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Employees Give Supervisors High Marks in Survey

Faculty and staff sitting at a table talking

NC State employees are proud of their institution and like their supervisors but would appreciate higher pay and more work-related resources, according to a survey conducted on behalf of the UNC System.

The UNC System Employee Engagement Survey, administered to faculty and staff at all 17 UNC institutions in January and February of 2018, measured employee satisfaction in areas ranging from professional development and compensation to communication and fairness. Fifty-four percent of NC State’s 8,500 full-time, permanent employees responded to the survey, exceeding the system’s target participation rate by 4 percentage points.

Equipped with data from the survey, a campus committee is identifying steps that could be taken in the coming years to improve employee engagement and satisfaction. Officials with the UNC System may also use the data to advocate for changes at the state level to benefit university employees. The survey will be repeated in 2020 and 2022 to gauge progress.

Favorable Responses

NC State scored better than the system as a whole on all but two of the survey’s 60 questions and in all but one of its 15 core subject areas. NC State employees were particularly more likely than those at other UNC schools to be satisfied with senior leadership and facilities.

In none of the 15 subject areas did NC State’s overall ratings fall in the “poor” or “warrants attention” category. Three areas — pride, facilities, and job satisfaction/support — were classified as very good to excellent, earning favorable ratings from about three-fourths of employees. About two-thirds of employees expressed satisfaction in three other areas — supervisor/department chairs, professional development, and teaching environment.

Seven items on the survey received favorable ratings from at least 75 percent of employees across all job categories:

  • I am given the responsibility and freedom to do my job.
  • My supervisor/department chair supports my efforts to balance my work and personal life.
  • This institution takes reasonable steps to provide a safe and secure environment for the campus.
  • This institution actively contributes to the community.
  • I understand how my job contributes to this institution’s mission.
  • I am proud to be part of this institution.
  • I have a good relationship with my supervisor/department chair.

Challenges Identified

The survey also revealed challenges and opportunities for improvement.

Overall, 20 percent or more of NC State employees gave unfavorable ratings to six of the 60 items on the survey:

  • I am paid fairly for my work.
  • My department has adequate faculty/staff to achieve our goals.
  • Changes that affect me are discussed prior to being implemented.
  • Promotions in my department are based on a person’s ability.
  • Issues of low performance are addressed in my department.
  • Our recognition and rewards programs are meaningful to me.

Just over two-thirds of employees say they would consider leaving their current position for a “better or more competitive salary,” and 43 percent say they would do so for “better opportunities for career advancement.”

Marie Williams, associate vice chancellor for human resources, and Nancy Whelchel, director for survey research, are leading the interdisciplinary committee tasked with interpreting and responding to the survey data. The committee will focus on four areas:

  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Policies, resources and efficiencies
  • Institutional pride and employee recognition
  • Professional development

ModernThink LLC, an independent research and consulting firm, administered the engagement survey for the UNC System. The company also administers the annual Great Colleges to Work For survey for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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