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UCOP staff engagement survey shows strengths, room for improvement

Among UCOP staff, 59 percent consider themselves “engaged” in their jobs, 68 percent would recommend UC as a good place to work and 82 percent are motivated to go beyond their job responsibilities.

These are among the key findings of the 2012 Staff Engagement Survey, sponsored by the Council of the UC Staff Assemblies (CUCSA) and administered last summer at UCOP and systemwide. The goal was to better understand the level of engagement of UC employees in their jobs and workplace in order to identify strengths as well as opportunities for improvement.

The survey was distributed to a sample of non-represented career UCOP staff with one year of service or more. The sample totaled 735 staff, and 362 responded, for a total participation rate of 49 percent.

UCOP’s overall engagement level of 59 percent comes in below the national average and university benchmark established by Towers Watson, the HR consulting firm that conducted the survey. Executive Vice President Nathan Brostrom said he wants to see that figure grow.

“This is the single greatest thing we all need to work on, so that when people come to work on Monday morning they feel they are making a difference,” Brostrom said. He was speaking to a group of about 75 UCOP staff and leaders who turned out to a meeting to review and discuss the survey results.

Other metrics that came in below benchmarks included support of employee development, two-way communication and matching pay to performance. Brostrom attributed these results to UCOP’s 2008–09 restructuring, the lack of a consistent compensation program and cultural factors like what he called UCOP’s “siloed” structure.

Some weak areas are already being addressed, Brostrom said, through UCOP’s increased investment in professional development and performance management. And there are many other signs of positive engagement by UCOP staff, including:

  • 82 percent are motivated to go beyond their job responsibilities
  • 84 percent say their job affords them favorable work–life balance
  • 74 percent would recommend UC as a good place to work
  • 66 percent feel their supervisors listen to different points of view before coming to conclusions

In a lively question-and-answer session following the Jan. 29 presentation, staff raised several questions and concerns, including the need for improved succession planning, “healthier” communication between staff and leadership, 360-degree reviews and ways to make the educational and cultural perks that abound at campuses available to OP staff.

UCOP’s siloed and hierarchical structure was a recurring theme. “We have many levels of management at OP,” said Senior Vice President of External Relations Dan Dooley. “As senior leaders, we have to look for ways to flatten the organization so we don’t get isolated.”

Brostrom said that leadership will follow up to address the issues raised by the survey. But he wants that dialogue to be two-way. He invited those who have ideas or questions to send an email directly to him or UCOP HR representatives at:

Jeanie Urban, OP Staff Assembly chair and CUCSA senior delegate, said individuals should step up and take responsibility for their own career development and staff engagement rather than expecting it to come from above.

“Don’t wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder,” Urban said. “Individual staff need to take ownership, take the initiative to make that appointment with your supervisor and put your own priorities into action. Be part of the solution.”

Urban also invited staff to increase their involvement by attending OP Staff Assembly meetings (held on second Wednesdays of the month; see Link online calendar for location) and consider running for a seat in the upcoming OP Staff Assembly elections. (Applications will be solicited in late April and the election held in June.)

To see the complete survey results, go to the OP Staff Assembly website.

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