En­gag­ing with staff

The Advertiser - Careers - - Job - CARA JENKIN Careerone Edi­tor

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.

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