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Leading academics and practitioners discuss the changing world of work

Professor Evangelia Demerouti and Dr Wilson Wong of CIPD delivered keynote lectures on the changing world of work at the Alec Rodger Memorial Lecture and Organizational Psychology Summer Seminar.

L-R: Professor Almuth McDowall, Professor Evangelia Demerouti, and Professor Philip Powell.

On 5 July 2018, Birkbeck’s Department of Organizational Psychology hosted the annual Alec Rodger Memorial Lecture, this year given by Professor Evangelia Demerouti from Eindhoven University of Technology. The Memorial Lecture has been held annually since 1983 in honour of Birkbeck’s first Professor of Organizational Psychology, Alec Rodger, and speakers are invited based on their distinguished record in academia, public service, or industry relevant to the field.

Professor Demerouti is an expert in the processes enabling performance including job strategies and well-being as a Full Professor at Eindhoven University of Technology where she is also Chief Diversity Officer. She focused her keynote lecture on job crafting as a way to stimulate effective functioning in organisations, to an audience of learning and development professionals, Birkbeck alumni, industry practitioners, and academics.

Inspired by the notion that individuals are active agents who can influence their job, job crafting refers to proactive and voluntary adjustments that individuals make in their work in order to make it more meaningful and satisfying.

According to the Job Demands-Resources model, employees can increase resources, increase challenges, and decrease or optimise demands. Her presentation provided recent evidence on the predictors and outcomes of job crafting, and the effectiveness of job crafting as a means of improving employee wellbeing, performance, and work-life balance: “Job crafting is also a strategy to deal with organisational change – some people do it to adopt change, while others do it to adapt to change. Crafting might occur during tough times for job security and to strengthen commitment to an organisation, and it can also be done to enable creativity at work.”

The presentation encouraged the audience to engage in positive behaviours such as seeking resources and challenges to improve work engagement and performance, and to shape work in a new way for a more motivating and meaningful experience.

The annual lecture was proceeded by the Annual Department of Organizational Psychology Summer Seminar programme. Dr Wilson Wong, Head of Insight and Futures at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), delivered his seminar keynote presentation on the future of work, including horizon scanning and its implications for HR strategy. His keynote was followed with insightful discussions with a panel of alumni who had come back to showcase how the critical Birkbeck approach had helped them to grow as practitioners. There were also presentations on departmental research from Dr Vanessa Iwowo, who discussed her research on a critical approach to questioning Western ideals of leadership; Dr Anders Friis Marstand, who discussed leader-follower relationships; Dr Libby Drury, who discussed the importance of workplace intergenerational contact and harmony; and Dr Kevin Teoh, who discussed his research on the working conditions of NHS doctors.

Videos of previous Alec Rodger Memorial Lectures are available online. If you would like to explore further information on research and events, please visit the Departmental website and follow the Department on Twitter.

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