Conference Details

The RCIO 2019 conference will take place from Friday afternoon, October 25 through Saturday, October 26, 2019. All conference sessions are hosted in the University Center at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Questions? Contact Dr. Chris Cunningham via email at or by phone at 423-425-4264.

EXAMPLE Conference Schedule

(NOTE: this information is from 2018; updated 2019 schedule forthcoming)

Friday afternoon - free student-focused sessions

Note: Free parking in UTC Lot 10 from 12:00 - 5:00 pm 

Sessions held in the UTC University Center, Raccoon Mountain Room

Presenters: Dr. Kristen Black, Dr. Alex Zelin, Dr. Kristl Davison, Dr. Shawn Bergman, and other professional guests

  • 2:30 - 3:25 PM, Taking your education to the next level: getting into graduate school

  • 3:30 - 4:20 PM, So you want to get a job with a psychology major 


  • 7:00 - 9:00 PM,  Student social and networking event
    • Big River Grille & Brewing Works
    • 222 Broad Street, Downtown Chattanooga
    • Ask for the CHAIOP/RCIO group and have fun 

Saturday (full-day - registration required)

8:00 - 8:45 AM, Registration, networking, and poster set-up (space by UC Auditorium). Light refreshments available.


8:45 - 8:55 AM, Welcome Address (UC Auditorium)


9:00 - 9:55 AM, Keynote address (UC Auditorium)

Predicting, understanding and controlling voluntary employee turnover have interested applied psychologists, management researchers and practicing managers for over a century. For example, Hom, Lee, Shaw and Hausknect (2017) review one hundred years of research on employee turnover and document its vibrant history. Most important, interest on employee turnover remains quite strong today to scholars and managers. In an article aimed at managers and executives, for instance, Lee, Hom, Eberly and Li (2018: 88-89) report that (1) “46% of HR managers deem employee turnover as their top concern,” (2) “replacing employees who quit can cost upwards of 200% of annual salary to recruit, hire and on-board new employees,” and (3) “51% of U.S. employees say that they are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings.” Thus, academic and managerial interest in turnover appears quite robust and likely to continue so into the foreseeable future.

In this keynote address, Professor Tom Lee will review where the research on turnover has been, what today’s prevalent theories and research inform us on what we confidently know about turnover, offer his judgments on where the research should go in the future, and recommend managerial practices based on our current body of knowledge.

Click here to access a selected set of readings associated with this talk and provided by this speaker.


10:00 - 11:00 AM, Presentation Session One (various rooms)

Damming the Attrition Flood of Specialized Talent: A Comprehensive Approach

The average cost of losing an employee is estimated anywhere from .75 to 2X annual salary. Bottom line impacts swing toward the higher end of that range when an organization experiences attrition of specialized roles that require increased effort and investment to acquire and develop.

At Unum, we found our standard employee retention program was not sufficient to retain actuarial talent, a critical business role in the insurance industry. We were experiencing attrition roughly 4X our historical rate. We convened a core team, sponsored by our Chief Actuary and HR Business Partner, that was accountable for designing, developing, and implementing a comprehensive strategy to attack our problem (“dam the flood”).

Focus groups and employee surveys provided insight into attrition drivers as well as motivating factors that contributed to retention. Using that information, we took a multi-faceted and holistic approach to address the problem. Our plan included an in-depth talent assessment, creative comp/reward strategies, acknowledging advancement opportunities through meaningful career conversations, and offering more robust professional development.

In this presentation we will explore:

  • the importance of tailored retention strategies (versus one size fits all for all employees)
  • a practical and comprehensive way to respond to (or ideally head off) heightened attrition – including problem identification, solution development, implementation and measurement
  • your successes (or failures!) with retention of specialized roles and how the group can learn from the collective experience

With the changing demographics of race, gender and generational within corporate America, retention efforts are no longer one size fits all.  We will explore the nature of these changes as they relate to retention in the workplace.  Specifically, we will look at the work of Jehn, Northcraft and Neale (1999) that identified three primary aspects of diversity as they relate to workforce management systems including retention: informational, social category and value diversity.  We will examine corporate programs and processes that address these different constructs of diversity in the workplace.  We will consider a case study from the Tennessee Valley Authority related to employee engagement as a key driver to retention based on enterprise initiatives to capture trends and data.  


11:00 - 12:00, Poster Session (UC Tennessee Room) - click here for poster details


12:10 - 1:20 PM, Lunch & Discussion (UC Chattanooga Room) - boxed lunches included with registration.


1:30 - 2:30 PM,  Presentation Session 2 (Something a bit different) (various rooms)

Extending work from the realm of counseling psychology into the work environment, we examine the workplace complement of “battered person/spouse syndrome” in which workers stay with the organization despite experiencing abuse. We define this abused worker syndrome (AWS) as an association of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-type symptoms and other symptoms (e.g., anxiety, depression, low self-esteem), resulting from aversive incidents of psychological (i.e., non-physical) abuse at work. Our presentation will examine the contextual, relational, and individual antecedents of AWS, the psychological processes underlying targets staying, along with the associated workplace outcomes experienced by the targeted worker. We contribute a conceptual model and research propositions to explain why and when AWS occurs, and we identify implications for researchers to explore this line of inquiry and for organizations to prevent and mitigate AWS.

Retaining qualified active duty members in the military is an essential mission for DoD. This research presents findings on the relationship between an active duty member’s plans to stay on active duty (as indicated on a survey) and the member's actual retention behavior in the U.S. military two and four years later. Retention plans, as measured on the DoD’s Status of Forces Surveys, have often been interpreted as an indicator of subsequent retention behavior, but the relationship between survey responses and actual retention behavior has not been verified using actual retention data. This study seeks to examine this relationship. Further, in cases in which a service member indicated high retention plans, but did not remain in the Military, it may be valuable to explore factors that have led to this change.

Recent transactional data of U.S. military separation codes was restructured among time dimensions and military rank criteria and compared against prior survey data measuring retention intentions. Employing weighted logistic regression analyses, retention intentions were used to predict a dichotomous outcome of actual retention behavior (i.e., “retained” or “left”). Moreover, predicted probabilities were used to show how actual retention behavior varies as members indicate higher and lower levels of intentions to remain on active duty.

Analyses showed that an active duty member’s plans to stay on active duty had a positive relationship with actual retention behavior two years later and a stronger relationship four years later. Chief among the findings were that Marine Corps members and junior enlisted member were less likely than members in other Services and paygrades to remain in the Military after two and four years. However, the relationship between retention intentions and actual retention behavior was stronger among these subpopulations (Marines, junior enlisted) than members in other Service and paygrades.

This research is part of a larger body of on-going research that seeks to implement data wrangling techniques to merge survey data with transactional administrative data, augmenting the use of survey items in predicting retention outcomes. Future research will focus on identifying factors related to a Service member indicating high retention intentions but separating from the Military (i.e., those who, at one point, intended to stay, but separated 2-4 years later). Findings may support the Department of Defense in tailoring its policies and programs (i.e., promotional opportunities, family policy, etc.) to better support retention.

2:40 - 3:40 PM, Presentation Session Three (various rooms)

From time to time all organizations, large and small, struggle with employee turnover. However, it has been a consistent challenge for many organizations (especially in the healthcare arena) for more than a year due, in part, to the lowest employment rates the US has experienced for any sustained period of time. This presentation will focus on the difficulties of identifying, calculating, and addressing turnover, as well as examine other environmental factors that can impact turnover and question whether it is even beneficial for organizations to calculate and track employee turnover. Topics include:

  1. Defining Full Employment
  2. What impacts turnover?
  3. Calculating turnover
  4. What are the reasons for turnover?
  5. Turnover vs Retention
  6. Employee Engagement vs Employee Satisfaction
  7. How do organizations address turnover

The employee-driven market and “war for talent” demand organizations be increasingly competitive in maintaining the best workforce possible. Furthermore, factors such as millennial “job hopping,” employees leaving because of fears of layoffs and downsizing, and exiting the company without documenting valuable knowledge are all reasons to seek methods to decrease turnover. Organizations can use strategic and evidence-based training and development (T&D) practices to retain talent and prevent the loss of institutional knowledge. This session will discuss how T&D can be used to reduce involuntary turnover in organizations and cover how self-paced training, error management training (EMT), and the use of feedback and self-assessments can be used to enhance training outcomes. Ways that these T&D designs and methods may apply to millennials and tenured employees to best
reduce turnover and prevent the loss of institutional knowledge will also be covered. By understanding the connections between T&D and the varied workforce, employers can have an the advantage in the ongoing “war for talent.”

During this session, you will learn:

  • About evidence-based practices and how evidence-based T&D can improve employee retention.
  • How self-paced training, error management training, and feedback and assessment improve training outcomes.
  • Why different employees respond to different T&D techniques and which T&D methods to use with various employee groups.


3:50 - 4:30 PM, Poster awards & Wrap-up panel discussion, all conference presenters (UC Auditorium)


Please click here to complete the 2018 post-conference evaluation.