This Southern Cross grad is using psychology to change workplace culturePublished 14 May 2021
We spend more time at work than just about any other human activity (apart from sleeping) over the course of our lifetimes. The workplace can be a battleground or a fertile ground for growth, depending on how you look at it, and that's something Batoul Hodroj thinks about a lot in her ongoing training in organisational psychology.
“I think every organisation needs an organisational psychologist!” says the Southern Cross Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours) graduate, who says the issues organisations face are as diverse as the organisations themselves.
These problems can be extreme, such as bullying, harassment or even behaviour that puts colleagues in danger, but they can also be more subtle attempts by an organisation to change itself from the inside out, and create a better environment for the people who work there.
Batoul sees requests from companies interested in developing their workplace culture – such as increasing the number of women or people from diverse backgrounds in leadership positions – or managing significant restructuring of operations.
“It’s an imperative for modern organisations to offer talented people an environment they want to work in, with staff who are engaged and motivated. Most people want to do meaningful work that is fulfilling. If they can’t get that – they move on.”
Organisational psychology is not often a recognised job category, says Batoul, and companies will use terms like Head of People and Culture or organisational consultant to describe what she does. Behind the various titles and strategies however, there is a lot of science.
“We apply science and our deep knowledge of human psychology to the problems an organisation faces. By collecting both quantitative and qualitative data like surveys and interviews, we can triangulate that with our analysis to come up with a solution that’s based on evidence.”
Batoul completed her Honours year at Southern Cross University in Coffs Harbour and is now completing a PhD. “I fell in love with Coffs Harbour but especially with research during my Honours year,” she said. “The teaching staff and my supervisors particularly lit a fire for me in that direction. It completely changed the trajectory of my life and what I had done to that point.”
Growing up in Melbourne, Batoul had always been curious about people, how they work and why they do the things they do. “I was the classic friend-therapist, listening, providing advice or just being empathetic and my natural inclination is to help people, so psychology was a good fit for that.”
During her studies she became more and more intrigued with group behaviour and what makes people behave in a certain way when they are together. “I worked in clinical settings initially but I found I wanted a broader social focus than just concentrating on individuals,” she said.
“Studying really helps you work that out as you are exposed to so many different aspects. There wasn’t really a separation between lecturers and students in that you had great access to them and the foundational knowledge they built in us. The quality of the interactions was really amazing. Studying my Honours year in Coffs was the best decision of my life.”
Learn more about studying Psychological Science at Southern Cross University
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