New surveys let employees have their say

Seeking to learn more about employee engagement and satisfaction, including what makes a contented department tick, the University is embarking on a new era of dialogue intended to take the Brock community’s pulse in terms of personal fulfillment and job interaction.

Later this week, Brock’s Human Resources department will ask a randomly-chosen group of full-time faculty and staff to share their thoughts on a range of workplace themes.

In a 10-minute questionnaire, respondents can weigh in on topics such as their relationship with their boss, relationships with co-workers, whether they have the resources they need to do good work and if they feel connected to the mission of the University.

This dialogue will be done twice a year, each spring and fall, and involve a different collection of participants each time. The goal is to ensure that every employee gets consulted once every year.

Tom Dunk, Provost and Vice-President Academic, noted that Brock was named last fall as one of Hamilton-Niagara’s top employers, but “we’re always looking at how we can continue to move forward, and surveys are an effective way to get legitimate feedback.”

“Understanding where people have concerns gives us a chance to respond, and to support employees who need it,” said Dunk. “Employee engagement is a measure of someone’s connection to Brock, their level of motivation and satisfaction in their jobs.”

Grant Armstrong, Brock’s Associate Vice-President, Human Resources, says employee surveys are “a way to get people’s feedback on a large scale when there isn’t a way to have the one-on-one conversations you would love to have on a regular basis. This is especially important in workplaces that have experienced significant growth.”

“People have told me Brock is a great place to work, but Brock has become a big operation, and it’s hard to have those hallway conversations with everyone,” said Armstrong. “It’s important for every employee to have a clear method for giving feedback, just as it’s important for the administration to understand how people are feeling about their jobs and about their relationship with the University.”

Brock’s survey is based on successful approaches used at other North American workplaces. Employees respond to questions or statements by using a four-point scale (from strongly-agree to strongly-disagree). There will also be opportunities for people to add comments if they wish.

Responses will be collated by select HR staff and by Brock’s Institutional Analysis department, who will look for themes indicating staff concerns or positive feedback. Summaries of the results will be shared with deans or division heads, unions representing Brock staff and with the Board of Trustees.

Neil Culp, Director of Organizational Development, said individuals’ anonymity is protected by having people use a web link that accesses a separate template containing the questions.

“Protecting peoples’ confidentiality is a very important concern,” said Culp. “We take that very seriously, and are putting appropriate measures into place to protect individual responses.”

Culp said this kind of feedback tool is not common at universities, but is increasingly used in other types of workplaces. The idea is to do short but regular inquiries that produce quick analysis and enable employers to respond to concerns in a timely manner.

“The quality of the response will depend on the quality of the data we get back. If you get an email inviting you to take the survey, please take a few minutes to complete it, and help the University become a better employer.”

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