What is occupational psychology?
When you hear the phrase ‘occupational psychology’, you might think of the character Dr Madolyn Madden from Martin Scorsese’s film, The Departed, who helps Leonardo Di Caprio and Matt Damon to cope with their intense police work.
True, some occupational psychology jobs could be like that, but they’re probably less likely to involve violence, adultery and fraternising with Hollywood heartthrobs!
Basically, occupational psychologists use their expert knowledge of psychological theory and techniques to address work-related issues, problems and challenges.
Why would you need an occupational psychologist in the workplace?
A business cannot function if its staff members are having problems with their health, mental well-being and general performance. Consequently, occupational psychologists are employed by companies to assess and evaluate individuals, processes and working environments.
These consultants then offer advice from a psychological perspective that will provide solutions for resolving problems and improving employee performance and job satisfaction.
Occupational psychologists can get great satisfaction from their jobs, as they have the opportunity to make real positive changes in people’s working lives through the application of psychological theory.
Who employs occupational psychologists?
Occupational psychologists tend to work for larger companies, and especially within industries where employees have increased levels of responsibility and are under a lot of pressure, such as in the civil service, emergency services and space technology companies. They tend to work alongside other professionals within these industries and provide a valuable advisory service.
Often, it is larger companies that employ in-house occupational psychologists. However, most people in these careers work for consultancies or agencies that have more than one client.
What skills do you need to be a successful occupational psychologist?
An occupational psychologist’s range of responsibilities tends to be much more extensive than that of people working in other psychology-based careers.
They use less formal, interactive tasks, as well as systematic testing and assessment tools. You might have heard about psychometric testing before, but you might not know what it is. These are definitely not just simple questionnaires full of cryptic questions about your emotions. Occupational psychologists design these tests and conduct them during interviews and assessment sessions. They are meant to identify the specific abilities, skills, and behavioural and personality traits of employees.
What are the responsibilities of an occupational psychologist?
Occupational psychologists can offer valuable psychological insights and provide assistance in many different areas of HR activity, from recruitment and talent development, to organisational change.
They might even be responsible for providing personal counselling to individual employees in regards to their health, stress and mental well-being. Occupational psychologists are especially useful when it comes to helping people cope with redundancy, strike action and disciplinary hearings.