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Staff survey shows employee satisfaction, with opportunities for improvement

November 15, 2022 By Greg Bump

Seventy-seven percent of University of Wisconsin–Madison staff feel “very often” or “extremely often” welcomed in their workplace, according to a staff climate survey. Seventy-two percent responded that they feel respected in the workplace and would recommend the university as a good place to work. The survey also identified areas for future focus and improvement.

Overall, 90 percent of respondents to the confidential survey shared they feel safe in their work environment, 65 percent said they feel valued, 66 percent said they feel included and like they belong at UW–Madison. The response rate to the survey was 38 percent. A summary is available online.

The 2022 Staff Climate Survey was one of several distributed this year. Results of a similar student survey were shared earlier this year, and faculty survey results conducted by Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI) will be shared in the future.

The staff survey was sponsored by the UW–Madison Offices of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration. The survey was available in electronic and paper versions and was translated into six languages. In-person assistance was also available in six languages.

“We are grateful to all the staff who participated in the survey and for the valuable information it provides us about our work environment,” Provost John Karl Scholz says. “While it shows that UW–Madison is a great place to work for most staff, there are also aspects of our culture that need improvement.”

“The survey is one tool we can use to understand how our employees experience working at UW–Madison,” Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Rob Cramer added. “We know that individual work experiences vary, and we look forward to hearing from our staff members about steps we can take to continue what’s going well and improvements we can make in other areas.”

Staff reported being somewhat or very satisfied both with UW–Madison (73%) and with their job (76%). The job satisfaction response is higher than the result reported among federal agency employees in the 2021 Best Places to Work in the Federal Government survey (66%).

A majority of employees said their department or work unit is “very inclusive” or “extremely inclusive” to all employees regardless of gender or gender identity (82%), sexual orientation (87%), race or ethnicity (79%), nationality or citizenship (84%), religious belief or customs (81%), political views or affiliations (70%) and disabilities (77%).

More than half of the staff reported being “very satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” with the remote work policy at UW–Madison (54%) and at their school, college or division (57%).

The survey also identified areas of the campus climate that need improvement. Six percent of staff reported personally experiencing sexual harassment on the UW–Madison campus in the last three years. Women and those who identified as nonbinary or other gendered were about twice as likely to report experiencing sexual harassment as men.

The survey found troubling results to questions about the prevalence of hostile and intimidating behavior (HIB). Overall, 44% of staff reported witnessing hostile or intimidating behavior and 38% experienced such behavior on the UW–Madison campus within the last three years. Those who identified as nonbinary or other gendered were more likely to report witnessing hostile or intimidating behavior. Campus has taken steps in recent years to address both HIB and sexual misconduct.

“We strive to make our campus a welcoming place to all. Hostile and intimidating behavior, in any form, is unacceptable and we have policies with consequences,” Scholz says. “We encourage employees to continue to call out and report this behavior and join us in continuously working to improve climate and culture.”

A final report with detailed analysis of the survey responses will be released in the coming months. A data dashboard will be developed to provide the UW–Madison community with access to results from all quantitative survey questions.

Campus administrators will meet with stakeholder and shared governance groups across the university to listen to feedback on the results, and collaborate with the schools, colleges, units, divisions and shared governance groups to identify strategies for improvement.