper Panel Session)
  • Overlapping vulnerabilities in the creation of occupational health disparities: Knowledge base, opportunities, and recommendations for future research (Symposium)
  • Safety training and intervention effectiveness (Paper Panel Session)
  • Successful recovery from burnout (Symposium)

11 AM-12:15 PM

  • Implementing integrated approaches to Total Worker Health® in different national contexts (Symposium)
  • Mental health and psychological well-being in the workplace (Paper Panel Session)
  • Organizational and Individual outcomes of workplace mistreatment and bullying (Paper Panel Session)

1:30-2:45 PM

  • Metrics of Integration for Total Worker Health® Initiatives (Symposium)
  • Novel approaches to safety climate research (Symposium)
  • Measurement Challenges and Opportunities Regarding Job Burnout (Symposium)
  • Individual and job-related factors linked to well-being at work (Paper Panel Session)

3-4:30 PM

  • Balancing Well-Being and Effectiveness: Practical Challenges to Optimize Success (Interactive Paper Session)
  • Stress and health risk factors (Paper Panel Session)
  • Advancing Participation in Health Research and Practice with Minority and Immigrant Workers (Symposium)

Friday, June 9

9:30-10:45 AM

  • The Harvard/NIOSH TWH Center of Excellence: Research innovations in healthcare, construction, and small/medium-sized businesses (Symposium)
  • Leadership in healthcare: Influence on climate, performance, and well-being (Paper Panel Session)

11 AM-12:15 PM

  • Participatory Action Research in Corrections: Individual and organizational factors affecting health behavior and employee well-being (Symposium)
  • Illustrating key principles for designing, implementing and evaluating interventions in organizations (Symposium)
  • Firefighters and Miners: Environmental Factors and Interventions to promote Occupational Safety and Health (Paper Panel Session)

1:30-2:45 PM

  • HealthPartners Experience in Promoting Emotional Resilience in a Large Health Care Workforce (Symposium)
  • Improving Occupational Safety and Health Training for Vulnerable Workers (Symposium)
  • Stress and mental health in police populations (Paper Panel Session)

3-4:30 PM

  • Incivility, bullying and their links to well-being and performance (Paper Panel Session)
  • Workplace practices, interventions, and leadership support to promote work-life balance and well-being (Paper Panel Session)
  • Safety climate measurement and assessment (Paper Panel Session)

Saturday, June 10

9:30-10:45 AM

  • Effectiveness of Total Worker Health® interventions and dissemination strategies of the Oregon Healthy Workforce (Symposium)
  • Understanding the needs of the aging workforce (Paper Panel Session)
  • Bullying and violence and environmental hazards in healthcare settings (Paper Panel Session)

11 AM-12:15 PM

  • Latino Immigrants at Work: Challenges and Perspectives (Symposium)

1:30-2:45 PM

  • Trauma-Informed Best Practices for Responding to Workplace Bullying and Mobbing (Symposium)


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The Work, Stress and Health Conference addresses the ever-changing nature of work and the implications of these changes for the health, safety and well-being of workers. The 2017 conference gives special attention to contemporary workplace challenges that present new research and intervention opportunities. The conversation would be incomplete without talking about the rise of the sharing and gig economy.

The conference's opening session plenary brings together three speakers who will share insights on research and personal experiences in what some are calling an emerging trend for the future of work.

John Howard, MD, MPH, JD, LLM, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, will provide an overview of how work arrangements have changed and how those changing arrangements relate to risk.

Sarah Kessler is a reporter for Quartz.com who covers the future of work and is writing a book about the gig economy. She previously worked for Fast Companyand has been published in CNN.com, Sierra Magazine, WBEZ Chicago, Salon and USA Today, among others. Kessler will talk about what she's learned about the changing nature of work and her experience as a freelance writer.

Dave DeSario, a labor activist and documentary filmmaker, will provide an overview of the temp industry, with special attention to occupational stress, safety, and health of temp workers. DeSario's film, "All in a Day's Work," will be shown later in the conference.

Get a preview of Kessler's experience in a presentation she made at the Aspen Institute in 2014.

Registration is open for the 2017 Work, Stress and Health Conference. Choose from more than 80 session and six pre-conference workshops that bring together researchers, students and practitioners all interestested in how psychology can improve the health and well-being of workers. More information and registration is at APA's Work, Stress and Health conference site.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from May 2017 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2017 is the previous archive.

June 2017 is the next archive.

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