Speaking Out! Survey: What We Heard

In late 2022, the University of Toronto embarked on its “Biggest Back-to-School” ever, with many members of our community fully or partially returning to campus regularly following the pandemic. The Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture launched a Speaking Out survey to understand how its employees were feeling during this time of adaptation and change. The confidential survey focused on four key areas: engagement; inclusion, diversity, and equity; career support; and well-being and resilience.

The results were largely positive, with the majority of respondents indicating they felt motivated, satisfied, and committed to the University, and supported by leadership. Areas requiring additional focus included professional development and addressing burnout in a small portion of our workforce.

Core Outcomes

Speaking Out survey result data visualizations of Core Outcomes findings.

Of those who participated in the survey:

  • 79% said they felt committed
  • 78% described themselves as satisfied
  • 73% said they felt motivated
  • 72% indicated no intention to quit in the next two years
  • 69% declared themselves engaged in their work
  • 16% felt a strong level of burnout

The Employee Experience

Speaking Out survey result data visualizations of Employee Experiences findings.

  • 78% reported having good relations with their coworkers
  • 75% felt positive about their unit’s leadership
  • 70% felt that their workload was manageable
  • 56% were satisfied with the professional development opportunities afforded to them

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Speaking Out survey result data visualizations of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion findings.

  • 74% felt positive about their individual EDI climate (a sense of belonging, acceptance, freedom of expression)
  • 68% felt positive about the institutional EDI climate (a welcoming atmosphere and commitment to workplace diversity)

Overall, the survey results show that most respondents felt positive about their relationships with coworkers, leadership, and the University’s dedication to fostering a sense of belonging. The findings highlight the need to develop and sustain innovative programs, initiatives, and teams to support the professional growth and well-being of our tri-campus community.

Areas for Growth and Action Taken


Sixteen percent of respondents reported feeling a strong level of burnout, which is neither ideal nor particularly surprising given the pandemic-related context at the time the survey was distributed. Over the last year our Health and Well-Being (HWB) team has worked with employees and managers to manage growth in employee accommodation requests and sick leaves. In addition, they have offered timely sessions on a wide range of topics to support our community in navigating burnout, such as how to manage workplace stress, building resilience with self-care, and integrating mindfulness.

HWB continues to offer inclusive and flexible supports through the University’s Employee & Family Assistance Program. With its new provider TELUS Health (formerly known as LifeWorks) launching its services in the summer of 2023, employees now have access to support professionals and a broad range of digital resources focused on well-being, equity, and belonging.

Professional Development

The Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture is expanding opportunities for employee learning and growth through the Centre for Learning, Leadership & Culture (LLC). Its new programs include a People Leadership Program to help managers build trust with employees. Available development opportunities for employees include a broad range of courses and workshops offered by the LLC on topics such as Accessible Social Media, Governance and Administration, and Essential Skills for New Managers. In addition to the LLC’s offerings, opportunities include free courses available through LinkedIn Learning, and funding options for continued learning.

In Fall 2022, the Centre also launched Individual Development Planning for Professional & Managerial and Confidential employees, which supports productive conversations about current and future development and career goals. The Rose Patten Mentorship Program additionally supported employees’ exploration of career goals and built their internal networks, encouraging mentees in their professional journey.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

The survey results underscore the importance of the University’s continuous efforts in ensuring that community members experience inclusion and belonging. In Fall of 2022, the University launched the Institutional Equity Office (IEO). This Office works collaboratively across the University of Toronto’s three campuses to build capacity, support communities, and provide leadership in support of Indigenous Initiatives, equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism efforts that lead to a greater sense of belonging for all community members.

In line with the recommendations from the institutional equity reports, the University has expanded the presence of EDI leads within divisions and Faculties across the tri-campus. We have created opportunities for equity-related learning through events such as the Inclusion in Action Speaker Series, the Angela Hildyard Leadership Symposium, and the National Dialogues and Action for Higher Education and Inclusive Communities, as well as training sessions on accessibility, anti-racism principles and practices, gender identity and expression, reconciliation, and more. Affinity groups such as Queer University of Toronto Employees (QUTE) and Connections & Conversations (for racialized and Indigenous staff) also provide opportunities to build internal support networks and a sense of community.

To evaluate our progress in workforce diversity, the University uses the Employment Equity Survey, accessible to all employees, and the companion interactive dashboard in the assessment of diversity initiative outcomes and aiding in planning for the future.