Nearly a year after Indiana University partnered with Gallup to conduct the MyVoice@IU staff employee engagement survey, teams of staff at campuses across the state are hard at work implementing more than 300 action plans based on individual survey results for each unit.
“IU is committed to creating an environment where employees feel engaged in their work, where they feel valued and that their contributions matter,” IU Vice President for Human Resources John Whelan said. “That’s why the work on these action plans is so important. It’s helping drive change that enhances the work environment at IU, and our engagement with that work and with our colleagues.”
Behind the scenes
Here’s how the process worked: Before survey results were distributed to individual units or departments, HR professionals in those units received special training to guide the interpretation and use of the results. HR and unit leadership then led discussions of the survey results with staff, focusing on which survey question(s) offered the best opportunity to enhance engagement at the unit level. The unit then created simple action plans to drive change.
The result? IU’s more than 11,700 staff members have the opportunity to create and implement new processes and tools that will help IU continue to improve its work environment, Whelan said.
That includes teams in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs on the Bloomington campus, the IU School of Medicine and Student Services on the IU Kokomo campus.
Amanda Buckles-Barash, director of finance with the IU School of Medicine-Financial Services, said her 20-member team tackled the survey’s third question: “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.”
Their process included hosting half-hour meetings with each team member and developing a three-pronged plan for each that includes recognizing a personal challenge as well as a way to work on potential development opportunities.
“One thing we did turn up that was unexpected was that there’s a real reticence or even an inability sometimes for people to articulate clearly what they’re interested in or where they’re interested in growing,” Buckles-Barash said. “We found that if we reframed the question as, ‘Think about somebody you admire and a skill that they have,’ and then ask them to discuss that, we really began to draw people out.”
Todd Gambill, vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management at IU Kokomo, said his team took on the question “IU treasures diverse opinions and ideas.”
“Because we’re not the most diverse population in terms of the region that we serve, it’s important that we’re extra diligent and aware in terms of understanding privilege and being careful to include all the voices that make our university what it is,” he said. “Quite frankly, I just love this process because it gets us talking, and it opens doors and reinforces to our team that this is important and that we’re all on this journey together and constantly trying to improve.”
Over at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs on the Bloomington campus, director of human resources Anita Herbertz and engagement champion team member Daniel O’Donnell said the school took on questions 10 and 11: “I have a best friend at work” and “In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress,” respectively.
Though the entire school already uses the CliftonStrengths assessment to help employees identify their top five strengths, Herbertz said SPEA chose those two questions because they wanted to see growth in those areas and because she believes the strengths-based culture at SPEA can be leveraged to support increased engagement at the school. She said SPEA has implemented an employee excellence inventory that coaches supervisors to use positive language to discuss goals, which in turn helps employees feel empowered to talk with their supervisor to discuss personal development.
“Between the strengths assessment and trying to find ways to increase staff engagement here at SPEA, the work of our engagement champion team will help provide a feedback loop for employees to see what their future at IU might look like, which leads right into HR’s Job Framework Redesign Project,” said O’Donnell, who is also assistant director of online education and student services in SPEA’s Master’s Programs Office. “Knowing my strengths, and my supervisors knowing my strengths, has helped clarify for me what my future at SPEA looks like.”
The process behind enhancing engagement is a continuous cycle, allowing for adjustments to existing action plans or the creation of new plans as teams continue working with their results. A second MyVoice@IU survey will be open to staff employees in fall 2019. That data will then be compared with results from the 2017 survey, helping university officials and the teams involved determine whether the action plans made a positive impact on staff engagement and where to focus their efforts next.
Staff employees who’d like to know more about engagement, or get involved in their unit’s action planning process, are encouraged to visit hr.iu.edu/myvoice or contact their unit’s HR professional.