What is Work and Organizational Psychology?

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Robert Maurer
@robertmaurer
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Clinical and Health Psychology is one of the most popular specializations in psychology, even among those who decide to study this profession. But psychology doesn't stop there. This science has grown over the years to encompass nearly all areas of human behavior.

Thus was born the Psychology of Work, or Psychology of Work and Organizations, a specialty of psychology aimed at analysis and intervention in social and work organizations and in all the dimensions that make up the world of work.



While it is true that the APA did not recognize it as a discipline until 1970, its antecedents are more ancient and date back to what was known as "Industrial Psychology". Indeed, one of the first jobs in this sector was that of FW Taylor, in 1911, who tried to find the cause of the large losses that occurred in US industry in the inefficiency of management and workers.

What does a professional in Occupational Psychology do?

The professional of Work and Organizational Psychology analyzes and intervenes in working practices to improve them and creates the necessary conditions for organizations to move towards more effective work spaces and with a better quality of life. Indeed, one of its main objectives is to lay the foundations for creating healthy organizations that promote the well-being of the people who work.

Regarding the analysis and intervention in the world of work, the objectives of this professional figure are many, but they can be summarized in: analysis, diagnosis and intervention in the world of work, in order to create a dynamic in its various dimensions (promotion of employment, job seekers, updating and improvement of organizations, improvement of the profiles required by organizations and the skills of workers…).


Furthermore, since intervention in the world of work is an applied field, this professional will have some priorities in his activity, such as the inclusion of people who work and equal opportunities in the workplace.


Some of the functions of an occupational psychology professional in a company are:

- Personnel selection. It is one of the best known aspects of Work Psychology and also one of those that have changed the most in recent years, because many companies have moved away from standardized tests and prefer to carry out the selection of personnel through personal interviews or situational tests because in this so you can better evaluate the skills and competences of the candidates, as well as their values ​​and reactions. It is the job of the Occupational Psychologist to design and, in many cases apply, these tests, to find the right person for each different job.

- Employment analysis. He is responsible for creating a job profile, to determine what requirements, skills, abilities and needs the worker who will occupy that position must have. This maximizes the chances that the person will be able to successfully carry out the work entrusted to him and avoids the overlapping of functions, a common phenomenon in companies that affects productivity. Furthermore, training programs can be designed from this data.

- Risk prevention. Preventing risks is essential for the physical and psychological health of workers. The occupational psychology professional should be able to analyze the worker's responses and determine the factors that may represent a risk, in order to propose safer working methods. For example, in a chore, it is necessary to include short breaks or incentives to avoid an accident due to visual-attentional fatigue. Therefore, his job is to anticipate possible accidents and promote a safer work environment and behavior.



- Performance evaluation. He is responsible for evaluating the results obtained with respect to those expected, and for analyzing the factors involved in the process. Thus it can propose changes that improve performance and create an adequate organizational climate in which workers feel more comfortable and can express their full potential. Furthermore, the work psychologist is very useful in companies that intend to carry out a profound restructuring at the organizational level, to ensure that the change is as fluid and smooth as possible for everyone. It also helps improve teamwork and ensures that the organizational climate is the right one.


- Intervention in the world of work. It deals with the analysis and intervention in the world of work, from the macro point of view relating to the economic and working context, up to simple workers. It will also be able to manage, plan and promote proposals for employment policies focused on the needs of individuals and organizations, and develop intervention strategies and dynamization of the workplace, generally through programs or initiatives in the fields of work, employment, access to work and pay attention to groups that are difficult to access or remain in the labor market. It can also facilitate the processes of change in the person to help them achieve their goals at work and develop their potential to their maximum through a coaching process.


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