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Importance of Industrial-Organizational Psychology

Think, your boss offers you a cup of tea and tells a joke which is really fun in the morning before starting your daily tasks. How would you feel? You must be very happy and be motivated. But usually, it never happens.

Normal scenario, everyone is much stressed at the workplace. Anyone who has ever held a job, of course at least once in his life will say that the office must sometimes be a stressful and even volatile environment. STRESS, as perceived in working people, is linked to a diversity of factors in the working environment and in the social setting. Great social changes are taking place in both industrialized and developing countries. While industrialized countries are currently experiencing rapid automation in relation to both production and services, developing countries are at a more fundamental stage of transition, from traditional ways of life to new types of production and methods of work. So, a huge competition has arisen.

So, what is happening? Here everyone is in the race. No one has time to look at others. Everyone is busy, busy, busy… and wants to be successful in his/her own way. Then what are the stressors?

Common workplace stressors are high or insufficient workloads, lack of control over work activities, lack of interpersonal support, people being asked to perform tasks to which they are unsuited, weak or ineffective managers, poor physical working environments, a “blame culture” within the business where people are afraid of getting things wrong, unresolved conflicts, lack of recognition, being constantly interrupted and personality problems within the workplace. Bullying and harassment also occur.

Why these? Because in the business arena, an Organization needs profit and it wants to sustain in the competitive market. But everyone should know profitability is often dependant on multiple factors: a good product; teams that communicate well; and employees who are motivated, well trained and committed to the Organization’s goals. We can say, Success is also tied to a business ability to identify and resolve workplace’s issues at both the individual and organizational level.

For the betterment of an Organization, the I-O (Industrial/Organizational) Psychology can play an important role. I-O is a scientific study of human behavior in the workplace. It focuses on assessing individual, group and Organizational dynamics and using that research to identify solutions to the specific problems that improve the well-being and the performance of an organization. I-O psychologist may reduce the personal and interpersonal conflict also.

So, if any Organization really wants to get profit, it should strengthen the I-O psychological support because I-O psychologists address two main goals in their research and practice. The first is promoting effective job performance by employees, which ultimately leads to enhanced performance by the organization as a whole. The second goal is to contribute to human welfare by improving the health, safety, and well-being of employees. This second goal is important in itself but is also related to the first one. Ineffective organizations, employees are not only capable of performing their jobs well but are also healthy and well-adjusted in the workplace.

So, I-O psychologists mainly work on Organizational Behavior. Why it matters? It matters because it is all about things an organization/employers care about. I-O psychologists help to improve a few skills from an individual which are the most important for the employers.

The following top five personal qualities/skills are:

  1. Communication skills (verbal and written)

  2. Honesty/integrity

  3. Interpersonal skills (relates well to others)

  4. Motivation/initiative

  5. Strong work ethic

In an organization, an individual and his/her qualities are very meaningful.

Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Inc., a billion-dollar cosmetics company, saying, “People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. It doesn’t make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.”

Retrieved June 4, 2008.

I-O psychologists give emphasize on the individual’s attitude, personality traits, and also give importance of good motivation through goal setting. In an Organization, motivation is one of the forces that lead to performance.

Motivation, Ability, and Environment are the major influences on employee performance.  An employee can be easily motivated if they have set a SMART goal. Effective goals are always SMART.

Work Happily – The InCAP

For example, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had set a goal to eliminate 25% of the solid waste from U.S. stores by the year 2009. This goal met all the conditions of being SMART (as long as 25% is a difficult yet realistic goal). Heath D. & Heath C.(2008, February).

I-O psychologists help to manage the employee and employers stress. Research says that Stress is related to worse job attitudes, higher turnover, and decreases in job performance in terms of both in-role performance and organizational citizenship behaviors. Chronic stress can cause depression.

WHO has observed that working conditions not only cause specific occupational diseases but may play a much wider role among the many determinants of a worker’s health. Studies detected the early indicators of health impairment. Like, Unspecific symptoms, including diffuse aches and pains, disturbed sleep, apprehension, anxiety, and mild forms of depression, are relatively common among working populations

Financial analysts measure the value of a company in terms of profits and stock. For employees, however, the value of a job is also emotional. Not everyone reacts to the same situation in the same way. For example, a manager’s way of speaking can cause one person to feel motivated, another to feel angry, and a third to feel sad. Emotions can influence whether a person is receptive to advise, whether they quit a job, and how they perform individually or on a team.

Emotions serve many purposes and affect people at work. There are positive and negative emotions, and both can be helpful in motivating us to work harder. Emotions are malleable and they can also be contagious. So, I-O psychologists may practice changing the emotion at work and also can help to develop emotional intelligence. Self-awareness, Self-management, Social-awareness, and Relationship-management tie emotional intelligence.

Beside those I-O always take care about Job analysis, Personnel Recruitment, and Selection, Performance appraisal/management, Individual assessment, Occupational health and wellbeing, Workplace bullying, aggression and violence, Remuneration and compensation, Training and training evaluation of an Organization.

Supporting information sources:

  • An Introduction to Organizational Behavior – Talya Bauer and Berrin Erdogan

  • Web Sources

 About The Author

Fazilatun Nessa

Fazilatun Nessa

Counselling Psychologist

Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST)


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