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Psychology of work and organizations: a profession with a future

Psychology of work and organizations: a profession with a future

May 6, 2021

Many students start the Degree in Psychology thinking about dedicating themselves to Clinical Psychology, but as the degree progresses, they realize that it is increasingly difficult to devote themselves to that area of ​​psychology . Currently, one of the fields with the greatest professional output is the psychology of work and organizations, in which many psychologists spend part of the human resources department of a company.

Now, human resources and the psychology of organizations are not exactly the same, and to be a professional human resources is not an essential requirement to be a psychologist . On the other hand, an organizational psychologist, in addition to the human resources department, can perform its functions at the management level or in the area of ​​commercial research and marketing and even production.


In today's article we will review the functions of organizational psychology and we will delve into its differences with the human resources professional.

What is a work psychologist or organizations?

The work psychologist or organizations, also known as industrial psychologist or business psychologist, is a professional who applies the principles of psychology in the organizational and work environment. To do this, he has studied mental processes and human behavior (both individual and group), and puts into practice his training to solve problems in the workplace. Its general role covers the study, diagnosis, coordination, intervention and management of human behavior within organizations .


You can work as part of the company, that is, as an employee within the organization's own organizational chart (for example, in the selection and training department), although, on occasion, you can work as part of an external company outside the company. organization, carrying out functions of evaluation of performance, work environment and health of workers or offering coaching services for employees or managers, among other functions. Some organizational psychologists choose to develop their professional career as scientists or professors.

Functions of the work psychologist or organizations

Basically, the organizational or work psychologist has an important role in three major areas:

  • Human Resources (training, training, etc.)
  • Marketing and Social and Commercial Research.
  • Health and safety at work (Occupational Health Psychology)

But what are the functions it performs? Some of the functions of this professional are the following:


  • Plan, organize or direct different functions within the organization , such as the admission, evaluation, compensation, retention and development of people.
  • Observe, describe, analyze, diagnose and resolve conflicts in human interactions. In this way it ensures a good working environment and develop the organizational culture.
  • Analyze and modify the physical social and psychological elements that affect job performance and impact the efficiency of employees.
  • Apply questionnaires and interviews for the correct diagnosis of climate , productivity and occupational health, and carries out preventive actions to correct possible imbalances.
  • Advise the scorecard when necessary , for example, in terms of collective bargaining, possible business strategies, the improvement of the corporate image, etc.
  • Analyze and implement different psychological techniques to increase productivity, improve the organizational climate, avoid fatigue and prevent accidents or occupational health problems, such as: burnout or boreout.
  • Contribute your knowledge as an expert in leadership styles , interpersonal relationships, emotional control, negotiation techniques, decision making or proper planning.
  • Use tools to detect talent and improve organizational development , and conducts studies on consumer needs.
  • R ecomienda, and if possible put into practice, actions to encourage, compensate and remunerate to staff, as well as ensuring their well-being, safety and occupational health.
  • Responsible for the training area, and design training programs for the development of the personnel, as well as career plans and promotions.
  • Directs and executes personnel selection processes . For this, you can use different psychological tests and questionnaires to detect the competencies of the candidates.
  • Analyze the needs of personnel , the job and the organization.

Differences between the work psychologist and the human resources professional

It is common to refer to the organizational psychologist as the human resources professional, when they are different things. The organizational psychologist is a psychologist who has specialized in the field of organizations and work, while the human resources professional may not have training as a psychologist. In Spain, for example, there is a university degree that is called the Degree in Labor Sciences and Human Resources (which replaces the old Labor Relations Degree), which is why the professional profile of the latter is different from that of the organizational psychologist . Among the subjects taught in this career are occupational psychology subjects, but also other topics are taught such as labor and union law or taxation of individuals.

This happens because in the human resources department of a company not only functions of personnel selection or training are carried out, but also you can carry out collective bargaining or tasks such as payroll management . The profile of the psychologist of the organizations fits in some areas of this department of human resources, but not in all.

Training of the organizational psychologist

If you are a psychologist and want to dedicate yourself to organizational psychology, you should know that an organizational psychologist, unlike the human resources professional, has completed the Degree in Psychology. Some psychologists finish the race and then start working as recruiters or selection technicians and, after knowing the world of human resources, they are trained to cover other areas of HR, such as personnel management or labor law.

Others, however, after finishing the Degree in Psychology decide to do a master's degree. If your intention is that, you must choose between taking a Master's Degree in Human Resources Management or a Master's Degree in Organizational and Work Psychology. While the first one forms you in questions such as the budget, the payments and expenses of the personnel, the labor legislation, contracts, labor rights, worker safety systems (to avoid accidents), selection and training. The second one allows you to study the behavior of the individual within an organization and everything related to motivation, leadership, stress (and other work-related illnesses), the climate and work culture or the influence of psychological variables in the performance.

  • If you want to know more about the Masters in Psychology, you can visit our post: "The 20 best Masters in Psychology"

Bibliographic references:

  • Vázquez Beléndez, M. (2002). Psychology of Work and Organizations - Historical Approach. University of Alicante.
  • Etkin, J. (2000). Politics, Government and management of organizations, Buenos Aires, Editorial Prentice Hall. (Chapter 3: The factors of complexity).
  • Schlemenson, A. (2002). Talent strategy, Bs. As., Editorial Paidós. (Chapter 4 The meaning of work).
  • Lévy-Levoyer, C. (2000). The motivation in the company - Models and strategies Editorial Management 2000. (Part II From theory to practice - Cap 4, Cap 5 and Conclusions).

The Future of Work and Organizational Psychology: Emerging Issues and Trends. UCM (May 2021).


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