Working at UW to improve workforce communications
The University of Wisconsin–Madison is reshaping the way it communicates with its workforce.
A new website called Working at UW (working.wisc.edu), designed by and for employees, launches today, to be followed by a new employee-focused email digest later this spring. The final step is a redesign of the university’s mass email system.
Working at UW is an easy to use resource for essential employee information, from parking and transportation updates to HR news and construction-related bulletins.
Employee events, professional development opportunities and an employee toolkit are among the features highlighted at the site. It will complement the university’s existing faculty and staff news from Inside UW and on news.wisc.edu. The site also complements the MyUW portal and replaces links and info that once resided on wisc.edu.
“An emphasis on employee communications can help people get information they need to do their job well,” says Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “But it can also be a place in which employees exchange ideas and help shape a vision of our shared future. We also encourage employees to participate in shared governance groups to bring forward initiatives and offer feedback.”
Working at UW is the product of a two-year process of examining how to improve internal communications on campus.
Charged by the vice chancellor for finance and administration and the vice chancellor for university relations, a committee of employees from across the campus conducted surveys and engaged governance groups to determine what was missing in internal communications efforts.
“Effective communication with our employees is vital to our institutional success,” Alice Gustafson, director of Administrative Process Redesign and co-chair of the project, says. “We set out to learn where gaps exist in our communications and talked to dozens of employees to receive input.”
Effective internal communications is closely aligned with the university’s HR Design goal of recruiting and retaining talented faculty and staff. In addition, successful internal communications strengthens our sense of community and inclusion.
For the first time, the project will address the information needs of employees who perform service roles away from desks and computers as well as English language learners.
While Inside UW–Madison has been successful at delivering updates to employees whose jobs revolve around the use of a computer, not all workers have access to online materials.
To address this, important updates from the webpage will be included in the Working at UW digest and posted in break rooms for employees to reference.
“We’re proud to be able to offer this additional service to employees who may have had a difficult time receiving news and information in the past,” says John Lucas, executive director of University Communications and a project co-chair.
UW-Madison has hundreds of employees who are learning English as a second language. An important piece of feedback the committee received was that often, these employees felt excluded from important news updates due to language barriers.
Each week, Cultural Linguistic Services will translate the week’s important news and record the information on phone lines in Hmong, Chinese, Spanish and Tibetan.