Engagement Survey Results are in—Take Action 

Published in February 2020.

A record 74% of employees responded to the 2019 Employee Engagement survey. Faculty and staff increasingly see the survey as an important tool to share their experience of working at the University.

Overall survey results across all University faculty and staff have held mostly steady since 2017, with one exception. The most dramatic change since the last survey came from the increasing number of faculty and staff who said action was taken on issues raised in the last survey (+5 faculty, +3% staff).

Still, a closer look at the data also shows that faculty and staff have a wide range of experiences depending on their college, unit, and department. For example, faculty who responded favorably to the survey question ”Action was taken on issues raised in the last survey” ranged from 20%–59%, and the range from staff was even wider, from 17% to 70%.

The fact is the University is a large organization, so what drives engagement in one department or unit may not work in another. That’s why it’s important for leaders at every level of the University to focus on understanding and addressing feedback. 

Feature Insight

Act on Feedback

Top-down and bottom-up; micro and macro—leaders at every level of the University have a role in driving employee engagement. 

Supervisors should continue to listen and respond.

If you received a survey report, share it with your employees. If you didn’t receive a report, ask your direct reports for feedback on their work experience or ask your manager for the data that includes your team. Use the questions in this Quick Guide to gather their input. Then use that feedback to celebrate strengths and create a plan to make changes with your direct reports. Here are some ideas about everyday engagement to get you started.


Directors and department heads must facilitate conversations. 

Directors and department heads can demonstrate transparency and commitment to employee engagement by sharing survey results with their faculty and staff. Then have conversations (formal or informal) to understand the context around feedback from the survey. Continue those conversations by facilitating discussions that address the most important issues, identify solutions, and celebrate strengths and accomplishments. Finally, follow through. Create a plan to implement solutions and make changes that address employee feedback and support your strategic priorities. 

For senior leaders, accountability is paramount.

Because employee engagement varies so widely between campuses, colleges, and units, senior leaders should charge each of their directors and department heads with making a plan to address faculty and staff feedback from the survey. Don’t stop there—be sure they have the support and resources to lead meaningful change. 

Senior leaders set the standard and expectation for survey follow-up in their college or unit. Hold your leaders accountable by clearly communicating your expectation around action planning. Follow up to ensure progress is made. If your leaders haven’t made progress, you may need to adjust your level of consequence. If they have made progress, respond positively. Your response conveys the level of accountability associated with survey follow-up and action planning. Read more about the accountability ladder in the Quick Guide to Accountability


The consequence of inaction

Addressing and acknowledging feedback will help to build trust. It also lets your employees know that you care about their thoughts and experiences. Employees are more likely to continue to offer feedback if they know you are listening and willing to address their concerns. If you stop listening to their feedback, they’ll stop offering it.

If you weren’t able to join us for our last webinar, “Supervising Undergraduate Students,” you can view the webinar or listen to the podcast anytime. 

Here’s an answer to one of the most frequently asked questions from the webinar.

Students are all so different. How can I give each one the feedback they need?

Remember to stay focused on the employee’s goals and make sure they have an opportunity to apply the feedback in their role again. See the Quick Guide to Feedback for more ideas on how to deliver effective feedback. If your feedback conversations don’t seem to be effective, revisit the “Get Ready” or “Get Set” steps of the framework presented in the Quick Guide. Learning to give feedback takes practice—keep trying!