Hi there worker bee(ing)s!! I grew up right outside of Philadelphia, PA in a close-knit family of four. My hobbies growing up were reading, dinosaurs, and acrobatics. I was very talented and attractive, as is evidenced by this photo.
My family is full of entrepreneurs, so I was always surrounded by workers with big dreams. My parents taught me that learning was the key to success – and I loved the classroom – so I decided to focus on education before deciding on a career path.
As a psychology major at Villanova University, I took plenty of classes and participated in research labs that taught me about the science of shaping people’s behavior. I also had a soft spot for social justice issues, so I frequently volunteered at a local shelter and tutored at an inner-city school. Given these budding passions, I decided that learning about the psychology of work might check off all of the boxes that were important to me: work, people, and improving well-being.
As a result, I went off to graduate school at the Pennsylvania State University to pursue a dual-Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Women’s Studies. While there, I took classes in everything from Selection in Organizations to Advanced Statistics to Feminist Research Methods. My varied education really fit well with my interest in using data to solve big problems like happiness, healthiness and equality at work. I met Patricia the year after I started at PSU, when she entered as a new student in the cohort below mine.
Over the years, Patricia and I spent a lot time together in class and outside of class. Between the frequent long nights of studying and the less frequent, but sometimes even longer, nights of partying (let’s be real here, folks, we had our share of fun), we realized we had a lot in common. We were both really interested in work-life balance and we wanted to try to achieve it, even though we were in a challenging program and were off to potentially even more challenging jobs. One of the things that we realized over time was that what we learned in the classroom and what we wanted for our lives were really well aligned – it was just about putting what we knew into practice. It wasn’t easy, but we felt like we were able to graduate with a lot of new knowledge, a slew of new friendships and an excitement for life that we wanted to share with others. Here I am at my graduation, after 6 years of Ph.D.’ing. Can’t you just feel how happy I am to know that I’ll never have to write a dissertation again?
After graduating from PSU, I went off to pursue a career in academia (guess I wasn’t so sick of writing research papers after all!). As a professor, I am able to combine my love for research and teaching, and I enjoy having the opportunity to impact my students’ well-being by spreading awareness about scientific best practices for improving lives at work and at home. I also really like being able to test research questions that add to our understanding of what drives happiness at work. However, I also have a desire to impact the lives of actual employees, in larger numbers, who are experiencing the pushes and pulls of work and life in real time. This drive to make organizational psychology research more accessible to workers everywhere, led me to also start delivering independent consulting through my LLC, K. Sawyer Solutions.
It wasn’t until several years after starting out in academe that a fateful event happened – after a few cocktails at a wedding for a mutual friend, Patricia and I started talking about our shared urge to enter more into each other’s work arenas, each with the goal of increasing well-being through science. I wanted to have an even greater impact on practice and she wanted to be able to make research more freely available to workers everywhere. We joked around saying that we should start something together (the original name was “Patina” – doesn’t have the same ring to it), but we really weren’t sure at that point what would actually happen to our newly born dream.
Luckily, what had been a lighthearted conversation turned into a reality, when the next day, we decided that starting a blog for all kinds of workers, that would merge science and practice would be a great way for us to achieve our goals. After some brainstorming and refining of the concept, Workr Beeing was born.
From Philly to Penn State to George Washington University, I have always wanted to make the working lives of employees better. The struggle is definitely real – I teach classes, run an active research lab, publish peer-reviewed journal articles, work with consulting clients, volunteer at local non-profits, serve on professional boards, am recently married, have a very mischievous dog, and like to spend a lot of time with friends and family. Add sleep and exercise into the mix and things can get a little hectic. But, I really think that we can solve this “work-life” thing together, if we focus and leverage proven practices.
For example, wearing robes, while sitting next to nice pools on tropical islands is linked to enhanced productivity. Ok, so that might not be true. But, come on. See Exhibit A, from my honeymoon, below. Don’t I look so relaxed? The pool, island, robe combo never fails – true story.
I am so excited that Patricia shares this passion with me and I’m even more excited to share our vision with you. I hope you’ll be a part of this journey by taking time to read our blog and by spreading the word to others. By creating this hive, I welcome you to be a part of our health and wellness story and to take control of your own.
So, sit back, relax and enjoy the “buzz”.