2012 Workplace Survey results: A highly committed Yale staff sees room for improvement

In the latest workplace survey, staff members indicated a high level of pride and satisfaction in their jobs while also noting room for improvement in such areas as personal development, unit morale, and teamwork.

The 2012 Workplace Survey — the University’s fourth since 2005 — had a 77% staff participation rate. Most staff members (63%) had a favorable overall response to the 55 survey questions measuring workplace satisfaction, and — in many areas — employee ratings were the highest of any survey results to date. Previous surveys were conducted in 2010, 2008, and 2005.

“In the most recent survey, we were encouraged by the progress in overall results and deeply appreciative that most of our staff members are highly committed to the work they do at Yale and intend to develop their careers here,” says Mike Peel, vice president of human resources and administration. “The staff feedback received in the 2012 Workplace Survey will help us to define our greatest opportunities to further improve our organizational excellence and make Yale an even better place to work.” (See related story.)

The survey was conducted over a two-and-a-half week period in November and queried employees about such topics as their commitment to working at Yale, decision-making processes, career development, productivity, and confidence in Yale’s leadership, as well as how much innovation is encouraged. Staff members also shared their perceptions about the University’s rewards and benefits, as well as about teamwork, communications, diversity, and performance management.

Of those responding to the survey, 52% were in managerial and professional (M&P) positions, 40% were in clerical and technical positions (C&T), and 8% were in service and maintenance posts.

Through their ratings, employees voiced extremely high commitment to working at Yale, with 85% saying they are proud to work for the University and an almost equal number reporting that they are satisfied with Yale as a place to work. Employees also gave their workplaces favorable ratings in the areas of diversity, leadership, their trust in University communications, and the wise use of resources in their units. Employee satisfaction in all of these areas increased since the 2010 survey.

Staff members gave less favorable ratings to the morale in their units, teamwork (within their own units and working with other units), the speed at which decisions are made (within their unit and working with other units), their knowledge of happenings at the University outside of their own units, and with some aspects of rewards in comparison to other organizations. Nevertheless, their responses in all of these dimensions were more favorable than they were in the 2010 survey.

See a conversation with Michael Peel about the survey.

Employees had the least favorable response to the question of whether there was a development plan in place for them, with 31% answering in the affirmative. Their rating on this question was slightly lower than in 2010.

In many areas, employee ratings on certain questions revealed the highest satisfaction since Yale’s first workplace survey process was introduced in 2005. Staff members reported the greatest satisfaction ever with Yale as a place to work (an 83% positive response) and said they had clear performance goals and a clear sense of their manager’s expectations (a 71% favorable response). They also indicated the greatest confidence in the decisions of senior leadership (a 62% favorable response) and noted that they believe that labor/management relations are improving (61% favorable).

The following is a more complete look at how staff members responded on the 2012 Workplace Survey in key categories:

Commitment: In addition to saying they are proud to work for Yale and satisfied with their workplace, most employees (78%) indicated that they would recommend Yale as a great place to work.

Diversity: 80% of employees said that offensive behavior in the form of sexual harassment, discrimination, insensitive remarks, and more is not tolerated in their units. Nearly the same percentage of staff members (79%) believe that University policies and programs help employees balance work and life.

Leadership: 78% of staff members say they are confident that Yale has a clear plan to ensure the long-term success of the University. In their own units, 50% claim that morale is high and 42% indicated that the results of the 2010 Workplace Survey were used constructively to make improvements.

Communications: 76% of staff members responded favorably to the statement “Yale’s mission and core values are clear,” and 75% said they trust University communications. However, less than half of survey respondents (46%) said they have sufficient information on what is going on at the University outside of their own units.

Decision-making: Half of all staff members who participated in the survey said that decisions in their unit are not “unreasonably delayed” while waiting for approvals from higher levels of management. Fewer (44%) said that approvals from other units do not delay decisions in their own unit.

Pay and advancement: When comparing Yale’s pay with the external market, 59% of M&Ps, 83% of C&Ts, and 87% of service and maintenance staff rated it as the same or better. Comparing opportunities for advancement at Yale with the market, 73% of M&Ps, 77% of C&Ts, and 76% of service and maintenance staff rated those at the University as equal or better.  Comparing healthcare, 92% of M&Ps rated University programs the same or better, while 97% of C&Ts and 87% of service and maintenance staff agreed. For paid time off, 92% of M&Ps rated Yale’s benefits the same or better, C&Ts 96%, and service and maintenance 90%.

“Managers across the campus are now sharing the unit-specific results of the survey with their staffs and will create action plans to make improvements in their units,” says Peel, adding that “some improvements in workplace culture will require a more systematic, University-wide response.”

Thousands of staff members from throughout the campus also shared comments and suggestions for workplace improvements on the survey.

“We’re very grateful for the staff members throughout the University who took the time to let us know what they are thinking and feeling about their workplaces,” says Peel. “Now that we’ve received this current reading of how staff members experience the Yale culture, the next step will be to translate this feedback into action plans — and action — at both the University and unit levels.”