Thinking about studying human resource management? With people at the centre of a human resource professional’s role, it’s helpful to have a solid understand of why humans behave the way they do.

Studying psychology alongside human resources through Deakin’s Bachelor of Human Resource Management (Psychology) will offer you a complementary set of skills and a professional advantage.

The responsibilities of a human resources professional are wide-ranging and include recruitment, selection, training and development, workplace diversity, employee relations, performance, change management and remuneration.

According to Dr Huw Flatau Harrison, an organisational psychologist and lecturer at Deakin Business School, adding an in-depth understanding of psychology provides an objective lens through which typical human resource (HR) strategies, policies and procedures can be viewed.

‘With psychology we focus predominantly on the scientific study of behaviour by looking to categorise behaviour in that scientific way with the aid of statistics and research,’ he says.

While studying HR and psychology together isn’t uncommon, most other universities offer this combination in a much longer double degree format. ‘This is a very bespoke course,’ Dr Flatau Harrison says. ‘We have the full range of the HR major and the full range of the psychology major within a single three-year degree.’

It’s also a fully-accredited course, with students graduating with accreditation from both the Australian HR Institute (AHRI) and the Australian Psychological Society (APS).

The future of work

In a time when ‘the workplace’ has been completely redefined, human resource professionals with an expert understanding of the changing face of employment will be much sought-after.

‘We've seen things change dramatically with the difficulties of COVID last year,’ Dr Flatau Harrison explains. ‘Everyone has now moved to working from home and this means online management of teams, performance management online, trying to maintain organisational culture online, and so on.’

Dr Flatau Harrison says the way in which employees engage with work has fundamentally changed. ‘This degree is going to give students that that step up by exploring how work will look in the future,’ he explains. ‘HR managers are going to have to juggle remote management of employees and employee wellbeing, job satisfaction, and mental health.’

A premium course for students with a goal

The Bachelor of Human Resource Management (Psychology) is for people with a very specific goal in mind. ‘It’s for people that want a highly formalised and accredited degree path,’ Dr Flatau Harrison says. ‘They can choose whether they go down the HR route or the course can also lead to further study, such as honours and masters, to gain the qualifications to become a psychologist.’

So far, the degree has attracted a diverse range of people. ‘Initially we were expecting it to be predominantly school leavers but we also see quite a strong mature age student cohort looking to upskill,’ Dr Flatau Harrison says. ‘They’ve either been in HR type roles for a while and they're looking to gain that psychology edge and formalised qualification or they're just looking for a completely new career.’

Building your expertise

Current student Phillipa Jerram was already a HR professional when she commenced this course but was keen to move further in her career. ‘As a human resources professional we work with humans – it's in our title,’ Phillipa says. ‘And because humans are complex and our motivations and our reward systems are all different, being able to understand psychology is not only beneficial from a business perspective, but also from a personal perspective. Psychology just ties in really well with human resources.’

With the career goal of becoming a business partner in learning and development, Phillipa is gaining vital skills through her studies. ‘Knowing how people learn and what motivates them means that I am able to tailor things to reach more people and explain things in different ways,’ she says. ‘It will also potentially help me to be better at what I do than everybody else around me because I have that psychology background.’

Phillipa says the course encompassed everything she had been looking for but had been unable to find.  ‘It was just a perfect combination for me personally,’ she says. ‘It combines psychology and health with the only core business components I cared about, which was the HR and behaviour management.’

‘As emotional intelligence becomes really important within workplaces and companies become more aware and interested in looking after their employees, I’m hoping that HR actually expands and becomes mandatory for every business big and small,’ Phillipa says.

Interested in studying human resource management and psychology? Check out Deakin’s Bachelor of Human Resource Management (Psychology).