What Is Organizational Behavior: Jobs, Salaries, Education

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Organizational behavior is the study of how people affect and are affected by organizations and systems. Find out what it takes to work in this exciting profession.

[Featured image] Management consultant discussing organizational behavior with employees.

Organizational behavior professionals observe employees to understand and provide insights into the workplace. They note the dynamics between team members, how they behave towards management, and the characteristics of the happiest and most effective members. Understanding these dynamics and their overall effect on an organization helps decision-makers make predictions and plan improvements. 

If you enjoy studying organizational behavior, consider a career path in this field. You can work in almost any industry and find a range of positions, from a trainer and human resources manager to consultant and executive. 

What is organizational behavior?

Organizational behavior is the study of behavior dynamics between individuals and teams. Its theories and practices draw from related fields like anthropology, political science, and sociology and how they apply to a business environment. Researchers and practitioners in the field consider how team dynamics, organizational systems, and leadership styles affect the motivation, productivity, and satisfaction of the people who work there.

Why is organizational behavior important?

Organizational behavior is important because understanding the behavior of the individuals who are part of an organization is often key to making changes. Uncovering what motivates people, what makes them feel supported, and what causes them to be unhappy can be used to make organizational improvements, resulting in many benefits such as the following: 

1. Improved work performance 

Job satisfaction, team dynamics, leadership style, and motivation levels can affect work performance. An organization that has a positive work culture where they feel supported and appreciated is typically desirable for employees. Often this directly correlates to the people they work with, so understanding human dynamics can help businesses build strategies to foster positive relationships and a growth mindset. 

2. Increased employee motivation

Employee motivation is important to ensure high-level productivity rates. This may be linked to management style, organizational structure, incentives, or other factors supervisors can leverage for improvement.

3. Higher job satisfaction

Being happy at work is important to employees but also to employers. Staff turnover rates are low, and sickness levels decrease when employees are satisfied. Factors such as salary, adding value to the company, feeling supported, feeling part of a team, and development opportunities may play a part. 

4. Better customer service

A better understanding of the workforce creates more productive workplaces which can filter down to customers. Analysts at Glassdoor compared employee satisfaction ratings reported on the American Customer Satisfaction Index and found that companies with higher employee satisfaction ratings tend to have higher reports of customer satisfaction [1]. 

5. Cooperative teams

Knowledge of organizational behavior helps identify situations that cause team conflicts. Managers can use this information to prevent conflicts before they become a problem or lessen their consequences when it breaks out between team members or management.

6. Creative and innovative work environment

Creativity and innovation are key to business growth and development. Happy employees are more creative, and management plays a key role in ensuring employees feel safe and confident to flourish creatively. Organizational behavior can help understand the environment that employees feel free to express creativity so managers can create and maintain it.

7. More effective leadership

Management style directly affects the work environment and company culture. Leaders who know how to empower employees by giving them the freedom they need to do the work that’s best for them tend to build stronger relationships and create productive work environments.

Organizational behavior jobs

You can find organizational behavior jobs in almost any industry with more than one person working within an organization. The following list of organizational behavior jobs and their base average salaries highlights how various jobs in this field can be and how much you can earn.

  • Business analyst: $76,092 [2]

  • Business executives: $59,929 plus bonuses [3

  • Business consultants: $74,995 [4]

  • Human resources manager: $75,170 [5]

  • Management consultant: $98,876 [6]

  • Training and development managers: $77,496 [7]

Career outlook

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 6 percent growth rate for industrial and organizational psychologists from 2021 to 2031, a rate as fast as the national average [8]. 

BLS also expects jobs for management analysts to grow by 11 percent by 2031 and for training and development managers to grow by 7 percent [9, 10]. These types of jobs also fall into the organizational behavior field. 

Key skills and knowledge for a career in organizational behavior

A career in organizational behavior requires a specific skill set based on transferable workplace skills and technical skills that are used to communicate, analyze and problem-solve. The following skills tend to be common among these professionals.

  • Analytical and critical thinking: Organizational behavior professionals rely on analytical skills to draw conclusions from data and research solutions to problems. 

  • Communication: When working with people, it helps to know how to report findings and explain ideas in a way they can understand. This includes verbal and written forms of communication, such as reports, presentations, and emails. 

  • Data analysis: As an organizational behavior professional, you may collect considerable amounts of quantitative and qualitative data that you must analyze to identify patterns and trends. To do this effectively, you also may need to develop technical skills with a specific program or method.

  • Negotiation: After you identify areas of growth for a team member or department, you may find yourself negotiating with management to implement the necessary changes so that all parties feel respected and satisfied with the plan.

  • Organization: Overseeing research, conducting analysis, managing teams, and working with people to create a solution that suits the organization's needs can be a monumental task. To do this, you have to be organized and know how to manage your time.

  • Problem-solving: Ultimately, organizational behavior is about finding solutions to problems affecting the organization. Your analysis will identify workplace issues that need resolving, and you’ll likely be called on to develop actionable solutions that align with business objectives. 

How to get a job in organizational behavior

To get a job in organizational behavior, you need a combination of education and experience related to the field. Your career path may vary depending on the type of work you want to do and the industries you plan to work in. With this in mind, you can choose the majors and jobs that make the most sense for your career goals.

Earn a degree.

Many people who pursue a career in organizational behavior earn a degree in industrial and organizational psychology. Although you can earn a bachelor's degree in this major, you likely need at least a master's degree to qualify for an entry-level position. You may choose to earn a bachelor's degree in a complementary field, like business, education, or marketing before you begin working on a graduate degree.

You also have the option to continue your education and earn a Ph.D. or PsyD in industrial and organizational psychology. Both degrees can boost your job opportunities and give you a competitive advantage when applying for positions.

Get job experience.

Your job experience in organizational behavior can come from a paid position or internship. You also may decide to transition to the field of organizational behavior after working for several years. This gives you a chance to work in multiple positions within a company or in different businesses, giving you first-hand experience with the systems and roles in place. You can acquire relevant job experience in multiple fields, including human resources, education, marketing, and sales. 

Develop key skills.

You can develop many skills for a career in organizational behavior before you start working in the field. Volunteer work and internships can present opportunities to practice communication, problem-solving, and organizational skills. You also may consider taking courses to learn better ways to communicate, methods for analyzing data, or how to negotiate with others. 

Want to find out more about organizational behavior?

To find out more about organizational behavior, you can explore the topic through a course like Organizational Behavior: How to Manage People from the University of Navarra. Or, you can begin building some of the skills you can use in the field with a course like Removing Barriers to Change from the University of Pennsylvania.

If you’re ready to pursue a career in organizational behavior, you may consider building credentials through a certificate online such as the Organizational Behavior: Know Your People course, offered by Macquarie University. These programs and more are available on Coursera. 

Article sources


Glassdoor. "The Link Between Glassdoor Reviews and Customer Satisfaction, https://www.glassdoor.com/research/employee-customer-satisfaction/." Accessed November 17, 2022.

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