Every company experiences setbacks when talented employees leave. In a good job market for workers, this problem only intensifies. Industrial-organizational (IO) psychology graduates can help organizations meet this challenge, developing a better workplace with higher rates of employee retention and satisfaction.
These are important factors for business success, which is typically measured by profitability. However, profits depend on an environment that supports excellent communication between teams, clear career paths for talented professionals, and employees who feel motivated and valued.
Creating such an environment requires identifying and resolving workplace issues. That’s where someone with a Master of Science in Industrial-Organizational Psychology can make a difference.
It’s an issue of “great national and societal importance,” according to the book “Workforce Readiness and the Future of Work.” The book delves into the challenges facing organizations in a connected, global economy and the need to have a skilled, adaptable workforce.
How an IO Psychology Graduate Can Make a Difference
Putting an IO psychology graduate on staff elevates an organization in many ways. They have expertise in IO psychology, which is the scientific study of how humans behave in the workplace. They understand individual, group, and organizational dynamics that influence behavior. They also know the theories behind behavior and how to put potential solutions into practice.
Here are six of the many ways IO psychology graduates make a difference in the workplace.
Asking the Right Questions
It’s impossible to address issues without understanding them. IO psychologists can see past the noise to find the underlying issues that hinder employee well-being and performance. Through surveys, group discussions, and one-on-one interviews, they discover how communication is handled, how team members interact and how decisions are made at every level of the operation.
Talented employees are the backbone of an organization. Losing them is a setback for companies in competitive industries. In “What Matters Most,” a white paper about organizational stay factors, researchers note that employees leave in two ways. The first is by taking another job and physically leaving. The second is by staying in a job but checking out mentally, disengaging from their work. Researchers quote a Gallup survey indicating 55% of workers are disengaged, “just putting in the time,” and 19% are actively disengaged, spreading discontent among others.
IO psychology graduates are aware of these issues, as well as potential steps to take to engage and retain employees. According to the white paper, people stay in jobs because:
• The work is exciting and challenging
• There is opportunity for career growth, learning, and development
• They work with great people and have good relationships
• The pay is fair
• Management is supportive
Focusing on improvements in one or all these areas is the first step toward creating a more positive environment for employees.
Identifying Training and Development Needs
Excellent training and development opportunities go hand-in-hand with creating a culture of career growth, a major factor in employee retention. Smart companies create robust training and development programs, particularly for those who have been identified as potential future managers or executives.
Understanding the Differences in Age, Gender
IO psychologists also understand the needs of employees can change with age and may differ by gender. For example, older workers tend to value challenging work over a supportive boss or career opportunities, according to the white paper. Men tend to put more emphasis on compensation as a “stay factor” while women cited supportive management as more often their reason.
Developing Criteria for Evaluating Performance
IO psychology graduates consider the many factors that go into employee evaluation. They may play a significant role in developing company-wide policies that determine the weight given each factor in employee evaluations, according to the American Psychological Association. This can prove especially beneficial for human resources when screening job applicants.
Training Top Executives
Supportive management and a culture of commitment to employees are some of the biggest factors in employee retention. IO psychologists may have training classes for executives on methods for building a better workplace. They may work on developing written policies that support a better workplace. They also may assess the preferences of consumers and use that information to better advise executives on the type of work culture they need to make products and services that satisfy customer demands.
An IO Psychology graduate can bring valuable expertise to a very important area in the workplace. With their guidance, organizations are better positioned to develop a company culture that supports a quality workplace and, in turn, creates more financial success.