How are you doing at work?

17 June 2021

Do you start your day whistling away? Or is your workload far too high? Have you got the chance to influence your work environment? How is your relationship to colleagues and managers? And what impacts has a pandemic had on your work situation? I have recently been presented with an analysis of the results of this year's employee satisfaction survey.

How are staff at Umeå University doing? This is a question that I have pondered particularly on from my home office during the pandemic. Together with the University Board, I was presented with a longed-for in-depth analysis of the results during the board meeting on 8–9 June.

Hans Adolfsson, Vice-Chancellor

Photo: Mattias Pettersson

The university's employee satisfaction survey measures staff experiences related to work. The survey is conducted to get a comprehensive sense of what impressions staff have of their work situation. What works well and what needs to be improved? Beside working with identified areas to improve, it is also important that everyone remembers to safeguard and build upon those factors that are already our strengths. And the more people that respond to the survey, the better. This year, as many as 84 per cent of all staff took part in the survey, which is the highest response rate so far for the employee satisfaction survey. Thanks to everyone who contributed!

The results of the investigation provide an overall positive image in several areas, but also points at things that need to be improved. The university is ranked highly in areas such as efficiency, participation, leadership and feedback. Many members of staff also experience their work as developing and that the social climate is positive. University staff overall seem to find themself in the borderline of comfort zone and force for change, which I see is a position of balance. Bullying and harrassment has drastically decreased compared to 2018. We have a zero tolerance against bullying and harassment so seeing a reduction is positive news. Simultaneously, it is important to continue to investigate and analyse the underlying reason for this.

Something that worries me is that many members of staff feel tired and worn out after work, which may not be too surprising due to all the extraordinary adaptations that have been necessary in the last year to adjust our activities to the current restrictions. Still, this is a question that is important to take seriously and continue to investigate and manage. The survey also shows that the pandemic has had a huge effect on the work situation of staff, but that a majority is still experiencing that they manage to maintain the quality of their work and that the situation is manageable. Personally, I find that working remotely has generally worked well, but at the same time, I see that several important qualities are lost. Infomal meetings that we normally have in the days over a cup of coffee or a brief meet in the corridors mean a great deal in keeping things afloat. I'm sure that several people, just like me, look forward to meeting on campus again, and hopefully we will be able to do so again this autumn. Another area to improve is to clarify what objectives the university is to work towards. Several people critically pointed out that the objectives are unclear.

We now have a solid foundation to continue to build upon in the university's systematic work environment and development work. These activities are already underway at departments, offices and equivalent. On an institution-wide level, the University Management and I will reach decisions on areas to improve. Naturally, we work closely with the Human Resources Office to build the best possible conditions for a good work environment. That work will start in conjunction with the Work Environment Committee's planning day on 1 September and will then result in an institution-wide action plan for work environment and active measures including institution-wide activities.

We are all individuals in a huge organisation. Behind the overall analysis are people with varied background based on gender, age, employment and place of employment, for instance. Maybe you recognise yourself in the general analysis of the survey, but maybe you don't. Our staff represent the heart of our university. The university's main objective is to conduct education and research of highest quality, and simultaneously provide the determinants for a sustainable work life, with employees who develop and enjoy their jobs. It's under those conditions that we can jointly develop this university in the right direction.

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