The Link between Human Resource Management and Psychology

At its core, human resource management is deeply connected to psychology. Perhaps the obvious clue is carried in the name, human resources. It is also easy to imagine how the role of maximizing the value of an organization’s human capital can involve mindfulness towards psychological factors influencing employee’s commitment, reliability, motivation and ultimately performance.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), industrial-organizational psychology, also knows as I­­/O psychology, is characterized by the scientific study of human behavior in organizations and the work place. Those who pursue this study learn to apply psychology principles to almost all areas of human resource management such as recruitment, compensation, evaluation, training, and employee relations among others.

A practical example of how psychology can be applied to human resources is the concept of motivation. A Forbes article, “What Really Motivates Employees?” discusses the importance of motivation to ensure employees are focused, productive and engaged. Some of the factors that contribute to motivation are job security, ability to use one’s creativity, and challenging work. Factors that may contribute to lack of motivation are too many laws, rules or formal processes, and too low or too high compensation.

Apart from motivation, psychology is also related to individual’s psychological attachment to an organization. Often, HR departments contribute to creating organizational culture, an important identity factor that can influence employees’ sense of belonging. In smaller firms a strong sense of collaboration can bind teams into family-like units adding to the attachment an employee feels. This attachment is sometimes manifested through employees’ level of commitment to the employer.

For this reason and more, Limestone’s bachelors degree in Human Resource Management requires students to complete PS 101/PS 101H Introduction to Psychology. This course provides a survey of the major areas of psychological study such as scientific psychology, psychophysiological processes, sociocultural determinants of behavior, personality development, and psychopathology.