January 2021

Meet Stephanie Andel

Stephanie Andel is an assistant professor of psychology at IUPUI. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms by which workplace stressors influence employee health, well-being, and safety.

Andel received her Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of South Florida. Her work has been published in several highly regarded outlets, such as Work & Stress, Journal of Vocational Behavior and Computers in Human Behavior.

In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the world with her husband (except during the COVID-19 pandemic), experiencing some of the great local Indianapolis restaraunts, and spending time with her cat, Pico.

 

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My research attempts to shed light on the specifics of how work influences employee health, safety, and well-being.

Professor Stephanie Andel

Q and A with Professor Andel

I was first introduced to the broad field of applied psychology as an undergraduate student at Bradley University. That experience sparked my interest in Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychology, a subfield in which psychologists work to improve our understanding of the many ways in which work influences employee behavior. Eventually, I was very fortunate to be able to work with Dr. Paul Spector at the University of South Florida, who is one of the leading experts in Industrial and Organizational Psychology research on employee health and safety. During my graduate studies, I began to pursue my own passion: the unique work stressors that employees in helping professions (e.g., paramedics, nurses, physicians, etc.) tend to encounter on the job. I feel drawn to this work for a number of reasons, however, one always seems to stand out above the rest. These people are dedicating, and at times risking, their lives in order to protect the health and well-being of others. Despite that, there is nowhere near enough attention paid to their health and well-being! My work attempts to fill that gap.

My research attempts to shed light on the specifics of how work influences employee health, safety, and well-being. A large portion of my work on this subject is focused on the experiences of helping professionals, especially those working in high-risk settings (e.g., paramedics). That being said, I also conduct similar research in a wide variety of other workplace settings. My ultimate goal is to help inform what organizations and employees in every industry can do to reduce the negative impacts of stressful and harmful work situations.

I am always working to share my findings as broadly as possible - with organizations and communities operating at local and global scales. For instance, in the fall of 2020, I presented my research to local community groups such as the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce and during the Riley Hospital Pediatric Rheumatology Grand Rounds. During the same period of time, my work was featured in popular media at the regional (e.g., the Indiana Public Radio) and international scales (e.g., France 24, the BBC). While I am still relatively new to the Indianapolis area, I look forward to forging relationships and working with local organizations in the Indianapolis community to develop occupational health solutions that are tailored to their specific needs.

My favorite thing about research in Industrial and Organizational Psychology is the opportunity to work with the subjects of my studies in order to directly improve their circumstances. For example, one of the most valuable parts of my research process is that I often have the opportunity to hear directly from study participants about their workplace experiences. Often, this comes in the form of analyzing survey data and reading written descriptions, however, it also sometimes involves shadowing employees in-person. For example, before the pandemic, I had the opportunity to shadow personnel with the Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services to learn about their typical work experiences. It is difficult to overstate the usefulness of speaking directly with people and hearing about the challenges they face on the job. This not only helps to inform my next set of research question(s), but also provides an invaluable perspective on the ways that my research might ultimately help to improve their day-to-day work life.

I always value the opportunity to work with and learn from the students here at IUPUI. I am currently working with students on several projects. For example, in collaboration with a faculty member from the IU Kelley School of Business and a research team that includes two graduate students, we are currently in the midst of the conceptualization, development, and execution of an online study to examine the impact of incivility (i.e., rude or impolite behavior from patients or co-workers) on the psychological health and well-being of long-term care nurses. I am also currently working with a team of graduate students who are helping me to code in-depth qualitative reports from paramedics detailing emotionally disturbing events that they regularly encounter on the job.

Most of my work thus far has targeted employees generally, across both the U.S. and Canada. For instance, I recently conducted studies with a U.S. national sample of paramedics, and another with nurses working in both the U.S. and Canada. While I am still relatively new to the area, I look forward to learning about and partnering with local organizations in order to conduct research aimed at developing interventions that enhance the health and well-being of employees right here in Indianapolis.

One key finding from my research related to the pandemic was that self-compassion (i.e., mentally regarding oneself with kindness and understanding during times of suffering and struggle) can be an effective resource that helps to reduce the negative impact of work-related stressors. In the near future, I plan to build upon this finding through the development of self-compassion interventions for remote workers. I also hope to expand this line of research to other work contexts. For instance, I am in the process of seeking funding for a study that will examine the efficacy of using self-compassion to combat feelings of imposter syndrome among female academics working in STEM.

I am also in the midst of developing additional studies within the healthcare context. For example, as mentioned above, I am working with a team of researchers to launch a study on how instances of patient and co-worker incivility impact the health and well-being of long-term care nurses.

Community Dialogue with Professor Andel

On Friday, January 29, 2021 from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. Professor Andel gave a virtual presentation about her work on "Identifying solutions for managing employee work stress during the COVID-19 era and beyond".