Case Western Reserve staff cited increased compensation, clear career ladders within job families and an additional floating holiday as their top priorities in the climate survey conducted this spring. The university-wide initiative began in 2014 at the urging of the Staff Advisory Council (SAC), and continued this year after consultations among SAC and the offices of Institutional Research and Human Resources to explore potential changes in 2016.
“We are grateful to all of the stakeholders who took the time to consider and apply lessons from the survey’s last administration,” Vice President for Human Resources Carolyn Gregory said, “and to the more than 700 staff who completed this year’s survey. Going forward, we will work with SAC and university leaders to address issues raised—and, we hope, make Case Western Reserve an even better place for all who live, study and work here. “
The 2016 survey included a new question on safety as well as increased options for respondents to provide neutral answers to questions (i.e. neither agree nor disagree). It also reduced areas of comment to a single free-form section at the end involving the “one thing” the university could do in the coming year to increase job satisfaction.
Compensation was by far the more frequent response in the open-ended section, even more than in 2014, when it also dominated. In particular, many staff asked that the university find ways to offer a raise beyond 1 or 2 percent after so many consecutive years of salary increases in that range; several also urged that the cap be lifted beyond 12 percent for annual raises.
Nevertheless, the proportion of 2016 respondents who said their compensation had become less competitive over the past five years actually declined slightly over the past two years, moving from 52 percent to 49 percent. In addition, the proportion of individuals who said their benefits were sufficient to meet their needs to maintain health climbed from 77 to 80 percent since 2014.
A few of the 2016 questions expanded upon existing ones involving staff perceptions of supervisors. Among the new queries was whether staff felt their supervisors supported their efforts to balance work and personal needs. Just under half (49 percent) strongly agreed, and a third (33 percent) agreed with the statement. Another asked whether supervisors supported their staff’s efforts to acquire additional training or education to advance their careers. Three quarters of respondents strongly agreed (43 percent) or agreed (32 percent) with that statement.
That said, one of the open-ended responses noted that some supervisors will not allow staff to attend professional development opportunities during the workday, but fully supported sending people to several-day conferences in other states. The individual asked that the university explore ways to make access to learning more consistent among different kinds of opportunities. As it happens, the proportion of respondents who strongly agreed or agreed that they had the training they needed to perform their responsibilities was 81 percent, down from 86 percent in 2014.
Both of the surveys asked several questions about diversity and wellness programs. The 2014 and 2016 surveys each asked whether the university had attracted and retained a more diverse population of faculty, staff and students over the past five years. In 2014, when the question offered only an affirmative or negative response, 78 percent said “yes.” In 2016, respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction with the university’s work to attract and retain a more diverse population. In this instance 40 percent were satisfied or very satisfied, 46 percent were not sure, and the remainder were dissatisfied.
In terms of wellness, more than half of survey participants said the university’s wellness programs had a positive or significantly positive influence on their feelings about working at the university, while 40 percent said it had not affected their feelings at all. Sixty-one percent of 2016 respondents said that they had participated in at least one wellness program, while 64 percent had participated in diversity training.
Finally, staff were asked whether they considered Case Western Reserve to be safe compared to its surrounding area and the rest of greater Cleveland, More than half (55 percent) said they strongly agreed or agreed, while 18 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed. The remainder were neutral.