In September 2011, the Virginia Tech Center for Survey Research distributed an employee climate survey to all salaried staff, administrative/professional, research, and instructional faculty. The survey was conducted in 2009 as well, so we are now able to compare results. There is one major difference between the two survey populations, however. Instructional faculty were not included in 2009 and were included in 2011, so we have no basis of comparison for that group. Moving forward, all salaried employees will receive the survey.
Through the survey, we are able to assess employee perceptions of the work climate at Virginia Tech by hearing directly from you. We asked you about various aspects of the work climate: resources, diversity, the Virginia Tech Principles of Community, communications, co-workers, leadership, supervision, and job satisfaction. The survey included 81 questions and employees were asked to answer each questions based on a 1 to 4 scale (1 - strongly disagree, 2 - somewhat disagree, 3 - somewhat agree, and 4 - strongly agree). Ratings of 3 and 4 were combined for a percent positive for each item.
Based on the broad ranging participation in the survey and the many requests we receive for presentations about the results, we know there is significant interest in the survey. Our response rate in 2011 was 46%, with 3,211 employees responding. We included two free form comment sections and received approximately 1,300 comments. We are pleased to share a high level summary of the results comparing 2009 to 2011: Employee Climate Survey Percentage Comparison (PDF | 300KB)
What you first notice when you look at the summary results comparing the two years is how little the results have changed. The items about relationships with others continue to be remarkably high – 96% for “good relationships with co-workers;” 96% for “good relationships with others outside my department;” and 91% for “good relationship with supervisor.” “Virginia Tech is a good place to work” is the third highest positive response on the survey at 92%.
We’ve highlighted items in green where results increased by 5% or more in 2011. We’ve highlighted items in red where the results decreased by 5% or more in 2011. Only seven items on the survey changed in either direction by 5% or more.
The many comments we received allowed us to understand the numerical results. One open-ended question allowed employees to express any opinion they wished about the overall climate, since the survey is designed to glean as broad a perspective of employee opinions as possible for improving the work climate. The difficult financial times are having an impact on our employees as they wrote again and again about the need to address compensation in light of a challenging workload. There was no issue more important to our employees than compensation.
Our open-ended question on diversity highlighted a number of concerns, and caused us to take a more detailed look at differences by race and gender. A number of employees expressed concern that we are not making sufficient progress in our efforts to attract a more diverse employee and student population. Concerns about gender equity, diversity hiring, and partner health benefits were repeated frequently. Interestingly, a number of employees expressed the view that we place too much emphasis on diversity at Virginia Tech.
Our survey included 16 questions about diversity. Black (13 out of 16 questions), Asian (six out of 16 questions), and Hispanic employees (13 out of 16 questions) who responded to the survey responded more negatively (5% lower or more than the university average) to the diversity related questions. Female employees responded 5% lower or more than males for nine of the 16 diversity related questions.
Though we clearly have work to do on the diversity aspects of our campus climate, there were many positive results and similarities by race and gender which are fundamental to a great workplace.
The 2011 survey results and comments give us a comprehensive picture of our strengths and weaknesses. As defined by the Great Place to Work Institute, “a great workplace is where you trust the people you work with, have pride in what you do, and enjoy the people you work with.” Our particular strength at Virginia Tech is the strong positive relationships our employees build with one another which contribute to the high positive perception of Virginia Tech as a good place to work.
We believe there are more positives than negatives about what we learned, and believe we can continue to improve the campus climate by putting these results to work. Where there are specific employee concerns, we have resources in the Department of Human Resources’s Office of Equity and Access, in the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, and in the Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost to promote a positive and equitable work environment for all of our employees – consistent with campus policies which support our Principles of Community.
We know many of you define how great a workplace is by what you experience in your particular work area. We are sharing results specific to each senior management area so our deans and vice presidents can work to make the climate even better in their areas of responsibility.
This employee community cares deeply about Virginia Tech and has demonstrated a commitment to improving the work climate by participating in our survey. We will continue to conduct our employee climate survey every two years, so we can gauge our progress over time. We appreciate your interest in making a good place to work even better.
Associate Vice President