Member Spotlight: Yu Tse Heng, recipient of the 2022 William H. Newman Award

20 Sep 2022
"I hope that this research will inform bereavement/loss-related work policies and best practices, such that grieving employees' experiences at work are more positive (than negative).”-Yu Tse Heng
Yu Tse Heng is the 2022 recipient of the Academy of Management's William H. Newman Award for her dissertation The Grief-Work Interface: How Employees Navigate Work After Losing a Loved One, submitted to the Human Resources (HR) Division. The Newman Award recognizes the best annual meeting paper based on a dissertation and is presented to single-authored papers based on a doctoral dissertation completed within the past three years.

Yu Tse is an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, and her research examines the complexity of the bereaved employee experience and how workplaces can utilize compassion to improve upon that experience.

“I am incredibly honored to receive the 2022 Newman Award. Winning this All-Academy award suggests that beyond my narrower field of OB/HR, the Academy in general sees the value and importance of the topic of grief in the workplace.”

Yu Tse’s early career experience led her to academia. Prior to, and while completing her undergraduate studies with a major in Psychology at the National University of Singapore, she worked at a boutique consulting firm and the psychological services division of the Singapore Police Force, where she collaborated with psychologists on projects related to employee well-being, leadership, and hiring. She spent the early years of her doctoral career studying the implications of compassion (both toward the self and others) for employees. Immersing herself in this phenomenon inspired her to focus on the employee grief experience.

“My earlier research motivated me to think more deeply about suffering itself, which led me to study grief for my dissertation. As humans, it is almost inevitable that we experience the death of close others in our lifetimes. Yet bereaved employees often receive insufficient bereavement leave and return to work before they have processed and recovered from their loss. As such, I wanted to understand what the bereaved employee experience entails and how organizations and leaders can better support them through an incredibly challenging time.”

Yu Tse first learned of the Academy while receiving her PhD in Organizational Behavior at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, and became a member in 2017, stating: “It was easy for me to decide to become a member—as everyone around me were members of AOM”. While that was the catalyst for her to join AOM, Heng says she renews her membership each year because of the community:

“After joining AOM, I quickly realized that whatever your research interests might be, there is likely to be a community out there that is also excited about the same topic as you. I have met people at AOM meetings who are now my close friends and colleagues. One way to authentically meet people with similar interests would be through volunteering or participating in your home division’s symposiums, PDWs, and related sessions. Academia has been so much more enjoyable after I was able to find my various scholarly ‘homes’.”

Yu Tse was also the 2022 recipient of the Academy of Management HR Division Best Student Convention Paper Award and the 2021 recipient of the Academy of Management HR Division/SHRM Foundation Dissertation Grant Award.

“In the past two years especially, the pandemic has urged organizations to place extra emphasis on employee care. [My hope is] that by embracing—instead of ignoring—employees’ full selves, we can create workplaces where employees are more likely to thrive, which in the long run would benefit both employees and organizations.”