Understanding the relationship between employee-employer interactions, employee health and employer-level mechanisms such as policies, leadership style and culture, underpins Dr Amanda Biggs’ research. We spent five minutes with Amanda to learn a little more…
In what area/s do your current research interests lie?
In addition to examining the mechanisms underlying the [aforementioned] relationships, I am interested in developing and evaluating evidence-based strategies that promote healthy work behaviours, such as stress management and leadership development training.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently…examining the sustainability of high levels of work engagement, seeking to determine whether it is reasonable to expect employees to maintain high levels of engagement over time.
I am also writing a review on organisational interventions, focusing on the merits of adopting a comprehensive approach to intervention evaluation that considers process and context factors.
Finally, I am working with several colleagues from WOW on a project examining workplace safety.
Are there ongoing or emerging trends in your field/s of research?
Employee engagement and health have been of interest to practitioners and researchers for many years now, and there is substantial evidence demonstrating the organisational benefits of promoting a healthy and engaged workforce. The field continues to maintain its relevance and importance, however, due to continuous organisational and societal change, [there is] increased scrutiny of work practices relating to employee wellbeing and greater focus on mental health and physical activity within the community.
Has there been major developments or key findings that have directed the trajectory of the research?
The direction of my research has been shaped by several key developments and findings. For example, stress has often been dismissed as an individual concern that should be dealt with privately, or an indicator that an employee is poorly suited to a particular role. This has resulted in substantial stigma around mental health and stress in the workplace, particularly for employees in high-stress occupations. Research findings, and discussions with employees representing many occupations, has demonstrated the importance of the organisational context in shaping employee wellbeing and the value of open discussion about mental health to help reduce its associated stigma.
Furthermore, the importance of engaging people with their work in a sustainable manner that does not lead to burnout, and understanding how to engage people in healthy behaviours without alienating [them] are emerging interests.…
Finally, are there challenges in your field/s in trying to bridge the gap between research, practice and policy?
I see very clear links between research and organisational practices/ policy in my discipline. In the field of organisational interventions, for instance, the most effective interventions are those that are grounded in a strong theoretical perspective but are also tailored to meet the context-specific needs of the organisation.
The capacity to influence practices and policies with research findings and, in turn, refine theoretical perspectives based on what is observed in practice, is an important indicator of research impact.