What Is a Business Psychologist? (Definition and Key Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 24 December 2022

Published 13 December 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A skilled business psychologist can help enhance functionality and comfort in the workplace. Business psychologists apply psychological theories and concepts to improve company culture within large or small corporations. If you're interested in psychology, you may find a career as a business psychologist enriching and rewarding. In this article, we answer 'What is a business psychologist?', outline their primary responsibilities and key skills and evaluate the job requirements.

What is a business psychologist?

A business psychologist, also known as an organisational psychologist, is a psychologist employed by a company or organisation to help improve employee satisfaction, mental health and productivity. They often work in private offices within the company or organisation building. This arrangement may vary between companies.

As employees of the company, business psychologists provide consulting services for all staff members, including part-time employees and senior managers. A business psychologist is usually part of the human resources (HR) team. Operating with HR, they help employees professionally and emotionally. While any type of business can employ a business psychologist, companies with staff who work in highly stressful or sensitive situations are more likely to have one. For example, prisons, hospitals and financial corporations often use psychologists to ensure their staff can manage stress safely and appropriately.

Related: How to Become a Psychologist

What does a business psychologist do?

The role of business psychologists is to examine the mindset and behaviour of employees in the working environment. Individuals in this profession use psychological concepts and approaches to explore how employees can gain job satisfaction to influence company productivity. A business psychologist may identify areas in the business that need improvement, based on its objectives and current department performance levels. A business psychologist also creates projects to improve morale. For example, conducting training sessions with current managers.

These professionals may also assist the HR team with recruiting new team members by creating job assessments and finding candidates who are compatible with the company's mission and values. By collecting data and analysing areas of the workforce, business psychologists can identify essential skills and attributes that optimise employee productivity and company culture. For example, they may identify that a passionate and positive manager can help boost company morale in a specific department.

Main responsibilities of a business psychologist

A business psychologist's primary responsibilities can vary depending on the goals of the company they work for and the resources the company makes available. These tasks also depend on how streamlined the company already is and how much improvement they require. A business psychologist may choose to tackle the major challenges first or they may implement several changes all at once. Below are some duties of a business psychologist:

Improving the work safety for staff

Business psychologists regularly observe the workplace to identify areas of improvement in both safety and health. Maintaining safety at work is a major, yet simple way for employers to show their employees that they value them, leading to higher levels of job satisfaction. Improved work environments can also help companies streamline their daily operations, which can also result in more efficient supply chains.

Training staff in leadership skills

Business psychologists may run leadership development programs or workshops if they identify this as an area that requires improvement. Usually, this refers to the management staff, but it can also encompass the executive board if permitted by the company. As part of these workshops, a business psychologist may use psychological concepts to display examples of great leadership. The goal of these training workshops is to improve the culture and relationships at work by fostering attentiveness, encouragement and approachability.

Responding to client briefs

The client or company may also provide a business psychologist with a brief description of the primary goals they hope to achieve. This brief typically relates to any areas that the client has identified as requiring improvement, so it's a good place to begin when implementing changes. It's also necessary for business psychologists to show how their contributions have influenced or improved the company. Writing updated reports based on client briefs can help business psychologists detail these changes and show progress to their employers.

Assessing employees

The business psychologist may conduct regular employee assessments. A business psychologist observes staff interactions, professional relationships and work ethic to inform their data research, regardless of whether they're there primarily to provide counselling services or to influence structural changes. A business psychologist typically evaluates individuals by observing their performance in the workplace, along with psychological analysis. Using this process, a business psychologist can learn about the unique personalities in a workplace, so they can design a training program or make structural changes accepted by the employees.

Ensuring smooth functioning of business

It's one of the key tasks of a business psychologist to ensure that the workforce functions smoothly and efficiently. This means implementing changes and training schemes that emphasise the importance of teamwork in the dynamic, modern workplace. Business psychologists can also contribute to the smooth operation of a company by improving overall job satisfaction, which can lead to a higher employee retention rate.

Additional daily tasks of a business psychologist may also include the following:

  • uplifting the general mood and morale of employees

  • offering employee counselling services if appropriate

  • encouraging employee health and wellness programs

  • aiding in the selection of candidates

  • promoting a positive working environment

  • motivating employees through training strategies

  • streamlining organisational procedures to strengthen the structure of the company

  • increasing operational efficiency to optimise the business

  • assessing the workplace conditions for more effective work to occur

  • creating staff reports and maintaining these records accurately

Related: 14 Reasons Why Teamwork is Important in the Workplace

What is a business psychologist's average salary?

On average, a business psychologist earns $112,751 per year. The salary may vary depending on your experience, location and workplace setting. Additional benefits may also depend on whether you work privately or publicly.

Essential skills of business psychologists

Business psychologists develop a variety of skills to help them succeed in their daily work. Aim to gain these key skills to become or improve your career as a business psychologist:

  • excellent communication

  • active listening

  • flexibility

  • confidence

  • effective problem-solving

  • adaptability to new environments

  • stress handling

Requirements for a business psychologist

There are some essential training and qualifications essential for becoming a skilled business psychologist and increasing your career prospects. These include:

University education

Formal education is necessary for business psychologists, with a university degree in psychology being the main requirement. Because of the occasionally sensitive nature of this role, it's essential that you possess high-level skills so that you can draw beneficial psychological conclusions to improve employee morale and the overall working environment. You may consider the following qualifications:

Bachelor's degree

A business psychologist's role requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree in the psychology field. A related subject, such as sociology, may also be relevant, though this depends on your employer. Psychology degrees equip business psychologists with knowledge of personality theories, social structures and counselling policies, which are essential for workplace development.

Master's degree

If you wish to work in an organisation that interacts with vulnerable people, such as hospitals, prisons or schools, a master's degree in psychology might be necessary. A master's degree in psychology can provide more insight into theoretical concepts in greater depth. A resume that shows a higher level of education and understanding can be helpful when applying for jobs.

PhD

Although a PhD is typically not a requirement, it can equip you with a focused understanding of business psychology. Psychology university courses typically examine general human behaviour, rather than the specific use of psychology in the workplace. A PhD allows you to explore how psychology influences businesses in more detail. PhDs also show employers you're independent and passionate, increasing your chances of securing a job.

Related: How to Include Volunteer Work on your Resume (With Examples)

Professional experience

Developing your professional experience is also fundamental for finding full-time work as a business psychologist. Applying for internships or voluntary positions is a great way to apply your skills and knowledge to real-life situations. If you're also interested in observing psychologists in the field, shadow work is also available. This can be a viable option if you're still completing your studies, as it doesn't require a degree.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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