Guest blogger: High quality psychology translates to high quality management


I recently received an email from someone conducting research on industrial organization that noted my blog content was “very engaging.”  Alexa Thompson is a contributor to an online resource looking at the intersections between psychology theory and management.  According to Alexa, the South Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor’s Office of Aging and the Queensland Government’s Health Information Services have listed the project as a resource for others.  I looked over the content and found it to be “very engaging” as well.

While Alexa’s post, as noted below, gives an interesting and appreciated perspective on how high quality psychology translates to high quality management, I also came across an article in Forbes this week discussing specific suggestions for bringing positive psychology to the workplace.

In our increasingly interconnected global economy, competition has never been more fierce. Companies of various sizes and industries often find themselves obsessively cutting costs and focusing on the bottom line profit margin simply in order to survive. While cutting employee benefits in difficult economic times may seem like a quick and obvious way to increase net profits, the complex nature of human psychology often proves this practice can have noticeably damaging effects on employee productivity that can ripple throughout an entire organization.

For decades, psychologists and organizational behaviorists have found that self-reported job satisfaction reflects the feelings workers experience while actually on the job and a judgment about their employment situation as it relates to their overall goals and aspirations. Studies show that worker dissatisfaction from daily factors like environment, pressure from supervision and feelings of social isolation can have an even greater effect on worker mindset than feelings of job security, pay or benefits. “Worker satisfaction, as ordinarily measured, depends at least as much on social aspects of work, and having a sense of meaning an interest in work, as it does on material rewards,” says Alan Krueger, an economics professor at Princeton University.

For employers, investment in psychological satisfaction for workers can pay off dramatically. A 2010 study for the Association of Psychological Science found that lower job satisfaction is an excellent indicator of poorer bottom-line performance. In America, Gallup polling indicates that the cost of employee disengagement stands around $300 billion in lost productivity each year. Despite these numbers, managers at many companies remain oblivious to the importance of psychological factors in increasing employee efficiency and satisfaction. In a survey of 669 managers from companies around the globe, “supporting progress” ranked last among employee motivators, even while employees ranked support from their superiors as their chief motivator.

Employee psychological satisfaction often comes from feeling connected to the mission of a company and its ideals. If an employee genuinely believes in the goals of the company, the likelihood of committing to focused, high quality work increases dramatically. For employers, communicating the goals of the company to even the lowest workers in the corporate hierarchy and acknowledging the importance of every individual’s role can have a dramatic effect on employee productivity and retention. When those with more experience train and mentor newer employees, camaraderie and respect is built among employees at different levels. These relationships can have the added benefit of easing anxiety.

Employees who feel that they are recognized for their individual talent and skills are far more likely to work with a healthy psychological mindset. By allowing employees a degree of control over their own schedules and work methods, management can illustrate that they recognize the individuality and potential for innovation brought about by each employee. And by including every employee in the conversation regarding the direction of their company, managers can ensure that their employees remain satisfied and engaged, maximizing their investment in human resources and influencing long-term company growth and productivity.


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