Managing Occupational Psychology for Better Workplace Performance
Occupational psychologists are concerned with the performance of people at work, how organizations function and how individuals and small groups behave at work.They are used to increase the effectiveness or the organization and improve the individual’s job satisfaction.Occupational psychology is broad and touches on ergonomics, time management and personnel.Work can also be in advisory, teaching and research roles, as well as in administrative and technical roles.
Job performance can, and probably will be affected; if an employee is preoccupied by events or situations outside of the workplace. It is important for employers to be aware of this and be supportive if they can. A valued employee may have blips occasionally in their work performance if they are unhappy at home or at work. Being supportive can help the person ease through this situation and then hopefully continue to work effectively. Sometimes this may not be possible.
Any work group within an organisation is like a piece of machinery, where all of the parts work together to achieve a common goal. When any one component in a machine fails; the common goal may not be attained; even if every other component continues to work perfectly. Similarly, if a single individual in a workplace has impaired wellbeing; the whole work group can suffer.
Physical Wellbeing and Psychological Wellbeing
Our physical wellbeing can impact upon our psychological wellbeing. If a person is in pain or feeling ill, this can impair their concentration. Focussing on a task can be very hard if a person is in pain. If the person is in pain because of a medical condition, an employer may suggest to them that they seek medical help and support. But sometimes pain and discomfort can be a result of how a person is working.
Noise can have an impact on a person’s physical health and wellbeing. It is well documented that working in a constantly noisy environment can have an impact on a person’s hearing. Also, noise can affect a person’s concentration. If we are distracted by people talking or noises being made, it can make it hard to concentrate for an employee. Levels of noise should be something that an employer should consider.
Other factors such as heat levels can impact upon employee performance. If an employee is too hot or too cold, this can affect their concentration levels. Abraham Maslow argued that we have a hierarchy of needs. The highest level is self-actualisation, where the person achieves what they aim for in life, they reach their ideal self. But Maslow argued that if a person is focussing on other areas, such as their personal comfort or safety, they find it hard to focus on higher cognitive functions. So if a person is cold or too hot or uncomfortable due to noise, they may find it hard to focus on more intellectual demands required of their job.
Over time, a lack of exercise, poor posture and so on can also result in pain and discomfort. If a person is working at a desk in a poor position, this can obviously impact upon their work performance, so it is essential for employers to be aware of this.
Typical Jobs or Career Paths
Some people study occupational psychology and become occupational psychologists -but there are relatively few jobs on offer as occupational psychologists. Knowledge of occupational psychology however, is a cornerstone for many other jobs as well; from personnel officer to supervisor or manager, Any level of training in occupational psychology will be a big advantage in any job that involves dealing with people in a work situation. Any such training or experience can also be a stepping stone that may eventually lead to being an occupational psychologisty.
Occupational psychologists will require a recognized degree and a further qualification and industry experience.
Career options include –
There are many career options for graduates as already mentioned. They may move into teaching, time management, research, personnel, human resources, ergonomics, training, consultancy work, job training etc. etc. This is a very varied role.
Who Employs a Graduate?
Typically, occupational psychologists work for large companies in the private sector, in public services and government organizations.They may also work in training centres and as consultants.They may work alongside other management professionals.In the UK, the largest employer of occupational psychology graduates are the Ministry of Defence, Civil Service and Civil Service commission.
Remuneration and Advancement Opportunities
Occupational psychologists can be well paid, with payment increasing the further up the promotion ladder they go.It will also depend if they are working in private practice or for a government organization.Those working in the private sector will tend to be better paid than those working for the pubic sector.Figures vary from country to country and the role will slightly differ from country to country.Advancement within the field will depend on further qualifications and experience within the career.
Membership of Professional bodies is useful to encourage networking and that you are kept up to date with current trends.Some will require an annual fee to join, whilst others will require evidence of your educational attainment and experience. Some will offer reduced fees for students. Organizations include –
There are risks associated with every career. Occupational Psychology can be a competitive and demanding job.
Recommended Reading (Click on the images below for more information)
Knowledge and experience are important.
People may enter this field two different ways:
a/ Developing a foundation understanding of an occupational area through non psychology studies and or work experience; then going on to further studies for professional development in the area of psychology (such as the courses listed below).
b/ Undertaking a psychology diploma or degree as their primary qualification; and developing further complimentary skills in the years following that initial course. A good base qualification would be the Diploma in Psychology and Counselling.
Advanced Certificate in Psychology
The course is divided into 9 modules/subjects as follows: 2 x Core (compulsory) Modules:
Introduction to Psychology, Psychology and Counselling and six elective modules from - Industrial Psychology, Educational Psychology, Sports Psychology, Child Psychology, Biopsychology I, Marketing Psychology, Conflict Management, Research Project 1 plus Industry experience 100 hours. This Advanced Certificate is accredited through the International Accreditation and Recognition Council.This course can be counted towards credit for higher qualifications with ACS Distance Education, WarnboroughUniversity and other ACS affiliate institutions.
Associate Diploma in Psychology
This course is different and unique, allowing you to gain a solid and broad base foundation in theoretical psychology at the same time as developing a variety of practical skills that will be useful in the workplace. Graduates are not psychologists (A psychologist needs higher university qualifications), but they will have a capacity to apply psychology in real life situations (eg. as a manager, a counsellor, a marketer or a consultant). The course is divided into 15 modules. Seven compulsory modules must be undertaken by all students, and eight electives can be selected from a range of options listed below. Compulsory modules - Introduction to Psychology, Psychology and Counselling, Counselling Techniques, Industrial Psychology, Child Psychology, Research Project, Industry Meetings (eg. Seminars, conferences) or Work Experience (eg. volunteer counselling). Eight elective modules also need to be chosen.
Marketing Psychology http://www.acsedu.com/courses/product.aspx?id=400
Eight lessons covering people as consumers, marketing segmentation, internal influences, socialinfluences, communication and persuasion, decide what to buy …
Other Relevant Professional Development courses offered by ACS include Industrial Psychology, Careers Counselling, Sports Psychology and Psychological Assessment.
For details of further ACS DE psychology and counselling courses, visit -