Organizational psychology is defined as the study of humans in the work environment. Because work is a major factor in the lives of most individuals, the study of human interaction in the workplace becomes vital to individual success. Without work individuals are not able to achieve their goals, provide for our families, or attain the basic necessities needed to survive. Individuals also spend much more time in the work environment than they do at home or in any other place (U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010) Organizational psychologists study the behaviors of people at work and the organization as a whole.
The goal is to increase workplace productivity by focusing on the mental and physical well being of the employees. It is critical to study organizations and the impact they have on their employees since the employees must learn to work as a cohesive group in order to achieve the corporation’s objectives. Employees today must learn to share thoughts, ideas, knowledge, and information in sometimes stressful situations. Organizational psychology helps corporations define the needs of the organization and its employees and helps them mesh to ensure that the expectations and need of everyone involved are met.
Organizational psychology dates back as far as the early 1900’s when Frederick W. Taylor began writing books about redesigning the work situation through use of time and motion which would ultimately achieve both higher outputs for the company and higher wages for the worker (McCarthy, 2002). It was after WWI when the idea of improving the workplace became more popular. There were various studies done that all failed because they were focusing either strictly on the job or just the person, but not meshing the two. During the human relations movement is when organizational psychology became popular.
This focused more on keeping people happy through motivation and job satisfaction. This also lead to the Hawthorne Studies which were done from 1927-1932. This study proved that the workplace should be viewed as a social system and not just a productive system which means that works should be included in decision making processes which can reduce the resistance to change (Morris, 2000). During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the focus changed again and began focusing on workplace performance and organization structure. It was then that we began seeing terms like work/life balance, team building, and hostile work environment.
It was also then that companies began examining their ethical backgrounds and how they treated their employees. Organizational psychologists use research and statistical data to conduct their studies and help them define the areas within an organization that need the most focus. Some of the data is collected through observation, employee surveys, and organizational experiments. Researchers use both qualitative and quantitative methods in their research. Qualitative research is subjective and encompasses the researchers opinion based on observations and interviews.
Qualitative data is time consuming and less able to be generalized. Quantitative research is based on data collected from surveys or questionnaires. Quantitative data involves the analysis of the data. One of the most widely used research methods for most companies is the employee survey. The questions are usually predetermined by the corporate leadership but in most cases they allow for employees to give more input on the things important to them. The Great Place to Work Institute is an organization that has emerged to help large corporations bridge that gap between corporate goals and employee goals.
GPDI studies what is needed to meet the corporate goals but still ensure employees happiness. The institute constructs surveys specific to a corporation’s particular needs and goals. GPDI then analyzes the data and provides a company evaluation. Through this analysis the company can view the areas that need immediate attention and work towards changes. This process ensures the corporate objectives are met while still keeping the employee engaged by meeting their needs as well (GPDI, 2010).
In a work environment, organizational psychology can be used proactively to create policies, procedures, and structure. For instance lack of security is a major concern for many companies today. Companies like Cisco use social engineering to create social awareness in the company culture (Cisco, 2010). Another way that organizational psychology can be used within an organization is to solve motivational problems. This is usually the case when you have a situation of low morale or dissention within the corporate structure. Organizational Psychology can assist by determining causes of low morale and issent.
As stated earlier, organizational psychology can study employee and management behavior and bridge the gap with between personal and corporate goals. Other ways that organizational psychology is used in the corporate environment is to help define hiring processes, employee performance reviews, and setting up job competencies. It can also be used to evaluate why certain individuals do not work well together, identify poor performers, identify employee dissatisfaction and help companies strategize during times of change.
Organizational psychology is a field of study that encompasses what is needed to ensure that both companies and employees are productive and satisfied with the structure of the organization. Some of the most successful companies in the world have embraced this mentality and offer great perks to their employees such as on-site daycare, health clubs, restaurants, clinics and more. These companies reap the benefits of employees who love to come to work and perform at a higher standard. Organizational psychology works for employees and employers to create an efficient and productive workplace.