SIOP 2019 Overview & Select Summaries

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With over 6,000 attendees and nearly 1,000 conference sessions and posters SIOP’s 2019 conference was a great opportunity to stay connected with the field of Industrial/Organizational Psychology and to understand the latest research and practices. During the conference our E. Rogers team was able to capture a wide variety of insights which we’d like to share with our network of friends, alumni and professionals. We hope this provides a useful overview for those unable to attend the conference and can also serve as a conversation starter for any topics that may be important or relevant to you and our community of HR Professionals.

2019 SIOP Key Focus Areas

While a large variety of topics were addressed at SIOP the following 8 common themes emerged repeatedly and are a good representation of current focus areas for the field of Organizational Psychology:

  1. Big Data and Artificial Intelligence: As professionals become more aware of how the next generation of data processing and machine learning techniques are adding value researchers and practitioners are identifying opportunities to apply these tools to HR problems. Some practices include selection, mining data for insights and high touch strategic HR initiatives.
  2. Diversity & Inclusion: Given the recent political and media attention relating to this topic more effort is being put into advancing D&I practices and specific attention is being paid to a variety of subgroups including, Women, LGBTQ, Veterans, Neurodiverse individuals etc.
  3. The Future of Work: With continuous rapid advances in technology and globalization we have already seen many changes to the way work is accomplished in modern organization. More change is on the horizon and our field is focused on anticipating these changes and helping companies adapt.
  4. Innovation and Agile Working: More and more organizations are finding themselves in a spaces where their industry and business models are evolving and so creating innovative cultures and environments is an area I/O psychologists are well positioned to support.
  5. Communicating I/O’s Value: With increasing access to data and interest in people practices I/O professionals are focused on learning how we can do a better job to communicate our successes and to advance the profile of our field.
  6. Data Privacy & Ethical Considerations: With increased access to data and opportunities to use it effectively company practices run the risk of unknowingly crossing ethical lines. I/O psychologist are analyzing current case studies and helping to construct the norms and moral principles around data privacy, security and appropriate uses.
  7. Culture and Engagement: Measuring and enhancing productive organizational culture and promoting employee engagement continues to be an area of
  8. Leadership: Similarly, methods for identifying, developing and coaching current and future leaders were well represented in the conference
Select Session Summaries:

Communicating Results in a Complex World

  • One of the biggest areas for development for I/O Psychologists is to rethink data visualization.
  • We need to learn how to translate data from a complex construct into something that others can understand and utilize.
  • It is important to learn and create different and innovative ways to depict information with simplicity, keeping the end users in mind.
  • In order to communicate results effectively, you have to be addressing the right and relevant problem, having the audiences buy-in and then enabling audiences with tools and training to better consume results
  • 3 Steps before you choose your method of communicating results: 1. Clarify Expectations, 2. Become Better Marketers, 3. Develop Skills
  • When dealing with massive amounts of data: know what’s good data, know what’s fake news and know what questions to ask and who to ask
  • It is important to prototype solutions as well as addressing the what and the why in a simple way
  • It is important to work on blending employee preferences with science-based approaches, bridging the gap between scientist and practitioner, as well as executives with I/O’s.
  • The key takeaway from this talk was that it is important to have a clear framework around what your problem is, who is your audience that will be using it, and what type of
  • solution can you choose that will be universally understood.
Future of Work:
  • In many ways the future of work is already here. We are utilizing technology to promote flexibility in the workforce, but what is the balance between a remote flexible workforce and retaining the culture and climate of an organization.
  • Question: How do we utilize technology, without losing the history and benefits of the past? Answer: Transform the culture and establish a balance between face to face and online.
  • Employees are developing, and a new type of employee is coming in, one who grew up with technology as a norm (Generation Z). We have to find a way to not only attract those candidates and people, but also find a way to balance those employees with the ones currently in our workforce. How can we prepare and change our organizations for Gen Z now?
  • Current Trends in Organizations
    • 1) Permanent Flexibility: Something organizations currently have, but we need to remove the barrier of employee’s having to ask for a flexible work arrangement or work towards one.
    • 2) Commitment to Health and Wellbeing: Now, employees want to make sure their employers are allowing them to bring their whole selves to work, which means allowing them to have time to meditate, or keep their mental health as well as their physical health in optimal condition in the
    • 3) Working with a Purpose: Employees want to do new and meaningful work and more and more employees are seeking out opportunities at companies where they feel like they are making a difference for the greater good.
  • Overall a key takeaway from this discussion was the importance to moving with the new workforce of tomorrow, adapting and adjusting to new and innovative technology, finding a balance between the old and the new, as well as looking at the new ways to attract candidates to your company.
Innovate or Die!

At SIOP another key trend involved establishing, rewarding and sustaining a culture of innovation

  • Practitioners from Google, SHL, Micron Technology and General Motors among others shared insights and practical advice for driving innovation in organizations
  • The three key themes that each of the speakers addressed were the importance of risk tolerance, creating an environment of psychological safety and truly appreciating failure
  • In terms of measuring innovation, best practice includes a combination of measuring the construct in terms of both process improvements as well as final outcomes
  • Innovation is an overarching umbrella term that entails both incremental improvements such as reducing redundancies, as well as, creating, harvesting and implementing break-through ideas
  • When asked about establishing and sustaining a culture of innovation the speakers addressed the importance of creating a process for innovation and a reward system to compliment it
    • An example, is the Google Innovation Factory. The speaker discussed two key phases any idea goes through:
      • The first phase speaks to “rapid investigation” of an idea, focused on the riskiest pieces and determining the solution. The purpose is to overcome barriers
      • The second phase is the “early stage incubator” which includes a small, nimble team focused on the riskiest pieces and determining viability of the project. This is the stage at which ¾ of the projects get kicked – as a go/no go decision is made.
  • The key takeaways include creating an environment where:
    • Leadership provides air cover and rewards innovative behavior
      You take the risk, I take the blame”
    • Employees are dispassionately passionate about their ideas and willing to fail fast
      “Fall in love with the problem not the solution”
    • Failures are reflected upon and celebrated through after action reviews
      Have examples of failed prototypes lying around, create a failure resume
Data Privacy and Data Security Concerns
  • A key trend that emerged many times at SIOP was the idea of how we define, manipulate, preserve, and secure data.
  • Representatives from organizations ranging from private sector, government, and academia converged to discuss how we as I/O psychologists need to take ownership of the data we collect.
  • Cambridge Analytica was cited as a case study on the perils of improper data security. It brings into question who has ownership over what part of the data, and who is ultimately accountable if the data were to be leaked or breached.
  • While Facebook willingly gave away its data to assist in an academic endeavor, the data ended up being used far beyond academic purposes. It brings to question: who is accountable? Despite the contract signed by Cambridge Analytica, is there ownership behind Facebook following up and ensuring they are using data the way they intended? From a legal perspective, we are struggling to define and determine how to handle cases of data loss or leak. The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is likely the first of many steps toward a regulation on data practices.
  • Similarly, in the US, the California Consumer Privacy Act was signed in June 2018 and is the most comprehensive data privacy law in the United States.
  • We also need to determine what kinds of data we as users have privacy laws around. Are techniques like big data or web scraping really violating data privacy if the data was in the public domain to begin with?
  • We also need to revise practices around informed consent and terms of agreement – at what point do we admit that spending a few minutes reading legal jargon is not equivalent to making an informed decision on clear, understandable text on the risks of agreeing to a service concerning our data?
  • A final consideration is that if we continue to regulate data as much as we have, how does this impact us as I/O psychologists? Might increasingly tightened regulations on data make it harder to collect data on participants, or even gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace as a company?

Our team will continue to work hard to stay on top of the trends and advances within the field of I/O Psychology and Talent Management. To do so we rely not only conferences and publications but also conversations with practitioners plugged into the realities of our field. If you’re curious about a topic that might just have relevance for you or your work don’t hesitate to reach-out and start a conversation.


E. Rogers Associates

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