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What is the UNC System Employee Engagement Survey?

The UNC System Employee Engagement Survey is a five-year initiative to support the system’s strategic goal of ensuring “excellent and diverse institutions” through a focus on human capital. The survey was administered to employees at all 17 UNC institutions in February of 2018 and February 2020. The survey will be repeated in 2022 to gauge progress in 15 core areas, including job satisfaction, professional development and work/life balance.

What topics will the survey cover?

The 2022 survey will focus on three specific areas: a set of baseline trend data from past surveys, diversity and inclusion statements, and statements specific to institutional actions taken due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey will include two open-ended questions with write-in responses as well as demographic questions that will used for reporting purposes, such as race, gender, years of service, salary range, etc.

How will the survey administered?

UNC-Chapel Hill’s survey is available online. An email invitation with a unique login and password will be sent to all full-time permanent employees in March 2022. This email will come from ModernThink, the independent management consulting firm administering the survey; ModernThink also administers the popular Best Colleges To Work For survey for the Chronicle of Higher Education. The University will publicize the survey through campus publications, emails from campus leaders, social media, and through employee organizations. Individuals will have the option to take the survey in English or Spanish. Burmese and Karen translation assistance will be provided. Employees are allowed to complete the survey during work hours, and computer labs for first, second and third shift employees will be available with technical support for those do not regularly use email or have regular access to computers.

Why is the UNC System Office conducting this survey?

The System Office is trying to measure workplace engagement. Studies have shown that the more engaged employees are at their workplace, the more satisfied and productive they are.

The system has limited useful systemwide information about how faculty, staff and administrators feel about their workplaces. The engagement survey will seek to collect data from all employees to help the system and the individual campuses identify areas of strength as well as areas that need improvement.

Some UNC institutions, including UNC-Chapel Hill, have done similar surveys in the past, but this is the first survey to be issued systemwide. It will provide a common dataset for the entire UNC System.

What about confidentiality?

Direct supervisors and university leadership will not have access to individual responses. Only ModernThink, the administrator of the survey, will have direct access to individual responses. All survey data are stored on ModernThink’s secure servers. View the confidentiality statement.

Note: The full narrative comments you submit in the two open-ended questions will be shared with management but will not be associated with your name or position.

What changes will result from the administration of this survey?

In most cases, any progress resulting from this program will occur incrementally rather than all at once. Progress stemming from this survey may also not be visible to all employees immediately; it may take time to address certain issues or for faculty and staff to see the positive effects of any actions taken.

One example of how the university uses the survey data stems from the 2018 survey results. There, the survey data indicated that faculty and staff wanted better cross-campus communication and communication from leadership. The university considered that information and implemented a number of communication initiatives, including launching The Well, a website designed specifically to share news, important information, and key resources with faculty and staff.

Some faculty and staff concerns (e.g., better salaries/raises, better benefits, etc.) may be outside the control of a supervisor or the university. Some suggestions from faculty and staff for certain changes may be cost prohibitive or may require legislative action by the General Assembly.

However, having data that identify these concerns and suggestions puts the system in a better position to advocate for changes with the General Assembly and/or the Office of State Human Resources and to prioritize ways to address areas of concern.