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SIOP Members in the News

Clif Boutelle

SIOP members are a credible and important source of information for reporters writing workplace-related stories. In fact, a growing number of reporters are becoming aware of industrial and organizational psychology and the work its practitioners are performing.

The increased exposure is the result of SIOP members willing to take the time to talk with reporters. That willingness is greatly aiding efforts to increase the visibility of I-O.

A key part of these efforts is SIOPs Media Resources located on the Web site (www.siop.org). Reporters are increasingly finding news sources by searching Media Resources. Currently there are over 1,800 listings of SIOP members and their expertise in more than 100 areas.

Any SIOP member can be listed in Media Resources and can do so through the Web site. The brief description of expertise, requested of all listed persons, is very important because it leads a reporter to individual SIOP members. The description needs to be very specific, concise, and informative to reporters.

Following are some press mentions that have occurred in the past several months:

Jennifer Veitch of the National Research Council of Canada was part of a research team that studied office cubicles, and its report was covered in the July 27 issue of the Toronto Globe and Mail. Crowding too many people into a confined space could be pennywise and pound foolish, she said, adding that providing larger office space is a relatively small expense compared to the salaries of the people working in those spaces. She also said lack of privacy was the most common complaint people have about open-plan spaces. The NRC has developed a software program that, among other things, will tell office designers whether their cubicles are too cramped, too dark, too noisy, or too drafty.

Dory Hollander of Wise Workplaces in Arlington, VA was a news source for three publications in July. For a story on the difficulty of taking vacation time in the July 26 Daytona Beach News-Journal, Hollander noted that some people are afraid to take vacations for fear of leaving their turf unguarded. She added that the concept of taking a vacation to refresh the body and mind is being lost because people are still tied electronically to the workplace. A story in the July 25 the Washington Post addressed how colleagues support can make a world of difference when someone faces great personal challenges; Hollander said If you dont have control over a situation (e.g., terminal illness of a loved one), one of the best things that can help buoy your spirits and restore some sense of equilibrium is feeling connected and being part of the office community. Caring and concern from a coworker and boss help people get through rough times. And in the July issue of Business 2.0, Hollander commented on boomerangspeople who return to an organization after leaving it. Often, she said, returnees save a company at least a years worth of time spent bringing a new hire up to speed because they are already familiar with the company and its people. 

Wendy Casper, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Tulsa, contributed to an article in the April/May issue of Vive magazine about working mothers. Women do much better when they are given a lot of support and this can come from many sources, she said. The women who are the most successful at managing this lifestyle (working and family) are those who have self-confidence. They believe they can work, be a wife and mother, and do it well.

For a story on how to arrange the office workload prior to going on vacation, the June 15 Montgomery (AL) Advertiser called upon SIOP members Robert Robinson and Ellen Kossek for their thoughts. Robinson, owner of the McCollum Group in Katy, TX, said It is a rare thing that people are prepared for their vacations enough to make the most of it. Kossek, a professor of human resources at Michigan State University, said taking a break can increase productivity when the employee returns. She cautioned against taking work on vacation. More and more people are tied to their offices via cell phones and computers, and I think thats not such a great thing, she added.

A June 22 story in the New York Times about bullying bosses cited a study by Bennett Tepper, an assistant professor of management at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. He found that in situations where bosses are abusive, some employees withdraw and do little or nothing extra to help the organizations. Surprisingly, though, a significant number actually performed at a higher level. One reason, he speculates, is that people keep doing extra work in these abusive situations so they can advance themselves at the expense of others. Fear motivates people differently, he said.

A study on flexibility in the workplace by Allen Kraut of Baruch College in New York was included in a June 7 Christian Science Monitor article. According to the Families and Work Institute, 42% of employees choose a compressed workweek. Krauts study showed that among workers on this kind of schedule, the favorable ratings for worklife balance went up to 57% from 45%.

Annual employee evaluations often are a waste of time and yield little benefit, according to a study by Watson Wyatt, the Washington-based human resources consulting firm. Only 30% of the nearly 2,000 surveyed workers said their companys evaluation process helped them, and less than 40% said the evaluation did not provide clear goals or feedback. Scott Cohen, national practice leader of talent management at Watson Wyatt, said that many managers just go through the motions when it comes to employee evaluations. The story was reported by Knight Ridder and CBS MarketWatch and appeared in newspapers throughout the country in May and June.

Three SIOP members contributed to an Associated Press article about the growing use of online screening by retail businesses. Donald Truxillo, a professor of industrial psychology at Portland State University, Richard Harding of Kenexa, a Wayne, PA firm that designs and administers online assessment systems, and Charles Handler of New Orleans-based Rocket-Hire, which helps employers choose selection systems, offered their expertise on the topic. Harding said that advances in technology enable a lot of assessment work to be done in a short time. Online screening allows employers to focus only on the people who have the best chance of success, noted Handler. Truxillo added that job seekers will get used to online screening over time and likened it to preemployment drug testing, which drew protests from workers 1520 years ago, but is now fairly routine. In early June, the article appeared in newspapers throughout the country, including the Houston Chronicle, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Portland Oregonian, the Toledo Blade and Orlando Sentinel.

The July 4 New York Times carried an article about whether job tryouts or a series of assignments are exploitive or an effective hiring strategy and quoted Ben Dattner of Dattner Consulting in New York City. He said that employers using extended tryouts need to be candid with applicants about the methods and criteria they are using. He added that some applicants actually view job competitions as more enjoyable than exploitive.

Dattner also served as a resource for a story in the June issue of Inc. magazine on personality tests, a May 3 Christian Science Monitor article on working vacations, and a story on the use of hiring standards needed by small businesses in the July issue of Priority magazine.

A study by Christine Spitzmueller of the University of Houston and Charlie Reeve and Steve Rogelberg of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte on how animal shelter employers are affected by having to euthanize animals was reported in the December 2003 issue of Animal Sheltering magazine. Among their findings: more attention to the recruitment of employees is needed as well as proper introduction to their jobs before beginning work.

TIP continues to seek examples of SIOP members who serve as resources for stories about the workplace and I-O psychology. So please, let us know when you contribute to a news story. Or, if you know of a SIOP colleague who has been in the news, let us know that as well.

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

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