Why occupational psychology matters

Globalization and competition has business owners looking at new ways to generate profits. Technology has been a primary source of increase profits but even that provides little benefits if the people behind the technology remain neglected. That has given rise to the focus on human resource and going beyond the typical Band-Aid solutions to keep a company running.

Conflict resolution, furnishing employees with coping skills, team building and the likes are beneficial, but they often happen on a surface level. While they do bring about change, business owners and managers are finding that they have to get deeper into employee needs, concerns and issues like never before. That has created room for occupational physiologist who, apart from problem solving, bring awareness to the core issues facing an organization.

The part occupational psychologist play in transforming the workplace experience cannot be understated. They bring profound understanding into why people behave as they do and the changes that ought to take place. It is through observation and research they can achieve this.

What is occupational psychology?

The business dictionary defines occupational psychology as the study of people’s behaviour at work. It looks at a variety of things that fall both under interpersonal relationships and individuals. Some of the aspects it looks at are the hiring process, appraisals and training. It also looks at conflicts in the work place and how personnel manage stress and the interactions people have with others, machines and their workplace environment.

Occupational psychology also goes under other titles. It is called industrial or organizational psychology depending on the institution.

Aspects of occupational psychology

Human resource is what drives profits; this is an aspect that some businesses tend to overlook. It is vital that the personnel in any organization receive everything pertinent to meeting organizational goals in a healthy manner. The primary reason then why businesses ought to focus on occupational psychology is because it presents itself as one of the many avenues to improve the company’s bottom line. Below are parts an occupational psychologist would look at when working with an organization. It is not exhaustive but it sheds light into the intricacies of what is involved.

Employee recruitment and screening

Organizational psychology helps to improve the recruitment process. The hiring managers are equipped with knowledge and tools of how to hire based on skill, experience and who makes the best fit. There is now an increased focus on the hiring process for it also affects the types of people who apply for the job. A basic understanding is if as an employer you show excellence in your recruiting process, you are more likely to get people of excellence wanting to work with the company.

One area in particular that has shifted from the past is the aspect of getting the right fit. That is often based on the company culture and what personality best suits the job. Looking at an example of a web development agency wishing to hire a HR manager; if two candidates have similar skillsets and experience, the company ought to go with the person showing empathy. They might not be as qualified, but these are aspects that can get taught through training or extra courses.

Follow up is crucial in ascertaining if the company has the best staff at all times. It is not with the intention of replacing them but rather on capacity building. That includes observing how they work and gauging the general morale they have. It is also helpful for when a manager wishes to create teams. It is through the data gathered that one would know which employees would work together on a given project. Equally, through employee screening an employer can know if they need to reshuffle the structure or hire new and higher qualified individuals.

Resolving factors affecting productivity

This is one of the many areas where companies suffer is the productivity. Data on how much time and money is lost due to unproductivity is startling. Data shows that 70 percent of all workers are disengaged on any given workday. Culprits include emails, smartphones and social media.

Emails appear to be a necessary evil but employees complain that for the most part they are unnecessary and take up too much of their time. On average, a person will spend 13 hours weekly reading and responding to emails. That is time that could be better spent in other productive ways.

While these and other aspects fall on the employee, the employer also plays a role in how productive people are in the workplace. A study showed that about three quarters of all employees surveyed felt that they were using outdated technology. That, they believed, affects their productivity. Another area that employers can look into is allowing remote working. Research shows that those who spend more than 60 percent of their time working remotely and more show the highest workplace engagement.

With these facts and many others in mind, business owners and company heads can look into the ways they can transform the employee experience. It is through the looking of areas that steal productivity one is then able to put measures in place. It requires exploring both the personal experience of each employee (stress, mental health, skill etc.) and the overall functioning in the workplace (conflict management, streamlined processes, employee morale etc.). The main thing is to look out for employee needs.

Creating cohesion

Where people come together there is bound to be conflict. The workplace is not any different. Therefore, it is the role of an occupational psychologist to note and give recommendations for resolving workplace conflict. It also includes sessions with employees where they can share their concerns confidentially. That makes them less likely a target from management or a particular manager. The information gathered is then shared with decision makers to create a healthier work environment.

What makes an occupational psychologist better placed to resolve conflict is they are more concerned about the systemic cause of conflicts. Therefore, it is not only about dealing with the issue at hand but also with issues such as respect, boundaries, power play and other psychological aspects that lead to conflict. It is in bringing to light these dynamics that an organization is able to change and become better at conflict resolution.

The overall aim is ensuring that employees are happy and have their needs catered to. There are various reasons why is important. When that is the case, employee retention is higher. They are also able to execute their roles better, leading to improved performance that then equates to profits. Thus, this aspect of cohesion in the company also boosts productivity.

Creating in creating a healthy work environment, team building is vital. It is not merely about cherry picking what one thinks will work best. An occupational psychologist is able to share other more suitable techniques that cater to areas lacking for example trust and accountability. Team building is what drives everyone in the company to see themselves as working toward a common goal and not against each other. That then helps warring departments and personnel to shift their perspective. If a company encourages cut-throat competition, a professional is able to provide teaching on fostering healthy competition instead.

Empowerment likewise plays into how cohesive an organization works. Studies show that giving employees autonomy drastically improves morale. When employees are able to make their own decisions, contribute their ideas and are free from micromanagement, they end up being a lot happier in the workplace. An added advantage to autonomy is it leaves the employee to align their goals with that of the company while also leading to increased personal accountability.

Capacity building and policy changes

For people and organizations to improve, they have to undergo the process of acquiring tools, knowledge, skills and equipment. That brings about increased competency that has the business running effectively and in a sustainable manner. Training and development is part of capacity building that is vital in improving business operations.

It is geared toward evaluating an individual’s skills before knowing what type of assistance would bring about improvement. That can take the form of training or enrolling in a course. There are also capacity building activities that can be taken collectively. They include training in leadership or teamwork. When working with an occupational psychologist, one is able to know what the appropriate training are.

The elements that an occupational psychologist brings to organizations cannot take effect without policy and procedural changes. Their job is to also point out problematic parts of the policies in place and offer suggestions on how to impart positive and lasting change. It would therefore not be surprising for there being a revision of existing polices or the creation of an entirely new handbook.

Strategic changes and implementation

After an occupational psychologist hands in their report, the work now falls on management. It is their responsibility to make structural and management modifications that align with the recommendations given. The process will being with strategic planning based on proven methods. This part does require research and finding out what other companies are doing right.

The occupational psychologist is present throughout the process. They will have to be present when management rolls out the new changes. Communication is a big part of the process as one wants to ensure that employees have a full grasp of the overhaul and why it is important. Confusion and friction are bound to be present in the transition but the professional will help the company navigate these choppy waters.

Monitoring, evaluation and learning

Once the systems are in place, the professional does not leave. There has to be a period ofmonitoring, evaluation and learningon how effective the strategy is. Psychological assessments will be based on previous data gathered with regards to conflict resolution, problem solving, recruitment, cognitive abilities among others. They will also look at how changes such as in autonomy and career development have impacted creativity and innovation, gauged by indicators such as output and profits.

This last process should provide insight on the improved well-being of everyone at the workplace. Indicators of these changes include heightened of mental and physical health, better coping skills and somewhat of mastery in work-life balance. Overall, there should be better-quality lives on physical, mental and emotional levels. The environment itself would be one that fosters competence, productivity and performance for a happier workforce.

On a management level, the occupational psychologist will gauge how management has performed during the transition process. Among the areas mentioned employee recruitment will be part of the assessment. It will include looking at the talent brought in due to a positive shift in the process. Leadership styles will also be part of the monitoring and evaluation process as it pertains to teams and teamwork.

The learning then comes from what the occupational psychologist pens up based on what their research initial revealed and where the company is since then. The evolution will not be without flaws and that is what makes the learning imperative. It shows instances when things can be done better. More so, it begins a process of self-assessment where people begin to conduct self-assessments of what they can do better to actualize the ideal self and organization.

Conclusion

This piece is not exhaustive with regards to what an occupational psychologist does. It does however shed much needed light on their vital importance to business development. Organizations ought to strongly consider seeking this professional service to bring health to their human resource. What are at stake are not just the profits but the well-being of everyone working there. Ironically, it is through the spending of time and resources that brings about the very profits that organizations are pushing employees to bring in.

Author: Eddy

Eddy is the editorial columnist in Business Fundas, and oversees partner relationships. He posts articles of partners on various topics related to strategy, marketing, supply chain, technology management, social media, e-business, finance, economics and operations management. The articles posted are copyrighted under a Creative Commons unported license 4.0. To contact him, please direct your emails to editor.webposts@gmail.com.