Campus & Community

Taking the pulse of Harvard

3 min read

University-wide staff survey launches Nov. 15

Harvard will launch a University-wide staff survey this week to hear from employees about a range of important workplace topics. The quick, confidential survey follows similar efforts in 2006 and 2008 and will provide feedback to University leaders as they consider how best to create and sustain an engaging, rewarding work experience at Harvard.

Each staff member will receive an email invitation to the survey on Nov. 15 and will have until Nov. 30 to complete it. Staff members who do not have Harvard email addresses will get a paper survey. Those who complete the survey can enter a raffle to win an iPad2.

The questions are designed to measure employee engagement — whether Harvard staffers would recommend the University as a good place to work, for example, or how inspired they feel to go “above and beyond.”

The survey will help leaders and managers to figure out how to continue attracting and retaining outstanding employees, and will hopefully identify effective practices that can be shared across Harvard.

“People who are highly engaged tend to be more satisfied in their work and more productive,” said Marilyn Hausammann, vice president for human resources. “By measuring engagement, rather than just employee satisfaction, we can focus our investments on things that matter most to staff and have the greatest possible impact on our people and on Harvard itself.”

The last survey was given in October 2008, just as the economy began to falter. While the results of that survey showed engagement was up by 9 percentage points from 2006, the current survey will be the first measure of engagement since the onset of the economic downturn.

“We know that the past few years have been challenging in the broader economy, and Harvard has not been immune to those forces,” Hausammann said. “We want to hear what’s working now, where we stand in terms of the employment experience we provide, and where the University can still improve. Those decisions should be made on the basis of good data and a deep understanding of the work environment.”

Results from the survey — along with findings from a more qualitative workplace listening tour conducted this summer that reached roughly 150 staff, human resources officers, and senior leaders — will be posted on HARVie in early 2012. Each Harvard School and unit will receive its own results from the survey to allow leaders and managers to pinpoint areas for improvement in staff engagement at the local level.

This is the third time Harvard has used Aon Hewitt, an outside HR consulting firm, to administer the engagement survey. As with previous surveys, Harvard will be able to use Aon Hewitt’s database to compare this year’s results with past years and to benchmark against other leading employers. (Using an outside firm also helps to ensure absolute confidentiality, Hausammann said. The University will not have access at any point to individual survey responses, and results will only be reported to Harvard in aggregate.)

“We’re not just trying to improve on our own performance over time, but to gauge how we fit in the whole universe of best employers,” Hausammann said.

The survey has been streamlined and takes roughly five minutes to complete. It asks for employees’ opinions on leadership, communications, quality of life, and pay and benefits at the University.

More information, as well as a video of Harvard employees’ takes on what engagement at Harvard means to them, is available online (a Harvard ID number is required for access).