UCSF Shares Initial Results of 2018 Staff Engagement Survey

Staff attend the 2018 Staff Resource Day
UCSF staff attend the 2018 Staff Resource Day. The results of a new survey of staff members found that overall engagement is holding steady. Photo by Elisabeth Fall

A new UC San Francisco survey of staff found that while overall engagement is holding steady with most respondents continuing to feel a strong connection to UCSF’s mission, some groups are significantly less engaged than their co-workers.

Nearly 70 percent of all UCSF and UCSF staff responded to the 2018 Staff Engagement Survey, conducted this spring in partnership with Gallup. The survey, the sixth of its kind at UCSF since 2011, measures more than just staff satisfaction as UCSF employees. It measures their engagement, defined as the emotional connection employees have with their workplace.

“Over the next few months, we will invite the entire UCSF community to participate in town hall meetings to share the results, understand why employee engagement matters, and discuss ways in which we can work together to ensure that all staff feel engaged and empowered to do their best,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS.

As San Francisco’s second-largest employer that strives to create an inclusive and supportive work environment, UCSF cares about employee engagement because of its direct correlation to retention, productivity and morale. Gallup research finds that organizations with higher engagement have lower employee absenteeism and turnover, fewer safety-related incidents and higher productivity.  

UCSF has seen steady progress on overall staff engagement in the past seven years of the Gallup survey. Measured by the “GrandMean” score, a composite of engagement indicators, overall engagement of UCSF staff has improved, but has started to level off in recent surveys.

“We believe UCSF staff engagement has plateaued, so now we need to look for opportunities to make adjustments in key areas where UCSF shows room for improvement,” said Nancy Duranteau, UCSF’s Chief Learning Officer and director of Learning and Organization Development (L&OD).

Areas of Strength

The survey found that staff members continue to feel a strong connection to UCSF’s mission and the quality of work performed across UCSF and UCSF Health. Both areas have consistently been UCSF’s highest scoring engagement indicators and have improved in comparison to Gallup’s benchmarks since 2017.

An important, positive trend, the survey results show, is the progress made by teams that created action plans after the 2017 survey and regularly checked in to ensure improvements were made. Teams that reported high accountability – a concerted effort to make progress since last year – averaged a 0.15 increase in the GrandMean score, while those with low accountability, or lack of follow-up on previous results, had an average decrease in GrandMean of 0.44.

“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for managers and teams to spend time together understanding their results and collaborating on plans to address their opportunity areas. The survey results clearly show the value of these efforts,” said David Odato, associate vice chancellor for Human Resources at UCSF and senior vice president of Human Resources for UCSF Health. “We need to hold all managers accountable for this action planning and implementation if we are to make UCSF a great place to work.”

Areas for Improvement

The survey results also highlight some areas which, if improved, are more likely to create an environment that leads to greater engagement of all staff. Of particular concern, the data reveal that some groups of staff have varied experiences and levels of engagement at UCSF compared to others:

  • Staff employees who work in teams with fewer than 15 members are more likely to be engaged than those in larger teams
  • Managers are more likely to be engaged than non-managers
  • Staff who are represented by unions are less likely to be engaged than policy-covered, non-represented employees
  • White and Asian employees are generally more likely to be engaged than their black and Hispanic co-workers, but in some areas white employees are more likely to be engaged than all other racial/ethnic groups.

The differences in survey scores among minority groups of staff echo results shown by UCSF faculty, who responded to a climate survey conducted in 2017. That survey found that one-third of underrepresented minority faculty respondents face unequal treatment at every level of the organization (campus, school and department).

Representatives from Gallup shared these initial staff survey findings with the Chancellor’s Cabinet recently, fostering a candid conversation about what they mean for the UCSF community and what leaders and managers can do to address the challenges identified.

“The intergroup disparity in engagement is of concern. We must commit to evaluating and eliminating the reasons why not all members of our staff are experiencing the same levels of engagement. The data on race/ethnicity are consistent with differences in the 2013 climate survey of the entire UCSF community. Building an inclusive and engaged culture for all is our goal,” said Renee Navarro, MD, PharmD, vice chancellor of Diversity and Outreach.

The data further suggest that, going forward, UCSF should focus on the following two questions to increase engagement for the least-engaged groups. These questions are where UCSF consistently sees the greatest gap in staff engagement scores among staff groups:

  • My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  • At work, my opinions seem to count.

Working Toward Greater Engagement

Over the next few months, managers across departments and units are encouraged to share and discuss their individual survey results with their teams. Each team should work together to identify the areas where improvement is necessary.

Learning and Organization Development (L&OD) will partner with Gallup to convene focus groups of UCSF staff to collect more detailed feedback. This feedback will inform L&OD’s ongoing strategy to support managers and teams and UCSF’s overall efforts to create a better place to work.  

L&OD will also host town hall meetings that will be open to the entire UCSF community to share survey results and hear first-hand about the obstacles, barriers and issues that staff face at UCSF. In addition, L&OD will convene workshops for engagement ambassadors and managers so that they are more informed and empowered to talk directly to staff on their teams. These activities will help managers and teams better understand their results and provide guidance for efforts to improve engagement by focusing on the key drivers of engagement – the organization, managers and peers.

“After all, the staff engagement survey isn't just about numbers or scores, rather, it’s about engaging our employees and ensuring they have the information, tools and guidance they need to do their jobs. It's about how all of us, collectively, feel about waking up in the morning, coming to work and fulfilling our mission.”
Managers and ambassadors are encouraged to contact L&OD at [email protected] with any questions or to schedule a tailored engagement action planning training.

Additionally, as L&OD prepares for the town hall meetings, staff are encouraged to ask questions to identify key themes to address. Please send questions to [email protected].