Every year, the Society for Industrial/Organizational Psychology, or SIOP, hosts a conference for both academics and practitioners in the field. We were encouraged to attend in grad school and have made a tradition of it ever since! It’s always a great time to learn about new research and practices, network, and reconnect with friends and colleagues. Today, I share my experience and Katina will share hers in a future post.
While I love going to SIOP so much, this year I was even more excited than most years because I was going to be able to share Workr Beeing with the people I met. I always love talking about my work and now I had an additional project that I could share!
What is SIOP?
Before I dive into my experience, let me share more about the SIOP conference. SIOP is a professional society for Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychologists. They function like most other professional associations: providing resources and guidelines, and hosting a conference. The conference is hosted every year and lasts for 3 days. This year, SIOP was in Chicago!
Throughout the day, there are multiple sessions going on at once – including poster sessions, symposia, panel discussions, and roundtable conversations. You are provided a program (or can use an app) to figure out what sessions you’d like to attend. There’s also a number of networking events. SIOP hosts a few receptions, as do many business and universities. For example, we always attend the Penn State I/O program reception to reconnect with our other friends from the program and meet the new students. The conference ends with a keynote speaker on Saturday afternoon, usually reflecting some current trend in the field.
I submit to participate in a session almost every year. I think it’s really important to present at the conference for my professional development, building my brand, and promoting myself and my companies (both my employer and Workr Beeing). I’ve been pretty lucky to have been accepted most years.
This year, I participated in a panel called ‘Choose Your Own Adventure Consulting’ organized by a good friend of mine from grad school (thanks Nat!) The panel was the first session of the conference (after the opening) and was so much fun. The panelists were all given a client scenario and then we presentedour recommended solution from all of our various perspectives. It was a very well attended event and I learned a lot from my fellow panelists.
In addition to being able to share my knowledge with conference attendees, I love learning from the other presenters. It can be difficult picking the right sessions to go to because there are approximately 15 different sessions going on at once! The nerd in me makes an appearance and struggles with which session to choose. I often have multiple sessions picked out and will try to pop in for a few minutes of each or just force myself to pick one in the moment! If you know me, I’m a planner so it can feel a little out of character. Conference attendees are provided with contact information for the sessions which allows us to ask for the papers or presentations if we do miss them. You know I’m following up with those that I heard and many that I missed!
I will dive into the detail of some of the research I heard in future posts. Today, I want to highlight a few interesting learnings.
Technology is a Blessing and a Curse
I went to a great session about technology and how it can both hurt and help your well-being in the workplace. In order to improve employees’ well-being, companies need to incorporate guidelines around technology use. For example, employees need be able to detach from their work. Technology can make it challenging since you can get emails at all hours of the night or while on vacation. If a company can set up some clear boundaries around when emails are sent, it can help employees detach from their work.
The panel also discussed the future of technology and how personalization is the next frontier. How can business integrate well-being into their technology and processes? And how can it be specific to the individual employee’s needs?
New Research on Mindfulness
I went to an interesting session that discussed new research in mindfulness in the workplace. I wanted to highlight a couple key findings from this session:
- Employees that go through a mindfulness program are more likely to help others their coworkers on the job than those that don’t.
- Employees that had more mindfulness training were less likely to feel strained from stress at work.
- Employees that were more mindful were more likely to be satisfied in their jobs.
I am reaching out to get the papers and will share more learnings from this session in the future.
Workr Beeing Activities
In addition to participating in lots of conference activities, Katina and I carved out some time to work on Workr Beeing things! I can’t share too much yet but know there’s some exciting things to come! We decided to take advantage of the time we had in person plus the time surrounded by other experts in the field to tackle some of our to-do’s.
We also spent time networking, sharing the message of Workr Beeing. I went to a meet-up with others interested in workplace wellness. That was such an energizing event! Everyone in the room talked about the importance of sharing workplace wellness research with the world, which is exactly what we are trying to do! It validated our mission and goals and definitely motivated me to keep going! I also learned about this great group that does interdisciplinary research on healthy workplaces. Hopefully, some fun collaborations are in store for the future!
Lastly, the conference is also a great time to have fun! The I/O Psychology community is pretty small so the conference is basically a reunion. I was able to spend time with grad school friends that live across the country from me, reconnect with my favorite professors, and hang out with the friends I’ve made at the conference over the years. I already mentioned the Penn State reception, which is always so much fun and a great place for everyone connected to Penn State to meet up!
One of my friends from grad school actually lives in Chicago. She organized an evening for us to see Second City. That was probably one of my highlights of the trip. I spent quality time with some of the women I dearly love and got to watch some amazing comedy! I would highly recommend it if you find yourself in Chicago.
I look forward to sharing some of the research I learned at this conference with you at a later date. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever been to a conference like SIOP? What do you think are the benefits of these types of conferences? Any conferences you’d recommend for us to attend? Comment below!