Career opportunities in occupational psychology in the post-Covid-19 world
By Laura Dean
There is no doubt that Covid-19 is having a substantial impact on the employment market. But whether you are looking to study occupational psychology or are a recent graduate, there are opportunities readily available for occupational psychologists with the right skill set to embark on an exciting and rewarding career.
With a degree in occupational psychology, you can learn how to improve organisational performance and productivity by applying psychological theories and principles to the work environment. Occupational psychologies use their problem-solving, communication and commercial awareness skills to support individuals and organisations with issues leading to real-world impact.
Covid-19 has disrupted life in the most unexpected ways. Companies realise that they need to rethink what ‘business as usual’ means and are exploring how they operate successfully in a post-Covid-19 world. The pandemic has seen a raft of changes to how businesses operate from a pivot to remote working to comprehensive safety protocols being implemented to keep staff healthy. For occupational psychology students, the disruption industries are experiencing represents an opportunity. They can use their skills to support organisations through practical initiatives such as people management.
Even before the Covid-19 hit, there was an increasing demand for the services provided by occupational psychologists. Now due to the many changes taking place in society, technology and the economy, the demand is rising. Organisations are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits that occupational psychologists bring to the table, including helping to redesign jobs, consult on company changes and creating better work environments for employees. Occupational psychologists help make employees healthier, happier and more productive. By using their psychological expertise, they can help organisations develop programmes to reduce employee stress or improve communication and leadership skills.
However, when selecting a degree there are some factors that prospective students should consider, such as does a particular programme offer accreditation (such as from the British Psychological Society, or BPS). A BPS-accredited Masters course is a mark of quality that can be the key to unlocking a career in occupational or organisational psychology and can help applicants stand out from the crowd when seeking employment.
As vaccines are rolled out to more and more people and organisations contemplate a return to offices, many are considering the benefits of more flexible working arrangements. Occupational psychologists will play a crucial role in supporting companies and employees to develop working conditions that are mutually beneficial, helping employees achieve their best, and organisations to continue to flourish in a brand-new world post-Covid-19.
The possibilities open to an occupational psychology graduate are almost endless. Graduates may opt for positions in organisations and businesses of all sizes in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Others can opt to work in private consultancies, employee assistant programmes, human resource departments, while others still can join universities researching new innovations and teaching the next cohort of occupational psychologists. Whichever pathway graduates choose, what is clear is that opportunities abound for qualified occupational psychologists to shape organisations in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The author is programme director, MSc Occupational Psychology, Sheffield University Management School, University of Sheffield, UK. Views are personal