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I-O Impact


by Clif Boutelle, SIOP Public Relations

SIOP Seeks Member-Initiated Projects to Further the Influence of I-O Psychology

During his presidential address at SIOP’s annual conference in April, Steve Kozlowski challenged SIOP members to initiate efforts to make I-O expertise more accessible by linking members’ interests and creating projects that will facilitate advocacy and impact.

While noting that SIOP’s leadership or top-down initiatives have been effective in advancing strategic goals, the potential exists for SIOP and I-O to make even greater impact through member-initiated projects.

To do that, SIOP needs to leverage bottom-up, emergent, self-organizing proposals that link members with members, link leadership with members, and link SIOP with external opportunities for impact, Kozlowski said.

Adding that members are critical for emergent impact, he said an infrastructure is being established to enable engaged members to self-organize, work together, and enhance the influence of I-O psychology.

New Grassroots Impact Coordinator

Kozlowski announced that Chris Rotolo will serve as Grassroots Impact Coordinator and work with members to create registries that will engage members with common interests.

“There is a lot of energy among I-O members beyond what they do in their day jobs. With this new role, SIOP would like to harness and encourage this energy by providing guidance, support and an organizing framework to advance these productive efforts and bring greater attention to I-O,” Rotolo said.

“We are creating an innovation incubator of sorts to give life to these ideas. It’s all about innovation. It will allow people to come together. People with energy and ideas concerning an issue can enter into the incubator, perhaps merge their effort with others in the same general interest area, and work to bring their idea to life” he said.

The incubator will provide tools and guidance to help bring forth the ideas and help to mature innovative concepts, he added.

“As these concepts are fleshed out we will make connections with existing committees and ask what needs to be done to bring them to fruition. How can we make it work?” he said.

“Quite often our members aren’t even aware of what SIOP committees are working on, so Step One is to connect the appropriate people together to ensure we aren’t duplicating efforts,” he added.

Online registries will allow the broad member base to have a bigger say in SIOP initiatives. “It’s a bottom up process rather than the typical top down,” he added.

He described his role in developing the incubator as a shepherd to organize the process and keep it moving. “We will be there to help and connect them to the right people and not let good ideas wither on the vine,” he said.

Proposals can be sent to Chris Rotolo at impact@siop.org so he can learn more and then work with the submitter(s) on the next steps.

Rotolo said ideas and projects will be tracked and metrics will be used to measure their success and impact. He also plans to establish a social platform, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and texting to communicate with each other and others. A Twitter account @SIOPimpact has been established and is generating followers.

Enhancing Impact: A Multilevel Approach

Giving further impetus to this effort was the Conference’s Theme Track titled “Enhancing Impact: A Multilevel Approach.”

“It was designed to mobilize members to undertake projects that make a difference and showcase the field of I-O. In other words, bottom-up initiatives,” said Zack Horn, who chaired the Theme Track.

The five sessions were well attended and participants offered lots of ideas and proposals, said committee member Gloria Gonzalez-Morales. “People were passionate about advancing I-O and these sessions gave them a voice where they could participate rather than listen to a panel. It was impressive how many people want to make an impact.”

The Theme Track sessions produced several impact action teams and projects including a coalition of forces for veterans; building a research data base; increasing the visibility and inclusion of diverse individuals at SIOP conferences; creating more opportunities for SIOP members to connect, collaborate and consult; and providing outreach efforts at the college and high school level to increase awareness of I-O psychology as a field and career option.

Horn said some of the action teams supplement efforts already underway by another group within SIOP. For example the Awareness Outreach plan to promote I-O as a career option meshes with initiatives of the Education and Training Committee and represents an opportunity to coordinate efforts.

He is well aware that while conference sessions produce solid ideas and proposals too often they are left at the conference and there is no follow up.

“I am confident that with Chris Rotolo in the Grassroots Coordinator position something will come of these initiatives and more SIOP members will become involved in creating impact projects,” Horn said.

Coalition of Forces for Veterans Team

The Coalition of Forces for Veterans team that grew out of the Theme Track Sessions led by Lisa Brady and Pat Englehardt has already submitted a proposal to Rotolo.

Their project aims to build awareness and development initiatives to form community-based connections into a coalition of leaders from various fields with the purpose of meeting the needs of veterans and their families.

The goals include increasing enrollment of veterans and their families in college and vocational training programs and to enlist community services that will help veterans and their families be successful in their educational endeavors. Also, the coalition will educate businesses of the value of hiring military veterans and motivate their career advancement through higher education and training.

“The proposal that Pat and Lisa have been formulating is in the early stages so it will be a good test case for the grassroots idea, but I am confident that something tangible and impactful will come from it. Their energy is contagious,” Rotolo said.

Grassroots Initiatives Underway

There are some good examples of grass roots initiatives already underway which were cited by Kozlowski in his address.

One example he mentioned was the creation of the SIOP Health, Safety and Well-Being Registry, which has 150 members, initiated by former Professional Practice Officer Cristina Banks. The Registry will be supported in part by the Interdisciplinary Center for Health Workplaces, founded by Banks and Shelley Zedeck at the University of California at Berkeley.

Banks said the goal was to develop the concept of a healthy workplace template built from the science emerging from multiple disciplines such as architecture, public health, technology, ergonomics, and social science.  The intent is to design an organizational infrastructure which supports employee health and well-being at the operations and policy level, leading to an integrated, comprehensive approach that will reinforce and sustain healthy work behavior and healthy work environments.

“We started the Center from scratch and built it to what it is today, which is a substantial repository of evidence-based literature pertaining to safe and supportive workplaces accessible to the public. The idea was to aggregate and integrate all known science across disciplines to create a work environment that will help prevent illness and injuries within the workplace and to promote well-being,” Banks said.

She calls on experts in various related fields to come together to answer difficult work environment questions and to develop new knowledge which can lead to innovations in practice. She is planning an international conference of workplace experts to be hosted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

“I want I-O to be at the forefront of this integration because I-Os understand the structural components needed to make things work. That is, I-O will be the conductor gathering these people together and bringing it all to fruition,” she said.

To date, the Center has set up two registries: one within I-O and the other in environmental psychology--psychologists who work with architects and interior designers, among others. Banks envisions additional registries that include using the expertise of other psychologists, such as occupational and clinical psychologists, and moving into other areas including nutrition and physical activities, both elements of a healthy lifestyle and workplace.

“We are working to identify people within SIOP who are interested in health and well-being and who want to work on these issues,” she said. “I-Os have a bigger picture of the synergy between space and work performed within it and I-Os can be leaders in this area.”

Another registry mentioned by Kozlowski is the Volunteer Program Assessment (VPA) initiated in 2009 at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte by Steve Rogelberg and colleagues.

The VPA’s primary goal is to promote nonprofit organizational effectiveness through the collection of volunteer attitudes, perceptions and engagement data so that volunteer management programs can be better leveraged and more impactful, wrote Jessie Olien, a doctoral student at UNC Charlotte.  

The program started as a result of a large-scale national survey, funded by the Humane Society of the United States, when UNC Charlotte graduate students conducted assessments of the volunteer experience in hopes of identifying key drivers of volunteer engagement and retention, said Haley Woznyj, a doctoral candidate and co-director of the project with Rogelberg.  This led to the creation of a formalized assessment that provides a snapshot of a volunteer program’s strengths and growth areas. 

In addition to hundreds of animal shelters, they have worked with police department volunteers, museums (Discovery Museum), hospital volunteers, and arts and science groups. The UNC Charlotte team communicates the results of the survey to the volunteer managers – identifying areas where they are doing well as well as those where there is a need for improvement.

“Our impact on nonprofit organizations is significant as volunteers play such a key role,” said Woznyj.  “Most non-profits have limited resources and welcome the help from the graduate students and the UNC Charlotte team.  At the same time these engagements give graduate students the opportunity to sharpen their consulting skills in a real-life setting under supervision. Graduate students are required to complete a six-month training program before working with clients on a one-to-one basis.” 

As it grew and word spread about the program’s benefits, both to non-profits and graduate students, VPA began partnering with other universities to reach a broader nonprofit client base and expanding its prosocial outreach. Other universities include University of Nebraska at Omaha, Northern Illinois State University, George Mason University, Illinois State University, and University of South Florida.

To date VPA has worked with more than 300 organizations with clients from all over the country, Woznyj said.

Other examples of member-initiated programs that facilitate advocacy and impact include the SIOP United Nations team, chaired by Lori Foster, which seeks to bring work, worker and employment-related theory, research and practice to help advance the goals of the United Nations; the veterans transition project, led by Nathan Ainspan, which helps military members find employment in the civilian workforce; Northeastern University’s Cultural Agility Leadership Lab, an exclusive partnership with the Peace Corps directed by Paula Caligiuri that connects corporate-sponsored international volunteers with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and Tracey Rizzuto, who is using I-O and social network analysis to assist law enforcement with youth gang violence reduction.

“These programs started with an idea by SIOP members and grew into outreach efforts that are using I-O to make significant impacts and it is our belief that more SIOP members have their own ideas they would like to develop but need help with moving their ideas along,” said Rotolo.

“So, we are encouraging SIOP members to submit their proposals to the incubator and allow it to grow,” he said.