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Navigating the Landscape: Key Findings From the 2022 Practitioner Needs Survey

Caitlynn Sendra, Sarah Thomas, & Jessica Jacob Chackoria

Acknowledgements: We would like to thank and acknowledge Elizabeth McCune, Will Shepherd, Jaclyn Martin Kowal, and Amy DuVernet for reviewing this article.

Executive Summary

The Practitioner Needs Survey is conducted every few years by SIOP’s Professional Practice Committee, which is a branch of the broader SIOP Professional Practice Portfolio. The purpose of this survey is to gather information from SIOP members who are involved in I-O practice about

  1. SIOP resources they currently find helpful and additional resources that could be helpful to them
  2. Their engagement and commitment toward SIOP

This information is then used to inform the SIOP Practitioner Portfolio’s work to best serve practitioner members.

Key Results

  • Today, a substantial percentage of respondents are not aware of all the resources SIOP offers (range = 0% to 46%)
  • In general, we see good commitment to SIOP
  • The two most prevalent themes from the open-text feedback were lack of visibility/communication about resources and perceived distinction between scientists and practitioners

Background

The Practitioner Needs Survey is administered to SIOP members who self-identify as practitioners every few years to gauge the engagement with and value of current practitioner resources offered by SIOP, as well as general satisfaction with the organization. In addition to collecting data on practitioners’ views on current initiatives, the survey also aimed to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on practitioners’ careers and experiences.

Introduction

According to the 2023 SIOP membership survey, more than half (59%) of all SIOP members are currently employed in industry. As such, it is essential that SIOP maintain a pulse on the needs and engagement of I-O psychology practitioners. This most recent survey was launched in December 2022, the results of which are summarized in this article.

In order to fully understand the current needs and engagement levels of I-O psychology practitioners, the survey and this corresponding report are broken down into several sections. First, we measured practitioner overall engagement to get a broad overview of current practitioner sentiment and to identify major barriers to practitioner engagement in SIOP. We also explored practitioners’ commitment to SIOP as an organization.

Next, we sought to explore practitioners’ perceptions of the resources that SIOP provides. Specifically, we sought to identify which resources practitioners perceived to be most valuable and which resources might be underutilized by practitioners (e.g., due to lack of awareness).

Following perceptions toward resources, the committee saw a unique opportunity to identify the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic may have had on the lives and work of I-O practitioners. Finally, we explored the open-ended feedback that we received from practitioners on the ways SIOP can better support its practitioners.

Methods

In March 2022, the survey team began developing the survey by examining questions included in previous versions of the survey and identifying additional topics that would be relevant to practitioners. Two sections from previous surveys, the value of practitioner-oriented SIOP resources and practitioner satisfaction with SIOP, were retained. In addition to these, new scales related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on practitioners’ work, their commitment to SIOP, and barriers to their engagement with SIOP were added. In December 2022, this survey was sent to 2,480 professional members of SIOP, who indicated their primary employment as “practitioner.” The response rate was 11.70%, with 291 valid responses obtained. This is slightly higher than the response rate for the 2014 survey (10%) but lower than that of the 2008 survey (36%).1

Figures 1.1 and 1.2 show breakdowns of the sample according to employment setting and employment level. Although the sample size may seem small, the figures reveal that demographic groups within these categories were satisfactorily represented by the data obtained. With respect to membership status, a clear majority were full Members (76%), with some Associates (12.20%) and Fellows (8.70%) and a small percentage of Retirees (1.60%) and Students (1.60%).

 

Figure 1.1
Breakdown of Sample Based on Employment Setting

 

Figure 1.2
Breakdown of Sample Based on Employment Level

Results

Overall Perceptions of SIOP

Satisfaction

To gauge satisfaction with different aspects of SIOP, respondents were asked to rate the 12 items shown in Figure 2, on a 5-point Likert Scale (1 = very dissatisfied, 5 = very satisfied). Mean ratings for each of these items are displayed in Figure 2, alongside means from the 2019 administration of the survey. Except for the item regarding support for licensing, all other items were rated on average higher than the scale midpoint (i.e., 3 = neither satisfied nor dissatisfied). 

Figure 2
Mean Ratings for Satisfaction items, From 2019 and 2022 (Current)

Note: The second and third items were only in the 2022 survey, not the 2019 survey.

It is noteworthy that satisfaction with SIOP’s support for advancing members’ I-O practice careers has increased over the last decade. This item was rated very low in 2008 and 2015 (M = 2.77 for both). Ratings increased to 3.26 in 2019 and 3.33 in 2022.

Additionally, support for licensing is the only item for which mean satisfaction has reduced since the 2019 survey. Here, it should be considered that 140 respondents (48%) indicated that the licensing item does not apply to them. This suggests there might be a specific subgroup within SIOP practitioners who are particularly interested in getting licensed and unhappy with the efforts made in this area by SIOP so far.        

Commitment

A modified version of the Mowday and colleagues (1979) organizational commitment scale, which consists of a mix of positively and negatively phrased items, was used to measure commitment to SIOP. Each item was rated on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Overall, respondents feel committed to SIOP, with positively worded items being rated higher than the scale midpoint (i.e., 3) and negatively worded items rated lower than the scale midpoint on average (see Figure 3).

Figure 3
Mean Ratings for Commitment Items 

Note: The blue bars represent positively worded items, and the red bars represent negatively worded items.

 

Further, an overall commitment score was generated for each respondent by reverse-coding the negatively phrased items and then calculating the mean of ratings for all items. An examination of group-level differences based on tenure/years since graduation, employment level, degree, and organization type revealed fairly high commitment to SIOP across all categories, with means ranging from 3.21 to 4.08. All group means were above the scale midpoint (i.e., 3), with the only exception being the “bachelor’s degree” category, within degree type. However, there was only one respondent in that category, so sound inferences could not be drawn.

Barriers to Engagement

The survey team generated a list of potential barriers that could limit how much practitioners are able to engage with SIOP. Respondents were asked to rate the extent to which these barriers affected their engagement on a scale ranging from 1 (no impact) to 5 (substantial impact).

As shown in Figure 4, all the barriers were, on average, rated below the scale midpoint (i.e., 3). The two biggest barriers appeared to be time and difficulty in finding resources. A breakdown of responses based on employment level (individual contributor, leader, executive, and line manager) and tenure (i.e., years since graduation: 25+ years post degree, 514 years post degree, 1524 years post degree, <5 years post degree) revealed that these two were the top two barriers for all subgroups within these demographic categories.

Figure 4
Mean Ratings for Barriers to Engagement

Resources

Participants were presented with a list of practitioner-oriented resources provided by SIOP and asked to rate how useful they found each resource. They were also given options to indicate whether they were unsure or unaware of the resource. Figure 5 shows the proportion of practitioners who chose each response option. The individual resources are ordered from most to least valuable based on average ratings.

Figure 5
Proportion of Response Options Chosen by Practitioners for Each Resource, Rank Ordered by Average Value Rating  (Click on figure for larger view)

In terms of value, the highest and lowest rated resources are presented in Table 1.

Table 1
Top 5 Most and Least Valuable Resources, Based on Average Ratings

Most valuable

Least valuable

Resource

Mean rating

Resource

Rating

SIOP Principles for the Validation and Use of Personnel Selection Procedures

4.23

Early Career Practitioner Consortium

2.46

Salary survey

3.99

SIOP YouTube channel

2.64

SIOP Annual Conference

3.96

SIOP podcasts

2.72

SIOP-published books

3.71

Consultant locator

2.74

IOP journal

3.71

Practitioner Speed Mentoring

2.86

Analyses from this section of survey data also reveal that a substantial percentage of respondents are not aware of all the resources SIOP offers (range = 0% to 46%). When ranked in terms of percentage unaware, the top three resources were SIOP I-O Products & Services Guide (46.23%), SIOP YouTube Channel (44.18%), and SIOP Practitioner Digest (formerly Practice Update; 42.81%).

Table 2 lists resources that are rated as moderately useful on average (above a rating of 3), but low on awareness (more than 30% unaware of the resource). In other words, these are resources that are not widely known, but practitioners who do know about them find them valuable. This suggests practitioners could potentially benefit from these resources being advertised more or placed in areas of the website that give them greater visibility.

Table 2
Resources That Are Rated as Moderately Useful (Above 3.00) but Low on Awareness

Resource name

Mean value rating

Not aware

I-O at Work website

3.63

33.90%

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Guide

3.34

37.33%

HR management and I-O practice webinars

3.30

35.96%

SIOP Practitioner Digest (formerly Practice Update)

3.25

42.81%

Practitioner Mentoring Program

3.24

30.48%

Advanced Professional Development

3.12

36.30%

Professional Practices web page

3.08

38.01%

Career Study & Career Paths

3.05

30.82%

Practitioner Speed Benchmarking

3.03

41.44%

Conversation Series

3.03

31.85%

 

COVID-19 Impact on Work and Engagement With SIOP

To understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on practitioners’ work and engagement with SIOP, the survey team asked respondents to rate the items shown in Figure 6.1 on a scale of 1 (no impact) to 5 (extreme impact). The biggest impacts to practitioners’ work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic were (a) difficulty connecting and networking with others, and (b) having less separation between work and home life due to remote work environments.

Figure 6.1
Mean Ratings for COVID-19 Impact on Practitioners’ Work

Note: The bar in blue represents the only item that is positively worded in this scale.

In addition to their work, participants were asked to rate how COVID-19 impacted their engagement with SIOP (see Figure 6.2). Results suggest that I-O practitioners have a desire to keep having SIOP virtual events. At the same time, they reported finding it difficult to fully commit their time to the virtual SIOP conference events and may desire more effective ways to network with other SIOP members during the virtual events.

Figure 6.2
Mean Ratings for COVID-19 Impact on Engagement With SIOP

Note: The blue bars represent positively worded items, and the red bars represent negatively worded items.

Qualitative

Notably, several comments revealed positive sentiments toward SIOP. For example,

SIOP is one of the most professional and resourceful organizations that I am aware of.  My role as an IO practitioner has benefited as a result of my SIOP membership.  I will continue to do what I can to help SIOP succeed.

Here, we chose to focus more on constructive comments in order to generate action items. These constructive comments revealed two key themes. First, several comments pointed to a lack of visibility of resources targeted toward practitioners. Comments under this theme also revealed that practitioners are unaware of many of the resources offered and even known resources are difficult to find on the website.

There were a lot of resources listed in the survey that I didn’t know about. The website needs a complete re-do so we can see and then find all those resources easily.

It is extremely complicated to figure out what resources and where I should spend my time. The site and resources are too complex and confusing.

Resources to help me solve work-related, real-life challenges—white papers, discussion groups, mentoring, etc. This may all be available but I have not committed the time to look for them.

Second, some respondents felt there seems to be an association between having a master’s degree and being a practitioner and having a PhD and being a scientist. This goes against the ideal of all I-O psychologists, regardless of degree type, being both scientists and practitioners. Linked to this perceived distinction, some comments indicate a belief that SIOP tends to exclude those who primarily consider themselves practitioners or have master’s degrees.2 This trend was noted in the 2015 survey as well.

Let MA folks be full members, not associates…sends the message that practitioners literally are not on the same level as researchers.

I have been a member for 50+ years. But even after a very successful career as an I-O psychologist, I'm still only an Associate Member.

As a practitioner, and one who has not had the luxury of also doing research and writing, I feel I'm still a second-class citizen.

Discussion

In general, the respondents tended to be satisfied with SIOP and trending upward compared to 2019 results, with all but one item being rated between neither satisfied nor dissatisfied and satisfied. The highest aspects of satisfaction were SIOP efforts in advancing and promoting I-O practice, SIOP efforts in providing practitioner-focused conference programming, SIOP efforts in promoting awareness of I-O psychology as a discipline, and SIOP opportunities for professional networking. Also, satisfaction with SIOP’s support for advancing members’ I-O practice career has increased over the last decade.

SIOP support for practitioners who would like to get licensed remains the lowest aspect of practitioner satisfaction; however, it should be noted that almost half of the respondents indicated this item is not applicable to them, indicating perhaps there is a specific subgroup of practitioners within SIOP who are interested in becoming licensed but are dissatisfied with SIOP’s efforts in the area to date. SIOP has established the Licensing, Certification & Credentialing Committee to actively work toward finding a solution in this area.

Overall, respondents reported feeling committed to SIOP (e.g., “I am proud to tell others that I am a part of SIOP” and “I really care about the fate of SIOP”), regardless of demographic group (i.e., tenure/years since graduation, employment level, degree, and organization type).

The two main barriers to practitioners’ engagement with SIOP were time and difficulty in finding resources, regardless of employment level or tenure. We recommend that SIOP continue its efforts in organizing and sharing the various resources available to its members (e.g., updating the website, refining communications), as well as highlighting the value of SIOP membership. Based on these results, initial actions have been taken by SIOP committees to streamline the portfolio of resources available to practitioners. Future iterations of this survey should investigate barriers to commitment and inclusion for SIOP practitioners.

In terms of how valuable respondents found SIOP resources, the SIOP Principles for Validation and Use of Personnel Selection Procedures was rated as the most valuable, followed by the salary survey (also rated most valuable in 2019) and the annual conference. The least valuable resources were the Early Career Practitioner Consortium and the SIOP YouTube channel, the latter also being rated low in the 2019 survey.

Responses also reveal that a substantial group of respondents were unaware of some of the resources SIOP offers; the top two resources respondents were unaware of are the SIOP I-O Products & Services Guide and the SIOP YouTube Channel. Additionally, of particular note, the Professional Practices web page was unknown by over a third of respondents (the intended audience for this web page), highlighting a need for better communication and organization of information. We recommend SIOP work to advertise the various resources offered to members in more targeted ways to offer the greatest value.

Based on the data collected on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on work and engagement with SIOP, one challenge during the pandemic for respondents was networking within the SIOP community and the industry. We recommend SIOP committees continue efforts to provide virtual opportunities to network, such as offering the Work Smart series that was initiated during the pandemic. Additionally, respondents desire virtual events and programming options but may have trouble being fully engaged in these virtual opportunities. A potential remedy could be sharing expectations and tips for success when attending virtual events to ensure attendees get the most value from these opportunities. Further, practitioners may appreciate resources to manage worklife separation as changes to work, and hybrid work arrangements in some cases, continue.

Respondents’ comments revealed two themes. First, specific comments highlighted the lack of visibility of resources targeted toward practitioners previously discussed. The second theme that emerged from the comments was a feeling of an implicit association between having a master’s degree and being a practitioner and having a PhD and being a scientist. As such, SIOP should continue its important work of branding, supporting, and training all I-O psychologists as scientistpractitioners, as well as building an inclusive community welcoming of all I-O psychologists through opportunities related to the annual conference, leadership roles, and committee participation.

The survey team is currently planning for a session at the 2024 SIOP Annual Conference to discuss actions taken as a result of this survey. We encourage all interested members to attend and share their input. In addition, the SIOP Professional Practice Committee is reviewing these recommendations for improvement, which will be highlighted in upcoming communications.

 

Notes

1 The response rate for the 2019 survey was not available.

2 SIOP has recently updated the membership requirements to provide pathways from Associate to Full Member. Click here to learn more.

 

For Further Reading

Ferro, M., Porr, B., Axton, T. & Dumani, S. (2015). Results from the 2015 Practitioner Needs Survey. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 53(3). https://www.siop.org/Research-Publications/Items-of-Interest/ArtMID/19366/ArticleID/833/Results-From-the-2015-Practitioner-Needs-Survey

Silzer, R. F., Cober, R. T., Erickson, A. R., & Robinson, G.  (2008, October). Practitioner Needs Survey: Final survey report.   Bowling Green, OH: Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Solberg, E. & Porr, B. (2019, September). What do practitioners want? Practitioner Survey results revealed! The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 57(2). https://0-www-siop-org.library.alliant.edu/Research-Publications/Items-of-Interest/ArticleID/3179/ArtMID/19366

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