Why conduct the survey now?
It’s worth starting by acknowledging the reality of campus life this fall: People are hurting. From budget constraints to the loss of childcare to fears of a deadly virus, there are countless sources of stress for faculty and staff at every level of the university.
Given the collective state of anxiety, it is more important now than ever for our organization to listen to its community. Therefore, the Gallup Engagement Survey will launch in October for UNT World. This fall’s survey will not be an exercise in accruing points or competing for better internal scores. The inquiry should be intended to provide a voice to the frontline workers fulfilling UNT World’s mission to serve its students and the surrounding communities amid historic turbulence.
Refraining from a fall survey may itself be a costly detriment to engagement. The UNT World vision states their goal is bringing out the full potential of those we serve.
It is time to live out these promises by asking campus employees about their wellbeing, especially at a time when many feel muted.
Core reasons to launch a fall engagement survey include:
- The issues are enduring. The challenges of today – reduced state funding, hybrid learning, enrollment concerns, health anxiety – may be our new normal. There is little guarantee that life will return to a pre-COVID state by spring 2021. And many core targets of the survey, such as wellbeing and managerial behavior, are real and on-going concerns.
- Delaying bad news only makes conditions worse. If UNT World fears hearing bad news from its employees, these issues won’t grow better with age. They’ll only fester and cause further dissent.
- Response rates are higher than ever. Across all corners of American life, workers are answering engagement surveys at historically high rates. The Q12 is designed to be completed in just a few minutes, so it does not pose an additional burden to respondents; on the contrary, employees are often grateful to have their opinions heard.
- Heightened importance during a time of crisis. Survey administrations are often impacted by unpredictable events. But during times of crisis, Gallup has found even stronger correlations between the engagement of workers and performance outcomes. The goal of any survey endeavor is to provide information to make better decisions; the importance of these management decisions is magnified during a crisis.
- Combatting the challenges of remote work. For many industries with a sudden surge of people working from home, a survey and accompanying feedback improves efforts to close gaps in communication, belonging, performance management and perceptions of safety.
Will our institutions be able to address every employee concern? Of course not, but that’s the case with any survey. Our leadership can, however, acknowledge all of the extra work that faculty and staff are performing, making sure that employees feel their opinions are contributing to major decisions, and by crafting clear and helpful communications. Thus, showing that faculty and staff feedback is critical even during times of uncertainty and stress.