Dove Nest Group

Occupational Psychology in Business

Occupational Psychology in Business

A recent survey of managers, HR and L&D professionals revealed a stark division in the use of Occupational Psychology – 42% reported using Occupational Psychology in their business, but 58% companies said they don’t use it. You might expect that larger, more established organisations, use Occupational Psychology more than smaller companies. But the split in responses didn’t correlate to organisation size or complexity. So, what is going on here? Why do some companies use occupational psychology and use it and why don’t others?

This post will cover 3 areas:

Occupational Psychology: Assessment and Recruitment

In our survey, of the 42% of companies who said they use occupational psychology, 93% said they used it for assessment and 87% said they used it for recruitment. Clearly, occupational psychology has an established place in organisations, when it comes to assessing individuals for fit.

Whether its recruitment of new staff, or selecting existing staff for new roles, getting the right fit for organisations has always been essential. Considering risks and rewards, it is not surprising then that companies turn to the psychometrics tools of Occupational Psychology. The use of it for these areas, would suggest that it works, or at least that the organisations who use it, believe it works.

The potential benefits of psychometric assessment in recruitment, may be set to increase as more companies consider the assessing of candidates’ values. Speaking with a L&D friend of mine, working on improving recruitment for one of his clients, he explained that “we’re now looking more at values and behaviours of candidates, not only their skills and experience”.

Values and behaviours might not be easily visible using the traditional interview process. Certainly, this is an area where Psychometrics comes into its own. A major benefit of Occupational Psychology and psychometric assessment, is the capacity to help reveal what otherwise might be hidden.

Organisations that choose to combine psychometrics with other selection and assessment practices, will have a more comprehensive view of candidates, and their potential fit with the organisation, than those which don’t. Hardly surprising then that of those companies that use Occupational Psychology, so many of them use it for recruitment.

58% of Companies don’t use Occupational Psychology

The more startling result of the survey, was that so many companies weren’t using any occupational psychology services or tools in their business. It begs the obvious question as to why not?

A quick response is to speculate on a variety of reasons why they don’t. It could be the perceived expense, a lack of awareness, general scepticism or even as simple as unfamiliarity with what Occupational Psychology is and what it can offer to business.

Digging into the detail of responses is a bit more revealing. Of those companies who said they didn’t use Occupational Psychology in their business, 95% of them said they had strategies in place for Leadership, Talent Development and coaching.

Motivation, leadership, developing talent, coaching & mentoring, well-being, engagement, organisational culture, office politics, these are all terms with which most people are familiar. In fact, during each working day, most of us will touch on some, if not all of these areas. Each of these topics have their roots in occupational psychology.

So, the conundrum in the survey is; on the surface, companies claim not to use occupational psychology, yet 95% of them have developed strategies which address areas within occupational psychology framework.

It could be that some of the concepts of occupational psychology are so rooted within organisations, that respondents considered them part of ‘normal practice’? It would be great news if this were the case, as it demonstrates how well occupational psychology is embedded in organisations. Perhaps the 58% who said they didn’t use it, says more about how they perceive occupational psychology rather than its use or value.

The potential value of Occupational Psychology

As mentioned above, many of the hot topics in business today; leadership, talent, well-being, culture, all have deep roots in occupational psychology. As is evident from the survey, the majority of companies have strategies in place to address these key areas. This in itself, is evidence of the importance of occupational psychology and how much it permeates organisations.

But if occupational psychology is so embedded within organisations, why would we still need expert occupational psychologists? What is the value in expert psychologists? The answer is exactly what you would expect – that there is always a place for experts in helping organisations develop.

We have no hesitation in drafting in the services of experts in a variety of fields, to help address specific issues or achieve specific goals. Whether we hire auditors to check the company books, IT experts to help install an ERP system, solicitors to provide expert legal advice, businesses have a strong track record in recognising where expert advice can get them. So, it should be no different with expert psychologists. Adding this expertise can often create breakthroughs which might not otherwise be realised.

“I have yet to meet members of a leadership team who I thought lacked the intelligence or the domain expertise required to be successful. I’ve met many, however, who failed to foster organizational health. Their companies were riddled with politics, various forms of dysfunction, and general confusion about their direction and mission.”Patrick Lencioni

Too often we can view occupational psychology as purely about psychometrics. Whilst psychometric assessment is a feature of occupational psychology, there is far more potential value than just that. If much of an organisations’ success comes from its people, then surely the advice and input experts in psychology, will always be invaluable.

Dove Nest Group have developed and delivered Leadership and Management solutions, underpinned by robust occupational psychology for over 35 years. Dove Nest is home to Psyence – an expert occupational psychology consultancy. To have a conversation with us about how occupational psychology can help unlock potential by calling us on 015395 67878, email us at  or  or visit the Dove Nest website  or Psyence