You may have heard about Industrial and Organisational Psychology, you may even know one, but still you may not know what it is all about. We at HCC are a bunch of I/O psychologists – and are proud of it. That’s why we, have decided to collect and answer the five most commonly asked questions about I/O psychology.

It is time to spread the word.

Before we start, just to clarify why there is two names:

  • Industrial and Organisational Psychology – how people call this industry in America and Hong Kong (in this article we will use this term throughout)
  • Occupational Psychology – how people call this industry in Europe and United Kingdom
  • We also go by many other names including, business psychologists, organizational psychologists, industrial psychologists and more

Now, what do people ask when they hear the term “I/O psychology”?

  1. What is it?

Well, to make a long story short, I/O psychology is the study of human behaviours in work context, and applying evidence based theories and principles of human behaviour to organisations. I’m sure you will find a more comprehensive definition on Google or Wikipedia, but hey, we like to keep things simple. I/O psychologists engage in a wide range of activities. However, the ultimate goal of all of these is to create optimal working environments for people to thrive and perform.

  1. Oh, so you work in the Human Resources Department?

Now, since there are a lot of things we do, so the answer is Yes and No.

Yes – we CAN work in the HR department as an in-house human resources expert, or in the learning and development, and training department, to develop employees and equip them with the essentials to succeed. We will also look at the whole picture of the organisation – such as planning training progammes throughout the year, team buildings, appointing executive coaching to individuals. However, that does not mean all of these roles you to be an I/O psychologist.

No – instead of working in-house, some of us work externally. Like us, as a Human Resources Consultancy firm. Instead of focusing on a whole organisation, we tend to take on projects for different organisations. It can be something as simple as selling an assessment tools for assessing a bunch of applicants, up to implementing an organizational change programme to the whole organisation across the world.

  1. You are a psychologist, so you must be seeing a lot of patients, right?

Hold on, we are different from counselling and clinical psychologists. We don’t see “patients”. But if it helps you to understand, the organisations or individuals we work with are our “patients” – we prefer to call them clients. They are not necessarily sick or mentally ill but they may benefit from our solutions to optimise their performance.

  1. So, what do you do?

We cover a wide range of work, but here are some common ones: recruitment (from conducting assessment centres to interviews to designing the whole recruitment process), people development (including development centres and performance management and training), research (finding evidence based answers to anything related to work), reinforce work-life balance or wellbeing (or as we call it, Sustainable Wellbeing), coaching (we will write more about coaching in the future articles – stay tuned!), assessments (we design and employ assessments for individuals, teams and organisations).

Although we are all I/O psychologists, in-house roles may differ slightly from working as an external consultant.

  1. What is your job title?

That’s a good question. We actually have a lot of different job titles.

In-house roles: human resources specialist, learning and development manager, training specialist, training consultant, etc.

External roles: associate consultant, consultant, executive coach, business psychologist, facilitator, recruiter, research analyst, etc.

Ok, that’s it. I hope that you now know a little more about I/O psychology. If you have more questions, feel free to leave a comment or send us an email – we are more than happy to answer your questions! Stay tuned for the next article – we will tell you everything you need to know about executive coaching!

What is I/O or Occupational Psychology?
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