Typical Roles for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists

  • Improve Hiring Process
  • Address Human Resources Issues
  • Advise on Policy Decisions
  • Seek Ongoing Professional Development
  • Optimize Workplace and Processes

An industrial-organizational psychologist, also simply known as an I/O, can take on many essential roles within a company, non-profit or government organization. Careers in this particular discipline usually require a doctoral degree, with senior positions opening up for those with years of proven experience. These psychologists don’t fit the framework of a typical therapist, but they do leverage their knowledge of human thought and behavior to create value for their employer.

Related resource: Top 10 Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology Online

1. Improve Hiring Process

One of the main reasons big companies hire organizational psychologists is to improve the process they use for vetting, hiring and retaining employees. For example, they may help design the initial screening process to improve the suitability of candidates that make it to the interview. These psychologists can also work on new employee integration strategies to help new hires learn key job responsibilities, engage in the company’s social culture and stay productive.

2. Address Human Resources Issues

Human resources personnel don’t necessarily have to be psychologists, but most HR departments can benefit from the insight of a qualified I/O. In some organizational and corporate settings, psychologists engage with employees who are facing a stressful work environment or difficulties dealing with a coworker. They may also help employees improve their professional value by identifying development opportunities that will help them grow and provide benefits to the employer.

3. Advise on Policy Decisions

Successful business leaders know that good advice is indispensable, especially in areas outside of their professional scope. Some organizational psychologists have the responsibility of brainstorming, researching and delivering informed counsel to company leaders. They have to anticipate the potential impact that each decision may have on employee morale, productivity and overall satisfaction at work. They may also do followup research by observing workplace activities or talking to individual employees to gauge their reaction.

4. Seek Ongoing Professional Development

Like many other applied disciplines within the field of psychology, the I/O profession is constantly expanding and evolving. New studies, theories and practices emerge every year, so experts have to keep their skills sharp to stay ahead. Staying in touch with new strategies, techniques and other developments in the field helps psychologists better serve their employers, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

5. Optimize Workplace and Processes

In commercial environments, I/O practitioners essentially create value for their employer by increasing the overall productivity of the organization. Many of their typical duties accomplish this indirectly, but some psychologists are tasked to directly optimizeworkfloww throughout the company. This can include anything from testing different office floor plans to finding ways to improve communications and team collaboration between different departments.

Despite its relatively recent emergence as an independent discipline, I/O practitioners have a strong set of practical skills to support workplace managers and leaders. Organizational psychologists are well-suited for many critical responsibilities needed to fuel long-term success and efficiency within established organizations.