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Why is business psychology an important field for business leaders?

UQ people
Published 16 Jun, 2022  ·  5-minute read

A question many leaders often find themselves asking is ‘how can I improve the workplace?’

There’s no question that a cohesive, motivated, well-functioning workplace is the key to business success. A crucial element in creating this environment is understanding your workers’ values and motives. This can be done by working with a professional in the field of business psychology.

Using business psychology to improve the workplace

Business psychology combines the use of business practices with the study of human behaviour to improve the productivity, efficiency, and culture of workplaces. With a degree in business psychology, you will learn how to use principles of psychological science to improve leadership, performance and collaboration in businesses – all whilst making work safer and more rewarding for those involved.

We have spoken with 2 UQ business psychology alumni and a current student of the Master of Business Psychology, to explore how their studies have helped them make a positive improvement to the workplace.

Understanding people

UQ Master of Business Psychology alum, Oliver Wilson, works at a large mining company and from the offset, understood the immense value his studies would have for his career.

The major drawcard? Learning ways to better understand people, and how they engage with their work and workplace.

“Some of the biggest leaps forward across business, government and industry have come from a better understanding of people and applying this to the workplace – be that through better understanding of the benefits of inclusion and diversity, employee engagement, safe job design, flexible working arrangements, or many more,” Oliver says.

Oliver Wilson quote

It sounds cliché, but you can’t get the most out of your people without understanding them.

Oliver Wilson
Master of Business Psychology

Diversifying career prospects and avenues

Master of Business Psychology alum, Ciara Power, also saw the various benefits the degree could bring to her career.

“I chose to study the Master of Business Psychology because of the diversity of pathways, and flexibility by way of subject choice,” she says.

“Within the field of Business and Organisational Psychology, there are a myriad of ways in which you can improve others’ working lives.”

Oliver echoes this sentiment, explaining that his studies equipped him with the building blocks to continue his learning in an ever-shifting professional environment.

“Across my career, I have found myself looking back on concepts covered in both my undergrad and postgrad and applying them to problems across many different contexts.”

“The curiosity mindset at the heart of the scientific method allows me to consistently refine my understanding and application throughout my career,” says Oliver.

Putting theory into practice

Ciara has been passionate about psychology from a young age – human behaviour has always fascinated her. With an impressive career history working in ASX listed firms and boutique consulting firms, she is focusing specifically on trying to enhance safety and performance across a number of industries.

Ciara was able to bring the unique skills she learned in Business Psychology and apply them to her industries in the following ways:

  • Offering evidence-based and tailor-made solutions to its stakeholders.
  • Supporting businesses in the various challenges they face; whether it’s BAU or strategic objectives.
  • Identifying and working with businesses to develop and implement solutions to underlying issues or skill gaps that may be hindering performance at all levels of the organisation.
  • Identifying, promoting, and supporting new and existing interventions that enhance engagement, performance, and wellbeing at all levels of the organisation.

Collaborating with industry experts

Ciara explains that the real value offered to workplaces who engage experts in business psychology primarily involves collaborating closely with technical and industry experts to determine what effective work looks like in their language. 

“Making a meaningful difference depends on your capacity to marry together an expert’s understanding of their operating environment, with your knowledge of how to effectively design work,” she says.

Ciara Power quote

The biggest impacts are always made when respectfully collaborating with others to achieve a common outcome.

Ciara Power
Master of Business Psychology

Oliver agrees, adding that gaining a diverse range of perspectives is key to understanding the next positive step forward.

“Making a difference rarely comes from just one person, and the biggest impacts have always been made in collaboration with people from a range of backgrounds,” he says.

Helping people connect meaningfully with their work

Current student Kate Oliver decided to return to university after several years of working full time, because she’s passionate about improving people’s work experience, which in turn helps their life experience in general.

“Work can be a huge source of meaning, as well as a huge source of stress,” she says.

“I wanted to understand the evidence-based theory behind what can make work a meaningful, positive experience, and how this can be applied in a real-world context.”

Working as an advisor, Kate loved getting to know her clients and providing them with advice. She wanted to gain experience being closer to the operations side of business, which is what led her to the Master of Business Psychology.

“I believe taking a holistic approach to business (and life) is hugely important,” Kate says.

Kate Oliver quote

There is a clear link between individual wellbeing and satisfaction, and business effectiveness.

Kate Oliver
Master of Business Psychology

“Tapping into this is a huge opportunity, and developing strategy grounded in the knowledge of human behaviour in work settings has the potential to generate better outcomes for many.”

Next moves

So, what’s next for these ambitious business psychology professionals?

In the future, Ciara hopes to continue to draw on her qualifications to become more of a technical expert within the field of safety and continue applying the science of psychology to create change.

Oliver’s outlook on future career opportunities resonates with Kate’s passion for helping people find meaning in their work. When considering his next move, he’s focused on the following introspective questions:

  1. Does this work interest me?
  2. Is it a role where I can have a positive impact?
  3. Will it challenge me beyond my comfort zone? 

As for Kate, she’s focused on demonstrating what she’s learnt so far, during the first placement of her studies.

“I believe the Master of Business Psychology is helping me to develop fundamental knowledge and skills regarding human behaviour in the workplace.”

“I’m excited to begin my first placement next semester, where I’ll be working within an organisation and putting this into practice,” Kate says.

“I see this as a great opportunity for me to have experiences and create connections to guide my future path.”

Study a Master of Business Psychology at UQ

Ready to kickstart an exciting career in business psychology? Further your skills and learn how to use the principles of psychological science to improve leadership, performance and collaboration in business – all whilst making work safer and more rewarding those involved.

Explore the Master of Business Psychology

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