Maria Peeters: “Positive occupational psychology has a lot to offer to the health and wellbeing of employees.”
12th of June 2017
Course leader presentation: Maria Peeters
Positive Psychology at Work, 28th – 30th of August 2017, Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavik, Iceland
1. What is your background? A short presentation of yourself.
Originally, I’m a health scientist with a special focus on Health Education. Coming from that background I became interested in Healthy Promotion in work settings. My master thesis was on the motivation to participate in a physical fitness program at the Central Bank of The Netherlands. At that time (late 1980s) doing sports during worktime was revolutionary in the Netherlands. Soon I discovered that psychology has a lot to offer to health scientists and luckily I got the opportunity to become involved in a research project on the role of social support in reducing work stress at the University of Nijmegen. I became fascinated by the field of Occupational Health Psychology and after my PhD I got a job as Assistant Professor (currently Associate Professor) at Utrecht University. Utrecht was at that time ‘infected’ with a positive vibe and I felt privileged to be part of a team that worked hard and enthusiastically on the rise of Positive Occupational Health Psychology in The Netherlands. My special attention was and still is focused on sustainable performance which refers to maximizing work performance as well as worker health and well-being. More specifically, I’m highly interested in topics as work-life balance, diversity and positive interventions to stimulate work engagement and reduce work stress.
- Why do you think that positive psychology at work is an important and current issue to discuss in 2017?
Right now the world is changing in an unprecedented speed. Of course this has also consequences for the world of work. ‘Change’ is often called cynically: ‘the only stable factor in organizations’. This imposes high demands on employees. Not only time demands such as high workload and work pressure but also more psychological demands as to how to cope with the acceleration of social and technological innovations. I think that, especially in these turbulent times, in which employees might feel uncertain and unsafe about their professional future it is all the more important to take good care of our employees. Positive occupational psychology has a lot to offer to the health and wellbeing of employees. By focusing on the generation and provision of adequate job resources, sustainable performance can be ensured, also in these engrossing times.
- Your greetings to the participants of the course.
Dear participants, I look very much forward meeting you in the late summer in Iceland. Coming from The Netherlands I’m actually not a real ‘Nordic’ person but during my career I had the privilege to get to know a lot of real ‘Nordics’ and these experiences make me all the more exciting about this course. I think we have an inspiring program with great speakers who are all going to address interesting and timely issues. But of course we will also benefit gratefully from your experiences, either as practitioners and/or researchers. Ultimately both researchers and practitioners have to reach out and shake hands in order to create a sustainable workforce. See you all in August in sunny Iceland!