The ICE's second membership satisfaction survey reveals that it is on the right track - but there is still a long way to go.
A THIRD of engineers believe that 'raising the pro e of civil engineers' and 'raising the importance of civil engineering to society' are the Institution's most important tasks, the ICE's 2006 member satisfaction survey has revealed.
The results of the ICE's second satisfaction survey, published last month, showed that three years after deciding to prioritise prole raising activities, the institution has made significant gains, but that it still faces a large task.
Members were polled on 14 issues (see box). Paradoxically, the survey found that while members were least satisfied with their public prole, this issue showed the greatest growth in satisfaction since the membership survey was carried out in 2003.
Overall, satisfaction with the Institution has increased by 3% to seven out of ten since 2003, and the most important issues among members are unchanged three years on.
'It shows that if you focus on what matters most to members, it pulls the overall satisfaction up, ' said ICE communications and marketing director Anne Moir. She is well aware that since the ICE was first put under scrutiny in 2003, there has been increased pressure to demonstrate improvements.
'We're pleased that the index has gone up - it could have gone down. When you start trying to improve, people tend to be more critical and it's harder to make that jump, ' observed Moir.
The survey was carried out for the ICE by independent market research company Leadership Factor during February and March. It followed the same procedure as in 2003 (NCE 1 May 2003), with 1,200 engineers selected at random from the membership list.
Engineers of all grades and in all regions were polled, irrespective of how closely involved in the Intuition's affairs they were. They were questioned by phone on the 14 issues, which were identified by an 80 strong focus group in 2003.
Leadership Factor carries out satisfaction surveys for hundreds of companies every year, and plots each one's overall satisfaction index against the others. Organisations include the BBC, Tarmac, Manchester United Football Club and the Arts Council.
Despite the upward trend, ICE members' satisfaction still ranks in the bottom quartile compared to other companies analysed by Leadership Factor. The rate of improvement since 2003 was also lower than statistically predicted by researchers.
'Three percent is OK - it's in the right direction but there's a lot of work still to do, ' said ICE vice president David Orr.
'This [the ICE] is a supertanker and there is a lot of inertia, ' he added. Orr hopes that as change takes effect it will gather momentum, helping future improvements to move forward at a faster rate.
Changes are already in train, triggered by the 2003 survey: The business plan has been written, subscription levels increased, the ICE restructured and new regional ofces with permanent staff set up.
Moir contends that the 3% increase in members' satisfaction is signi ant. Changes to ICE services are ongoing, and members' perceptions of the ICE lag behind those improvements, she explained.
'We started improvements in 2003, but it has taken until earlier this month to appoint the last regional manager. So the regional support teams are still building relationships with local politicians and media to help raise perception, ' said Moir.
One Great George Street is still also recruiting employees to its innovation and policy team, which will dene future ICE policy.
Of the 14 issues probed by the survey, member satisfaction on all but one has increased since 2003. Not surprisingly, the rogue issue is subscription rates. But when asked what, if anything, had got worse, only 25 of the 1,200 named subscription costs.
Only 10% of engineers felt things had worsened since 2003, compared with 47% who thought things had improved. Members were most pleased with improvements to the ICE website and internet services, followed by the quality and quantity of communication offered by the institution to its members.
Over half of those questioned thought NCE was the most important service offered by the ICE. Thirteen percent named the ICE website as the most important service, and 8% voted for the ICE's library.
Member satisfaction with One Great George Street's facilities, NCE, the process of becoming professionally qualifi d or upgrading qualifications, ICE publications and events and the website was greater than in 2003. New services such as the My ICE area of the website, newsletter and ICE extra newsletter scored over 60%.
The 14 key issues
The 14 key issues ranked in order of importance from overall survey results.
1. For the ICE to have a clear strategic direction
2. Raising the profile of civil engineers
3. Raising the importance of civil engineering to society
4. The subscription level
5. The reputation of the ICE
6. Encouraging young people into Civil Engineering
7. Influencing politicians/ decision makers
8. Maintaining a high professional standard for membership
9. Promoting continual professional development
10. Liaising with other organisations/Engineering Institutions
11. Friendliness of staff at ICE
12. Consistent routes to a professional qualification
13. Providing a route to a recognised professional qualification
14. Helpfulness of staff at ICE