A sunny day. People walk across Circular Quay park. An inflatable tiger is lying down. Tall buildings of Sydney CBD in the far background

Work-Life Balance

Last year, I did near daily updates about what it’s like working as an applied sociologist. I wanted to promote more awareness about our careers beyond academia. I stopped doing the regular diary in October, except for the odd check-in. Here’s what I’ve been up to, along with reflections on work-life balance.

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Social Networks at Work

People’s social relationships are organised in clusters – groups of individuals who are connected together, who share norms and values, and who exchange information.

Knowledge tends to stick within each cluster, but there are people who have bridging social ties to more than one group. Let’s delve deeper using social science. Continue reading “Social Networks at Work”

A group of youth with their backs to the audience have their arms around one another's shoulders

Strengthening Interdisciplinary Teams

I have worked in both interdisciplinary teams where everyone’s skills and knowledge were fused into new technologies, and I’ve also worked in multidisciplinary teams where everyone carried out their specialist jobs whilst working towards a common goal. In both settings, our teams tried and failed with different engagement styles because of our education and training gave us different perspectives, and our personalities and modes of interaction were so different. Today, I want to share one specific strategy that worked well in increasing positive interdisciplinary collaboration.

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Supporting International Graduates in the Workplace

A significant but growing minority of Australia-educated international graduates show signs of economic disadvantage in the Australian workforce, despite their Australian qualifications. While these students have gained their degrees in Australia, my research shows they are less successful in finding work in their chosen profession relative to students from English-speaking countries and Australia-born graduates. The largest disadvantage occurs for students born in India and China who are aged in their 20s.

They face discrimination from employers who exclude considering them for roles, presuming that their English language skills are poor, or that their cultural differences would make them a poor organisational fit. This is not aligned with evidence showing that cultural diversity enriches workplaces

Woman working at the Chinese Garden of Friendship, Sydney
Woman at work

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Rethinking the Life Course

In many Western societies, we go about our daily routine, we generally think about our life trajectory following a fairly linear path. We think of life stages as being sequential: each stage follows the next. We are born, then we go through our childhood: we go to school, we go through our teenage years. We then become adults – we leave home, we go to work, we get married, we have kids. Then we grow old: we retire, we enjoy our leisure time, and eventually as we age we will die. The issue is that life does really fit this neat journey. Not everyone can or wants to have kids. Not everyone can jump straight from study to work. We know this yet society doesn’t really help us prepare for the disruptions along the way.

So what happens specifically if our work lives are disrupted? What can employers learn from taking a life course approach to hiring new staff? This post discusses the social science research on how work disruptions can be better supported through community services and better workplace planning. Continue reading “Rethinking the Life Course”

Artistic drawing showing a person's face in a haze

Toxic Management

Sociologists Martha Crowley and Randy Hodson conducted a study of the organisational dysfunction at General Motors. In a climate where people feared job cuts, every layer of management was afraid to report problems upwards, as there were many examples of people who had been fired after raising issues. Their case study of this company has broader implications, as the conditions and attitudes they examined are not unique to General Motors.

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