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Employees are empowered by good communications. Using several online and print tools, Tennessee Today aims to keep all Knoxville-area University of Tennessee employees well-informed.

So how are we doing? According to employees who responded to a recent opinion poll, fairly well — although there are many suggestions for improvement.

Participation in the poll was very high–fueled, no doubt, by the chance to win free parking for a semester. Yanfei Gao, assistant professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department, was the lucky winner. Nearly 1,500 employees took part. This included 264 faculty members, 536 exempt staff and 691 non-exempt (hourly) staff.

Now in its second year, the Tennessee Today employee communications program includes:

  • Daily e-mails to nearly all Knoxville-area UT employees;
  • A very active Web site–;
  • A print page in Tuesday’s Daily Beacon;
  • A recent addition, the eight-page newsletter, For Your Benefit, which circulates at the beginning of each semester and highlights human resources news.

Employee reading TN TodayNearly 75 percent of the survey respondents said they generally receive the news they need about the university and their jobs.

About 70 percent said they read the printed page in the Daily Beacon every Tuesday or at least occasionally. Readership, as expected, was somewhat higher among hourly employees, some of whom do not have access to daily e-mail at work.

The Tennessee Today daily e-mail now reaches 87 percent of all Knoxville-area employees. Nearly 83 percent of those receiving the e-mail either agreed or strongly agreed that this e-mail keeps them up to date.

What changes will we make because of this feedback?

We intend to tweak the current e-mail design to improve readability. We will pay even closer attention to the types of stories readers say are most important: news about employee benefits, insurance options and related deadlines. Based on feedback, we will give more lead time to announcements of events, provide links to the university calendar and increase exempt and non-exempt staff-related news. We will also make it easier to submit stories and comments, and further improve efforts to be the first source of UT announcements.

The survey shows we’ve made significant inroads. But the comments also make it clear that the trick is to address the diverse information needs of so many employees, and do it with as few words as possible.

To share additional feedback about Tennessse Today, send comments to