Britt Gottschalk & Ethan Sprang on How I-O Psych Can Save the Organizational World

Can I-O psych save the world? At least the world of work and organizations? My guests think so. Britt Gottschalk and Ethan Sprang of ReVise Consulting join us to talk about how COVID-19 will change the world of work and how I-O psych nerds can help.


This transcript is AI-generated and may not be completely accurate. Please do not quote myself or any of my guests based on this transcript.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  00:03

Hello, and welcome to Department 12: An IO Psych Podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Ben Butina. Do you think I-O psych can save the world, at least the world of work and organizations? My guests today do, so let’s meet them and find out how they got into the field.

Britt Gottschalk  00:21

My name is Britt God Gottschalk. I am from Milwaukee living in Madison, Wisconsin, and I am the CEO and founder of ReVised Consulting. I was sitting in a lecture hall at UW Milwaukee and it was my junior year of college is my bachelor’s in psychology, just general psych. And I was like, Okay, what the heck am I going to do? I don’t know, I don’t want to go into clinical I don’t want to go into counseling. And I remember being in like this research methods class, and the professor had a slide up on the on the projector and it showed a piece of the pie. And it was like 40% of psychologists go into clinical like, like another 40% goes into counseling. And I was just like, well, I got enough issues of my own, and you go into counseling. And so then I saw this little sliver at the bottom of 2% of psychologists end up going into industrial organizational psychology. And I was like, What is that? So after doing some research, you know, I learned it was a study of group behaviors, I was pretty much hooked on it. And I started, I started enrolling in graduate programs, researching them, you know, within the next couple months, for the most part, because it was just such an interesting field. And it just seemed like such a such a great way to really make a difference.

Ethan Sprang  01:46

My name is Ethan Sprang, I’m located in Louisville, Kentucky, I serve as the Chief Operating Officer for ReVise Consulting. Yeah, so in in school, I was, you know, studying studying finance and business. So I was really rooted in business at that time. But I was also minor in communications and took a couple courses that introduced some, you know, psychological behaviors. And I kind of grew in affinity just for behavioral analysis in general. And my family definitely has a presence in psychology. So it wasn’t foreign to me at the time. And I think, my senior year of college right before graduation, I was sort of exploring next steps. And I came across several IO psychology programs that were doing the exact type of thing I wanted to do. And it was almost instantaneous, that I knew that that’s what I wanted. And now I’m just super happy to kind of be in this in this market that’s budding, and just now developing into something really prominent.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  03:11

The super villain of our story, of course, is COVID-19. And we hope to have a vaccine that will vanquish this foe soon. But then what does everyone just go back to the office.

Britt Gottschalk  03:30

And we already had this wide scale experimental migration that’s been happening. And this is virtual migration. So everybody has been exposed, at least in the professional world to, you know, work from home benefits. And that’s something that you can’t really take that experience away. Even though COVID COVID will subside, the benefits have been apparent. And that’s just something that given the nature of the timeline of this thing. Organization organizations are already starting to shift to a more sustainable work environment.

Ethan Sprang  04:01

And I think really broadly, organizations have to kind of evaluate the opportunity cost of not utilizing remote work. We know that there’s some operations that require traveling to a shared workspace. So if you’re working in manufacturing, or in a factory, there isn’t always going to be a practical remote option available. And we don’t see the future state of remote work being in response to a pandemic. We think there’s some benefits that there are to it. So all these other industries that houses large groups of people, that’s been the majority of their work day on the phone and the computer, the transitions been fairly seamless and just kind of making it work for the time being. But I think if organizations get creative, they can capitalize on things like unused office space by potentially reducing the amount of space needed for those employees and leasing out any of the unused office space. So you have some additional cash for employee remote accommodations. And I think if we take advantage of this opportunity where we have extra time in our day from not having to commute will be able to see a little more opportunity in business outcome. Not to mention the social impact of virtual or other potential environmental benefits we see from a reduction in car and plane usage could be tremendous.

Britt Gottschalk  05:39

I think from an employer standpoint, I know we had highlighted a lot of the employee benefits. But from an employer standpoint, there are a lot of benefits to being able to work or have your employees work from anywhere. And first and foremost are the costs, you’re able to save more money on health care, you’re able to save more money on commuting expenses, you’re able to pull from a larger talent pool, it’s not just limited to who’s working locally or who’s in your, you know, immediate vicinity. If you’re in Washington State, you can work with somebody in Florida. If you want to work with somebody outside of the country, that’s absolutely possible to I know that you could start getting into the territory of talking about wage equality and where exactly, you know, you should, you should draw a line as far as how to determine salary and all that kind of kind of stuff. But for a large scale organization that has the resources to afford talent from different pools, that it can be something that organizations look look upon as a strategic advantage, especially from the CEO level, in terms of being able to go back to how things were, we have had the internet in existence since I believe, what 1998 1999. And the fact that we have multiple generations in the workplace, from baby boomers to Gen X, we got millennials and then very soon approaching, we’re going to have Gen Z, the migration to virtual and having that be something that’s sustainable within organizations is something that is undeniable we are constantly shifting to a more virtual platform, not just in our workplaces. But within our schools. We have children that are working on tablets more so than than learning cursive, we we have, you know, business that is getting done via zoom call. And it’s been happening that way well before the pandemic. So we’ve had remote work trending as well as hybrid work trending for a while, it’s just that the pandemic has exacerbated it, and increased the need for

Ethan Sprang  07:54

both Brett and myself have already started on this upskilling and technology, just because there’s so many different remote tools now that are being implemented, for example, CRMs are being used really widely. These zoom calls, teams calls, things like that. But even Furthermore, we have platforms like Dropbox paper, where you can collaborate with your teammates, in a shared space, and both myself and Britt have been able to do or to conduct entire meetings without seeing each other and without verbally having to talk to each other. And I think part of this technological upskilling is to address engagement within culture. I think if you diversify some of the communication channels, and then really enforced the training aspect of how to use those applications to kind of reach the potential you’re looking for, you’re going to start seeing an increase in engagement because not only are you tapping into the learning and development aspect, you’re connecting your employees. So I think as far as hard skills go, it’s that technology and then soft skills is going to be really addressing those continuous and honest feedback loops. We definitely have had a feedback deficit, in my opinion, in culture in organizational culture in the past. I think moving forward there needs to be an emphasis on how continuous is our feedback. Are we falling into yes cultures. As we go through this repurposing and redesigning, how do we want to share and communicate information with each other. I think organizations have a lot of work during This transition to, to repurpose and redesign in a way that enables others to have those hard and soft skills to be successful. So I think that’s where we’ll see a lot of the upskilling is in feedback patterns, and also the new collaborative remote technologies.

Britt Gottschalk  10:27

So in terms of in terms of culture, I think, generally, you know, we, we try to take this focus on people in process. So breaking it into two categories, where you’re able to kind of be able to wrap your head around it, you know, we definitely want to look at how intentional engagement activities, promote those continuous and honest feedback loops. So, prior to this, like in office experiences, they did have that whole advantage of walking to the bathroom, saying hi to somebody, the water cooler chats, engage and socialize with those that are working in the office. But because of that, so the demand has been lower for in office engagement activities, there’s no intention really behind it, because you’re taking for granted just being in the same hallway or same building as someone. So on the other hand, you know, virtual workers are able to go months without talking to someone they used to just walk by and talk to every day. So I would say that exposure to others promotes our sense of connectedness. So now that we’re behind the scenes, we have to be more intentional than ever to connect, engage and socialize with those that we wouldn’t normally have contact with in a virtual setting and making sure that we’re able to distinguish the different types of people, we have to be engaging, not just extroverts, for those happy hour, those virtual happy hours, but making sure we’re including introverts that might be more comfortable in one on one situations. And that organizations have also fallen victim to that that yes, culture, due to those pressures to be just positive as a way to protect job security. But this is an issue that has derived from heavy competition and that those distorted survival instincts. So do we really want to tell our supervisor that the time and effort they’ve been putting into a change implementation isn’t suitable for their department and needs to be redesigned? No, we definitely want to make sure we’re embracing that we want to say that this looks amazing, we have a great team. And it’s due to that awesome leadership and culture that we agree with. So I do feel that culture should be directed by the continuous honest feedback and reinforced without those appropriate rewards and recognition. And now, you know, that’s something that’s been taking for granted that we have to be more intentional about.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  12:50

So there’s no putting the genie back into the bottle. Many of the employees who have been working from home for the last six months or more, are going to want to keep doing that, or at least something like it permanently. And there are benefits to employers for doing this. And to the environment as well. To make all this work, we’re going to need new skills, hard skills and soft skills. But why are IO psychologists, the superheroes of this story, what makes us better suited to this than people from other fields.

Ethan Sprang  13:24

One cool thing about IO psychology is they cater to people and they they really work to preserve the well being of those that have chronically negative work experience by taking that employee centered approach. And we found so often that in hustle cultures, which really should have a lot of value in organizations, they’re turning more into burnout cultures. And we feel that that’s due to a lack of strategy and knowledge and employee behavior. And that’s where the behavioral experts come in. So, you know, we feel that we’re in this industrial transition to a more permanent form of remote work. And that’s going to be significant. So IO, psychology has this opportunity to get in at the ground floor, and to look at the repurposing and redesigning of those organizations moving forward. And I feel that IO, psychology and practice hasn’t had enough of a role in the past for business processes. It hasn’t really broken out of that educational space, spending so much time in a state of research. And I think now we have an obligation as a corporate society, to use this knowledge to kind of hire more inclusively to engage and develop our employees and maintenance our cultures with a more proactive approach to avoid some of those irreparable culture toxicity that can undermine our group effort. So I think the floor is really open for IO psychology. Just to help with that behavioral repurpose and redesign. And I think that those behaviors can even expand outside of organizations to create sort of a society that’s a little more socially collaboratively mind.

Ben Butina, Ph.D.  15:20

I want to thank my guests for sharing their thoughts. If you’d like to get in touch with them, you can check out the show notes for a link to their firm revise consulting and links to their individual social media accounts as well. As always, thank you for listening and we’ll talk next time