When we talk about psychology at work, we refer to the application of psychological principles within the work setting. Studies have shown that using psychology at work can help solve problems and create improvements in the workplace. Psychology at work is known under many names such as work psychology, industrial organizational psychology, organizational psychology, and the like.

We all have to admit that the workplace can be quite a stressful setting. Employers search for ways to deal with this stress because it is a crucial part of employee productivity and job satisfaction. Remember, if your workers are discontented, they may choose not to work as hard as your workers who are satisfied.

Moreover, the discontented workers might choose to miss work, resulting in unscheduled leaves and absences, even calling in sick. You as a business owner can take several steps to improve the inner workings of your current and future employees. When you use psychology at work, you will eventually see its substantial impact in positively lifting your employees and the general working environment.

Everything You Need to Know about Psychology at Work

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Note that the application of psychology at work touches many aspects of the workplace. This article in particular will discuss psychology at work in terms of how important it is in recruitment, employee training, performance evaluation, salaries, and productivity and motivation. Afterwards, the article will also focus on impacts of good psychology in the workplace, such as good work outputs, the fit of personnel with the company, performance and engagement, teamwork/team building, conflict resolution, and creativity and innovation.



Psychology in the workplace can help you indicate the important skills, educational attainment, and work experience that you would need from your employees. By knowing these characteristics, you can compose the most suitable job descriptions and advertisements.

This also orients your interview process because you can already correctly assess the characteristics you need. The principles of psychology in the workplace help you understand how to choose particular characteristics from job candidates. At the same time, you are ensured that you are not being discriminatory.

Employee Training

Workplace psychology can also help you indicate the possible training needs of your staff. It can also guide you towards delivering on the required training in a manner that is interesting and engaging for your employees.

Note that training in the workplace usually has federal or state required training. This is critical if you have a workplace that would need safety precautions, for example. Your employees should be able to undergo these kinds of required training.

Evaluation of Performance

It is a standard in workplace psychology to conduct performance appraisals of employees. Performance evaluations were created to offer employees the feedback and critique on their performance. This feedback and critique must lead to more productivity on the part of your employee.

Theoretically, this helps facilitate clear communication lines among you and your employees and management. Performance evaluation can also help establish professional goals and identify training needs.


Salaries or compensation is a critical portion of employee satisfaction and of course, psychology at work. Incorporate psychology at work when you create a compensation strategy. This is especially important when you want to pay based on performance.

Productivity and Motivation

Studies have indicated that increased employee motivation usually results in more productivity. The reverse – that higher productivity leads to more employee motivation – is also true. Psychology at work underscores that techniques such as performance appraisals, contests, commission pay (if applicable), and sales quotas (if also applicable) may enhance motivation generally, resulting in higher productivity.

Eliminating Intimidation. No matter what the business environment may be, employees are always the most significant asset of a company. The present economic environment and the tight job markets have actually raised the stress of employees at work. Some employers are using this negative downturn to their advantage – through intimidation or uncertainty to trigger productivity. However, this is only good in the short run. Many academicians have actually warned against using intimidation to motivate staff.

Based on a number of reports, employees who are satisfied, happy, and find value at work usually do better than those who are overlooked or disgruntled over their work situations. Because of these reports, many company decision makers implement positive psychology tactics in the workplace. Although some of these tactics would need professionals, most of them can be accomplished by anyone, within any company set-up.

Creating Happy Employees for Better Productivity and Innovativeness. What drives positive psychology in the workplace is the belief that employees who are happier produce more, are increasingly innovative, and contribute towards a more pleasing work setting. Many psychology professional suggest wide-ranging staff trainings as well as retreats prior to implementing a positivity campaign. Initiating this positive campaign does not need to be overarching nor dramatic. Business leaders, who take it one day at a time by introducing small initiatives every week, customarily achieve solid results through the span of a year.

Learn from Shawn Achor how happiness boosts productivity at work.

Showing Gratitude. Obviously, employees can feel motivation based on many things. However, all employees need praise and recognition. By committing to showing gratitude in the workplace, you are able to focus on the encouraging things in your life and you can persuade your employees to do the same.

In an ideal world, your thankfulness should be introduced by yourself, your supervisors, or your managers. However, this must be done subtly. By forcing your employees to say things that they are grateful for or to say something positive about a peer, can appear insincere. A manager who habitually sends an email a day that recognizes a person’s contributions or company leaders who begin meetings by concentrating on exceptional contributions or positive developments, typically find that a positive feel follows almost naturally. The feeling of appreciation, as the experts state, normally is the first step towards true satisfaction.

If you have a business that takes a positive working atmosphere seriously, you should think of employing a “happiness trainer” for your retreats, seminars, or regular counseling. Note that the techniques of these trainers are different from the typical skills coaches. Happiness trainers use psychological research as well as ancient traditions to teach employees thankfulness, peace, kindness, and strength in facing adversity. These are all important in the current workplace. You should note, however, that hiring happiness trainers could be expensive, at least in the beginning. However, if the techniques they teach your business stay on permanently in your head and in your employees’ heads, your company can see the improvements flourish.

Embracing Creativity, Change, and Innovativeness. Many, if not all, businesses need some kind of employee innovation or creativity. Whenever employees are given the opportunity to offer their thoughts, new products and services crop up; business processes become streamlined; and communication lines get clearer. In addition, workers whose voices are heard are happier in general.

Even though it might seem ambiguous to encourage creativity, it all begins with simple communication. Mention to your employees that you want to hear their ideas. Of course, give them ample space and time to get their creative juices started. Psychology Today actually recommends that you give them around 30 minutes of time to brainstorm and explore their thoughts. Creativity should be valued no matter where, when, or how the ideas come about.

Introducing Health and Wellness Activities. It has been proven that physical activities reduce stress. Businesses that incorporate exercise and fitness in their company benefits usually register higher employee satisfaction of their work-life balance. For a few businesses, this can be as straightforward as providing gym memberships at a discounted price or sponsoring wellness fairs in your office.

In order to feel the full benefits of wellness when it deals with everyday psychology, many companies are improving their situations by making sure health is available at their offices. This encourages employees to have short workouts even while working. There have been universities that have researched the advantages of having low-impact meditation or yoga in business settings. More often than not, participating in these activities do not even need a change of clothes.

Here is an example of exercises employees can do at work:

There was once a 2009 yoga and meditation test group in the workplace and the results were very positive. Actually, the averages show that mindfulness was raised by 9.7% and perceived stress went down by 11%, for the group that received the intervention. The participants also said that they feel asleep quicker, had fewer disturbances during sleep, and had less dysfunction during the day.

Note that this is in comparison with the group that had no intervention. There seems to be credence to these numbers, no matter what kind of intervention or exercise is sponsored by a company. There was also a 2012 CNBC report on wellness programs in the workplace that discovered that employees who participated regularly in healthful activities showed the following: 50% were increasingly more productive; 40% stated they would stay in the company; and 30% reported less sick days. The same could be good for your company, especially if it is part of a larger effort towards employee satisfaction (which is truly at the center of positive psychology).

Enabling Mentoring Programs. For the past decades, employees have been expected to stay in just one company throughout their careers. However, the workforce of today is increasingly more mobile. Hence, it is currently more important to have positive psychology in the workplace. An employee who feels that his or her company invested in his or her development and progress is typically more productive and would most probably stay with the company.

This is in diametric opposition to someone who only feels like a cog in the bigger scheme of things. Creating mentoring relationships for new employees is probably one of the best ways to begin this kind of camaraderie between the company and the employer right from the very start.

Management experts have been increasingly seeing that mentoring is not merely one on one, but it is a part of social networking, wherein mentees receive valuable information through the interaction with many experienced persons. A mentoring relationship shows that an employee can be relaxed and receive honest critique and feedback. Overall, the mentoring setting is where employees can receive social and psychological support, especially in the face of stressful situations.


Good Work Outputs

One of the most vital features to the success of your company is the production of high quality products and services. You would need employees who are highly effective, with good judgment, and high performance. All these fall under the category of employees that have good work outputs.

Good work has been defined by psychologists as of truly high quality, meaningful to the person who accomplishes it, and is socially responsible. There have been extensive studies at Harvard University on the full nature of good work – how to implement it and how to promote it. These have been many produced publications on the subject of good work. Overall and at any rate, good psychology in the workplace also produces good work outputs.

Fit of Personnel with the Company

Selecting the right employees for your business is obviously a pivotal portion of having your company succeed. But whom should you hire? You have to consider a few factors. This includes their personality, the complementarities of their strengths and capabilities with your business, and their fit with your company’s strategy, structure, mission, and goals.

Businesses have the advantage of much research in positive psychology, especially as it is connected to job design, strengths, and work identity (as linked to business fit).

Employee characteristics derived from good psychology can be pivotal in decreasing employee turnover. This is important, as high employee turnover can be very expensive to your business because it decreases your intellectual capital and raises your financial burden.

Performance and Engagement

One of the main causes of high employee turnover is burnout. Burnout could come from any number of variables, including boredom and stress. Researchers of psychology in the workplace, particularly positive psychology, have studied a couple of solutions about meaning, engagement, self-efficacy, and optimal experience.

These are all connected to higher job satisfaction, decreased sick leaves, lowered turnover rates, and increased job performance. More research evaluates the characteristics of the job that activates these solutions. It includes topics such as job crafting and person-job fit. Research that is more recent has shown some factors on what contributes to happiness in a job.

Teamwork/Team Building

Since there is a lot of research available out there and the intensity of a lot of projects, teamwork or team building has become typical in the corporate world. Although the effectiveness of a team has been researched throughout the years, many researchers of psychology at work have been assessing team flow, since research indicates that maximum experiences create better team dynamics as well as outputs that are more creative.

Team flow dynamics, however, are still under research; so many discoveries can still be made. Nevertheless, good psychology at work can enhance team cohesiveness.

Conflict Resolution

Although a solution to an employee conflict or concern may appear reasonable to you, this can still be met with resistance from the employee. If you are bothered by actually resolving conflicts, you may want to hire an organizational psychologist that can assess your particular situation.

However, unlike a mediator, a psychologist will not concentrate solely on the problems, but will incorporate other psychological issues such as the need for dignity, effectiveness, respect, and empowerment.

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Creativity and Innovation

One of the main objectives of the workplace is to create a unique, competitive, and high-quality product or service. This means that a company must have the ability to establish creativity in order to develop innovations and value to their end user.

Since this is very much a basic contribution to a business’s bottom line, organizations would have to get the research findings from positive psychologists who are looking for ways to harness, develop, and apply creativity in the workplace.

Current research has assessed the processes wherein group members can work together that would produce creative work, the characteristics of very creative and field changing persons, and the probability that people may progress towards these characteristics more or less. Thus far, research has shown that a more positive psychology at work triggers employees’ creativity and innovation.

Introducing, enhancing, and improving psychology at work, particularly employee satisfaction, is straightforward. Small steps and little improvements are typically required to find some kind of improvement in the overall workplace. More often than not, consider that happy feelings are usually contagious. What begins with one person would soon overflow to a different division, department, floor, etc. Not for long, the whole attitude of the company will alter.

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