“Workplace psychology” refers to the practice of applying psychological principles and practices to a work environment. The goal is to identify and solve problems, increase employee satisfaction, and improve workplace dynamics. While it’s most often referred to as industrial-organizational psychology, other names for this field include IO Psychology, Work Psychology, Business Psychology, and Occupational Psychology.
Graduate programs in this discipline often focus on psychology research practices, social and group psychology. They also cover strategies for individual and group assessment, alongside other management related skills. They may discuss the use of psychology in business decisions, and the benefits of industrial psychology in organizations. Students who earn a graduate degree in industrial-organizational psychology might go on to apply their knowledge in a variety of professional contexts.
What Does An Industrial Organizational Psychologist Do?
Workplace psychologists use psychology research strategies to assess workplace environments, identify areas in need of improvement, and develop strategies to address those issues. They may conduct surveys and individual assessments, and evaluate programs for effectiveness.
Industrial organizational psychology jobs may touch on many different areas of the workplace. Some company psychologists may instead choose to focus on one specific area of need. This could include issues like talent acquisition, management, and retention, leadership, and workplace productivity.
Organizational Psychology and Recruitment
Workplace psychology principles can help employers identify the key skills, educational requirements, and work experience their employees must possess. Knowing these could help the employer draft appropriate job descriptions and advertisements, and look for these qualities throughout the interview process. Workplace psychology principles can also help employers understand how to hire for particular traits without being discriminatory.
Training and Development Supported by IO Psychology
Workplace psychology can help employers to pinpoint their staff’s training needs. It can also guide them in delivering the relevant training in an engaging fashion. This training often consists of state or federally mandated training (such as Title IX training), workplace or industry-specific training (such as safety procedures), and intellectual enrichment for a particular work setting.
Psychology of Performance Appraisals
Performance appraisals are standard workplace psychology tools. They are designed to provide employees with feedback about their performance, to help foster increased productivity. In theory, appraisals also facilitate clear communication between management and employees. They may act as forums for setting goals, as well as serving as starting points for performance improvement plans, if necessary. Finally, they can help Human Resources identify training needs.
The Role of Workplace Psychology in Compensation
Compensation is an important part of employee satisfaction and psychology in the workplace. Workplace psychology strategies take this into consideration when developing compensation strategies such as pay-for-performance plans.
Psychology of Motivation & Productivity in the Workplace
Increased motivation leads to increased productivity. However, the reverse could also be true. Work psychology holds that tactics like contests, performance appraisals, sales quotas and commission pay can all improve motivation. Done effectively, this could ultimately lead to greater productivity.
Study Workplace Psychology
According to BLS, the typical entry-level education for industrial-organizational psychologists is a master’s degree.i As such, people interested in pursuing this career typically look toward graduate school.
While the prerequisites to apply vary by program, a few examples may include the following.
- A Bachelor’s Degree
- Prior Coursework in Psychology
- GRE or GMAT Scores
- Related Experience
Example Organizational Psychology Courses
Prospective work psychology graduate students should be comfortable with both quantitative research and qualitative psychology. Each organizational psychology graduate program differs somewhat in terms of focus and content. However, certain core courses are common to most, if not all, master’s and doctoral programs.
Some common course topics include:
- Survey or intro course on industrial organizational psychology
Beyond these classes, other core classes and electives might include (but are not limited to) the following.
- Psychology of small groups
- Organizational assessment
- Organizational change and development
- Organizational learning
- Training and development
- Personnel selection
- Performance measurement and rewards
- Training in organizations
- Work motivation and attitudes
- Leadership and strategic change
Note that if you are considering an online organizational psychology program, it is important to research and fully understand the accreditation status of the school, before applying and taking any courses.
Find Your Organizational Psychology Graduate Program
GradSchools.com can help you find your industrial organizational psychology graduate programs. Click the link below to get matched now. You can also review the sponsored program listings here, or use the menu to select your subject area, format and degree level.
Source: [i] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm#tab-4
- Take advantage of some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, while earning a degree from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
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