by Jaci Jarrett Masztal
The 2017 Society for Industrial – Organizational Psychology (SIOP) 32nd Annual Conference took place April 27-29 in Orlando and certainly had something for everyone!
With a growth rate that is five times that of the average career, it is clear to see that Industrial – Organizational Psychology is a rapidly growing and expanding field. In addition, Society President S. Morton McPhail shared that SIOP now boasts over 9,000 members from over 40 countries! Organizations are continuing to see the value of engaging with business psychologists to improve individual employee and overall organizational performance in many diverse and innovative ways.
This year’s conference was filled with highly rated peer-reviewed content shared through nearly 1,000 sessions including symposium, research posters, debates, panel discussions, tutorials, roundtable discussions, seminars, workshops and special events. There were 21 concurrent sessions throughout each day giving conference goers many choices for tailoring their learning and sharing.
Here are few key takeaways from the conference:
- Organizational surveys continue to evolve. Supplemental to annual surveys, the trend is to include more frequent pulse surveys for continuous listening and learning.
- Employee Engagement is still highly relevant. Let’s continue to advance the conversation on employee engagement focusing on the fact that engagement is not the end, but rather the means to the end. Employee engagement is best viewed – and appreciated — when looking at achievement. HR leaders must continually assess the ROI of engagement initiatives. Further, employee engagement needs to be owned by every part of the business, not just HR.
- The 360/multi-source feedback conversation continues. 360-degree feedback remains a popular tool in the management process, yet I-O psychologists continue to have divergent opinions on best practices. Some believe it should be used purely for developmental purposes (or you won’t get accurate feedback), while others see value in the process for other applications (joint perspective and feedback is better than that of only a manager). Some want the results to be seen and used solely by the individual receiving the feedback, while others want the manager and/or coach to jointly review, discuss improvement options and monitor progress.
Several special sessions curated by the program committee focused on emerging topics of broad interest to the I-O community. ‘Shaken & Stirred,’ an edgy, innovative session aimed at pushing the boundaries of I-O, showcased 15 thought leaders’ 2-minute response to one simple question, “What if?” Responses hit on a variety of non-traditional ways that future technology may impact jobs: from monitoring emotions at work with real time feedback (Megan Nolan, University of Akron), to envisioning a future where gender and other demographics no longer bias how we perceive others’ work performance (Mikki Habl, Rice University), to engaging I-O psychologists in eradicating poverty on a global scale by supporting the GLOW agenda (John Scott, Apt Metrics). This session fulfilled Jennifer Weiss’s (HR Alignment Consulting) vision for innovative, thought-provoking, mind-stretching ideas.
A sampling of other program content below shows the range of the many diverse topics covered:
- When Ostracism Leads to Turnover
- Workforce Aging and Firm Performance
- Big Data, Big Responsibility
- Customer Incivility and Emotional Exhaustion
- More than Just Average: Novel Approaches to Measurement in Teams
- Millennials versus Millennials Debate
- Work with Me: Perspectives on Diversity & Inclusion Research
- Leadership & Subordinate Engagement
- Swipe Right on Personality: A Mobile Response Latency Model
- Burden of Proof: Can I-O’s and Employment Counsel Successfully Collaborate
- Linking Organizational Culture to Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality
All-in-all, the conference provided a plethora of solid academic and scientific research coupled with innovative company practices and leading-edge consulting experience and expertise. No one walked away empty-handed, or more appropriately, empty-headed. In addition, the conference reinforced the importance of connecting the dots from the employee to the customer to the business. Company focus on culture in support of employee engagement ultimately helps to drive organizational performance and business results.
In closing, one reminder is that this learning has great power when applied for good. As many I-O scholars and practitioners encouraged throughout the conference, we have amassed great knowledge and talent through our research and learnings and, if we apply that information generously and judiciously, we can make the world a better place to work and live!
As an organizational psychologist and Vice President at Burke, Inc., Jaci Jarrett Masztal energetically helps companies connect the dots from inside to out – employee to customer – to improve business performance.