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What is Industrial Psychology?

Industrial psychology is also known as organisational psychology – or as I-O psychology. It is one of the many fields of psychology, and deals with issues pertaining to the psychology of the workplace. Furthermore, industrial psychology aims to maximise productivity in working environments, and to tackle matters regarding workers’ mental and physical health. I-O psychologists are responsible for various tasks – such as analysing employees’ experiences and behaviours. They also assess companies’ competence in terms of worker treatment, and implement workshops to stimulate leadership skills. Industrial psychology’s overarching objective is to investigate and to understand how employees’ behaviours function in the working environment.

  • Two aspects of I-O psychology

There are two elements of I-O psychology. The industrial part deals with allocating specific tasks or jobs to specific employees, depending on individual strengths. In other words, industrial psychology is able ensuring that workers are well-suited to their careers. This facet of I-O psychology also has the name ‘personnel psychology’.

Industrial psychologists evaluate workers’ personality traits, and, according to their findings, suggest career-paths in which employees would potentially excel. This aspect of industrial psychology also involves assessing how well employees perform, and establishing standards for such employee performance. In addition, industrial psychologists work on training workers, and equipping them with necessary skills that they specifically need to succeed.

The other aspect of I-O psychology is the organisational branch. This area’s interests lie in investigating the relationship between organisations and the behaviours of individual people. Specifically, organisational psychology deals with how the actions of organisations result in certain behaviours for people within them. For example, the organisational structure of businesses and companies will affect behaviour of those who work within it. Companies’ norms and values, business-specific demands and the way that managers lead employees lead to certain experiences and outcomes.

Through both the industrial and organisational aspects of I-O psychology, professionals work to strengthen workers’ wellbeing and efficiency at work. In addition, they wish to advance the goals and success of the company or business.

  • Main subjects that industrial psychology covers

In 2000, Muchinsky asserted that there are six key parts of industrial-organisational psychology. Most psychologists in this field will focus on at least one of the following issues or areas.

  • Industrial psychologists work to train and equip workers with the necessary skills to undertake certain tasks.
  • These professionals implement worker selection practices (for example ability tests). This allows employers to decide if potential employees are fit for the job at hand.
  • Industrial psychology also involves ergonomics: introducing measures to enhance employee performance and to reduce injuries.
  • Industrial psychologists also work to assess employees’ levels of efficiency, by using assessments and other strategies.
  • An important aspect of industrial psychology is addressing work life in general. I-O psychologists work to protect employees’ mental and physical wellbeing. At the same time, they promote optimum productivity in the working environment, as the two go hand in hand.
  • Lastly, within industrial psychology, professionals aim to bolster organisational development. They attempt to maximise organisations’ potential; for example, by increasing profits.

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