What Does an Organizational Psychologist Do?

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An organizational psychologist meets with a group of employees to provide advice on establishing work-life balance.

The science of psychology isn’t only used to address personal and family issues. It’s also a valuable tool for building more productive, supportive and effective workplaces.

That’s where the role of the organizational psychologist comes in. What does an organizational psychologist do? Professionals in this role are trained to study human behavior in workplace settings to improve the well-being of employees and organizations. As the Association for Psychological Science reported, even NASA is employing organizational psychologists to boost teamwork and collaboration among astronauts during long-distance space exploration, when they have limited food, personal space and communication with the outside world.

Those interested in organizational psychology should consider the responsibilities and tasks of professionals in this field, as well as trends and technologies that will impact their future careers. Earning a degree, such as a bachelor’s in organizational psychology, can help individuals develop the skills to pursue rewarding careers in this field.

What Is Organizational Psychology?

Organizational psychology is the study of how individuals behave and operate within an organizational structure, such as an office or other workplace setting.

By analyzing leadership processes, team relations and company cultures, organizational psychologists can design and propose strategies to improve employee engagement, morale and well-being. Organizational psychology can also help companies recruit and retain the best talent, resolve internal conflicts and acquire more effective tools and technologies that optimize output.

The Role of an Organizational Psychologist

Organizational psychologists use scientific theories and research methods to analyze how people operate in a business or team setting. For example, these professionals should have an in-depth understanding of organizational development, decision theory and small group theory to assess the effectiveness of workplace communication and collaboration processes.

The work of organizational psychologists can be instrumental in helping companies develop and update specific staffing procedures, safety measures, diversity initiatives and mentorship programs. Organizational psychologists can even improve customer satisfaction by studying employee-customer relations and identifying more effective communication methods.

According to Paul Muchinsky’s book Psychology Applied to Work: An Introduction to Industrial and Organizational Psychology, organizational psychologists commonly work in one of six key areas:

  • Talent recruitment. In this area, psychologists might create employee selection and screening processes to find the best talent for each role.
  • This involves optimizing tools and equipment to prevent injury and improve productivity.
  • Organizational development. In this area, the goal is to find opportunities for generating revenue and improving leadership structures.
  • Performance management. This involves identifying strategies to improve employee productivity and workflows.
  • Training and development. Psychologists in this area build enhanced employee training programs and workshops for continued growth and success.
  • Work-life balance. Organizational psychologists aim to increase employee satisfaction and minimize burnout by optimizing scheduling, communication and workplace experiences.

Organizational psychologists should have the following skills to succeed in their career field:

  • Interpersonal skills. This is crucial for communicating with managers and employees during assessments and working with organizational leaders to develop new processes. They should be adept at understanding human behavior and interactions.
  • Analytical skills. Organizational psychologists must be able to synthesize observations, direct feedback and data to gather insights about organizational performance.
  • Technical skills. As new technologies emerge to enable remote and automated work, organizational psychologists should be able to operate and manage these tools for increased effectiveness in the workplace.

Organizational psychologists can work in a range of environments, such as business offices, government agencies, health care facilities, nonprofit organizations and universities. While they might work in-house for a company’s human resources department, they might also work as independent contractors, consulting when an organization needs to navigate a particular issue or companywide change.

Technology Trends in Organizational Psychology

Technology-driven trends will continue to impact what an organizational psychologist does to help companies grow and adapt to changes in the marketplace.

It’s important for organizational psychologists to be aware of these evolving trends as they build their careers:

Globalization

As the workforce becomes more global, organizational teams will need to develop cross-cultural leadership capabilities, schedules that incorporate various time zones and advanced communication processes between countries and locations. Organizational psychologists can help companies seamlessly navigate these changes while maintaining or increasing productivity.

Virtual Training

As remote work increases, organizational psychologists must be able to conduct virtual training programs through videoconferencing platforms and digital project management programs. These technologies also allow organizational psychologists to reach and interact with a larger and more diverse group of trainees.

Online Recruitment

Organizational psychologists can help workplaces optimize their recruitment processes by using online applications, job posting platforms and screening processes. These tools are valuable for communicating with potential candidates, weeding out unqualified applicants and identifying the best talent around the world.

Build Your Career in Organizational Psychology

As businesses continue to emerge and grow, they’ll need skilled organizational psychologists to help their teams operate efficiently and drive success. Rider University’s online bachelor’s in organizational psychology program is designed to help future human resources professionals understand human behavior and interpersonal relations in the workplace. With this knowledge, they can build advanced strategies that help companies enhance employee and financial performance.

Learn more about how to pursue your career goals with Rider University’s online bachelor’s in organizational psychology.

Recommended Readings

Conflict Resolution in the Workplace: Techniques and Strategies
Flow in the Workplace: What It Means and Why It’s Important
What Is I-O Psychology? Careers and Resources for Merging Psychology and Business

Sources:

American Psychological Association, Helping Businesses and Organizations
American Psychological Association, Pursuing a Career in I/O Psychology
American Psychological Association, I/O Psychology Provides Workplace Solutions
Association for Psychological Science, “Teams in Space: It Isn’t Just Rocket Science”
Business News Daily, “What Is Industrial-Organizational Psychology?”
Houston Chronicle, “Trends in Industrial Psychology”
Houston Chronicle, “What Are the Benefits of Organizational Psychology Within the Workplace?”
Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, What Are SIOP and I-O Psychologists?
Verywell Mind, “The Basics of Industrial-Organizational Psychology”