Staff survey info to be released

January 8, 2001

Nick Marinello

Last October, 2,600 members of Tulane's full-time staff received a questionnaire through which they could evaluate their jobs and work environments. Within the next several weeks, each staff member will be mailed the results of that survey.

"Everybody will have a chance to review what I've received," said Yvette Jones, senior vice president for planning and administration and interim vice president for human resources. "We are going to send every staff member the distribution of responses for every question."

Jones, who coordinated and implemented the survey with help from Human Resources and the Staff Advisory Council, said that the distribution of results will be the first step in a process to gain further feedback from the staff.

"We are planning a series of staff forums that will take place in different locations so we can discuss the results and hear what staff have to say," said Jones. She envisions the forums assembled as small focus groups of 25-30 people. "We will talk about what we have found in the survey in a summary fashion," she said, "and then we will talk about how we can address some of the issues and get more feedback from staff."

Jones said that President Scott Cowen and every member of his cabinet have already reviewed survey results. "It was required reading for our performance evaluations," she quipped. According to the survey, among the issues requiring attention are compensation, opportunities for professional growth and development and open communication within the university.

"The issues identified by the staff are exactly the same issues we have identified in the strategic plan," said Jones. "The administration believed these were important issues and the staff have confirmed that."

Survey data points to the fact that "the satisfaction with salaries reflecting the difficulty of jobs or performance level is low," said Jones. "In terms of professional development, staff sense that the resources are here for people to do their jobs but they dont see a clear pathway for professional growth. I think the Center for Workplace Effectiveness will begin to address this."

On the positive side, the survey indicates that staff are comfortable in knowing what is expected of them, they like working at the university and there is a consensus that Tulane is a nondiscriminatory environment, said Jones. Completed surveys were returned to the Olinger Group, a New Orleansbased consulting firm that compiled and analyzed the data.

While all responses were anonymous, survey forms did broadly identify respondents by gender, age, ethnicity, education, length of employment and campus affiliation.

"We wanted the demographics because there are some interesting results based on where you work, how long you've worked here and what position you hold," said Jones. The Olinger Group received 1,203 responses, or about 46 percent of the total number of questionnaires sent out. Of those, 148 staff members took advantage of the space provided for detailed comments.

"These have really helped us to understand the specifics of their concerns," said Jones. The survey will serve as a benchmark through which to measure future surveys, said Jones. "It will also help guide us in moving forward with some of the initiatives identified in the strategic plan, especially those related to benefits, training and compensation."

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000