Supporting Postdoc Wellness & Resilience

Optional Preliminary Readings

Firzly, N., Chamandy, M., Pelletier, L., & Lagacé, M. (2022). An Examination of Mentors’ Interpersonal Behaviors and Mentees’ Motivation, Turnover Intentions, Engagement, and Well-Being. Journal of Career Development, 49(6), 1317–1336. doi: 10.1177/08948453211039286.

Synopsis: the authors present the results of a study conducted with 358 undergraduate student employees, to collect empirical evidence of the impact of mentors’ interpersonal behaviors on mentees’ motivation, well-being, engagement, and work outcomes. The approach used in the study is based on the Self-Determination Theory, which proposes that individual motivation (partly autonomous and partly controlled) derives from the satisfaction and frustration of psychological needs. The authors then propose two models to link interpersonal rapport with colleagues and the work environment on the one hand, and with mentors on the other hand, with mentees’ turnover intention, work engagement and well-being. Using 9 different questionnaires and scales, they collect data to (1) understand how mentees perceive their relationships with their mentors and work environment, (2) characterize the motivation in the mentoring relationship, (3) evaluate mentees’ turnover intention, work engagement and well-being. After statistical analysis of the data collected, the authors adjusted their models with standardized regression coefficients. The findings of this study support the fact that “mentors’ need-supportive interpersonal behaviors [are] associated with greater autonomous motivation at work and in the mentoring relationship and, in turn, to greater well-being and work engagement, and to lower turnover intentions. In contrast, need-thwarting interpersonal behaviors [are] associated with greater controlled motivation at work and in the mentoring relationship and, in turn, to lower well-being and work engagement, and to greater turnover intentions.”

Introduction Video

  • Brent D. Rosso, Kathryn H. Dekas, Amy Wrzesniewski, On the meaning of work: A theoretical integration and review, Research in Organizational Behavior, Vol. 30, 2010, pp. 91-127, ISSN 0191-3085,
  • Book chapter: Keyes & Waterman, 2003, Dimensions of Well-Being & Mental Health in Adulthood in Bornstein, MH, Davidson, L, Keyes, CLM, & Moore, KA (eds) 2003, Well-Being : Positive Development Across the Life Course, Taylor & Francis Group, Mahwah. Available from: ProQuest Ebook Central.
  • London, Manuel & Noe, Raymond. (1997). London’s Career Motivation Theory: An Update on Measurement and Research. Journal of Career Assessment. 5. 61-80. 10.1177/106907279700500105.
  • Martin MY, Stanfill AG. On the road to achieving work-life balance in academia. Clin Transl Sci. 2023 Apr;16(4):553-556. doi: 10.1111/cts.13485. Epub 2023 Feb 15. PMID: 36789892; PMCID: PMC10087064.
  • American Psychological Association. (2020, February 1). Building your resilience.

Discussion Questions

  • Describe what effects, if any, reflecting on the job stressor evaluation prompts or completing the healthywork survey helped you characterize aspects of your relationship to work or your definition of work/life integration?
  • Would you consider asking your mentees to do a similar assessment, and discussing the results of the assessment with them afterward? Why or why not?
  • How do you intentionally support your mentees in being productive while being resilient? 
  • Do you have a favorite resource (podcast, article, campus resource, playlist, manifesto) on the topic of resilience or wellness? How did you discover it and why do you like it?
  • How does your department or institution support your resilience and wellbeing? How about for postdocs?
  • How do you support postdocs when they have a need (e.g., mental health challenge, feeling singled out) that you may not be able to help answer on your own?
  • Is there a strategy that you heard today, either during pre-session or from your colleagues, that you think our program or department should implement?
  • How can we iterate on this work over time?