UC Science Radio: Episode 9

Prof Katharina Naswall: Wellbeing at work

UC Science Radio, podcast, Katharina Naswall, University of Canterbury, wellbeing, employee wellbeing

If you’ve ever walked in the door and complained about your work, you’re not alone. What if, instead of being a source of stress – our work (and workplaces) were good for us?

In this episode of UC Science Radio, Professor of Psychology Katharina Naswall talks about the world of work in uncertain times, how to reduce stress and increase health and wellbeing in the workplace, and how to make sure it’s good for us.

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In this episode:

01:15 If you feel good when you go to work and you feel good when you’re coming home, that's a really good start.

02:52 After the earthquakes, employers became more aware that people had feelings and lives outside work that affected them, and that what happened to people at work actually made a difference to things outside of work. So that's a huge change.

05:01 While we were thinking about resilience, it became more about overall wellbeing, and it became about organisations supporting their staff more, being open to knowing about the challenges that people were going through.

06:48 We know from our past research on job insecurity and uncertainty, that uncertainty is really hard to handle. Even if nothing ever happens, as long as we worry about something, we're already dealing with that potential threat.

07:49 Organisations that communicated that they knew what people were going through would seem more supportive, and will have staff that feel more supported, but also feel more loyal to their organisation.

09:25 (Organisations) can be friendly and supportive and it doesn't cost more than not doing it. It's a low-budget way of strengthening your workforce.

12:31 Think about what works for me - do I want (work-life boundaries) to be completely blurred and I just work whenever I feel like it? Or do I need those set boundaries, is that what makes it easier for me to handle different phases of life?

15:56 You can reframe the same task in different ways. Seeing how it fits into a bigger whole is motivating. Having a job where you feel you've fulfilled some of your own values is actually quite motivating and it helps you be productive.

16:50 It's definitely not the hours you put in, it's what you do with those hours. If you have fewer hours, you might be more efficient, and you're less tired, so you're better able to perform.

17:31 We're actually finding things out and creating a resource of information that can enable organisations to be a positive part of their employees’ lives.

19:42 I think our work is important because a lot of people spend a lot of time at work, and most people have some relationship to work - either they don't like it or they like it or they want to like it - and improving people's experience at work will eventually improve people's lives and make the world a better place.

Read a transcript of the interview.

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Meet our speakers

UC Science Radio Ep 9 Katharina Naswall

Katharina Naswall

Katharina Naswall is a Professor of Psychology at the at UC, specialising in work and organisational psychology including employee well-being and health, job insecurity, boundaryless working life and employee and organisational resilience.

Through her research and teaching, Prof Naswall hopes to make the world of work a source of wellbeing and health for the people doing the work. Her research areas include work-related stress and wellbeing, employee resilience, uncertainty, work-life balance, and stress coping factors such as social support. She often collaborates with organisations in the diagnostics of stress and wellbeing, and the implementation of initiatives aimed at increasing health and wellbeing at work.

Learn more about Katharina: Research profile | Twitter

Molly Magid

Molly Magid

Molly Magid is an MSc student at UC. A recent graduate of Brown University, Molly is working on research in conservation genomics with Associate Professor Tammy Steeves from the School of Biological Sciences. Molly is passionate about finding ways to communicate science to the public in a clear, novel, and engaging ways. Most recently, Molly worked as the lead student producer on the podcast Possibly, which answers listener's questions about sustainability using relevant science research.