President's Message

Speak up, be heard, and make a difference: President reviews the results of employee survey

 

York's President &Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri has issued the following message to the University community:

In 2010, I launched creating a Better Workplace as a pan-university commitment to work with all employee groups to enhance York's workplace culture. My goal for this initiative was to increase employee engagement through shared values, common goals and clear expectations, based on mutual respect, trust and credibility.

Working in partnership with my executive team, we knew that all York employees have a strong desire to work in a better workplace, but we also recognized that there were  issues to be addressed and  areas where improvement is required.

To gain a better understanding, last November we launched the first-ever faculty and staff employee engagement survey. Our goal was to offer an environment for employees to speak up, be heard and help make a difference by  sharing with us what is and what is not working on campus. We also decided to establish a baseline against which improvements can be benchmarked.

Our objective for the employee engagement survey was to hear directly from  all employees about how you see your work experience.  The results are now in, but first before I review some of the highlights, I extend my sincere thanks to each of you who took the time to complete the survey. Your feedback has been incredible and we are now able to identify and prioritize opportunities for change. Thank you as well to Suzanne Killick, director of better workplace, Rhonda Lenton, provost and Gary Brewer, vice-president finance & administration, for making this survey a reality.

The overall response rate was  30% (thirty-four per cent of staff and 43 per cent of full-time faculty took the time to complete the survey, conducted by Metrics@Work, the independent third-party research firm responsible for administering the survey. Researchers at Metrics@Work have assured us that for our first-ever survey, the number of participants is on par with other universities and the data robust enough for full analysis. Over the coming weeks, you will be directly involved in discussing the results and developing actions, collegially, to address relevant issues and celebrate strengths.

Here are some key highlights:

  • There were two key outcomes measures that can be considered drivers of engagement – organizational engagement and work/role engagement. Organizational engagement reflects employee's perceived relationship with their organization – emotional commitment and a sense of belonging. Work/Role engagement reflects employees' perceived relationship to their work – passion for the job, dedication, and immersion in job.
  • Metrics@work provided us with our own internal benchmark comparisons as well as benchmark data with other Universities and 120 organizations in their database.
  • Overall, employee engagement with York University as an institution and engagement with role/work at York University fell within five per cent of the comparative external databases used by Metrics@Work, and is well within a normal/acceptable range for universities.
  • Organizational engagement was within the data base comparator for staff and overall, role/work engagement was higher for faculty members.

The survey questions explored 22 different drivers of organizational and role/work engagement. Some of the institutional strengths identified by York's faculty and staff include the following: support for diversity, role clarity, job control, and workplace safety.

Some of the institutional opportunities for improvement identified include: opportunities for advancement, collaboration between departments, and workload.

Next steps:

Over the past few weeks, meetings to review the results have been held with senior and executive committees, and with divisional vice-presidents and Faculty deans. In the coming weeks, union leadership will be briefed and each divisional or Faculty leader will host meetings with their staff and faculty to review and discuss the results. Part of the dialogue will focus on whether the survey results accurately reflect your work experiences. The meetings will also provide a forum to obtain more detail and context about faculty-, departmental- or division-specific findings.

The next step will see a collaborative effort to develop solutions to address identified institutional and specific workplace areas for improvement, while capitalizing on our areas of strength. Once these meetings are completed, the joint recommendations will be reflected in each area's Integrated Resource Plan.

In summary:

York employees have defined their vision for a better workplace as "the desire to work in an environment that respects your contributions by making expectations clear and reasonable and where you have the tools and resources to help you succeed".

I sincerely believe that the findings of this first engagement survey provide a vital tool in helping us all to realize that vision by clearly identifying where we are now and what we need to do to moving forward.

I am very proud to say on behalf of my executive team that we are committed to using the results of this inaugural survey to make improvements so that we can Create a Better Workplace for everyone. Thank you once again for your support of this initiative.