William & Mary

W&M releases results of employee survey

Employees proud to work at W&M but have concerns, including pay

Employees are overwhelmingly proud to work at William & Mary and say they understand their job responsibilities and the mission of their department, and would recommend the university as a “good place to work” to friends, family and colleagues, according to a recent survey.

But employees do have concerns, with the most striking being current level of pay and benefits, management response to problems, and a lack of opportunity for advancement.

The 2015 employee survey was conducted during the fall semester by the Gelfond Group, a company that specializes in employee opinion surveys in higher education and corporations. The survey was emailed to 2,765 staff and faculty and had a response rate of 71 percent, up from 46 percent when the last survey was conducted in 2010. Previous employee surveys did not include faculty. Employee responses to 76 questions were rated as “favorable,” “neutral” or “unfavorable” in areas ranging from rating the university as a place to work to their pay and benefits, management, diversity, individual job and experiences with their supervisor.

“We’re committed to making this the best possible place to work, and to do that we need to listen to our employees,” President Taylor Reveley said. “There is some positive news here and areas we can build on, but there are others that clearly need more work. This survey will help us do that.”

John PomaAmong the most positive takeaways, said Chief Human Resources Office John Poma, are responses to what Gelfond considers the five key “employee engagement” questions. In those responses, William & Mary performed at or above the level associated with the highest-performing organizations, he added.

For example, 87 percent of respondents stated they are proud to work at W&M; 72 percent responded that they have no plans to leave their employment in the near future; 69 percent stated W&M is a good place to work (only 6 percent rated it unfavorable to that question); and 71 percent of respondents stated they are treated with respect and that W&M inspires them to do their best work. Other positive responses worth noting:

  • Ninety-two percent of employees who completed the survey stated they have a good understanding of their job responsibilities.
  • Eighty-nine percent said they understand the mission of their department.
  • Eighty-four percent stated they believed their most recent performance review was accurate while 82 percent said that same review was effective in letting them know where they stand.

Among the concerns, only 30 percent of employees taking the survey responded favorably when asked to rate their pay – 37 percent were neutral and 33 percent responded unfavorably. Only 41 percent of respondents said they believe they are fairly compensated – 37 percent responded unfavorably to the same question. Other responses include:

  • Thirty-one percent of employees responding to the survey indicated “favorable” when asked to rate W&M on their opportunity for advancement. Thirty-six percent were neutral and 32 percent responded “unfavorable” to the same question.
  • Less than half of respondents (48 percent) rated W&M favorably on training for current job – 36 percent were neutral and 16 percent responded unfavorably.
  • On rating W&M on responding to problems ideas and concerns, 49 percent responded favorably, 33 percent neutral and 17 percent unfavorably.

Another area of concern, Poma said, was that African American employees generally did not respond as favorably as the overall employee population. For example, 9 percent of African American employees responded that they would not rate William & Mary as a good place to work, whereas only 6 percent of all employees responded the same way. In a separate question, 15 percent of African American employees responded that they do not feel that they are treated with respect, compared to eight percent for all employees. Responses for African Americans were not uniform across all classes of employees. More detailed analysis revealed a concentration of negative responses among non-exempt employees that impacted the aggregate response to many questions for African Americans as a whole.

“When we dig deeper into the results of this survey, there are some clear issues we need to address,” said Poma, adding that Human Resources partnered with W&M’s Task Force on Race and Relations in the development of the survey. He said the task force has received the survey results and will be using those responses to help inform their recommendations to President Reveley later this semester.

One area worth highlighting, Poma said, were responses to questions related to Title IX and discrimination. Ninety-eight percent of respondents to the survey stated they have a “good understanding of what constitutes discrimination, sexual violence or harassment.” In addition, 92 percent said they now know how to report discrimination and sexual violence and harassment. As part of an overall effort to better educate the campus community about Title IX issues, last year William & Mary implemented mandatory training for all employees.

“Better education on discrimination and sexual violence was an important focus for the entire university last year,” said Poma, adding it was also a major area of emphasis last year for the president’s Task Force on Sexual Assault and Harassment. “It is very gratifying to see that work pay off and that our employees are more informed about this very important issue.

In addition to working with the Task Force on Race and Race Relations as that group develops their recommendations to the president, Poma said the Office of Human Resources will now meet with individual departments, schools and units so they have a better understanding of the results, and how they relate to their specific areas. Human Resources will also be implementing a series of immediate actions in response to the survey. These include focusing on areas of improving performance management, providing more extensive support for employees, improving recruitment when it comes to attracting and retaining a diverse group of employees, and developing better mechanisms for employees to provide consistent and candid feedback.

“Our hope is that we’ll be able to use the results of this survey and emulate that type of progress and success in other areas of importance across campus.”  Poma also adds that “William & Mary is a special place, and we want to make W&M one of the best universities to work at in the United States. It is why I am at W&M,” Poma said.