Employees mostly OK, survey says

Haley Hansen

Many University of Minnesota faculty and staff say they’re dedicated and committed to their work.

Still, some say the University could do a better job of communicating and providing employees with enough resources to do their jobs.
 
Staff and faculty members gathered Monday afternoon to discuss these types of responses from the 2014 Employee Engagement Survey, which garnered more than 2,400 faculty responses and nearly 9,600 from staff. While the survey results didn’t differ greatly from last year, school leaders say gauging feedback from employeesis critical for making improvements.
 
The Office of Human Resources sent the survey last fall to all 19,000 benefits-eligible employees and staff members at the University’s five campuses. Leaders in OHR have been meeting with individual departments since January to discuss their results and develop a plan to address any areas that may need improvement.
 
At the meeting, Vice President for Human Resources Kathy Brown said the survey’s objective is to work with departments and colleges to help identify what they’d like to improve in order to better serve their employees. 
 
“The idea is to really reach out and hear what our employees are saying about their employment experiences,” she said at the meeting. 
 
While the majority of faculty and staff said they feel dedicated to their jobs, many expressed a desire to improve aspects of their work environment, said Brandon Sullivan, director of leadership and talent development for OHR.
 
Some responders said they’d like to see more collaboration in and outside their departments, and increased access to support and resources from their employer. 
 
Sullivan said it’s critical that administrators and leaders take action with the results.
 
“There’s nothing worse for engagement than having input and not hearing anything,” he said at the meeting. 
 
Sullivan also stressed that the purpose of the survey isn’t to evaluate departments and colleges but rather to provide a mechanism to identify areas in need of change.
 
Some faculty members questioned the University’s choice to administer the survey two years in a row and whether the responses would differ enough from the previous year, when the survey was first introduced.
 
Sullivan said there were a number of changes at the University in the past year that made it important for OHR to follow up with another survey. For example, the
 
Twin Cities campus has been implementing a new strategic plan, and many faculty and staff are under new leadership, which could impact 
feedback.  
 
The University will administer another survey this fall, Sullivan said, but will take the next year off and may begin implementing the survey every other year.
 
Rebecca Ropers-Huilman, who chairs the Faculty Consultative Committee and the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, said these
types of surveys are important for the University to gauge how its employees are feeling about their work.
 
“Engagement affects both people’s satisfaction and happiness in their work environment, [and] it also affects their productivity,” she said.
 
Bill O’Neill, who serves as chair of the Civil Service Consultative Committee and works in Facilities Management, said his department has been responding to the survey’s results, which showed a need for more resources. 
 
But bigger changes at the school will likely take more time, he said.
 
“The University is a large place, and it takes … some time to get some momentum going,” O’Neill said.