Overall Rating Platinum - expired
Overall Score 85.74
Liaison Moira Hafer
Submission Date June 28, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Stanford University
PA-12: Assessing Employee Satisfaction

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.88 / 1.00 Moira Hafer
Sustainability Specialist
Office of Sustainability
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Has the institution conducted a survey or other evaluation that allows for anonymous feedback to measure employee satisfaction and engagement during the previous three years?:

Percentage of employees (staff and faculty) assessed, directly or by representative sample (0-100):

A brief description of the institution’s methodology for evaluating employee satisfaction and engagement:

In October 2015, all staff at Stanford were invited to participate in a university-wide survey. The survey was deployed online and via paper, and translated to both Spanish and Mandarin. Subsequently, a “check-in” survey was conducted with the same staff population in October 2016. A follow-up university-wide staff engagement survey is planned for October 2017.

Each school or unit identified one or more Survey Liaison(s) to be the primary point(s) of contact related to the survey, and to shepherd the process, from communicating to staff to encourage participation in the survey to post-survey communication of results and moving the process forward to identify actions to make workplace improvements. Survey Liaisons were trained to use the CEB reporting portal to generate reports, and are currently partnering with their leaders to identify next steps.

University HR managed these projects, working closely with a Steering Committee and later, each school and unit’s designated Survey Liaison(s), to administer the survey and results, and to develop action plans based on local results.

A university-wide response rate of 61% was attained in the 2015 university-wide staff survey, and the overall engagement rate was 83%, which reflected 28 points higher than the higher education benchmark, and 17 points higher than the high performing benchmark.

The “5-Minute Staff Survey Check-in conducted in October 2016 identified high levels of awareness on the part of staff that the survey had been conducted in 2015, even among new hires who were not on board when the survey was conducted. The results were summarized on the Cardinal at Work website: https://cardinalatwork.stanford.edu/connect/staff-survey/5-minute-staff-survey-check/2016-check-survey-results.

In addition, an article was in the January 2016 issue of the Cardinal at Work Insider newsletter, which is distributed to 16,000 benefits-eligible employees each month: https://cardinalatwork.stanford.edu/news/5-minute-staff-survey-check-results-manager-plays-important-role-communication-stream

Debrief sessions were held with all Steering Committee members and Survey Liaisons in summer 2016 to identify what needs to be done differently for the fall 2017 survey. Recommendations were shared with the Vice President for Human Resources. Among the suggestions were to shorten the survey and have senior leaders be more visible in the communications about the survey so that it doesn’t feel to staff as if it’s simply an “HR” initiative.

The instrument used for the climate surveys draws from the one developed by the Provost’s Panel on Faculty Equity and Quality of Life for the 2008 Quality of Life of Stanford Faculty, which incorporated common core questions on quality of life issues developed by the American Association of Universities Data Exchange (AAUDE) and retained some questions from an earlier survey in 2003. As a follow up to the 2008 quality of life survey, the Provost’s Panel on Faculty Equity and Quality of Life conducted an interview study with underrepresented minority faculty to specifically address URM faculty’s experience of collegiality, recognition, mentoring and voice in decision-making. Two reports on the findings with accompanying recommendations from the Panel on Faculty Equity were released in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Several departments have conducted climate surveys of their faculty, instructors, students, trainees and staff relevant to diversity, equity and inclusion in order to assess their climates as part of preparing and recruiting new department leadership. For instance, in 2015, the School of Medicine conducted a departmental climate survey of approximately 1,100 faculty. These department-level climate surveys are able to assess faculty satisfaction and sense of inclusion and equity that previous campus-wide surveys haven’t been able to gauge.

A brief description of the mechanism(s) by which the institution addresses issues raised by the evaluation (including examples from the previous three years):

A comprehensive report of actions taken is currently being finalized for university leaders that summarizes actions taken at the local level, with details provided by all seven schools and several of the academic and administrative units. Survey results were also used to align with many initiatives underway, that were led by the Administrative Planning Executive Committee (APEx) and the University Management Group (UMG). These groups are comprised of the highest ranking administrative officers in each school and unit, and used the survey results to inform initiatives they and their sub-committees were proposing. For example, one of the sub-committees was focused on System and Process Improvements, and the survey results showed staff identified those topics as opportunities, so the sub-committee conducted focus groups with over 400 staff members to ask detailed questions to arrive at which systems and processes were problematic, and why, diving in to areas that were asked in the survey but that needed further context in order to identify possible solutions. Another area of focus for APEx is to connect employees no matter where they are working, an initiative needed to support effectiveness with employees telecommuting, and also to prepare the campus for the opening of a second campus in Redwood City. Due to funding cycles, the work to identify and fund solutions is ongoing; however, some improvements have already been implemented, including:
• The building access control process has been improved; staff cited in the survey comments that the process was slow, leading to new hires being “locked out” of their buildings for weeks. The University IT unit revamped the process so that new hires gain building access within 24 hours of their start date.
• The university’s telecommuting policy has been revised and is pending publication in summer 2017. Based on input from the survey that staff want to hear about policy changes from their managers, a suite of tools, educational sessions, and communication templates are being prepared to coincide with the publication of the updated policy.
• Staff survey results indicated collaboration opportunities and tools needed improvement, so a team has developed a new way to foster greater collaboration by making simple changes to the university’s online directory. Starting in spring 2017, every staff member’s work contact information will be included; previously, this information was optional and some new hires would forget to ever enter it, making contacting them difficult and inefficient.
• Training that is compliance/required in nature is now being managed through the university’s enterprise learning management (ELM) system, and new tracking reports were developed, where these trainings were previously managed by the individual departments that had the compliance oversight. Example: sexual harassment prevention training used to be managed outside of the ELM but is now included in the ELM, an efficiency gain for the university’s reporting requirements and also easier for staff to find the training and enroll (no separate URL or login that used to be required).

On a school and unit basis, staff survey results were directly used in many different ways, including these actions, which are a sampling of actions taken across campus:
• Two units created secure websites for their employees, enhancing communication, collaboration, and camaraderie
• Two schools started informal “lunch and learns” for staff to get to know each other better
• Two units improved their staff appreciation and recognition programs
• Two schools used the staff survey results to inform strategic plans that were already underway, with one school conducting focus groups to make sure the alignment between their existing plan was clear
• One school is changing their performance management approach
• One department within a school started a mentoring program
• One unit has “action committees” working on many topics directly based on staff survey results

Actions are still underway, as many areas had actions that were short-term (“quick wins”) as well as more long-term in nature and/or dependent on funding. The next survey in fall 2017 will allow comparison with 2015 results to assess if actions taken have been impactful.

Both the quantitative and qualitative parts of the department surveys show great variations in faculty satisfaction and problem areas by department. For example, equity in workload distribution could be an issue in some departments but not others. The detailed comments allow school and department leaders to zoom into specific areas where improvements have been made or are needed. Again, these areas vary greatly by department. In general, faculty surveyed in these department-level studies are satisfied and engaged in making their departments a positive workplace. All results are considered by school and department leaders with the support of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The School of Medicine administered a departmental survey to approximately 1,100 faculty in 2015. The most recent campus-wide climate survey was released in 2008, with an interview study with underrepresented minority faculty conducted subsequently. Only the 1,100 faculty surveyed in the School of Medicine have been included in the calculation for percentage of employees assessed in this credit, in addition to the 100% of staff who were asked to take the staff survey.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.