5 Ways I-O Psychologists Help Alleviate Occupational Stress

alleviate workplace stress

How IO Psychologists Improve the Work Experience

  • Addressing Social Dynamics
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Workspace Ergonomics
  • Opening Communication Channels
  • Policies and Programs

An industrial-organizational (IO) psychologist has a lot to offer businesses and organizations of any size, including helping them manage the stress levels of their employees. There are dozens of different environmental and social factors that contribute to occupational stress, so business leaders often struggle to address them all. IO professionals help both employers and employees by improving the quality of the experience for everyone.

1. Addressing Social Dynamics

Many companies don’t actively observe or manage interpersonal relationships formed between the people within their organization. While this is not necessarily a problem, it can create serious issues if hostile relations develop between employees. IO psychologists leverage their training and experience to identify problems in the natural social dynamic of the workplace, including systems of authority and recourse. They also help reduce the incidence of sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace.

2. Conflict Resolution

Along with improving the general social dynamics of a workplace, psychologists can also encourage and mediate conflict resolution. Unresolved conflicts between any members of an organization are a prime source of occupational stress for everyone around them. Resolving conflicts is rarely a painless experience, but it can be an effective tool when handled with tact and professionalism.

3. Workspace Ergonomics

Stress is a combined effect based on an individual’s mental and physical state. While emotional and social forces are largely responsible for shaping this condition, the limitations or discomforts of the physical space are also relevant. IO psychologists help businesses improve their equipment, layouts, and operations to better accommodate workers. Many modern organizations incorporate opportunities for exercise and other fitness amenities as a natural outlet that allows their employees to escape stress throughout the day.

4. Opening Communication Channels

Effective management and worker satisfaction are both inextricably linked to the ability of all parties within an organization to communicate with each other. Business leaders who are able to listen to their employees and learn from them enjoy many more opportunities to improve every aspect of their operations. Industrial psychologists help facilitate this process by opening avenues for communicate that allow for meaningful and constructive dialogue throughout an organization. This can also include coaching executives and managers to better express themselves when communicating with employees.

5. Policies and Programs

Solutions to occupational stress largely depend on the scale and nature of the organization in question. While organizational psychologists apply general metrics to some aspects of their evaluations, they also need to create policies and programs customized for a specific organization. They play a key role in designing, implementing and improving programs that benefit both employers and employees, according to the American Psychological Association.


A single stressful day isn’t much to worry about, but consistent exposure to a hostile work environment can be devastating for employee health and the employer’s growth. Failing to address this issue can lead to the loss of qualified workers and a less loyal workforce, which have a significant impact on overall productivity. IO psychologists are an indispensable asset for managing occupational stress in an effective and responsible way.

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