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University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies leadership releases whitepaper on how employers can support employee mental health

By Sharla Hooper

Dr. Rodney Luster examines findings from 2022 Career Optimism Index® study

Rodney Luster, Ph.D., chair, Center for Leadership Studies and Organizational Research (CLSOR) with the University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies, has authored a new whitepaper, “Who is Responsible for Employee Well-Being? The Role of Employers and Resourcing for the Mental Health of their Employees.”

Drawing upon findings from the 2022 University of Phoenix Career Institute® Career Optimism Index® study, Luster examines a few key perspectives regarding mental health resourcing for employees provided by companies, the perceptions and realities of employers and employees when it comes to such resources, and some important evidence regarding ways to ensure engagement of company-provided resources for those needing assistance. Luster also considers how the L.E.A.D. initiative, a concept for training leaders from the American Psychiatric Association, can help businesses embrace better processes for mental health during harsh times.

“The importance of what society has learned over the past several years regarding mental health among employees ensures that many cannot turn back now, risking losing their valuable human capital, but instead should open up better pathways for addressing mental health,” states Luster. “Focusing on leadership, effective communication, adapting to change, and doubling down on access to care as outlined in the L.E.A.D. concept can help organizational leadership compliment current resources as mainstay practices for highlighting awareness.”

In addition to leading the Center for Leadership Studies and Organizational Research, Luster is Senior Director of Research Strategy, Innovation, and Development for the College of Doctoral Studies at the University of Phoenix. He is a published researcher with his most recent article in 2021 for the Journal for Leadership Studies entitled, “Relational Leadership Perspectives of Key Constructs on Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity in Higher Education.”

Luster is currently conducting research on the potentials of polyphonic discourse for use in helping leaders navigate difficult conversations amid turbulent issues. He maintains a private practice in Austin, Texas as a psychotherapist and publishes a monthly blog on the Psychology Today website.

Luster earned his Ph.D. in Human Services with Capella University and completed a post-doctoral clinical internship with Johns Hopkins University.

Luster has been an employee of the University of Phoenix since 2012.

The full whitepaper is available at the Career Institute® webpage or as a direct link here.

About the College of Doctoral Studies

University of Phoenix’s College of Doctoral Studies focuses on today’s challenging business and organizational needs, from addressing critical social issues to developing solutions to accelerate community building and industry growth. The College’s research program puts students in the center of an effective ecosystem of experts, resources and tools to help prepare them to be a leader in their organization, industry and community. Through this program, students and researchers work with organizations to conduct research that can be applied in the workplace in real time.

About the Career Optimism Index®

The Career Optimism Index® study is one of the most comprehensive studies of Americans’ personal career perceptions to date. The University of Phoenix Career Institute® will conduct this research annually to provide insights on current workforce trends and to help identify solutions to support and enhance American careers and create equity in the workplace. For the second annual study, more than 5,000 U.S. adults were surveyed about how they feel about their careers at this moment in time, including their concerns, their challenges, and the degree to which they are optimistic about core aspects of their careers and their future. The study was conducted among a diverse, nationally representative, sample of U.S. adults among a robust sample to allow for gender, generational, racial, and socioeconomic differences and includes additional analysis of workers in the top twenty media markets across the country to uncover geographic nuances. This year, the study also explored insights from 500 U.S. employers who are influential or play a critical role in hiring and workplace decisions within a range of departments, company sizes and industries to provide comparison between the workforce and those who hire, train and retain them.

About University of Phoenix 

University of Phoenix is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, and Career Services for Life® help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit