Industrial-Organizational (I-O) psychology is concerned with improving various aspects of a company: from employees' well-being to leadership training and workplace productivity. Being a branch of psychology, it relies on the scientific method and informed practice to find and implement the best strategies in employee selection, ergonomics, organizational development, performance management, training and development, and work-life, to name a few. However, for some I-O psychologists to be able to operate on a field level, some others must be acting on an academic level.
I-O psychology is not a new discipline. It started in the early 1900 thanks to the work of Hugo Münsterberg, and it went on to play a role in the two world conflicts. For example, the Army Alpha and Army Beta mental ability tests (precursors of the current intelligence tests) were developed during that period, and the first efforts were made to improve organizational dynamics and morale. But, of course, times have changed, and so have the trends in I-O psychology. Let us explore some of the hottest topics in the field:
1. Diversity and inclusion
Multi-ethnic companies are a norm in our society. Despite the heterogeneity of the workforce, however, there are still cross-cultural issues in the workplace. I-O psychology is concerned with furthering the knowledge on this topic to provide effective solutions for a diverse and healthy work environment.
2. Social media recruitment
Even if it sounds obvious to many, who might even have been recruited through LinkedIn, Facebook, or other freelance platforms, like Fiverr, the phenomenon is actually relatively recent. Although it sounds easy, the risk of getting into some trivial mistakes is common. I-O psychologists can help make more informed and lawful decisions.
3. Sexual Harassment
There are two types of sexual harassment in the workplace: quid pro quo and a hostile work environment. The first case refers to an exchange of sexual activity for a benefit or prevention of an ill feeling; the second case refers to repetitive behaviors that intimidate victims in the workplace. The statistics on this phenomenon are worrying and equally involve both men and women. I-O psychologists can look at the causes and strategies to improve companies' culture, policies, and training.
4. Automation and Artificial Intelligence
The autonomation of the workplace is a growing phenomenon. I-O psychology is interested in discovering AI's impact on production, relationships with the workers, and addressing issues such as training and morale. Ethical questions must also be considered.
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