Organizational psychology is concerned with strengthening the organizational infrastructure to enhance efficiency and productivity. For the workplace to function smoothly and productively, systems, processes, and policies must give due consideration to employees’ needs and aspirations while ensuring that everyone is guided by common goals. Talent management, conflict resolution, and policy realignment are key functions of organizational psychologists. These are also primary concerns for businesses regardless of size, sector and management style. Organizational psychologists study and analyze human behavior in the workplace setting, using these data to improve operational processes.

Key Tasks of the Organizational Psychologist

Research and research design are key functions of the organizational psychologist. Also known as industrial psychology, this field focuses on human behavior in the workplace and how such behavior influences corporate achievement. These psychologists may work directly with employees in training and development programs, or they may work as back office support staff, helping to establish and implement guidelines for talent acquisition, performance reviews and staff development programs to enhance morale and motivation. The underlying goal of organizational psychology is to improve the quality of life of employees because job satisfaction enhances productivity and efficiency. Organizational psychologists may also play key roles in studying consumer behavior and how consumer behavior can be influenced to enhance branding and marketing programs.

Where Organizational Psychologists Work

Most profit-oriented companies, regardless of their size, maintain a human resources team. These employees manage the day-to-day administrative processes, and the organizational psychologist may be part of this team to support hiring, retention, and reassignment of employees as needed. The psychologist may be part of the in-house team or may be hired as a consultant on a per-project basis. Additionally, the entire human resources department may be outsourced to specialized professional companies, which means the psychologist may be working directly with the client company but will be considered an employee of the consulting business. There is a need for the services of organizational psychologists in almost any sector, including private corporations, nonprofit institutions, the school systems and government agencies including the military.

Preparing for a Career in Industrial Psychology

The field of industrial psychology requires extensive preparation for those who want a lifetime career specializing in this area. A bachelor’s in psychology or related field is the minimum requirement, but a master’s in psychology may be needed to stand out in this field. A few others in the academe may decide that a doctoral degree enhances upward mobility in this field while others may pursue additional credentials provided by the American Board of Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology, which is a rigorous credentialing program that demonstrates expertise and commitment to the field. Participation in the ABOBCP is voluntary. Licensing requirements vary depending on the state.

See our ranking of the Top 10 Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology Online.

Career Track

Organizational/industrial psychologists are highly competent in the field of research-based studies that aim to apply the science of human behavior to identify and design workplace solutions. As such, a strong background in research and human resources skills will help psychology majors find a niche in this field. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics expects jobs in this sector to grow by at least 14 percent based on a 2017 report. This growth rate is higher than most jobs, which is a clear indication that organizational psychology will continue to play an important role in driving the growth of companies and organizations.