What is the Thriving Workplace Initiative?
The Thriving Workplace Initiative is an effort to make the University of Maryland the best place to work. The initiative aims to create a thriving work environment and a culture of engagement and inclusion among all UMD employees. Improving the employer-employee relationship and redefining what it means to be an effective leader, manager, or supervisor at the university are critical parts of the initiative. This work launched in April 2016 with a campus-wide employee engagement and inclusion survey, administered by Gallup. The survey is being administered again from October 9 – 20, 2017.
Why did the University launch this initiative?
The Thriving Workplace Initiative is an innovative and strategic investment in the people who do the work of the University. The Office of the President initiated the program to ensure that every employee's skills and talents are valued, and that as we execute our mission, every employee feels equipped to succeed.
What about Graduate Assistants?
There is a related survey that seeks Graduate Assistant input on the environment in which they receive their training in teaching, research, or administrative capacities. This training is critical to their current and future success, and they should be thriving too. The Graduate Assistant Experience survey is being administered by Gallup as well, beginning October 16 and ending October 27. Those dates partially overlap with the Thriving Workplace survey so that there is concurrent information, and it is composed of engagement and inclusion questions as well.
Why are we doing the survey again / how is it different than last time?
Conducting a survey repeatedly over time helps to keep a focus on creating a thriving workplace. With enough time between administrations of the survey, action on the findings can take place. Periodic administration of the Thriving Workplace survey allows for an analysis of change over time and fosters accountability. The items on each administration of the survey are largely the same with the addition of an accountability index that inquires whether you saw the results from the last survey and whether your group participated in action planning and has made progress on those actions.
I have heard the numbers don’t matter. If this is true, why are we doing this?
The numbers are one data point. They allow us to see trends and become a springboard for conversations and action that can make a difference in the workplace at UMD. Simply increasing the scores and means, however, is not the goal of the Thriving Workplace Initiative. Changing and supporting behaviors that create an environment of engagement and inclusion is.
An analogy is your bathroom scale. When you step on it, you get a numerical representation of your weight. The number itself does not affect change. It is what you choose to do with that information that really counts. Using the number on the scale (or the numbers from the Thriving Workplace Survey) gives you information about your progress. The number without context or action means very little. When you step on the scale regularly (or take the survey regularly) you are able to see trends and take action from that data.
What does employee engagement mean?
Engaged employees work with passion, feel a profound connection to their workplace, and are empowered to do their best work. Engaged employees also help an organization reach its full potential. As this university continues its ascendency as a premier institution "equal to the best," the Thriving Workplace Initiative is critical to harnessing and acknowledging each employee's contributions every step of the way.
How is inclusion part of this? Is it the same as diversity?
An engaging environment is one in which people feel their diverse contributions are sought out and valued. Gallup states, “inclusiveness is a strategy for using each person’s unique and individual strengths to increase an organization's productivity, profit and performance… Inclusiveness extends beyond protected categories such as race and gender. Efforts that fail to recognize other dimensions of diversity are bound to fail.”
Who is Gallup?
Gallup is an independent research-based consulting firm with more than 80 years of experience measuring the attitudes and behaviors of employees across the globe. Gallup is renowned not only for public opinion polling, but also for its research and consulting on employee engagement and inclusion and organizational performance. It has administered its engagement survey for more than 40 years.
What's in it for me? Why should I spend energy/time on this?
Our aspiration is to make the University of Maryland the best place to work by committing to the success and growth of the faculty, staff, and graduate assistants of UMD. This is an investment in our people as we build and sustain a diverse workforce.
We want to redefine what it means to be an effective leader, manager, or supervisor at the university and improve the employer-employee relationship. As we execute our mission, we want every employee to feel equipped to succeed, be inspired to do their best work, and produce optimal results. All UMD voices will be heard, and everyone can be part of creating solutions.
How is this different from the UMD ADVANCE faculty survey?
The Faculty Work Environment Study conducted by the ADVANCE program is a faculty-focused initiative (tenure-track faculty in 2011 and 2013, expanded to include professional faculty as well in 2015). It is designed to measure faculty experience of the investment their institution and their unit makes in their professional growth and success, and in creating an inclusive work environment. There are questions about university-wide organizational commitment and employee satisfaction and engagement, but more of the analysis focuses on faculty experience in departments and colleges. FWES results are shared with each college and department, allowing them to develop plans to address challenges.
The Thriving Workplace survey is designed to measure engagement and inclusion for all University employees, and then provide that actionable data back to work units and teams so that they can decide which issues to tackle and determine what actions to take. The Thriving Workplace Initiative is providing consultants to work with these teams and units in understanding their results and creating action plans to achieve improvement. TWI will support coaching and training for supervisors, leaders, and managers who want to learn new skills to enhance employee engagement and inclusion.