UCSF has developed its first ever organization-wide engagement goal following the results of the 2023 Staff Engagement Survey.

The goal – set by the Chancellor’s Cabinet – supports engagement action planning across UCSF and UCSF Health. The plan calls for every team to: 

  • Review their individual results and collectively take action to improve their work experience and environment, and
  • Set their action plans and tactics by October 1, 2023, and complete at least one tactic by March 1, 2024.

Results of UCSF’s staff survey conducted April 11 to May 5 show a mean score of 3.94 – up two basis points from 2022. This represents the same engagement score as 2021, just two points off the UCSF yardstick of a 3.96 mean score set in 2019. Prior to that, overall engagement scores had increased every year since the first survey in 2011.

UCSF measures and monitors staff engagement as a strategic business imperative as it strives to create a great place to work. Research shows that engaged employees are more likely to be productive and enthusiastic and be less susceptible to burnout.

We recognize that our success as an organization is directly linked to the engagement, belonging and well-being of our staff.

Sheila Antrum, RN, MHSA, UCSF Health chief operating officer and senior vice president

UCSF has enlisted Gallup to conduct engagement surveys focusing on staff, who make up the majority of its 33,000 employees. This year, more than 18,000 people participated in the survey, resulting in a 71% participation rate, up from 69% in 2022.

“The staff engagement survey remains a valuable tool that allows us to hear from you about your experiences and perspectives,” UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood said during a recent town hall. “We rely on the results to inform decisions about our workplace culture, policies and practices.”

Results from previous surveys have informed and driven the Anti-Racism Initiative, the Disability Awareness Campaign, the formation of the UCSF Well-being Committee, UCSF’s new people strategy and other UCSF-wide improvements adopted by the Chancellor’s Cabinet

“We recognize that our success as an organization is directly linked to the engagement, belonging and well-being of our staff,” said Sheila Antrum, UCSF Health chief operating officer and senior vice president. “We firmly believe and know that a positive work environment where our employees feel valued, supported and heard is essential in providing exceptional care to our patients and families.”

Addressing Areas of Concern

The annual engagement survey gives UCSF leaders and managers the opportunity to check in with their teams on important workplace dimensions and to work together to address issues of concern at the office and department level. Those who put the time and energy into these action plans are rewarded by higher overall staff engagement.

As found in previous survey results, staff who strongly agreed with the statement, “My team has made progress on the goals set during our planning sessions,” part of the survey’s Accountability Index, engagement is high at the 90th percentile, a ranking considered world-class, according to Gallup. For those staff who strongly disagree with that statement, their engagement scores are in the 1st percentile of the same benchmark.

In recent years, UCSF has incorporated new questions to better understand emerging trends, such as staff burnout, which was compounded during myriad challenges spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and national culture wars.

This year, the survey included a new question to measure whether staff feel UCSF cares about their overall well-being. On the issue of well-being, the University’s marks tracked just slightly above the national average: 27% strongly agreed that UCSF cares about their overall wellbeing compared to 25% nationally. Scores varied across the organization, showing that there is a local experience that can look different from UCSF’s overall scores.

Another factor critical to the survey was to determine whether staff think UCSF’s increased efforts relating to promoting racial equity are making an impact. In a new question asked only of managers, 42% of respondents said they feel prepared to have conversations about race and equity in the workplace. That score meets the national average, according to Gallup.

Echoing results of previous years, engagement varied depending on the race of staff respondents. White and Asian male and female staff at UCSF showed higher engagement scores than their Black and Hispanic counterparts, though engagement scores did tick up slightly for Black men and women and Hispanic women. It went down one basis point among Hispanic male staff. Scores among Asian, Hispanic and white non-binary staff remained low across the board but did show moderate gains.

Gauging a Sense of Belonging, Burnout

The sense of belonging among staff respondents saw an increase in 2023. That metric improved for staff at every major UCSF entity: UCSF Health, campus, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, UCSF Finance & Administrative Services and UCSF School of Medicine.

While UCSF’s burnout rate declined year-over-year to 36% of staff reporting that they’re burned out always or very often, the 2023 results were still above the national health care average of 29%, according to Gallup.


Among the root causes of staff burnout are perceptions of unfair treatment at work, unmanageable workload, unclear communication from managers and unreasonable deadlines. Burnout was highest among respondents identifying as transgender men (56%), another gender identity (53%) and those opting not to comment (51%). 

“Although we have seen progress, I know that great opportunities still await our attention and require additional action,” Chancellor Hawgood said during the town hall. “You deserve to hold your leaders accountable and we accept that responsibility.”

You can find more information about UCSF’s 2023 Engagement Survey including results by entity, race, disability, and work setting, in addition to the most recent Staff Engagement Town Hall recording here. Information on how teams can collaborate on engagement action planning is also available to the UCSF community.