The American Psychological Association (APA) defines psychology as: “the study of the mind and behavior. The discipline embraces all aspects of the human experience – from the function of the brain to the actions of nations, from child development to care for the aged. In every conceivable setting from scientific research centers to mental healthcare services, ‘the understanding of behavior’ is the enterprise of psychologists.” With this as the guiding principal to the study of psychology, it is easy to parlay a psychology major into corporate culture successfully. The beauty of psychology is that it is in everything and anything that involves human interaction, motivation and behavior. There is a very significant role for psychology in corporate culture both formally and informally.
Informal: where having a psychology degree and background will aid in improving the performance of certain roles within a corporate environment.
Manager and Human Resources Professional
First of all, any management position can potentially benefit from an education in psychology. Managers have the challenging task of motivating others to perform to certain, defined standards. This can be difficult with even the most positive, motivated team. Add a mixture of personality types and tight deadlines and managers can really have their work cut out for them. A major component of the study of psychology is understanding what motivates human behavior. For a manager in a corporate environment, or someone who is looking to secure this type of position, a psychology degree can definitely provide you the ‘soft-skills’ necessary to be a manager that gets results. Think back to Psych 101 and the concepts of positive reinforcement vs. negative reinforcement, incentives, rewards, conditioning, the role of memory and communication. It is safe to assert that a manager who has a good understanding of human behavior and motivation will likely be a more effective manager, thus verifying a significant overlap of foundational psychology with corporate management.
Another ideal bridge between a psychology background and corporate culture can be found in human resources, talent acquisition and recruiting. Matching the right person with the right role within in a company is a skill, one that requires an ability to read people well, evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and draw hypotheses about what their potential can be. Moreover, HR professionals often need to anticipate how different people will work together. An understanding of group dynamics, teams, and interpersonal communications is another major skill set relevant to corporate culture that is taught and practiced in psychology.
Formal: what a psychology professional is in a corporate culture.
Psychology is such a major player in the workplace across all industries, that a whole field was created and dedicated to the study and science of the workplace. Organizational Psychology, also known as Industrial Psychology, is a relatively new offshoot within the field but has gained in popularity quickly and continues to grow. Organizational Psychologists are serving pivotal roles within large corporations advising their human resources, management and marketing strategies resulting in lucrative and productive outcomes. Organizational Psychologists function as strategists within a company and their value is gaining in recognition. BLS reports that Organizational Psychologists are the fastest growing occupation for the projected period of 2012 – 2022 across fields. Combine the projected growth with a median pay of $83,580/annually, and transitioning into a corporate culture as an Organizational Psychologist can be an advisable next step.