On February 4, 2016, the University of Toronto officially wrapped up the two-year ‘Speaking Up’ Faculty & Staff Engagement Survey project at a special meeting in the Governing Council Chamber. The purpose of the gathering was to officially close the project and to recognize the time, energy, and commitment that Divisional Designates spent making ‘Speaking Up’ a success.In her opening remarks, Project co-sponsor, Angela Hildyard, Vice-President Human Resources & Equity, said that the project was a positive experience. “I would venture to say that this third edition of the ‘Speaking Up’ Faculty & Staff Experience Survey was the most successful yet,” Hildyard said. Among the reasons cited:
1. Increased divisional engagement with results
“From the numbers of people who have emailed questions, to the thousands of visits to our survey page, to the over 350 participants at a Town Hall session, the response has been impressive.”
2. Identified Institutional ‘Areas of Focus’
For the first time the University categorized the ‘Speaking Up’ results into five main themes – which were called ‘Areas of Focus’: Equity & Diversity, Communication, Faculty & Staff Development, Recognition, and Work-Life Integration.
3. Enhanced institutional results roll-out
This survey was the first edition to be offered exclusively online. This effort helped to ensure all employees had a U of T email address and in doing so expanded the survey’s reach. Some of the main features of the enhanced roll out included:
- A dedicated ‘Speaking Up’ webpage which acted as a hub for updates and resources throughout the project.
- A published series of articles in the internal e-publication, the Bulletin, the Bulletin, emphasizing each Area of Focus. The articles shared some of the central and divisional initiatives related to the Area as well as sharing some specific results.
- Divisional Consultation sessions where the project sponsors had the opportunity to engage in collaborative and informative meetings with Divisional leadership teams to learn how they were transforming their results into action plans and initiatives.
Developed ‘Speaking Up’ brand & toolkits
In this edition of the survey a concerted effort was made to improve how the project was communicated internally with faculty and staff. To help navigate the information, a series of recognizable icons, templates and materials was developed for use in all survey-related activities.
In her remarks, Project Co-Sponsor Sioban Nelson, Vice-Provost, Faculty & Academic Life underscored the importance of surveys like ‘Speaking Up’.
“We need to keep asking questions and keep listening to what our staff, faculty and librarians have to say. Employee engagement is critical to the success of this institution. Feedback provides the University and its Divisions with data that can fuel growth and help affect positive change.”
In addition to thanking the project team, Hildyard recognized the work of the Divisional Survey Representatives: “You all ‘stepped up’, dove into your results, communicated broadly with your divisions and set to work on developing action plans to improve.” After officially closing the project, Divisional Designates had the opportunity to share their ideas for the next engagement survey, socialize, and receive a ‘Speaking-Up’ Certificate of Recognition.
After ‘Speaking Up’: Actions taken, programs and initiatives underway
A number of projects in progress that are directly (and indirectly) the result of the ‘Speaking Up’ survey; from new recognition programs, to new communication vehicles and the development of new guidelines. The Divisional and U of T-wide initiatives will be updated on the ‘Areas of Focus’ page.
“We have been extremely impressed with the amount of work that has been done in the Divisions to access and understand their results and communicate the results to their colleagues. What has really been gratifying has been to see how committed various areas have been to bring about changes through the various initiatives that have been developed as a result.”
“The level of interest and engagement in the survey showed us that people are dedicated to U of T and are passionate about making this place an even better place to work.”