Industrial, organisational and human resources psychologists focus on the human aspects of employment to improve workers’ quality of life and raise the productivity of companies and organisations.
Work is a central part of a person’s life, a fundamental means of achieving satisfaction which, in addition to financial factors, brings into play, psychological, social and relational considerations. Work inevitably also causes stress, tension and heartache, which, if overlooked, can degenerate into disorders or conflicts damaging both workers and businesses. An industrial, organisational and human resources psychologist uses theoretical knowledge and input from the psychological sciences to intervene in and improve workplaces, helping people get job satisfaction and enabling companies to create a healthy working environment. More specifically, an industrial and organisational psychologist intervenes on three levels: tasks at work, job organisation and workers.
Qualifications required to become an industrial, organisational and human resources psychologist
As with all careers in psychology, the first step to becoming an industrial, organisational and human resources psychologist is to get a master’s degree in psychology, pass the board examination and then be licenced in section A of the Association of Psychologists in order to work freelance. Since they will directly intervene in miscellaneous work/organisational contexts, industrial, organisational and human resources psychologists must have multidisciplinary training: in addition to a knowledge of such traditional subjects as cognitive psychology, social and group psychology, psychometry, cognitive ergometry, educational psychology, guidance counselling and dynamic psychology, they should also have a good understanding of subjects like the organisational sciences, economic and management sciences, industrial medicine and employment rights.
As always, a student interested in becoming an industrial, organisational and human resources psychologist should focus their studies in this direction and take training courses and internships in businesses in this sector. It is also highly advisable in this case to enrol on one of the many advanced master’s or training courses in this field.
Employment opportunities for an industrial, organisational and human resources psychologist
Industrial, organisational and human resources psychologist are generally employed in large businesses, i.e. big public-private companies, public bodies and organisations. In the private sector, they may work in the human resources departments of well-structured companies or for specialist consultancy firms. They may also work for cooperatives or non-profit organisations. In the public sector, they are likely to be employed in hospitals, local healthcare companies, schools, training facilities and employment centres or even directly in administration bodies. Like all psychologists, they may also work freelance. Research is another possible career path although, in this case, they will need to have studied subjects of a predominantly applied nature.
Job description of an industrial, organisational and human resources psychologist
As their title states, industrial, organisational and human resources psychologists operate on three slightly different levels, i.e. work tasks, organisation in general, and workers viewed as people or, in other words, as “human resources”.
More specifically, industrial, organisational and human resources psychologists operate on six aspects of working life: recruiting, assessing and guiding people; staff training and development; support for marketing operations; protecting health and well-being at the workplace; organisation and team spirit; leadership and corporate management. More specifically, the tasks include diagnosing the individual traits of workers, recruiting staff, assessing the workplace as a whole, analysing individual tasks, developing training programs, conflict management, individual counselling and also carrying out market surveys and handling in-house and external communication.