“We wanted to encapsulate this idea of work of being a place for you to grow, develop, and learn,” says Dr. Sonia Kang, UTM associate professor of organizational behaviour and human resource management. Through a partnership with Rogers, Kang hosts a podcast exploring the modern employee experience.

The idea of her podcast, “For the Love of Work,” came to Kang prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the aim of beginning production in March. The podcast is targeted for anyone, at any stage of their career and any role, but with particular consideration for those newly entering the workforce and facing challenges in their chosen career paths. “For the Love of Work” emphasizes topics such as resilience, diversity, and inclusion, that are essential to consider before starting a career. Despite the pandemic, Dr. Kang pursued the podcast production, and the first episode streamed on September 21.

Dr. Kang finds it interesting that “all of these topics that were thought of before the pandemic as being important to the employee experience, are still valid now.” Topics of resilience, diversity, and inclusion in the workspace are consistently vital in the present, past, and future. As such, in her podcast, Dr. Kang applies these topics to the Covid-19 working world, with an emphasis on the concepts’ timeless importance. 

The name of the podcast itself took time to come into fruition. Dr. Kang and the production team wanted to encapsulate the idea of work being a meaningful and positive experience, hence the name, “For the Love of Work.” The podcast’s title comes from the recognition that “if you love your job, you will never work a day in your life.” This title gives hope to those willing to develop a love and admiration for the work they do.

Dr. Kang points out that “often, you hear people not finding happiness within their careers. As a result, they want to find meaning, purpose, and happiness in other domains of life.” However, Dr. Kang explains that “you do not have to segment your life into these factions where you can only be happy in one domain and not another.” Unfortunately, many find themselves in careers where they feel unable to express themselves. Various obstacles play into employees’ discouragement to enjoy their work, which, in turn, affects their true potential. 

Since its launch, the podcast has been successful and received positive feedback. Dr. Kang enjoys hosting the podcast as it enables her to share the knowledge she attained through her own journey. Dr. Kang states that, as an academic, “we do all this research and write papers, but the impact of our work is not as clear as something as rich and narrative as the podcast.” Dr. Kang knows that those listening to the podcast with an open mindset, and the desire to apply the information to their lives, have the power of changing their outlooks on their careers. 

As stated previously, the podcast revolves around three topics: resilience, inclusion, and diversity. Dr. Kang says that “when people think about resilient people, they think that they are people that do not experience stress, but the reality of resilience is your recovery from stress.” Essentially, resilience is the capability of experiencing and being able to deal with stress accordingly. Kang wishes to showcase resilience in a way that shows that it is a skill that can be developed just like any other skill, with practice.

Inclusion and diversity are also crucial to consider in the current working environment, particularly amid the pandemic, a chronic stressor in itself. Dr. Kang states that research shows “higher rates of Covid-19 among minority groups in Canada, as well as the U.S.” As such, the “chronic stressor [of Covid-19], and the chronic systemic racism and violence is influencing and encouraging people to bring their attention to the disparities that have existed for decades and centuries.” 

Moreover, through discussing the relevance of workplace diversity and inclusion in her podcast, Dr. Kang was “able to draw on [her] own research and expertise as well as connect with others in the field that [she] thought did amazing work.” These topics are peripheral to her research as they are all tangibly related. Dr. Kang is trained as a psychologist; as such, many of these concepts are “based on really fundamental psychological principles that are fascinating, especially when you are applying them in a workplace setting, which is what organizational behaviour is about.” Dr. Kang elaborates that the podcast has allowed her to explore areas that she had not yet addressed in her research. She also utilizes her podcast episodes as primers for her lectures. This enables her students to understand the topics and the research practice behind her lectures, making the podcast a foundation for classroom discussion.         

Dr. Kang hopes that listeners can develop a new skill or tackle an issue in their workplace in an innovative way after listening to “For the Love of Work.” To Dr. Kang, “podcasting is a storytelling device to connect to people, where you take an idea that you have and distill it into a narrative form that someone else will listen to and share a moment with.” She explains how a podcast is like a personal invitation with informative advice that one can apply to their daily life once they are ready. Dr. Kang’s research and podcast revolve around creating a connection that allows people to explore ideas that are essential to consider, now more than ever. 

“This is a time and opportunity for people to take a step back and think about their priorities,” says Dr. Kang. She explains that, as a perfectionist herself, she found it hard in the past to see and acknowledge when she was struggling. Now, equipped with new skills and personal experiences, she has created a platform that has allowed her to share her expertise with others. Dr. Kang pushes listeners to realize their inner standards of achievement and resilience. Through “For the Love of Work,” Dr. Kang reminds us that self-acceptance is a skill that needs to be practiced and reinforced, and we must acknowledge our realistic constraints in order to overcome adversities.

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