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How do we make UT an even better place to work?

Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek posed the question during overview sessions for the 2011 Employee Engagement Survey held on Tuesday.

“Our faculty and staff carry out our mission. Making our campus an even better place to work strengthens our entire university,” Cheek said. “We will use the survey results to work on particular areas. We also need to hear more from our faculty and staff on how we can make improvements.”

Last spring, 43 percent of the Knoxville campus faculty and exempt staff responded to the survey. In the fall, 57 percent of all non-exempt employees participated. The survey asked about job satisfaction, work culture, leadership, and professional development, among other topics.

The Knoxville campus results revealed several overarching themes, including:

  • a strong sense of community and a friendly, collegial environment;
  • a general appreciation for employee benefits, but a need for improvement of compensation;
  • awareness of efforts to improve diversity, community, and civility and a need for continued focus in these areas;
  • optimism about goals for becoming a Top 25 public research university; and
  • the need to address training to build managers’ skills, improve employee orientation, overall performance management systems, accountability, and communication at all levels.

ModernThink, a human resources and business consulting firm, administered the survey across the UT system. The company helped analyze the data to benchmark results and advise on critical areas.

Rich Boyer, of ModernThink, led an overview of key findings and noted a strong sense of employee pride.

“There is a tremendous sense of pride here at the University of Tennessee and particularly on this campus. It is one of the nation’s iconic universities, and people are proud to be a part of it.”

Boyer said the results show a need to improve the overall dialogue so that people feel engaged and informed.

“Communication is foundational to any great workplace. It’s not just about communication from our senior leadership; it needs to happen at the department level throughout the campus,” Boyer said.

Several initiatives are already under way to address areas of concern. These include improving HR service delivery, employee raises, and aligning overall compensation to comparable market rates.

Cheek said he plans to involve the Employee Relations Council and other groups in improving the orientation process for new employees and will solicit input from faculty and staff on how to broaden internal communication and employee engagement in campus planning.

A record-high 7,100 UT employees statewide participated in the survey. It will be administered every three years.

To view the presentation Chancellor Cheek shared with employees, click here (pdf). View the Modern Think presentation here (pdf).

For more information about the survey, visit the HR website.