Industrial and organizational psychology, better known as industrial organizational psychology or I-O psychology is a fast emerging branch of psychology and is widely studied both in the psychology and in organizational behaviour courses. I-O psychology deals with the study of workplace behaviour in any organization or institution. The psychologists of this branch implement psychological principles to study about human behaviour in organizations such as human resources, employee training, sales, organizational development and marketing. The research is conducted t improve the workforce performance, workplace productivity, talent management etc. That is the reason this special branch of psychology is increasing and accepting attention among the young psychologists. The course is studies in all the universities both on graduate and undergraduate level. It is believed that I-O psychology came into existence in 20th century after WW1 when it was found that soldiers returning from the war were struggling with themselves and needed therapy to regain morale.
As the psychology deals with the study of workforce, so it is often known as Workforce psychology. I-O psychology has two aspects which are dependent on each other. First aspect is the industrial side which focuses on the individuals and their relations with the workplace. This aspect tells that how to best match the individuals to the particular jobs. This area of study is known as Personal Psychology. The psychologists of this area have to interact with the employees to know their characteristics to find out the best job for better performance. It also tells about training, job performance and development standard.
The other side is the organizational side. This side is concerned with the study to understand how the individual behaviour in the workforce is affected by its environment i.e. how the organization affect individual behaviour including social norms, code of conduct, ethics, organization structure, management framework etc. This type of behaviour study helps in improving individual performance as well as the workforce as a whole.
The I-O psychologists conduct various researches for the study including from basic theoretical research to the complex ones including many sub areas such as human machine interaction (human vs. computer), human factors and personal psychology. The study involves focus on workplace dynamics and organizational structures.
Key Areas of Industrial Organizational Psychology in Workforce
I-O psychology has many roles the organization. The I-O psychology has following key areas in the organizational workforce:
- Employee Selection: This area of study in I-O Psychology includes development of employee selection assessments. Screening test is conducted in order to find out if the individual employee is suitable for a specific job or not.
- Training and Development: Psychologists conduct research on the performance development of the employees. They focus on finding out what types of skills are required, what skills can improve performance and what are the criteria to set the training programs.
- Ergonomics: The psychologists examine the design procedures and mechanisms, the equipment resource design for performance and avoiding risks of injury.
- Performance Management: Various techniques and assessments are developed to know the employee’s performance if they are doing their jobs well.
- Work Life: This area is concerned with the study about employee satisfaction. The professionals work to know what should be done to make the job more rewarding for the employees. They design the programs for quality improvement of the life in the workplace.
- Organizational Development: The overall function of an I-O psychologist is to help organization in its development. This area focuses on other areas if they are effectively executed or not.
The work of an I-O psychologist is not just restricted to these above mentioned areas. There are many other roles and functions of an industrial organizational psychologist. He also helps organization in change management. The other areas include leadership and talent management, coaching, mentoring and career development, learning development, recruitment and selection, performance management, well-being, stress free environment with work life balance, employee opinion measurements, and workplace research. Major topics that are focused in industrial and organizational psychology include employee testing and motivation, leadership, workplace diversity and performance, product design.
The main objective and goal of this field is concerned with the human behaviour understanding and study in terms of the workplace. For this, I-O psychologists have to study attitudes and behaviour of human resources of the employees’ as well higher hierarchy, evaluation, assessment and leadership training programs. Like other branches of psychology such as clinical psychology, I-O psychology is also an academic as well as a professional research based course.
There are many titles for I-O psychologists depending upon the degree or the program one has done. Some common are listed below:
- Assessment Services Manager
- Consultant, Consulting Psychologist
- Industrial Psychologist, I-O Psychologist
- Management Consultant, Organizational Consultant
- Organizational Development Consultant
- Organizational Psychologist
- Research Scientist
An I-O psychologist must have many skills and knowledge. The skills include monitoring, system evaluation and analysis, judgement and decision making, problem solving and critical thinking etc. The knowledge base of an I-O psychologist include personnel and human resource, administration and management, education and training, customer and personal service, sociology and anthropology, sales and marketing etc.
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