Our annual membership survey not only collects quantitative responses, but also gives members a chance to provide written feedback on our membership services.
Once we've summarised the numerical results (Membership Survey report), the Project Office discusses the written comments in detail. As a member-driven organisation, the survey is a vital tool for addressing members' concerns, queries and suggestions. This blog summarises the qualitative responses from the survey and what we are doing to respond to your suggestions.
We received a number of comments this year asking for an increase in webinars: "More Webinars!", "More webinars related to environmental impact assessment", "Increase the number of webinars". We only began doing regular webinars a few years ago, so are really pleased to see that they are now our second highest ranked membership service.
We took a short hiatus in our webinar programme during our new office move to ensure we have the internet speeds and equipment set-up to make the listeners' experiences better, but have been pleased to restart the programme in May. We are currently investing in new equipment and making some acoustic alterations to a meeting room, which should dramatically improve the sound quality.
Over the summer, we will have two placements in our events team and part of their remit will be ensuring we have a varied programme of webinars planned. Our aim is to increase the frequency, from monthly, to every three weeks. If you are interested in presenting a webinar, or have suggested topics you would like to see covered, please get in touch with Rhianna Jarvis.
"...I have asked the IES office if webinars are available (i.e. recorded) to members in Australia i.e. we have a 10 hour time difference so any webinars in UK work time are always during Australia's night time, however I received the answer that they are frequently not available." Nearly all our webinars are recorded and posted onto the analysis section of our website and on our Youtube Channel so you can watch again at your own leisure. We will be continually improving the quality of our recordings and will make sure that these are better signposted on our website for all members to find.
"I have opted out of the paper copy of the journal and now read online. Is this something that could be encouraged?" If you do not want to receive a physical copy of the journal and prefer online-only access, please log into the Members' Area navigate to the Preference Centre, and choose to opt out of the paper journal. We recognise that we have been bad at communicating this option - expect a dedicated mailing about this later in the year.
"Is there access online to past journals. If not this would be a useful addition." A complete archive of the environmental SCIENTIST journal is available online. We are looking to improve accessibility to content over the coming year with a new website to make for a more enjoyable experience.
We receive equal numbers of comments suggesting that the journals and webinars are too technical, not technical enough or being pitched just right: "...they are often too long-winded and full of technical jargon..." "Please stick to scientific articles rather than fluffy subjects." "The journal articles are pitched very well". We try to ensure that each journal can be read by members at any point in their career. Over the course of the year, we publish one targeted edition to focus on a specific sector of our membership, showcasing the detail of their work, as well as broader journals on themes that span a number of specialisms.
The mixed responses to the journal's technicality suggest, on balance, we are successfully pitching the content somewhere in the middle.
One issue we see raised time and time again is the availability of IES events outside of London: "Events have tended to be very London-centric", "Still not running events in Scotland, central belt or the north east", "More regional events".
We feel that this may be a historic criticism that does not reflect the current geographical spread of our events. Over the past 12 months, the IES has hosted an impressive 23 events outside of London trying, where possible, to spread these across the country.
With additional members of staff being added to our events team, we will be further increasing the number of events we run (both inside and outside London). We recognise the need to run more events in Scotland and Ireland and will be prioritising these locations for the year ahead.
Quick-fire feedback to comments
We are unable to respond to every comment from the membership survey so have summarised a number of responses to your questions and comments below.
"A professionally run organisation. As an affiliate member I have learnt a lot as a non-expert from the various publications. I would be interested in what you do for schools/education?" – Working alongside CHES, the IES currently accredits 115 programmes at 39 universities, making it the largest environmental accreditation scheme in the world. In addition, we recently published a report on graduate employment outcomes, hosted an employability day at the University of Derby, and examined an environmental science education from primary to profession.
"Reduced subscription fees for members from developing countries" – We will be experimenting with reduced rates for event attendees this year who travel from Middle or Lower Income Countries as defined by the OECD. More information will be published soon. If successful, we may look to extend this to our subscription model. We are also exploring online delivery of some of our workshops for members internationally to enhance their membership experience.
"The delivery service from the journal publisher should be improved because I did not receive the copies from the publisher a while ago" – We had some issues with delivery overseas, especially over the Christmas period. If you have not received a copy of the journal, please check that we have your correct details by logging into the Members' Area and contacting the IES to see if we have one in the archive to send.
"I am proud to use MIEnvSc to my name", "An excellent institution to be part of, keep up the good work. Thank you", "I have always found the IES staff extremely approachable, encouraging and welcoming. Thank you!" – We are very happy to hear your positive feedback, here's to another great year!
Looking towards 2019-20
Toward the end of the survey, we asked for your feedback on the summary of our key priorities and projects we identified for 2019. This list included:
- an expanded training programme;
- a podcast series exploring contentious environmental science;
- journal launch events;
- film screenings and debates;
- new branding and website design;
- a direct debit system for membership renewals; and
- sector-specific discussion meetings
"Yes to podcasts. Yes to training, events and meetings but only if it has a good geographical accessibility. Yes to direct debits... Film screenings sound interesting, but again how would these be accessible across the UK?" – It's great to hear your excitement for our plans, we will be hosting another set of film screenings across the UK, as we did with the "A Plastic Ocean" series. More details to come soon.
"I think its really important that IES remains focused on policy work - both lobbying together with other environmental organisations and informing members at this very uncertain time." – We will continue to work with the EPF as well as other forums for environmental organisations to change and ensure that the voice of IES members is heard.
Thank you once again for completing the survey. We read each and every response and appreciate the time and effort you put in to give us feedback.