KNOXVILLE — Three out of four employees who took the University of Tennessee’s biennial Employee Satisfaction Survey rate UT as a good place to work and say it provides them with opportunities to learn and grow.
These key indicators show improvements over UT’s initial survey conducted in 2003. Results also showed improvements in the university’s communication with employees. Sixty one percent said the university does an excellent job in communicating, up from 48 percent in the 2003 survey.
Administered in 2005, the survey had a 19.2 percent response rate from nearly 13,000 employees across the state. The survey gauges employee feelings about the work environment, communication, compensation and benefits.
“Employee feedback is critical to improving the university and the work environment on every campus,” said Sylvia Davis, UT vice president for administration and finance. “The survey is a great tool that helps us focus our efforts on the issues that matter the most.
“While we are pleased with the many strong results, we recognize there is more work to be done, including further improvement in employee communication; a top priority for the university in the coming year,” she said.
The key results are as follows:
• 74 percent of respondents thought the university is a good place to work, compared to 68 percent in 2003.
• 74 percent said they’ve had opportunities to learn and grow in the past year, as compared to 71 percent in the initial survey.
• 91 percent of respondents said they know what is expected of them at work, and 80 percent reported having the materials and equipment needed to best do their job.
Employee feedback about supervision and evaluation also improved over the past survey.
• 66 percent of respondents said their job performance is evaluated fairly, up from 59 percent.
• 62 percent said they’ve received feedback about their performance in the past six months, and 79 percent said their supervisor or others care about them as a person. These results are up from 54 percent and 71 percent, respectively, in 2003.
• 68 percent said that their opinions are valued in the workplace and that the university’s mission makes them feel that their job is important. Both showed slight improvements by 3 percent and 7 percent, respectively.
Davis said that she is concerned about a finding that 36 percent noted a reluctance to speak their mind due to fear of reprisal.
“We must continue to work on building and supporting an environment that welcomes employee feedback,” said Davis. “Every employee should feel free to contribute in a way that improves their department and the university.”
Along with overall communication, the survey explored best methods.
Meetings and paycheck stuffers measured as the clearest communication channel; while elected faculty and employee representatives were rated by employees as most useful in the delivery of relevant information.
“We are very encouraged by the strides made in employee communication – – the most improved category,” said Davis. “Along with enhancing methods to reach employees we’ve focused on one-to-one communication through supervisors, and it’s made a difference.”
Challenges exist in employee satisfaction with overall compensation. Seventy-five percent report that the benefit package meets their needs, but 41 percent think they’re paid fairly when compared to people who do similar work at the university. Only 18 percent of employees think they’re paid fairly when compared to those who do similar work outside the university.
Since 2003, UT has provided each employee a minimum increase of at least $500 per year, with most employees receiving $750. UT also implemented performance-based adjustments and reinstated mandatory performance reviews. Since 1998, UT has reduced the number of employees who earn less than $20,000 from 26 percent to 8 percent.
“A primary objective of the university is to provide fair and equitable compensation for all faculty and staff through a structure that allows us to reward people based on performance,” explains Davis. “While we’ve made strides in all these areas over the past five years, we are continuing to work within the framework of the state budget on every issue. We intend to build upon that progress.”
The 2003 results were used in addressing issues related to training, performance evaluations, communication and benefits. A new policy now provides 32 hours of training for all employees annually. Training initiatives have focused on broadening supervisors’ knowledge and skills.
To view the full survey report, please visit www.tennessee.edu/employeesurvey.
Sylvia Davis (865-974-2243)
Karen Collins (865-974-5186 or 865-216-6862)