Alliant International University is proud to play a vital role in influencing modern business by educating and training industrial-organizational psychologists in the California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP). Many prospective organizational psychology students don’t realize just how vital their skillsets are to the livelihood and growth of companies of all sizes and across all industries.
Here are some of the strategies organizational psychologists use to help improve company culture, but first…
What is Company Culture?
Corporate culture is generally understood as the underlying set of shared values, attitudes, and practices of an institution or organization.1 “ Similar to that of a group of people, the culture of a company is the very foundation of how the people within the group think, act, and live. For a company to survive and thrive, their executives, employees, customers, and methods must align with the culture. Just as a break in custom is frowned upon in various cultural groups, a breach of corporate culture could affect the very livelihood of a business.
But, how does a company figure out what their culture is or should be? And, how do they get everyone on board? This is where the unique skillset of the industrial-organizational psychologist really shines.
The Magic Touch of I-O Psychology
One of the most important roles of the organizational psychologist is helping companies define their culture1. This might seem like a no-brainer, but uncovering a company’s culture is quite a task. If, like any other cultural group, a great deal of the norms are often unwritten, how do leaders and employees know when they are following or abandoning the company's values? They can't.
Industrial-organizational psychologists are needed to help spell out those values and clearly establish the culture of a given organization. This process can take place with brand-new startups to more-established companies that aren't quite realizing their goals. Defining a company's culture is akin to taking a human personality test. The organizational psychologist asks questions, observes, and analyzes the operation to better understand which attitudes and beliefs make the organization “tick.”
Questions he or she might ask include:
- What do you stand for?
- What are the ideal mindsets of the leaders? The employees?
- How do you resolve conflict?
- What are the expectations of leaders, employees, and clients?
Even companies with well-defined values and ever-increasing revenues need a little extra something to stay relevant and successful. I-O psychologists are uniquely trained in understanding human behavior in the workplace, which means they can suggest changes that allow everyone to work together more effectively, and for the benefit of the company culture1. In addition to defining the culture, organizational psychologists also help:
- Hire and retain the right employees. Certain types of employees work better in certain work environments. I-O psychologists help companies determine which employees are the best fit for their organization. They also recommend ways to keep these employees satisfied with their jobs, so they stay with the company longer.
- Boost employee engagement and productivity. A workplace marked by harassment, unsafe conditions, and unclear protocols and goals leads to unhappy, uncomfortable, and unproductive employees. Organizational psychologists suggest methods to help employees work together more effectively and feel safer and more fulfilled by their job, which increases productivity and the bottom line.
- Develop efficient practices. Most companies are invested in reaching their desired goals while wasting less time and resources. To do this, I-O psychologists help implement new practices that improve productivity and performance.
- Ensure better work/life balance. When employees are overworked, they become resentful of the company and less invested in its success. Organizational psychologists help companies spot areas where they can reduce stress related to the job, from making tasks more fun to ensuring adequate rest and vacation time1. They also create norms that focus on supporting the health and livelihood of their employees, rather than simply seeing them as a means to an end. When employees are nourished, they are happier and more productive1.
By helping companies define their culture, organizational psychologists can help improve the way businesses are run. However, these professionals also use their skills to make the workplace a safer, happier, and more productive environment.
Learn more about how you can make an impact as an organizational psychologist by contacting Alliant International University today.
- Behavioral Essentials, "What is Industrial-Organizational Psychology and How Can it Benefit Companies?," Hiring, Organizational Development, July 17, 2019. Accessed November 29, 2021. https://www.behavioralessentials.com/what-is-industrial-organizational-psychology-and-how-can-it-benefit-companies/