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Member spotlight: Michelle Renard, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan U.

The latest in our series of member profiles comes from Michelle Renard, Lecturer in IOP from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Read about Michelle’s research and interests below!


1) Introduce yourself: background, place of work, etc.

My name is Michelle Renard, and I have held the position of lecturer for the past five years, within the Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology (IOP) at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. I teach both undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Human Resource Management Staffing, Rewards Management, Research Methodology and Career Management.

I have lived in South Africa my entire life, but I am passionate about travel and exploring cultures worldwide. This has stemmed my interest in cross-cultural psychology. While I love sharing knowledge with my students through teaching, I have a great passion for research. I completed my Masters in IOP cum laude in 2012, focusing on the way in which university students in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa cope proactively with stress. Last year, I commenced with my PhD in Commerce (IOP), which I am aiming to complete by the beginning of 2015. I have presented research findings at two international and three local conferences, and will present at another international conference in July when I present my preliminary PhD findings at the 22nd Congress of the IACCP in Reims, France.


2) How did you first learn about HWP?

An IOP colleague within South Africa, Dr Ines Meyer, heard about my PhD research through our Departmental newsletter that was circulated to IOP academics throughout the country. Ines sent me the link to the GOHWP website, and encouraged me to join the organisation because my PhD focuses on motivating, engaging and retaining non-profit sector employees. Reading about the GOHWP was my first introduction to the field of HWP. My interest both in this field of study and in the organisation was immediately sparked.


3) In what ways is HWP relevant to your work?

I am examining paid non-profit employees for my PhD, by looking at the influence of intrinsic work rewards on their levels of intrinsic motivation, work engagement and intention to quit. My rationale behind focusing on non-profit employees is based on the fact that within South Africa, the majority of non-profit employees are paid less than those working within the private sector; yet, the work that they do is arguably more meaningful in terms of making a difference to society, compared to those working in the private sector. It is my hope to show that rewarding employees through the provision of work that is psychologically meaningful, will positively influence their motivation and engagement levels, and reduce their intention to leave the non-profit sector, despite their lower salaries earned.

My research began with 15 interviews being conducted with non-profit employees in South Africa, and 10 in Belgium, in order to gain data pertaining to the factors that motivate and reward employees in this sector. From this qualitative data, I have been able to develop an Intrinsic Work Motivation scale and an Intrinsic Work Rewards scale, which will soon be tested and validated on non-profit employees in South Africa, Belgium and Australia. These are the first such measuring instruments to be developed and tested on a non-profit employee sample globally.


4) In which area would you be interested in forming new collaborations?

I would love to connect with other academics researching non-profit employees worldwide. Upon completion of my PhD, I am interested in further validating the Intrinsic Work Motivation and Intrinsic Work Rewards scales globally, and to make comparisons amongst non-profit employees and those working in the private sector. The constructs that these scales measure also need to be correlated with other constructs of relevance, such as psychological capital, organisational citizenship behaviour, organisational commitment, and the like. I believe that much scope for research exists once these measuring instruments have been validated; and since my area of interest is cross-cultural psychology, I am always looking to form new research partnerships worldwide.


5) Do you have a favorite paper or idea you want to share with the group?

I strongly believe that the work that non-profit employees do is potentially more meaningful than the work of those working in the private sector, in jobs where it is more difficult to see the impact of one’s work on society at large. My preliminary research has shown that non-profit employees both in South Africa and Belgium are motivated and rewarded strongly by tangibly seeing that their work is making a difference – regardless of the type of non-profit in which they work. I am excited to gain the empirical results from the next phase of my PhD. I invite fellow GOHWP members to connect with me on LinkedIn at//

200 Members!

GOHWP recently approved a new group of members, bringing the total number of active members to over 200, coming from dozens of countries across the world! Dr. Katina Sawyer, one of those new members, is profiled below. Welcome Katina, and all our new members!


Dr. Katina Sawyer, Villanova University

I am an Assistant Professor of Psychology within the Graduate Programs in Human Resource Development, at Villanova University. I have a dual-Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Women’s Studies from Penn State University. My research interests primarily lie in diversity, work-family conflict, and leadership within organizations.

Q:  In what ways is HWP relevant to your work?

HWP is relevant to my work because I focus a lot of attention on the role of stigmatized identities in the workplace. Specifically, I study LGBT populations, individuals with criminal backgrounds, female and racially diverse executives, and the impact of the intersections of identity on determining workplace outcomes (age, disability, sexuality, gender identity, race/ethnicity). I think that it is really important to truly understand the nuances of each population’s challenges in being accepted and fully integrated into the workforce, so that we might realize a more fair and equitable world.

 Q: In which areas would you be interested in forming new collaborations?

I am interested in forming new collaborations which examine the ways in which organizations might change their frameworks to become more inclusive of stigmatized individuals, so that the burden does not always lie with the employee/job candidate. I would love to work on a project which provides a set of best practices for organizations to better incorporate employees from vulnerable populations into their workforce, so that meaningful employment opportunities might become available for previously undervalued individuals.

Q: Do you have a favorite paper or idea you want to share with the group?

I am currently working with victims of human trafficking to better understand the experiences that they have had being sold as a commodity (as part of one of the most lucrative industries, globally) and then attempting to reincorporate themselves back into the workforce. With an estimated 2.4 million individuals being trafficked at any given time globally, I am interested in learning how organizations might leverage some of their power to create a more stable solution for those who wish to re-enter the workforce after this experience.

Q: What burning questions do you think need to be answered in future research by GOHWP members?

I think that GOHWP members can have a real impact on society by providing organizations with the information that they need to better understand the ways in which all employees and potential employees can be incorporated into organizations, regardless of background. I think that, for the most part, organizations don’t have a great awareness of issues that plague society at large. For this reason, I think that there are lots of future research questions which could help improve society overall by improving the working lives of individuals.  Creating a network of like-minded individuals who are actively interested in positively impacting the “world of work”, in all its diversity, is a really powerful thing.