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Jenny Baker
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2020 SIOP Exit Survey Executive Summary: Issues, Possible Solutions, and Actions Taken

Richard M. Vosburgh, SIOP Survey Subcommittee Cochair, RMV Solutions LLC; and Melissa G. Keith, SIOP Survey Subcommittee Member, Bowling Green State University

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank the other members of the Survey Subcommittee (Patrick O’Connell, Brett Guidry, and Stephen King), Jayne Tegge in the SIOP Administrative Office, and SIOP leaders who reviewed and contributed to this article (Allan Church, Tiffany Poeppelman, and Michelle Goro).

Background and Method

To better understand why SIOP members chose not to renew their membership with SIOP, members who did not renew during the June 2019 call for membership renewal (N = 2,973) were surveyed by the SIOP Survey Subcommittee during March 4–26, 2020. The online survey was sent by email and consisted of seven quantitative questions, eight write-in questions, and two demographic questions. Mercer|Sirota conducted the analysis and generated the 2020 Exit Survey report.

Summary of Results

A total of only 88 people (3%) responded to the survey, so caution should be used in interpreting the results. Demographics of the respondents were as follows: 65% female, 34% male, 67% White, 10% Black, 7% Asian, 7% Hispanic. Immediate response to the survey resulted in 92 renewals. Of the 88 respondents, 17% intended to rejoin SIOP, 50% might rejoin, 11% did not intend to rejoin, and 22% were currently unsure.

Of the 88 respondents, 47% and 39% were Student Affiliates and Members, respectively; Associate (10%) and Retired (5%) respondents had minimal representation; no Fellows were in this group. The majority had been members of SIOP for fewer than 5 years (35% for under 1 year and 38% between 2 and 5 years).

Common reasons for not renewing are portrayed in Table 1. When examining the “primary reasons” mentioned by the 88 respondents, “The cost of SIOP dues is too high” was the most frequent primary reason mentioned for not renewing (28%) followed by “The SIOP membership benefits were not meeting my needs” (16%). These results mirror those from 2019, which also had dues and benefits as top primary reasons. Other less common reasons not included in Table 1 include not being clear about the benefits of SIOP membership (6%), joining for the conference rate (6%), perceiving an academic focus instead of a practitioner focus (5%), and joined or continued membership with another organization instead of SIOP (5%). Of those who joined or continued membership with another organization instead of SIOP, four respondents listed three groups (Academy of Management, American Sociological Association, and International Humanistic Management Association).

Table 1

Most Common Primary Reasons Given for Not Renewing Membership

Reason

Percentage 2020

Percentage 2019

Dues are too high

28%

15%

Benefits not meeting needs

16%

14%

Just forgot to renew

11%

2%

Other

11%

17%

Retired

7%

10%

When asked to specify “additional reasons” for not renewing, a number of responses were given that mirrored results from the 2019 Exit Survey including membership benefits not being understood or not meeting individual or organizational needs and dues being too high (see Table 2 for most common additional reasons). Of those who named membership with another organization instead of SIOP as an additional reason, five respondents listed seven groups (Canadian Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Division 13 Consulting Psychology, Society for Human Resource Management, Southern Management Association, Association for Experimental Education, Association of Community College Trustees, and SIA), and each of those with only one person each. There appears to be no strong competitor organization pulling people away from SIOP at this time.

Table 2
Most Common Additional Reasons Riven for Not Renewing Membership

Reason

Percentage 2020

Percentage 2019

Benefits for me not clear

33%

28%

SIOP dues too high

26%

23%

Benefits not meeting my needs

20%

27%

Too much focus on academic issues

17%

18%

Just forgot to renew

17%

6%

My organization does not value SIOP

14%

20%

 

In addition to the quantitative responses, the exit survey allowed respondents to share any other information about why they were not renewing and provide information about what would make a membership more appealing. Some of these qualitative responses provided useful insights for SIOP to consider. For example, beyond suggestions to make dues cheaper, one respondent mentioned allowing dues to be paid in monthly installments rather than in full. A number of respondents also made recommendations for making SIOP content more “user friendly,” including updating the SIOP website, marketing the I-O psychology field more effectively, and making content produced (e.g., white papers) more visually appealing and easily digestible. Finally, a number of suggestions centered around interaction with other members including increasing efforts surrounding diversity and inclusion, hosting workshops and webinars throughout the year for practitioners to learn from academic members and other practitioners, providing opportunities for virtual networking or mentorship programs, and utilizing platforms such as Riipen or Candoit to connect student members to project-based work.

Discussion

Taken together, the 2020 Exit Survey largely mirrors many of the responses from the 2019 Exit Survey suggesting a number of areas for the Membership Committee to further explore. Specifically, issues surrounding benefits to members, value to employer, a lack of focus on practitioner needs, and dues were common reasons for not renewing membership across 2019 and 2020 exit surveys. Here we highlight some of the possible solutions and actions taken to address these issues as well as an additional set of recommendations based on SIOP’s diversity and inclusion initiative (see Table 3 for a summary of this information).

Table 3
Issues, Possible Solutions, and Action(s) Taken

Issue

Possible solution(s)

Action(s) taken

Benefits unclear or not meeting my needs.

Work with other committees to provide more user-friendly content, networking opportunities (e.g., virtual mentoring, affinity groups), and increase efforts to promote a more inclusive SIOP experience.

Members are now sent an onboarding email spelling out benefits.

Working on a “new member” web page.

The Membership Experience Subcommittee has undertaken a number of actions including a conference session on communities of engagement and a new onboarding process.

Employer does not value SIOP.

Continue efforts to market the field to both organizations and society.

Explore possibility of videos and other media to increase visibility.

Member call to action: Advocate for I-O psychology in our communities and organizations.

SIOP has written this letter that expresses the SIOP value proposition. The letter can be revised to pitch SIOP to one’s company.

Too academic

focused.

Increase benefits for practitioner members including networking activities, affinity groups at the conference based on industry, easily digestible content, and workshops.

Practitioner call to action: Get involved in SIOP to direct the future goals of this organization and reach out to fellow practitioners.

The Analytics Subcommittee shared a report with the Executive Board detailing membership and continues to seek ways to meet the needs of all SIOP members.

Dues perceived as too high.

As dues continue to be the primary reason respondents do not renew, SIOP may want to consider options such as installments rather than payment in full.

Recommendation that SIOP consider quarterly installment payments for hardship cases.

The Dues webpage will now include information about the extended student rate.

Diversity and

inclusion

Work with Diversity and Inclusion officer to ensure recruitment is inclusive.

Member call to action: Look for opportunities to promote belonging.

In 2019, SIOP President Eden King announced the formation of an Inclusion Task Force aimed at using existing data to create a more inclusive SIOP.

Diversity and Inclusion Officer added to the Executive Board.

 

Member Benefits

To begin, former members continue to express that benefits are not clear to them. For example, qualitative responses indicated that it is not always clear how SIOP “benefits the everyday member” and SIOP could “make a better case for why membership benefits me.” To address this issue, new members are now sent a series of onboarding emails that spell out membership benefits. This ensures that members are made more aware of the benefits afforded by a SIOP membership from the beginning. The SIOP Administrative Office is also working on a “New Member” web page to engage new members and has updated the Member Benefits page with a chart that defines benefits based on member type. The Membership Experience Subcommittee has also proposed a number of initiatives that include leading a future SIOP conference session on “Communities of Engagement” where members can network with prominent I-O scholars and practitioners that share their specific interests. The subcommittee has also outlined a new onboarding process that details strategies for engagement, education, and retention. SIOP continues to learn a lot this year by taking the conference online, which may prove beneficial to International Affiliates or those who would have difficulty traveling. Additionally, based on suggestions from the qualitative responses, we recommend working with other committees to (a) provide more user-friendly content that can be used by busy practitioners, (b) provide additional networking opportunities (e.g., virtual mentoring, affinity groups) outside of the annual SIOP conference, and (c) increase efforts to promote a more inclusive SIOP member experience.

Value to Employers

Some respondents indicated that their employer does not know about the field of I-O psychology and/or does not reimburse SIOP dues. We view this as both a visibility and marketing issue. Although SIOP has already written a value proposition letter for members to pitch SIOP to one’s company, we also see that companies unfamiliar with the field of I-O psychology may be resistant to supporting a SIOP membership. Thus, we plan to continue efforts to market the field to both organizations and society in general. To do so, we recommend exploring possibilities of video and other media to increase the visibility of our field. Additionally, we urge our fellow SIOP members to advocate for this field in their workplaces and communities.

Academic Focus

Another ongoing concern is that SIOP is oriented strongly toward the academic, with not enough focus, content, or rewards for practitioners. For example, one respondent expressed that “the content is far too academic and less relevant for me” while another noted that “academic interests are what drive strategic decisions.” The SIOP Membership Committee seeks to continue its mission to understand the needs of all members—whether practitioners or academicians. For example, the Analytics Subcommittee recently submitted a 58-page Executive Board report detailing SIOP membership trends and plan to use these trends to inform how membership can be best served. We also wish to issue a call to action for practitioners to get more actively involved in SIOP. For example, many SIOP committees recruit members to serve as volunteers who will have the opportunity to direct the future of SIOP. For practitioner members who are already actively involved, we recommend reaching out to other practitioner members (or nonmembers) who may not be as aware of the many opportunities to serve the SIOP community.

Dues

Dues continue to be a primary reason expressed for not renewing a SIOP membership. Former members frequently express that the expense is prohibitive. Roughly half of the respondents were Student Affiliates, and many of the comments were from them as they faced the higher dues when upgrading to Associate or Member. They may not have been aware that they can continue at the student rate for 1 year beyond graduation, so that has been added to the dues web page. While the dues structure for SIOP is consistent with or lower than comparable professional organizations, we sympathize with members who find dues to be too expensive, particularly members who are currently experiencing a hardship. Therefore, we are recommending that SIOP consider allowing dues to be paid in quarterly installments rather than as a lump sum to ease the burden on certain members.

Diversity & Inclusion Efforts

Finally, though anecdotal, at least one survey respondent noted that “The membership of SIOP is very demographically homogenous, the leadership even more so.” SIOP as well as the Membership Committee is committed to championing diversity and inclusion efforts within SIOP. In 2019, SIOP President Eden King announced that “belonging” is a top priority, and a new Diversity and Inclusion Task Force was tasked with utilizing existing data to look for ways to promote inclusion within our organization. As a result, a new ad hoc committee, Disability, Accessibility, and Inclusion, will begin addressing more of these issues. Additionally, the SIOP membership recently voted to add a Diversity and Inclusion Officer position to the Executive Board. For our part, the Membership Committee has proposed efforts to work with the new Diversity and Inclusion Officer to ensure future recruiting efforts are more inclusive. Finally, we echo Dr. King’s challenge to SIOP members to look for opportunities to be more inclusive and promote belonging.

Conclusions

The SIOP Membership Committee seeks to create an inclusive membership for all I-O-related professionals and to focus on the attraction, selection, and retention of all SIOP members. The annual Exit Survey is one way we garner insights for retaining SIOP members. In this executive summary we have highlighted a number of consistent reasons former SIOP members give for not renewing their membership, proposed potential solutions, and noted where actions have been taken. In concert with the many other SIOP committees, we continue to look for ways to serve the field of I-O psychology and the members of SIOP. Members who have additional suggestions for improving SIOP membership should contact the authors.

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