CIPD membership grows as global pandemic highlights value of professional community

A look back at the CIPD’s latest membership year (1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020)

Five hands holding thumbs up

The CIPD closed its financial year on 30 June 2020 with a 2% growth in membership and all-round improvements in member satisfaction. We’ll publish official figures+ in our annual report later this year, but there’s much to report and celebrate in the meantime. 

Supporting members in their work and careers is at the heart of what we do at the CIPD. In a year when people professionals have faced an array of challenges, not least a global pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, we’ve been more responsive than ever to members’ needs and the changing context. 

By being there for members today, we create the opportunity to nurture an ever-growing community advocating for better work and working lives within their organisations and with their clients.

Improving member support and value

Our last large membership survey in 2018 revealed several areas where we needed to improve what we offer. Since then, we’ve made progress on all those areas, with scores increasing across all of our key measures of satisfaction. 

Last autumn, we started a new mentoring programme for up-and-coming leaders in the people profession. We also held our first-ever open nominations process for Chartered Companions, giving members an opportunity to recognise peers who’ve made an outstanding contribution to the profession. We received over 80 nominations and were proud to announce our newly appointed Chartered Companions in December.

The CIPD online community is one of the most valued benefits of membership among those who use it. To make it more accessible to more people, we launched an app version – allowing members to tap into each other’s expertise and experience while on the go. More than 11,000 people have downloaded the app so far and based on user feedback, we’re adding added more functionality, including search capability.

Building on the new Profession Map we unveiled in 2018, we provided members with the equivalent of eight full days of online training at the start of 2020. The digital courses, each of which focuses on one of the map’s ‘core behaviours’ were available exclusively to members at launch. This new learning content has so far received over 20,000 unique views and tremendous feedback.

Chartered Fellow, Annette Hill, commented: ‘A CIPD member for 20 years, I’ve seen the benefits grow and grow and now membership is better than ever with online learning courses supporting the Profession Map.’

We took steps this year to strengthen our support for independent consultants, who make up at least 10% of membership. For example, for UK members we enhanced our professional indemnity insurance offering (provided in partnership with Weald), including extending it to provide cyber cover and for our UK and Ireland members we launched our well-being helpline and hub specifically to cater for those not covered by an employer's EAP scheme.  We also introduced a dedicated forum for consultants in our online community and captured their unique perspective on the profession in our People Profession Survey 2020, which will help us ensure we stay relevant to this group in future. 

At members’ sides through coronavirus

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, we quickly found ways to provide our members with the support and guidance they needed. We launched our online coronavirus hub providing advice, resources and guidance to support employers and people professionals in their response to the crisis. We’ve built up a comprehensive library of resources, covering furlough, return to work and many other related issues, attracting more than 2.1 million unique visitors since launch. Regular webinars and a wide range of virtual branch events (provided by our amazing community of Branch Committee Members in the UK) have helped members to stay on top of key topics. Our legal helpline has remained available to members throughout the pandemic and we have seen usage increase by 55%.

Chartered Fellow, Tim Scott, commented: 'Our professional body has really stepped up in this crisis  - loads of helpful resources provided quickly and also been really visible in the debate at a national level. Keep up the good work all!'

Conscious of the increasing pressure on our members’ personal well-being, in April we introduced a new wellbeing helpline and online hub. The service can help members work through physical or mental health issues and financial problems. Almost 5,000 members have accessed the hub.

We had to move our Festival of Work event over to a virtual platform due to the restrictions around face-to-face events. This gave us an opportunity to open the conference and exhibition up to all CIPD members globally for free. This move was very well received and more than 15,000 people joined the virtual event. Finally, we provided a whole range of resources to help our members end racism in the workplace following the Black Lives Matter protests this summer – an area of work we are deeply committed to and will continue to invest in.

Suraj Mehan, Festival of Work attendee, commented: 'The @CIPD @Festival of Work is showing how you pull off a virtual conference. My experience with navigating it has been nothing but great!'

Finally, in recognition of the unique circumstances, we kept our membership fees at the same level as last year and increased our financial support for members who had been most negatively impacted by the crisis.

Seeing the results

Every quarter we contact a sample of our members inviting them to take part in a short survey. This is one of our main ways of understanding whether we are proving good value and service to members.

Through this survey, we have started to see the results of our investment in members. From quarter one to quarter four, our Net Promoter Score (which is an indicator of member satisfaction on a scale of -100 to +100) jumped 32 points to +16.  We also saw an increase in the proportion of members saying we were relevant to them – from 64% to 73%. The increases were particularly notable for Chartered members and for members who had accessed our coronavirus resources.

While this increase is of course very welcome, we recognise the need to continue providing value for members – throughout and beyond the current upheaval.

Membership continues to grow

Membership growth is crucial to fulfilling our purpose – the more people professionals who uphold our Code of Conduct and map their careers against the new Profession Map, the more working lives we’ll improve. 

In 2019-20 we were pleased to see our membership grow by 2% overall, which is consistent with recent years. Below is a table which shows how our membership has changed over the year.

Members 30 June 2019 30 June 2020 % growth
UK 138,367 * 140,574 * 1.6%
Ireland 5,876 5,999 2.1%
Middle East 4,165 4,726 13.5%
Asia Pacific 1,966 2,055 4.5%
Rest of the world 3,990 4,076 2.2%
Total 154,364 157,430 2.0%

* includes members with no address

All regions performed well over the course of the year, with our community in the Middle East growing particularly quickly thanks in part to the strength of our relationships with business and government. Strong growth among our Student and Associate grades has been largely driven by increasing uptake of CIPD qualifications via our centres. We’ve seen a small annual decline in membership at the Chartered grades in recent years and we know from our member surveys that we need to do more to increase our relevance for Chartered members, as well as making it easier for senior Associate Members to prove their eligibility for Chartered membership and upgrade. We’re addressing this as part of our ongoing change programme.

The year ended with renewal rates looking positive – comparable with last year despite the impact of the pandemic.

Thank you

We’d like to thank all of our members for continuing to be part of our community in 2019-20, and we hope we’ve been able to support you in your career and work over the course of the year. We’re absolutely committed to continuing to offer members more and better value over the coming twelve months too, with a number of significant developments planned, so please do look out for further updates. 

 +All figures in this article are subject to minor change following our end-of-year audits. Final figures will be published in our annual report in November 2020. 

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