Pathway to success

By Katherine Evans

As an early career psychologist, still new to the world of occupational psychology, I was lucky enough to take part in the Future Work Centre’s session about developing new psychologists at the Division of Occupational Psychology (DOP) annual conference last week in Nottingham. This was a great opportunity for me to share my past experiences as a student, worried about finding a job at the end of my master’s course, and what it’s like to be a trainee on the Future Work Centre’s development programme, Pathway.

It’s well known that today’s graduate job market is tough, and this trend is certainly no different in occupational psychology. Jobs are scarce, and even competition for unpaid internships is plentiful. But there’s another challenge too – while our MSc programmes equip us with the academic theory and knowledge we need, students are generally not taught the professional skills needed to be a successful practitioner or to meet the minimum requirements of potential employers. This means that there is often no clear path for talented but inexperienced new graduates of occupational psychology. As a result, many move into HR, work for test publishers, or end up doing something completely unrelated.

I feel extremely fortunate to have been offered a role at the Future Work Centre, and to be able to undertake their development programme, Pathway. This programme aims to create well-rounded occupational psychologists with all the necessary skills to be successful practitioners. I spend approximately 20% of my working week on developmental activities, such as attending sessions on topics like coaching skills and finance for psychologists, and working on my BPS Chartership entries. What the Pathway programme really means for me is that I can be confident about my future; after three years on the programme, I know I will be well equipped to continue my career in whatever direction I choose to take.

While unfortunately it’s not possible to take every occupational psychology graduate onto the Pathway programme, the Future Work Centre is dedicated to making development available to as many future practitioners as possible. That’s why we’re opening up the Pathway programme, meaning that graduates will be able to sign up for individual modules from the programme, and organisations will be able to incorporate it internally to develop their new talent. So, whether you want to improve your commercial awareness or go through the BPS Chartership process in a supportive, group environment, the Future Work Centre can help with your professional development.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Pathway development programme, please contact

‘You’ve got mail!’ research goes global

Ahead of the Division of Occupational Psychology Annual Conference this week, we’ve been promoting the results of our ‘You’ve got mail!’ research, exploring the impact of email on our health and well-being.

We’re delighted at the opportunities that we’ve had to talk about this important issue. Dr Richard MacKinnon, Insight Director at the Future Work Centre, has appeared on national television in the UK on BBC Breakfast and the Turkish television network TRT World:

Richard was also interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio 2 in the UK and on the Pat Kenny Show on NewsTalk in Ireland. And coverage of the research has been picked up by media all over the world, including the Telegraph, Independent and Guardian in the UK, Sky News in Australia, The Times of India, Repubblica in Italy, and Metro News in the Netherlands.

The extent of interest in our study highlights the impact that email usage has on people across the world, and reinforces the role that high quality, evidence-based research can play in helping to improve people’s experience of work.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our research, including advice and guidance, visit our ‘You’ve got mail!’ page. We’ll also be sharing our findings at the DOP Annual Conference in Nottingham on Thursday 7 January at 3pm.

To further develop the evidence-base on this topic, we are looking for organisations who are interested in understanding how email is impacting their employees, and testing interventions to improve the experience of email at work. If you’d like to work with us, please get in touch at or on 020 7947 4273.


How you manage your emails may be bad for your health

Joint press release from the British Psychological Society and the Future Work Centre, Sunday 3 January 2016

New research suggests that it’s not just the volume of emails that causes stress; it’s our well-intentioned habits and our need to feel in control that backfires on us.

These are some of the key findings presented next week, Thursday 7 January 2016, at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference in Nottingham by Dr Richard MacKinnon from the Future Work Centre.

The Future Work Centre asked nearly 2,000 working people across a variety of industries, sectors and job roles in the UK about their experience of using email. The research explored whether factors such as technology, behaviour, demographics and personality played a role in people’s perception of email pressure.

The research suggests many people have developed some bad habits when it comes to managing email. Nearly half of those surveyed have emails automatically sent to their inbox (push notifications) and 62 per cent left their email on all day. Those who checked email early in the morning and late at night may think they are getting ahead, but they could be making things worse, as the study showed that these habits were linked to higher levels of stress and pressure.

Dr Richard MacKinnon said: “Our research shows that email is a double-edged sword. Whilst it can be a valuable communication tool, it’s clear that it’s a source of stress of frustration for many of us. The people who reported it being most useful to them also reported the highest levels of email pressure! But the habits we develop, the emotional reactions we have to messages and the unwritten organisational etiquette around email, combine into a toxic source of stress which could be negatively impacting our productivity and wellbeing.”

“Despite organisations attempting to shape policies and procedures to minimise the negative impact of email, it’s clear one-size-fits-all advice is ineffective. People are different both in terms of how they perceive stress and how and where they work. What works for some is unlikely to work for others. We came up with a few tips to help some of those bad habits.”

  • To the early morning/late night checkers – put your phone away, do you really need to check your email?
  • How about planning your day and prioritising your work, before the priorities of others flood your inbox?
  • Consider turning off ‘push notifications’ and/or turning off your email app for portions of the day, and take control of when you receive email.

You can read the full research report at

The Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference takes place from the 6 to 8 January 2015 at the East Midlands Conference Centre, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RJ. See the conference website.