Organizational psychology is the science of psychology applied to work and organizations. It is a field of inquiry that covers an increasingly diverse range of topics as the nature of work continues to evolve. With growth in international business, there has been an explosive increase in the ethnic diversity, cross cultural and multi-generational workforce with different values, norms and cultural behaviors. By understanding organizational psychology, we can gain an understanding of the challenges faced by many organizations and how we can overcome them.
In this article, we will share with you how organizational psychology can be applied in the various processes of an organization.
Organizational psychologists study a company’s culture and work processes, and have a well-educated idea of the type of employee that can work best with the way the business already functions. Organizational psychologists help with many aspects of the hiring process, including creating interview questions that help hiring managers identify the best candidates for certain positions. When using organizational psychology for hiring, Amy Cooper Hakim, founder of the Cooper Strategic Group, suggested considering the values, personality and motivation of the applicant.
To keep things running smoothly, businesses need to make sure their employees have the skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs. Employees undergo training that is specific to their field and their company as well as given time to implement these skills. On an individual level, employees are trained based on their individual skill set and their long- and short-term career development goals.
The job of an Organizational psychologist is to assess each employee individually in his or her role and how development in this role relates to the company by identifying the missing skills. On top of this, professionals use their expertise to ascertain how best to orient the company’s training based on industry or company goals, strengths, weaknesses, and needs to help fill the skills gaps.
By studying human behavior at all levels of the company, organizational psychologists can identify ways to make jobs more efficient and employees more productive for the overall good of the company. Organizational psychology help to motivate the workforce and create stronger teamwork especially in following areas:
Organizational psychologists study employee behaviors and attitudes to gauge overall employee satisfaction. Using their findings, psychologists suggest changes to improve employees’ well-being and happiness at work, which makes for more productive employees.
In addition to managing the happiness and well-being of employees as they perform their work, organizational psychologists might collect data on employee job satisfaction. This includes the productivity of the workplace, motivation, rewards, and general employee sentiments about job enjoyment. Within this example, the organization psychologist’s job is to collect and evaluate data given by employees. It’s up to the organizational psychologist to figure out solutions and changes (with the help of other company professionals) that might benefit the workplace and employees based on satisfaction temperature checks.
If organizational psychologists find that employees are stressed or unhappy, they may suggest implementing work-life balance programs to ease stress on employees, thereby helping them to produce not just more work, but better work. Successful work-life balance programs decrease turnover rates and burnout while increasing motivation and commitment.
Decreased job stress
A major difference between industrial and organizational psychology concerns the focus of the psychologist.
The industrial side examines the organization in question from management to employees. It is focused on leadership.
Organizational psychology focuses on how employees function and how businesses operate from employees up to management. Organizational psychologists aim to provide helpful suggestions on managerial practices, company organization and other elements that might be creating job stress.
Implementing Organizational Psychology in Your Organization
If you own a small business and have five to 10 employees, it might not be worth the investment to hire an organizational psychologist. However, for midsize and large businesses, these professionals are a valuable asset if you want to increase the satisfaction and productivity of your employees.
Depending on the scale of your company and the work that you feel needs to be done, a consultant might be a better fit for you. You may also equip your HR personnel or the management team with the foundational knowledge and skills on organizational psychology as a start to explore the possibility of implementing organizational psychology in your business.
- In-house psychologists are the better choice if you have a large, global organization, want to develop ongoing training programs, or need to do long-lasting studies of workplace culture in multiple locations.
- Industrial/Organizational consultants are the better choice if you have a smaller organization, only want to study one particular area or department, or need only limited information.
By conducting personality assessments, you can learn how to work best with your team based on individual preferences, work styles and behaviors.
Hakim said personality assessments can be used to help screen applicants as a “multiple-hurdle approach” to hiring, or to help develop employees.
Here are six common personality tests you can utilize:
- DiSC Assessment: This test identifies communication styles in the workplace, and helps employees understand how to more effectively work together and communicate.
- Myers-Briggs: Also known as the MBTI, this test categorizes you as one of 16 personality types to help you understand how you perceive the world and why you make decisions. Though this is a popular test, there is some controversy surrounding it, according to Crant, since it doesn’t always produce the same results when someone takes the test multiple times.
- Predictive Index: The Predictive Index, or PI, is a short, simple test that helps you understand your employees’ behaviors at work. This test can help you align goals and improve efficiency.
- Five-Factor Model of Personality: The FFM separates people into the “big five” traits – extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience.
- Occupational interest inventories (OIIs): OIIs identify employees’ interests in the workplace, helping you understand their preferred assignments and roles. This aids in task delegation and employee retention.
- Situational judgment tests (SJTs): SJTs use stimulated situations to test how workers would react in a given circumstance. Based on their response, you can gauge their customer service skills and confront any possible flaws in their approach.
These tests aren’t suited for every organization, and attempting to analyze the results of any personality tests on your own, without the help of a professional, can lead to controversy and misunderstandings.
Consult a professional psychologist before you administer or share the results of any personality tests in your workforce.
Industrial-organizational psychologists are important because of how they help assess problems and create change within work environments and organizations. The role is especially important now as company policy and culture change during the COVID-19 pandemic. These professionals help manage difficult conversations and provide comfort (physical, emotional, mental, etc.) or tools to make employees’ day-to-day work more amicable.