Human Resource Development Faculty Edit Special Journal Devoted to Career Shifts After COVID-19

From left, professors Claretha Hughes and Yuanlu Niu and doctoral student Shana Yarberry.
University Relations

From left, professors Claretha Hughes and Yuanlu Niu and doctoral student Shana Yarberry.

As essential workers took center stage during the COVID-19 pandemic, U of A professor Claretha Hughes noticed a connection to her research on valuing people and technology in the workplace.

Hughes, who teaches in the human resource and workforce development program, reached out to colleague Yuanlu Niu and other scholars in the field whose research could support her topic of helping workers adjust to the shifting career environment.

The collaboration resulted in a special issue of Advances in Development Human Resources, a SAGE journal, titled, "How COVID-19 is Shifting Career Reality: Ways to Navigate Career Journeys." Hughes and Niu edited the special issue. They also wrote the preface to the journal volume as well as the concluding article, titled, "Responding to Career Development Uncertainties and Successfully Navigating Career Journeys." It will publish in August, but it's currently available to read online.

The special issue offers guidance to human resource development professionals and employees on a variety of topics, including psychological anxiety, how to engage workers, sustaining hope, women/work roles, post COVID-19 employability, virtual learning environments and career coaching, Hughes said.

U of A doctoral student Shana Yarberry, who serves as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager for Arvest Bank, co-authored one of the articles, which explores the topic of virtual mentoring for workers forced to work alone during the pandemic. The problem: Lack of physical contact with others has the potential to stifle engagement, which can impede career development and progress, she noted. Her article offers a variety of solutions for human resources professionals and managers to consider when helping these workers. 

Niu said the special issue is important because career development has not been sufficiently researched in human resources development literature.

"COVID-19 has exposed many aspects of what all workers do and the important role of career development and the career journeys that workers endure," she said. "This special issue provides research, theory and practical perspectives for organization leaders and employees to navigate their career realities during and after COVID-19."

She said the issue also adds to the research knowledge base by promoting future studies exploring topics on career development from a human resources development perspective.

"It will provide a baseline for empirical studies of career development adjustment to the pandemic on topics including dynamic learning opportunities and activities, performance improvement, HRD support and the diversity, equity, and inclusion issues of career development," she said.

The researchers provide career theories, ideas and recommendations for human resources scholars and professionals to expand their understanding of career development during and beyond the pandemic. Technological changes, remote work experiences and psychological well-being are just a few of the challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic and are affecting the career journeys of organization leaders and employees.

Hughes has published numerous articles and chapters in peer-reviewed journals, books and conferences and has written 13 books. She serves as a book proposal reviewer for SAGE, Emerald, IGI Global, Palgrave Macmillan and CyberTech Publishing. She is currently involved in a National Science Foundation Research in Formation of Engineers project as a Co-PI.

Niu's major research interests lie in the area of human resource development/management, adult education, women's issues and diversity issues in the workplace.

Yarberry's research interests lie in the area of human resource development and management, employee engagement, diversity, equity and inclusion, career development and talent management.

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