Should Companies Hire In-House Psychologists?
In the modern world, psychological support plays a significant role in successful socialization and vital activity of people. However, psychological support and diagnosis also become more relevant in business. Business and entrepreneurship are special spheres, the success of which depends on the human factor. These areas of labor require the necessary knowledge and skills, a high level of stress-resistance, adaptation, lack of conflict and an increase in the efficiency of all personnel, as well as the presence of strong motivation for work. Ultimately, it is the staff that determines the income and success of any company. As is seen, only this simple logical chain emphasizes that the support of the collective by a specially hired psychologist is a justified idea that deserves attention from the management of any large company. Nevertheless, this work reveals more accurate ways by which a psychologist can improve not only the motivation of employees, but also contribute to the development of business processes, and identify the risks and weaknesses of the enterprise. In particular, the most important tasks of psychologists include the selection of employees, their adaptation and training, diagnosis of personnel, work with the top management, resolution of conflicts, and the development of a healthy corporate culture.
1. Features of Corporate Psychologist
In a modern society, problems of a psychological nature appear daily, so more people reason about the necessity of consulting a psychologist. Of course, mental health is a personal responsibility of a person, but it is also essential for any enterprise. Thus, as noted by Navare, there is a tendency for the growth of counseling services conducted by professional therapists and psychologists in companies (1). However, before considering functions, efficiency, and importance of the activity of a psychologist in the company, it is necessary to note also the specific requirements that modern business puts before these specialists. The industrial/organizational psychologist is not only a bearer of the fundamental qualities of the profession but also a kind of a link between the formalities of work activity and personal aspects (Landy, Harrison and Thomas 703). It is essential for a psychologist to possess not only intellectual characteristics and of an appropriate level, knowledge, and skills, but also high moral attributes. Moreover, the value orientations of a specialist should not enter into an apparent contradiction with the specifics of the company’s business profile. It is necessary for a psychologist to gain the authority of the team, and this is possible only if the specialist proves to be not only a professional analysts, but also an associated person who is ready to work with this particular group in specific organization with precise understanding of its structure, strategy, goals, and conditions, or as some researchers put it “to be more business minded and context-sensitive (Millward 1).
Studies show that there is no single approach in the context of the success of psychological counseling of an enterprise, and each of the approaches has its pros and cons. Nevertheless, an important feature is that psychologists can usually occupy one of two positions. In one case, the authors characterize it as an “external” job commissioned by various firms and sole specialists, most often related to the assessment and certification of personnel, the study of the psychological climate, the resolution of conflict situations, training of personnel. Meanwhile, the second case is an “in-house” position of a psychologist who works directly in the organization (Doyle 374).
This aspect is important because the positions and dignities and disadvantages of each and the effective methods of action depend on the position accordingly. The position of the consultant psychologist presupposes the possibility of a neutral approach to the solution of many tasks, but at the same time, problems often arise because of insufficient knowledge of real organizational situations, the impossibility of immediately determining the underlying causes and conditions for the occurrence of a phenomenon or process in unique corporate culture. In turn, the second position has its drawbacks along with undoubted advantages as a thorough knowledge of the organizational and staff situation. The point is that when a psychologist works for a long time at an enterprise, his or her status may reduce to the ordinary member of the collective. In this case, the employees address the specialist for any reason, which is unacceptable and undermines key responsibilities of the work. Consequently, the significance of the position may be lost (Doyle 374). All in all, based on its unique goals and requirements, each company should evaluate whether it needs a specialist for a short period to perform immediate tasks as an analysis of personnel activities, or it is necessary to involve an internal specialist for constant psychological diagnosis. However, the discussion of the status of a psychologist concerning an organization is not enough to determine the factors of the effectiveness of the work.
2. Major Activities of Psychologists and their Importance
In general, a psychologist at an enterprise can perform two functions within key fields of activity, which are “the individual, training, the organization, and work environment (Millward 2-3). The first of them is consulting related to the employment of a potential employee, the determination of personal qualities and maximization of candidates abilities, as well as their adaptation. Also, this function allows introducing a neutral approach to the solution of many tasks, first of all, for evaluation and selection of personnel. The second function of the psychologist is more extensive and considers the optimization of the workflow through solutions of staff and management issues, conflicts, and an increase of motivation. Moreover, there are different techniques and methods to complete both functions successfully. As a result, employees are more satisfied with work, their useful work effect increases, and the risk of conflict situations or the likelihood of operational errors is significantly reduced. These issues are beneficial to both the workers and the leadership of the company.
Thus, psychologists are important in the procedure of personnel selection, since possessing information about the goals and tasks of the organization, they can analyze and evaluate the prospective employees in this context. Moreover, psychologists can also in such a way to create a reserve of personnel for internal promotion on the career ladder and take part in career planning for employees. Studies show that managers sometimes consider promotion subjectively, and consider candidates solely on their willingness to work in the team (Eby and Dobbins 275). However, it is no less important to identify the opportunities and boundaries of growth and self-development, and it is necessary to choose the person whose characteristics are the most suitable. In general, when the issue of progress has arisen, management is interested in the potential of the employee and expected performance in the new position.
Besides, it is paramount to highlight the adaptation of employees. At the beginning of a career in a new organization, a person immediately involves in the system of internal organizational relations. The social role of a person in a team is determined by the totality of requirements, norms, and rules of behavior. Moreover, the new employee takes on several social roles simultaneously, each of which requires an appropriate response. Thus, it is necessary to organize a program for the adaptation of new personnel to help new employees find their place in new conditions, while companies, in turn, achieve desired productivity of their employees in the shortest possible time. Psychologists can help with this task, as through diagnostics they can identify critical aspects of the adaptation process and mitigate the negative impact on the employees.
Furthermore, conflicts and stressful situations arise in any team. Consequently, it is the mission of specialist to identify factors that may hamper the emergence and development of conflicts, since conflicts inflict enormous damage on the organization. It is likely to reduce the possibility of conflicts through correct selection and arranging personnel, taking into account not only professional but also psychological characteristics (Hodgkinson and Ford 220). However, it is possible to employ other methods of diagnostic to allocate adverse factors and try to eliminate them.
There are several common types of conflicts at the workplace, and they involve the relations between the authority and subordinates, different units or departments, and those caused by leadership or other workplace issues (Masters and Albright 19). First of all, there are conflicts between subordinates and superiors. They are often associated with the failure to complete the assignment or the work as a whole, and sometimes the reason may be not the absence of the employee’s competence, but the unclear working conditions, or the situation where not all duties are defined and controlled. Also, conflicts between units of one company are very significant. This is particularly the case when each department is focused on the results of its activities. In this case, pre-preparation for meetings at which the heads of services can agree on mutual requirements helps. Finally, the last group of conflicts is connected with the problems of leadership. Illiterate delegation and the lack of communication cause the accumulation of resentment and reproaches among subordinates. This can lead to stress, or the employee may show poor performance. Thus, it is also relevant to note the role of the psychologist in problems and situations where the psychological state of a person and the ability to realize one’s feelings and emotions play a key role. So the analyst helps the staff to work with their psychological state, teaches them self-organization, conducts testing and training, whose goal is to improve the mental, emotional atmosphere in the team and, thereby, change the working environment for the better and resolve conflicts.
It is possible to expand the peculiarities of the second function slightly. For example, a psychologist can conduct interviews with employees and test them, and provide results to management along with recommendations. However, it is important to understand that psychological problems often occur not only among workers but also among management. Therefore, a psychologist can help to jointly determine the purposes and goals of the firm and the criteria for the achievement of the assigned tasks. Other cases in which a specialist can help is the identification of motivation, needs for changing the system of material incentives. In general, with any organizational changes, the participation of a psychologist is necessary to reduce the resistance of employees, including any significant or minor changes in work. All in all, these activities are effective in developing tools for maintaining discipline and methods of encouraging workers.
Psychologists, like any specialists in their field of activity, have many ways and methods of doing business. The long list includes such primary methods of research as self-report, observational techniques, correlation studies, and case studies (Riggio 27). Of course, the main ones are always individual conversations and observation, for example, during the initial selection, evaluation, and determination of personal qualities for career planning. The generalization of the experience of personal observation also helps in the compilation of job descriptions. Another common method is testing and questioning. The merits of tests include objectivity, the lack of dependence on the personality of the researcher and the target orientation on obtaining information about certain qualities which are necessary for work, and not about the person in general. With the help of tests, the specialist can check attentiveness, memory, emotional stability, communicability, the ability to work in a team or communicate with clients, the availability of managerial capacity or analytical skills. Also, in working with middle and senior managers, it is possible to apply projective methods aimed at identifying unconscious motivation and allowing to model different situations, to determine subjective values, interests, and inclinations. In general, a qualitative psychologist can monitor and manage a variety of critical business processes with the help of these practices.
In conclusion, despite the fact that the demand of psychologist depends both on the objectives of the company and on the practices for which the specialist is involved, the study identified several essential aspects at once, thanks to which the psychologist is an incredibly important employee. First, a professional psychologist can lead the selection of employees, offer candidates to promotion, and adapt workers in new working conditions. Secondly, there are some internal features of business work that may be influenced by a psychologist, including conflict resolution, employee motivation, improvement of skills and psychological state in general. Finally, despite the absence of universal approaches, many practices allow psychoanalysts to perform their work qualitatively and at the same time improve the efficiency of the business processes of any company.