14. March 2022

The work psychologist

Franziska Kößler investigates employment and health

F. Kößler © WISTA Management GmbH
You’ve got a friend in me: Franziska Kößler and Figo © WISTA Management GmbH

Infection or job loss, what is more frightening? Do I feel inspired and enriched by cultural diversity? These are but some of the issues that Franziska Kößler deals with in her everyday academic life. What emotions do people experience while going about their work and how do they stay healthy. Generally, the focus of her research interest is how the job affects those working it. Lastly, this also includes those with low formal qualification and low wages, and those in precarious employment. Cleaning personnel, say, or retail workers.

In February 2020, Kößler started working as a research associate at the Occupational Health Psychology chair of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and moved into her new office on Rudower Chaussee. In addition to research on other projects, she will complete her PhD thesis, which she started in 2017. It deals with how cultural diversity in the workplace affects mental health.

Most recently, she investigated the issue of how non-medical employees in hospitals, kitchen staff, or members of cleaning crews cope with the increased risk of the coronavirus in their workplace. Are they thinking about quitting? Or do they accept the risk of infection because they are financially dependent on the job? The study also aims, according to Kößler, to formulate recommendations for better protection of those affected against infection.

At her Bavarian grammar school, the now 29-year-old envisioned a future as an artist for herself, then started studying early childhood education in Freiburg. A stint at the University of Innsbruck brought her to psychology, initially, with the aim of becoming a therapist. A BA thesis on employee participation then lured her into the field of work psychology. She then discovered: “There are some cool topics there, too.”

Following a master's degree in Heidelberg, an internship at the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency paved the way to her dissertation. It was here that she got in contact with Berlin’s Social Science Centre in 2016 as well as a doctoral college that offered her a place for three years. The next stop of her CV was Adlershof. However, the only time she regularly visited her office on Rudower Chaussee was during her first four weeks. Since then, most of her everyday research work took place at home in Wedding. On the one hand, it saves her commuting, which she is “not particularly angry about”. On the other hand, she misses her colleagues.

The pandemic eliminated quite a few things she enjoyed, including travelling and going to concerts. Her spare time now is spent on long walks with the dog. As far as her early career aspirations are concerned, Kößler feels they have been realised in a different way now. “Working as a scientist is a lot like art,” she says. Both were about “representing new things”. Being creative is what connects the two.

By Dr. Winfried Dolderer for Adlershof Journal

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