Our annual membership survey provides members with an opportunity to share feedback on the services we provide and allows us to gather your thoughts on our planned projects for the coming year.
As a member-driven organisation, the survey is a vital tool in gathering your concerns, questions and suggestions. In the below article, we summarise your feedback from this year’s survey and what we are doing in response to your suggestions.
In this year’s survey, members expressed varying preferences for how they would prefer to attend events going forward, and we understand that there are many arguments in favour of in-person, virtual and hybrid events. Due to the emergence of the omicron variant of COVID-19 in late 2021, we decided to postpone in-person events in the first part of 2022. However, acting on feedback from last year’s conferences, which included the wish for greater networking opportunities, we intend to resume running physical conferences later this year – with the Land Condition Symposium and Routes to Clean Air returning as in-person events.
We trialed a hybrid model for several events in late 2021 – Routes to Clean Air, the Land Condition Symposium and the Burntwood Lecture. These events generated a relatively small number of online attendees and, given the high cost of running hybrid events, the pilots were not deemed a success. As things currently stand, we are unable to provide a live online element to our conferences in 2022. Instead, our approach will be to record the sessions and make these available at a later date online, ensuring that interested members can access these resources if they are unable to attend. We hope that this approach will allow members who are able and wish to attend in person to enjoy the many benefits of physical attendance, while providing opportunities for knowledge sharing with non-attendees. We will keep this approach under review.
Our CEnv in a Day and CSci Accelerated workshops will continue to be delivered as a mixture of online and physical events. We will also be maintaining the frequency of our webinars and online forums, all of which will remain as virtual events.
New IES branding and website
To help direct the feel of our new branding and website design, we asked members to let us know which words you think best describe the IES and our services – helping us to understand how members view us as an organisation and what is most important to you. Based on your feedback, we are currently developing a new branding design. We are aware that our website is also in need of modernisation and can be difficult to navigate. Alongside our rebrand, we will be revamping our website to make it user-friendly and give it a more modern feel, ensuring that you can easily find your way to the content that is relevant to you.
Currently, members automatically receive a paper copy of our journal, unless they select to opt-out in our Members’ Area. Conscious of the environmental impact of print publications, we wanted to understand how members would prefer to consume this content and asked you to let us know your thoughts about a move towards digital-only publication. In response, just over half (54%) of members indicated their support for online-only distribution, while 23% of members preferred to receive a paper copy and an additional 23% neither supported nor opposed this change.
We want to stress that we currently have no plans to remove the option for members to receive printed publications, which we understand are important to many members who already spend numerous hours a day in front of a screen or simply prefer to switch off from work away from a computer. The number of members wanting online-only distribution is much higher than the number of members who have currently opted out; therefore, we encourage anyone who does not wish to receive a paper copy to log into the Members' Area, click on 'Preference Centre' and then tick ‘No paper journal’. We may consider moving to an opt-in system for printed copies in future – allowing all members to enjoy the journal in the way that works best for them, but avoiding the impact of printing additional, unneeded copies.
With the roll-out of our new website, we also hope to create a searchable archive of past journal editions, allowing members to easily find articles of interest in current and past issues.
To minimise the environmental impact of production, we have also recently switched our paper supplier and some members will have noticed that the front cover is no longer coated – meaning that the journal is fully recyclable. Each edition is printed on Forest Stewardship Council certified paper and the CO2 emissions generated by the production, storage and distribution of the paper are captured through the Woodland Trust’s Carbon Capture scheme.
We received several comments from members who were keen to see a greater number of IES Communities (our member-led special interest groups) and more opportunities to get involved – which is great to hear!
Since launching our first IES Community in 2017 for members working in Land Condition, we have developed a further three Communities for those working in the specialisms of Marine and Coastal Science, Environmental Impact Assessment and Climate Action (previously our COP26 Community).
The Climate Action Community, our latest Community to launch, is our first challenge-led Community – a concept which aims to bring members working across specialisms together around a shared topic of interest. Given the success of this model, we are exploring opportunities to develop more Communities of this type, supporting multidisciplinary knowledge-sharing and learning around topical issues. As a small team, the speed at which we can develop new Communities is dependent on our capacity and we are currently working on identifying priorities for Community launches, with news of a new community coming soon.
This year, we aim to improve engagement across our membership with our Communities through periodic communications on Community activities, including highlighting ways that members can contribute. There are many ways you can get involved, including attending Community meetings, joining working groups or delivering a webinar on your specialism. If you are interested in joining any of the Communities or finding out more about how you can get involved, please get in touch with our Communities and Partnerships Lead.
Some members rightfully expressed concern at delays they have experienced in the Chartership assessment process. In 2021, some staff members were absent from work for an extended period, and we also suffered problems in recruitment and assessors' availability. The IES was proud of its sector-leading support for environmental professionals seeking Chartership, but in 2021 we recognise that we fell below our usual high standards. We thank members for their patience, and we are resolved to getting our systems back to their previous efficiency in 2022.
As the survey is anonymous, we are unable to respond to your comments and questions directly. However, we have provided responses to several specific queries below.
We apologise that we are not able to respond to all your comments in this article; however, all feedback is collated and reviewed by the relevant member of staff. Thank you once again for taking the time to complete the survey.