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[PART 1] Developing a People Engagement Lens: Exploring a membership data set

An important first step to take when shifting to a people engagement lens in your organization is to think about the sources of data that are readily available. This can include formal and informal data captured in databases or documents. You may also need to collect your own data. Typically, this involves putting together needs assessments and/or focus groups to capture thoughts from members. In most of my roles, I had previous exposure to members and leaders in the organization before I stepped into a people engagement role. I brought my own experiences and questions as a member, but I had to gather feedback from others as well.

One simple place to start may be a membership data set. Below are some variables of interest in a membership data set of epidemiology professionals in a local organization.

This data set is comprised of three years of data. I created a ID number for individuals in the data set based on their last name and first name. It can also be tracked across years since many members remained in the membership data set from 2016 to 2018.

Membership Type indicates whether the member is a primary or secondary member of the section, which is the Epidemiology group in this case.

Membership Category indicates the membership level that was purchased/selected by the member.

Job Title captures a member’s job position at work as well as indicates if they are a student or have retired from the workforce.

Membership Renewed is a variable that is present in the 2017 and 2018 data sets only. This likely reflects some organizational changes in tracking data about members. Many members do not have a renewal date in 2017 or 2018.

Credentials includes information on higher-level degrees, certifications, and licenses that are relevant to the field.

Additional variables can be created from those listed above in order to zoom in or out of certain membership characteristics.

Overview of Members

There were 87 unique members in 2016, 143 in 2017, and 162 members in 2018.

Members could select the Epidemiology group as their primary or secondary affiliation within a larger organization of public health professionals. There were 116 primary members in 2017. This went down to 106 primary members in 2018. Secondary members remained consistent at 28. This data was not captured for 2016.

Job Titles The main job title groupings were epidemiologist, professor, public health administrator, and graduate student in 2016. In 2017, the main group was graduate students, followed by epidemiologists and then professors. This remained the same in 2018.

Credentials The main credentials/licenses that members held were an MPH, PhD, and CPH.

Membership Renewal 68 members renewed in both 2017 and 2018. 94 members only renewed once in either 2017 or 2018.


In summary, the epidemiology group consists of many members that have a master’s degree or higher. Diverse public health and healthcare licenses/certifications are also represented. There was a high proportion of graduate students in the membership data set. Professors and those working as epidemiologists or related data roles are in the data set as well.

There is more work to do to find out how members are engaged as well as how they wish to engage with the organization. The number of members appears to have almost doubled between 2016 and 2018. However, those with primary membership in the Epidemiology group decreased by a few members. The main cities members worked in were Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, and Galveston.

Future Variables

Some information that could be collected in the future may be sociodemographic variables such as age, gender, and race/ethnicity. A separate data set that captures the number of years in the organization would also give a better perspective on how long members retain their membership overall. Variables that specify the types of opportunities that members can participate in might also be helpful. From personal experience, I know that members can serve on committees, in leadership roles, and be involved in conferences.

In general, if we really want to know about the actual experience of members then we need to look for data that captures this or collect our own data. This is something we will cover in my next blog post.

-Dr. S Anyatonwu