Engaging with staff
EMPLOYERS increasingly are turning to organisational psychologists to help improve their workforce’s productivity and staff engagement.
This trend is creating a shortage of qualified professionals.
Organisational psychologists use their knowledge of how people act, think and feel to help organisations improve their operations.
They draw on psychology techniques and research into human behaviour and what can influence it to improve workers’ understanding, effectiveness and engagement.
That ultimately leads to increased business profitability.
Their skills increasingly are being sought by employers who want to meet such strains on their workforce as retaining staff, upskilling workers, changing business practices and structures to make operations run more efficiently and helping employees and employers navigate such issues as work/life balance and new technologies.
About 600 organisational psychologists are registered to work in Australia but it takes at least six years’ full-time university study and supervised practice to qualify.
Students are not graduating fast enough to meet the increased demand.
Australian Psychological Society College of Organisational Psychologists immediate past chairwoman Fernanda Afonso says organisational psychologists can specialise in developing strategies for companies, teams and individuals to lead, recruit, motivate, develop, change and inspire others in the workplace.
The skills and services they offer means organisations often look to an organisational psychol- ogist to develop people to work to the best of their abilities.
‘‘Organisational psychologists make a real contribution to community wellbeing by improving people’s experience in the work they do,’’ Ms Afonso says.
‘‘Whether they work for private businesses, government or in the not-for profit sector, most people spend a huge amount of their life engaged in work. By improving their engagement, empowerment and work conditions, we can improve their lives in real ways.
‘‘One of the greatest assets of any organisation is its people.’’
Organisational psychologists can be involved in leadership coaching and succession planning, design incentive packages, change management structures, devise training programs and use assessment tools to identify personality traits and skills.
They also can be hired to conduct workplace surveys or research or provide programs to boost employee wellbeing and engagement.
Fernanda Afonso, far right, talks with colleagues at the ninth Industrial and Organisational Psychology Conference in Brisbane.