Work and organizational psychology: a profession of the future

Many students begin the psychology degree with the thought of devoting themselves to clinical psychology, but as the career progresses, they realize that it is becoming more and more difficult to engage in this area of ​​psychology. Currently, one of the most professional fields is that of work and organizational psychology, in which many psychologists enter 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 a prerequisite for being a psychologist. On the other hand, an organizational psychologist, in addition to the human resources department, can perform his duties at the managerial level or in the field of business research and marketing and even production.

In today’s article, we will review the functions of the organizational psychologist and explore the differences between him and the human resources professional.

What is a work or organizational psychologist?

A work or organizational psychologist, also known as an industrial 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 behaviors (individual and collective), and puts into practice his training in problem solving in the workplace. Its general role encompasses the study, diagnosis, coordination, intervention and management of human behavior within organizations.

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

On another side, this concept is closely related to that of the psychology of work, Although some nuances differentiate them. Organizational psychology, as the name suggests, focuses on the interactions between individuals, those who make up a team, a company, a department, etc. On the other hand, work psychology focuses its attention on work dynamics, that is, the application of strategies and behavior patterns based on a series of available resources to achieve a concrete and objectively observable result. : a product, a plan, a service, etc.

Functions of the occupational or organizational psychologist

Basically, the organizational or work psychologist plays an important role in three major areas:

  • human ressources (Training, qualification, etc.)
  • Marketing and social and business research.
  • Safety and hygiene at work (Psychology of occupational health)

But what are the functions it fulfills? Some of the functions of this professional are as follows:

  • Plan, organize or lead different functions within the organization, Such as admission, assessment, compensation, retention and development of people.
  • Observe, describe, analyze, diagnose and resolve conflicts in human interactions. In this way, it guarantees a good working climate and the development of the organizational culture.
  • Analyzes and modifies physical, social and psychological elements affecting the employment and efficiency of employees.
  • Apply questionnaires and interviews for the correct diagnosis of the climate, Productivity and occupational health, and takes preventive measures to correct any mismatches.
  • Advise on the dashboard when needed, For example, in terms of collective bargaining, possible business strategies, brand image enhancement, etc.
  • Analyze and implement different psychological techniques to increase productivity, improve the organizational climate, avoid fatigue and prevent accidents or occupational health problems, such as burnout or drilling.
  • He brings his knowledge as an expert on leadership styles, Interpersonal relationships, emotional control, negotiation skills, decision-making or appropriate planning.
  • Uses tools for talent identification and improvement of organizational development, And conducts studies on consumer needs.
  • R **** command, and if possible implement actions to encourage, compensate and remunerate to staff, as well as to ensure their well-being, safety and health at work.
  • He is in charge of the training area, and designs training programs for staff development, as well as career plans and promotions.
  • Directs and executes personnel selection processes. To do this, you can use different psychological tests and questionnaires to detect the skills of the candidates.
  • Analyze staffing needs, The workplace 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 things are different. The organizational psychologist is a psychologist specializing in the field of organizations and work, while the HR professional may not have training as a psychologist.

In Spain, for example, there is a university degree called the Diploma in Labor Sciences and Human Resources (which replaces the old Diploma in Labor Relations), so that the professional profile of the latter is different from that of the organizational psychologist. The subjects taught in this course include subjects of work psychology, but, in addition, other subjects are taught such as labor and trade union law or personal taxation.

Indeed, in the human resources department of a company, not only personnel selection or training functions collective bargaining or tasks such as payroll management can be performed. The profile of the organizational psychologist fits in some areas of this human resources department, but not in all.

Training of organizational psychologists

If you are a psychologist and want to devote yourself to organizational psychology, you should know that the organizational psychologist, unlike the human resources professional, has a degree in psychology. Some psychologists end their careers and then start working as recruiters or screening technicians. and, having discovered the world of human resources, they are trained to cover other areas of HR, such as personnel administration or employment law.

Others, on the other hand, after completing the degree in psychology, decide to do a master’s degree. If this is your intention, you will need to choose between a Masters in Human Resource Management or a Masters in Organizational and Work Psychology. While the former trains you on issues such as budget, staff payments and expenses, labor law, contracts, labor rights, selection and training of worker safety systems (accident prevention ). The second allows to study the behavior of the individual within an organization and everything related to motivation, leadership, stress (and other occupational diseases), climate and work culture or influence of psychological variables on performance.

  • If you want to know more about the Master in psychology, you can visit our article: “The 20 best masters in psychology”

Bibliographical references:

  • Drenth, PJD; Thierry, H .; de Wolff, CJ (1998). Manual of work and organizational psychology. Hove: Psychology Press.
  • Etkin, J. (2000). Politics, government and management of organizations, Buenos Aires, editorial Prentice Hall. (Chapter 3: Factors of complexity).
  • Kopes, LL (2006). A brief history of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
  • Lévy-Levoyer, C. (2000). Motivation in the company – Models and strategies Editorial Gestió 2000. (Part II From theory to practice – Chapter 4; Chapter 5 and Conclusions).
  • Schlemenson, A. (2002). Talent Strategy, Bs. As., Editorial Paidós. (Chapter 4 The meaning of work).
  • Truxillo, DM; Bauer, TN; Erdogan, B. (2016). Psychology and work: perspectives on industrial and organizational psychology. New York: Psychology Press / Taylor and Francis.
  • Vázquez Beléndez, M. (2002). Psychology of work and organizations – Historical approach. University of Alicante.

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