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Internal communications improvements underway

September 30, 2014 By Greg Bump

Robust internal communications are essential to a well-functioning workplace. An Administrative Process Redesign (APR) project team recently completed a study of the issue on campus and is suggesting a set of improvements on behalf of UW employees.

Among the recommendations from the project committee are: creating an employee intranet that tailors communications to each employee’s preference; developing guidelines on the use of mass email and campus email lists; and putting special emphasis on access for classified staff employees who may not use computers as part of their job, or speak English as a second language. The option to explore additional communications vehicles beyond Inside UW–Madison is also suggested.

The team specifically studied how campus shares and receives information that relates to the workplace, such as human resources, benefits, administrative initiatives and leadership messages. It gathered data through a campus survey that received more than 400 responses, 39 personal interviews with a diverse mix of campus faculty and staff, five focus group sessions, and five engagement sessions with employee groups.

The team analyzed the data for themes related to employee needs and preferences, and used what was learned to inform subsequent activities, including process benchmarking, solution brainstorming and narrowing, and refining final recommendations. A cross-campus team has started work on implementation, which will continue through the academic year.

“I appreciate the work of this group and the inclusive process they followed to gather input from across the university on communications issues,” says Vice Chancellor for University Relations Vince Sweeney, who charged the team, along with Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Darrell Bazzell.

“We place a great value on our employees at UW–Madison, and effective internal communications is essential to sparking their engagement on campus,” he adds.

The team also concluded that a baseline commitment to strong internal communications must be communicated to campus by leadership, and that effective communications are a shared responsibility between the employer and the employee.

Effective internal communications is closely aligned with the university’s Strategic Framework goal of recruiting and retaining talented faculty and staff, the team concluded. Plus, successful internal communications strengthens a sense of community and inclusion in the campus community.