Local News: Studying the workforce (3/23/22)

Graphic by Alyssa Lunsford

Assistant Professors of Psychology and Counseling George Yancey and Lesly Krome are industrial and organizational psychologists. Last year, they completed a study of how companies across America have dealt or are dealing with COVID-19 in terms of the health of employees, their customers, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

They found that companies that asked their employees for input were in the minority at 33%. Employers asked questions such as, “What would you like us to do as a company to take a stand on supporting Black Lives Matter?” Or, “What would you like us to do to protect you as a worker during the pandemic?”

This is just one example of the ways industrial and organizational psychology can be applied to help people.

Industrial and organizational psychology, or I/O psychology, is defined by the scientific study of human behavior in organizations and in the workplace. He specializes in developing the principles of individual, group and organizational behavior and applying that knowledge to problem solving in the workplace, according to the American Psychological Association website.

Southeast has a graduate program in this area of ​​psychology. Krome teaches a class in this area of ​​study.

“Right now we have quite a number — I have 12 to 15 students in my personal psychology class,” Krome said. “In previous years we’ve seen smaller cohorts of eight people and even smaller, so we have a very good instructor-to-student ratio for our classes.”

In Krome’s class, she does community service projects that give students experience after graduation. This semester, her class partnered with a member of the Cape Girardeau community to start a business called Jakapa, which is a soft skills assessment community. Together they decided to produce a training video on the use of the software on the website.

Graphic by Alyssa Lunsford

Krome said the project was beneficial for both parties: the business owner got a new training video to showcase on his website, and the students’ hands-on experience benefits their future.

“My students benefit from the experience of setting up their own training, learning how to have an effective training system that translates online,” Krome said.

Another community service project Krome’s class participated in a few years ago was called the Watch on Wheels Initiative. They have teamed up with the Cape Girardeau Police Department and the local public transportation system to train employees on how to help when they see suspicious activity. That program is still in use in the town of Cape Girardeau, Krome said.

“We try to involve students in projects where they work with organizations that have organizational issues,” Krome said.

Yancey said I/O is a small group that not many people know much about. Most of the psychologists people hear about are clinical psychologists, he said.

“[With I/O psychology,] you make a positive contribution to society, being well paid for it. But we are not well known; we have a visibility problem,” Yancey said.

There are 54 divisions in the American Psychological Association. Divisions are interest groups organized by members, according to the APA website. Some divisions represent sub-disciplines of psychology such as social or clinical psychology, while others focus on topical areas such as aging or trauma.

“We’re one of the oldest divisions of the American Psychological Association (APA), being Division 14. So we’re over 100 years old,” Yancey said.

Yancey said there are about 8,000 members in the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), while there are more than 40,000 jobs in the field of this profession.

“I/O psychology is a very productive field. He has very good job prospects. There are a lot of jobs available for I/O psychologists and just a really valuable skill set that you can learn,” Krome said.

To learn more about the master’s program in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, visit their website.

Michael A. Bynum