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SIOP Members in the News

Clif Boutelle

News reporters have found SIOP and its members fertile ground when searching for resources to provide information for work-related stories they are writing. It is not always the mainstream presslarge metropolitan newspapers and magazinesthat is contacting SIOP members. There are literally hundreds of specialty publications and Web sites looking for knowledgeable people to assist with stories. These publications have a surprisingly large readership and offer exposure opportunities for I-O psychology in a couple of ways: Reporters learn about the field by talking with SIOP members, and readers can become aware of I-O through the stories. In addition, these stories are sometimes picked up by the mainstream press, giving them a longer shelf life.

Every mention of a SIOP member and his or her work or comments in the media is helpful to our mission to gain greater visibility for I-O psychology. Following are just some of the mentions in recent months.

In an April 29 Toronto Globe and Mail article about a landmark privacy court case in Canada about the use of surveillance cameras in the workplace, a study conducted by David Zweig of the University of Toronto and Jane Webster of Queens University was cited extensively. They found that nearly 1,200 respondents were nearly unanimous in saying they were uncomfortable with workplace surveillance. What came up time and time again as a concern in the study was, even though technology isnt positioned as a tool to monitor performance, thats exactly what it would be used for, Zweig said.

Research by Mark Nagy of Xavier University and Sarah Ipsa of OKI Systems, a materials handling firm in Cincinnati, OH, has attracted widespread coverage thanks to stories by United Press International and Scripps Howard News Service. Their study of shift workers contradicted the common belief that, because of the demands of family life, single employees have more job and life satisfaction while working late or early shifts than married workers. Their study showed that married workers were more satisfied with their work and lives than single workers. Our hypothesis was the exact opposite, Nagy said. The story also appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer (April 11) and The Cincinnati Post (April 26).

The April issue of Governing magazine cited a national study of forensic science lab directors by Wendy Becker of the State University of New York at Albany. She found that staffing problems are systemic and pervasive and impact the quality of labs and outcomes and effectiveness. The article cited a severe backlog, caused by staff and resource shortages, in most public crime labs that has led to serious errors and allowed criminals to go free and other evidence to go unused.

Fred Mael of American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C. was quoted in the April issue of Club Industry magazine for a story on employee retention. Noting that the health club industry was particularly sensitive to employee turnover because of the relationships between clients and staff, Mael said that some turnover is good as long as it involves those who shouldnt have been hired (functional turnover) rather than those a club wants to keep (dysfunctional turnover).

In a March 30 Baton Rouge Business Report story about narcissism in the workplace, Allison Dunn of the Baton Rouge office of Dattner Consulting was quoted. Narcissists can have grand visions and be big dreamers, and they have the ability to drive a team to success because they like to win, she said. Or, they can also be fanciful, flighty and not grounded, causing great harm to the company or department. Managers need to be aware of who the narcissists are on their staff and if they are having problems discuss the gaps between where they are and where they need to be. Narcissists are motivated by opportunities to succeed.

A research study of technology in the workplace by Jeffrey Stanton of Syracuse University and graduate student Kathryn Stam, suggests that IT projects sometimes fail because IT staffers comprise a distinct subculture in many organizationsone that often conflicts with users and managers. Publications that reported his research included the March 29 issue of CIO Today and also Newsfactor Network.

The Wall Street Journal, in a March 29 story about a growing number of workers who forego promotions to remain in their current jobs, called upon Ben Dattner of Dattner Consulting in New York City for his comments. One way employees staying in the same job can show value is to mentor new people joining the company, he said. Stayput-ers eventually rise to become the senior members of their groups and become de facto leaders and are able to show young folks how the company and its culture operates. For these people, mentoring can be extremely rewarding, Dattner said.

Dattner also contributed to a March 2 Toronto Globe and Mail article on rewards for worker performance and service. He said such recognition should be substantive and not trivialized but, if done right, is a valuable tool in retaining key employees.

Dory Hollander of WiseWorkplaces in Arlington, VA contributed to a special March 29 Wall Street Journal report on how people can reinvigorate their work careers when they feel they are going nowhere fast in their jobs. One way, she advised, to combat career doldrums is to focus less energy on work and more on activities outside the office. By letting go of a single-minded, all consuming focus on their jobs, she believes people will not only derive more personal satisfaction but also become more productive and effective at work. They will be able to bring new interests and energies to their jobs, which in turn should help them advance their careers, she said.

She was also quoted in the March 2 Managing Your Career column in the Wall Street Journal about surviving workplace pressure. One piece of advice: Always expect the unexpected. That act alone increases a persons adaptability and resilience. The worst thing is to react like a deer in the headlightstoo stunned to respond or survive.

The March 21 Dallas Morning News carried a story containing comments from Mitchell Marks, a San Francisco I-O psychologist, and Richard Arvey of the University of Minnesota. The story noted that for many workers, work has turned into a pressure cooker loaded with nonstop stress, long hours, and fears about layoffs. It used to be that working hard meant you got a promotion. Now working hard means staying in the same place, said Marks. Yet, the unrelenting pressure and little or no job security have not led to overall job dissatisfaction, said Arvey. This measure, which takes into account several factors, has been relatively stable over the last decade.

Wendell Williams of ScientificSelection.com, an Atlanta-based hiring and performance management consulting firm, contributed an article about recruiting in the March 9 issue of Electronic Recruiting Exchange, an online information and networking service for recruiters. He noted that in many places recruiting has changed in the past 10 years from a find a body mindset to find a highly skilled employee. He listed several recruiting trends and offered some suggestions. He says there are no easy fixes to recruiting. Finding people is hard work and qualifying them is even harder, but it is more cost effective to hire hard and let the prehiring tools sort our prospective employees than to hire easy and let job performance weed out weak employees.

A study by Jerry Palmer and Laura Koppes of Eastern Kentucky University has received national and international news coverage. The March 2 Christian Science Monitor, the February 9 Nieuws Week, the Dutch version of Newsweek magazine; and the French publication La Science (February 2) reported results of their study about whether there is any correlation between prospective employees credit reports and their job performances. They found that credit reports are not a good predictor of job performance. 

For a February 27 Associated Press article on team building games in the workplace, Michael Warech of human resources firm Watson Wyatt & Co. in New York City, questioned the effectiveness of quirky exercises (scavenger hunts, racing vehicles, beating on drums) to prevent office malaise and develop teamwork among coworkers. I can understand the appeal, he said. Its obviously much more exciting to participate in a boat race than go to a classroom with a stand-up lectureBut, as a scientist, an empiricist, its a tougher sell for me. The story appeared in papers throughout the country, including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Daily News, Louisville Courier-Journal, and Toledo Blade. 

In the winter issue of Employment Management Today, Steven Hunt, chief scientist at Unicru in Beaverton, OR and Jana Fallon, online assessment manager at American Express, discussed the use of online screening tools in recruiting. The practice is being used increasingly by companies, which typically receive hundreds and even thousands of online applications. Technology has streamlined the hiring process, an activity that historically was very paper-intensive, Fallon noted. 

As always, Minneapolis-based Gantz Wiley Researchs annual WorkTrends survey attracted media interest. Stories appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, East Bay (San Francisco) Business Times, and HR.com, among others. The 2004 WorkTrends survey carries a warning to employers to bolster their retention efforts. Worker confidence in job security dropped significantly (from 63% last year to 59%) and as the job market begins to loosen, companies may find that retaining their best employees could be difficult. Survivors of layoffs, cost-cutting, and salary freezes are weary, said Scott Brooks, research and development director at Gantz Wiley, signaling workers intent to leave as the jobs become more numerous.

Also, Brooks and Jack Wiley, president and CEO of Gantz Wiley, authored a piece for the January issue of Twin Cities Business Monthly on creating a high performance culture within organizations. It happens, they say, when strong leadership, employee satisfaction, and customer satisfaction come together.

Please let us know if you or a SIOP colleague have been quoted in a news story or contributed to a media report. We will be glad to include it in SIOP Members in the News. 

Send copies of the articles to SIOP at PO Box 87, Bowling Green, OH 43402, or tell us about them by e-mailing siop@siop.org or fax to (419) 352-2645.

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