Psychology Of Work And Organizations: A Profession With A Future

Psychologists in companies, their functions and their importance for the health of corporations.

Many students start the Degree in Psychology thinking about dedicating themselves to Clinical Psychology, but as the career progresses,  they realize that it is increasingly difficult to dedicate themselves to that area of ​​psychology. At present, one of the fields with the greatest professional opportunities is that of work and organizational psychology, in which many psychologists become part of the human resources department of a company.

However, human resources and organizational psychology are not exactly the same, and  being a human resources professional is not an essential requirement to be a psychologist. On the other hand, an organizational psychologist, in addition to the one in the human resources department, can perform their functions at the management level or in the area of ​​commercial research and marketing and even production.

In today’s article we are going to review the organizational psychologist functions and we are going to delve into the differences between the latter and the human resources professional.

What is a work or organization psychologist?

The work or organization psychologist , also known as an industrial psychologist  or business psychologist , is a professional who applies the principles of psychology in the organizational and work environment. To do this, he has studied mental processes and human behavior (both individual and group), and puts into practice his training for problem solving in the workplace. Its general role encompasses  the study, diagnosis, coordination, intervention and management of human behavior within organizations.

You can work as part of the company, that is, as an employee within the organization’s own organizational chart (for example, in the selection and training department), although, sometimes, you can work as part of an external company outside the organization. organization, performing performance evaluation functions, work environment and health of workers or offering coaching services for employees or managers, among other functions. Some organizational psychologists choose to develop their professional careers as scientists or teachers.

Functions of the work or organizational psychologist

Basically, the organizational or work psychologist has an important role in three main areas:

  • Human Resources (education, training, etc)
  • Marketing and Social and Commercial Research.
  • Occupational Safety and Hygiene (Occupational Health Psychology)

But what are the functions it performs? Some of the functions of this professional are the following:

  • Plans, organizes or directs various functions within the organization, such as recruiting, evaluating, compensating, retaining, and developing people.
  • Observe, describe, analyze, diagnose and resolve conflicts in human interactions. In this way, it ensures a good work environment and develops the organizational culture.
  • Analyze and modify the physical, social and psychological elements  that affect job performance and impact the efficiency of employees.
  • Apply questionnaires and interviews for the correct diagnosis of the climate, productivity and occupational health, and carry out preventive actions to correct possible imbalances.
  • Advises the scorecard when necessary, for example, regarding collective bargaining, possible business strategies, improvement of corporate image, etc.
  • Analyzes and puts into practice different psychological techniques to increase productivity, improve the organizational climate, avoid fatigue and anticipate accidents or occupational health problems, such as burnout or boreout.
  • He contributes his knowledge as an expert in leadership styles, interpersonal relationships, emotional control, negotiation techniques, decision-making or correct planning.
  • It uses tools for the detection of talent and the improvement of organizational development, and conducts studies on consumer needs.
  • It recommends , and if possible implements, actions to incentivize, compensate and remunerate staff, as well as ensure their well-being, safety and occupational health.
  • He is in charge of the training area, and designs training programs for staff development, as well as career and promotion plans.
  • Directs and executes the personnel selection processes. To do this, you can use different psychological tests and questionnaires to detect the competencies of the candidates.
  • Analyze the needs of staff, the job and the organization.

Differences between the occupational psychologist and the human resources professional

It is common to refer to the organizational psychologist as the human resources professional, when they are different things. The organizational psychologist is a psychologist who has specialized in the field of organizations and work, while the human resources professional may not have training as a psychologist. In Spain, for example, there is a university degree called the Degree in Labor Sciences and Human Resources (which replaces the old Degree in Labor Relations), so  the professional profile of the latter is different from that of the psychologist organizational. The subjects taught in this career include occupational psychology subjects, but also other subjects are taught such as labor and trade union law or the taxation of individuals.

This occurs because in the human resources department of a company not only personnel selection or training functions are carried out, but also collective negotiations or tasks such as payroll management can be carried out. The profile of the organizational psychologist fits into some areas of this human resources department, but not all.

Organizational psychologist training

If you are a psychologist and you want to dedicate yourself to organizational psychology, you should know that an organizational psychologist, unlike the human resources professional, has completed a Degree in Psychology. Some psychologists finish their degree and then start working as recruiters or recruitment technicians and, after learning about the world of human resources, they are trained to cover other areas of HR, such as personnel administration or labor law.

Others, on the other hand, after finishing the Degree in Psychology decide to do a master’s degree. If that is your intention, you must choose between doing a Master in Human Resources Management or a Master in Organizational and Work Psychology. While the first one trains you on issues such as budget, personnel payments and expenses, labor legislation, contracts, labor rights, worker safety systems (avoid accidents) selection and training. The second allows you to study the behavior of the individual within an organization and everything related to motivation, leadership, stress (and other diseases related to work) the climate and work culture or the influence of psychological variables on the performance.

  • If you want to know more about the Masters in Psychology, you can visit our post: ” The 20 best Masters in Psychology “

Bibliographic references:

  • Vázquez Beléndez, M. (2002). Work and Organization Psychology – Historical Approach. University of Alicante.
  • Etkin, J. (2000). Politics, Government and Management of Organizations, Buenos Aires, Editorial Prentice Hall. (Chapter 3: The factors of complexity).
  • Schlemenson, A. (2002). The Talent Strategy, Bs. As., Editorial Paidós. (Chapter 4 The meaning of work).
  • Lévy-Levoyer, C. (2000). Motivation in the company – Models and strategies Editorial Gestión 2000. (Part II From theory to practice – Chapter 4; Chapter 5 and Conclusions).

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