The University Record, January 31, 1994

Staff urged to participate in survey on University’s environment

By Jane R. Elgass

Many members of the University community will have an opportunity over the next two weeks to “tell it like it is” by completing a survey about the work environment here.

A survey on “Perceptions of the Work Environment at the University of Michigan” is being sent via campus mail this week to non-instructional staff on the Ann Arbor campus.

Because the usefulness of data gathered in the survey depends on a high response rate, directors and department heads have been alerted to the survey and asked to allow employees to complete it on work time, even if this means temporarily rescheduling work loads. The executive officers have endorsed that approach because staff participation in the project is extremely important. Respondents to a pilot test of the survey completed it in 30 to 40 minutes.

In a cover letter accompanying the survey, President James J. Duderstadt notes that it is designed “to gather information on various aspects of the work environment, such as work processes, decision-making, service to others and improvement.”

Duderstadt adds that the information gathered through the survey “will be used to improve our understanding of the University, and to help identify ways in which this can become an increasingly better place to work.”

The survey, which was commissioned by the executive officers, has been developed by the Work Environment Research Group, headed by Marvin W. Peterson, director of the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, and Kim S. Cameron, professor of organizational behavior and human resource management and of higher education.

Both note that the survey “is not designed to in any way serve as an assessment or review of a unit’s performance, or to provide any sort of unit-by-unit comparison. Data collected will provide a view of the current work environment on a Universitywide basis and on a vice presidential level.” They also stress that all information is completely confidential.

Cameron and Peterson note that this effort is the first comprehensive survey of the University work environment since 1978, when one was conducted by the Institute for Social Research. “The work environment,” they note, “has changed dramatically since then, particularly with respect to new technologies.

“This survey is a fact-finding mission and will provide baseline data from which the University can measure the effectiveness of any innovative measures that might occur over the next several years.”

Hospitals staff are not included in the survey because of other ongoing efforts by the Hospitals administration to assess that work environment in an effort to make the Hospitals an employer of choice.

Completed surveys should be returned as soon as possible in an envelope provided with the questionnaire, but no later than Feb. 18.

The team has been asked to complete its report by early summer, with results shared with the University community sometime after that.

Those who do not receive a survey but think they should have, as well as those with questions about the survey, should contact the Work Environment Research Group at 763-9272.