An occupational psychologist is an occupational health specialist who is educated as a psychologist and has special training in occupational health. An occupational psychologist helps to restore and improve employees’ working capacity. Occupational psychologist helps to carry out an audit and analysis of the work environment, on the basis on which the employer receives feedback on possibilities how to create a healthier working environment. Occupational psychologist ia a specialist in assessing and balancing psychosocial burden connected to the work environment.
Occupational psychologist works together with employees and management board by analysing factors that cause psychosocial stress, and provides specific instructions on ways to reduce mental stress. With less work-related stress the employees can work more efficiently for a longer period of time. Work-related stress and pressure can never be avoided completely, and this is not really the goal.
The employer can use the knowledge and skills of the occupational psychologist, for example, in performing a risk analysis or in preventing work-related stress. Occupational psychologist can support the employer by providing information on understanding psychosocial burden and stressors in the work environment.
For a short period of time, a person is able to mobilize himself or herself better in a stressful situation and achieve the desired results faster. This can lead to a misconception that this is the most effective way to work. Unfortunately, the situation is quite the opposite. Long-term stress without adequate ways to recover is a fertile ground for developing work-related burnout, anxiety and depression. Burnout can, in turn, lead to a long-term decline in working capacity and a fall in the company’s productivity.
An important factor to be considered when designing a work environment is that in addition to activities that require a lot of effort, the work should also include tasks that provide sufficient opportunities to recover . The key factor is to find the right balance between tasks with different levels of difficulty.
One part of occupational psychologist’s work is also the individual appointments with employees, when the patient is referred for a consultation by an occupational health nurse or physician. Occupational psychologist’s consultation is particularily necessary in a situation where a risk to the employee’s working ability is detected or symptoms of work-related stress, burnout, anxiety disorders and depression are identifies during a health check. Tests related to learning ability, concentration and memory can be performed during the appointment, if necessary. It is also possible to map the decline in working capacity associated with depression, anxiety disorders, burnout and motivation.
In addition to possibilities listed above, occupational psychologist can help both the employer and employees to cope with crisis situations. Such situations include, for example, work accidents, where in addition to the person involved in the accident, also his or her co-workers may need help. The employees may also need help and counselling after facing violence, threats or dangers. The aim is to prevent employees from losing their ability to work or becoming ill due to mental problems.