Results of the NMU Employee Satisfaction Survey conducted late in the fall semester show a convincing majority of faculty and staff members have positive perceptions of their jobs and are satisfied with the support of their immediate supervisors. Most questions were replicated from the last survey in 2013 for comparative purposes, but a few were added to gauge opinions on the recently completed strategic planning process, recognition and the performance evaluation process.
About 85 percent of respondents either strongly agree or agree that they feel a sense of accomplishment in their jobs and that the work they do makes a difference at NMU. Seventy-nine percent report that their jobs make good use of their knowledge skills and abilities. Further evidence of satisfaction can be found in the 75 percent who describe their experiences in their jobs as mostly positive or positive, and in the 75 percent who plan to continue working for NMU until retirement.
Nearly 81 percent of respondents indicated that their supervisors are fair. They also strongly agreed or agreed that they have the authority they need to make necessary decisions (65 percent) and that they receive encouragement for suggesting new and better ways of doing things (68 percent).
“Our employees are the heart and the soul of the university and I'm pleased that so many indicated in the survey that they realize the value of their work and the importance of their daily contribution to the success of our university,” said NMU President Fritz Erickson.
“The big-picture results help us understand what NMU is doing well and what we might do differently to impact employee engagement in a positive way,” said Rhea Dever, assistant vice president of Human Resources. “One opportunity for improvement is clarifying the path for career advancement within NMU. We’ve done significant work with the APs in that area, but other employee groups don’t see it as clearly. So the next step is to analyze the results for the different employee groups to understand what the different issues are so we can more effectively target action planning. To help with this, we will be sharing division-specific results with the division vice presidents and union-specific results with union leadership.”
The survey showed a significant rebound on one question. In both 2013 and 2017, about 56 percent of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that they have an appropriate level of involvement in decisions that impact their work. That compares with 11 percent when the same question appeared in the 2015 Transparency in Decision-Making survey. Another transparency survey will be conducted later this year, according to Dever.
More than 40 percent of respondents to the 2017 Employee Satisfaction Survey are satisfied with the strategic direction of the university, while 24 percent disagree with that statement. Results of a related question indicate executive management could provide a clearer picture of that direction. But most NMU employees are aware of the strategic plan, mission and vision statements, core values and diversity statement, and also know where to find information about them.
Overall, 70 percent of faculty and staff who completed the survey report being satisfied with their employment at NMU. Aspects they consider most satisfactory include students, interdepartmental collaboration, professional development opportunities, relationships with colleagues, autonomy, flexibility, benefits and the environment. “The university is gaining momentum and there is a growing spirit of innovation and creativity,” commented one respondent. Another wrote, “I thoroughly enjoy the people here at NMU. So many dedicated employees who really try to go above and beyond to ultimately serve our students. It is inspiring.”
Factors respondents are least satisfied with include pay/pay equity, staffing, budget cuts, lack of advancement and communication/transparency. “Promotion and tenure is a ridiculously tedious process,” one individual commented. Another stated, “My department is constantly shrinking, to the point that the work that is able to be done and the scope of the work we should be doing are suffering.”
The survey response rate was 49 percent, with 483 respondents. Full results will be accessible online within the next few weeks.