USQ employee engagement surveys

Every organisation needs people who genuinely enjoy their work.  Job satisfaction and engagement are integral to individual and organisational success.  Engagement is the emotional and intellectual commitment a person brings to an organisation or activity.

‘Climate’ or ‘engagement’ surveys (sometimes known as 'employee opinion surveys') are tools used to assess employees’ perceptions of, and satisfaction with their work and the organisation on matters such as leadership, communication, career development, remuneration and benefits etc. 

To help understand the health of the University from the perspective of all employees, USQ has committed to conducting regular employee engagement surveys.  It provides a valuable channel for "bottom-up" communication for employees, and will help management diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of USQ.

Why does USQ run these surveys?

Engagement surveys  give employees the opportunity to express their views about how USQ is doing, and how it can improve. The surveys provide insight into critical issues within our organisation, and highlight areas where we need to improve.  In addition, we can see a comparison between our results and the average results for the university sector, and we can also monitor our own historical trends (eg. have our results changed since our previous surveys). This will give us a way to evaluate the effectiveness of strategic initiatives, and give us an indication of areas where we should focus our attention moving forward.

Objectives

The objectives of USQ Engagement Surveys are to:

  • Obtain feedback on the views of management and staff across the University on areas such as: leadership, teamwork, communication and cooperation, issues that affect job satisfaction, general overall effectiveness etc,
  • Establish data “benchmarks” so that the University is be able to compare how it is tracking over time both internally and externally, and
  • Identify ways to improve the working environment for all employees.

Desired outcomes

Desired outcomes from USQ Engagement Surveys include:

  • Providing insight into management practices, showing strengths, weaknesses and key drivers of organisational outcomes
  • Providing scientific discipline to topics that are often misreported on such as generational differences, work/life balance and culture-fit
  • Better understanding staff opinions
  • Benchmarking against external organisations
  • Highlighting key issues and initiatives for improved corporate, work unit and individual satisfaction of University staff, and
  • Developing, implementing and monitoring action plans

Who conducts the surveys, and how do they work?

USQ utilises the services of the Voice Project to conduct the surveys on our behalf. Voice Project is a third party research and consulting company operating out of Macquarie University in Sydney.  

The Voice Survey was designed and developed by Dr Peter Langford (now Director of Voice Project) and the Macquarie University Research Department over a number of years to diagnose organisations’ HR and management practices. Psychometric support for the reliability and validity of the tool has been published in the Australian Journal of Psychology, a peer reviewed journal. The Voice Project tool has been administered to over 2600 organisations to date, including 37 other universities in Australia.

Utilising the Voice Project as the provider for the survey provides us with:

  • the opportunity to directly measure improvements from the previous surveys,
  • the ability to utilise a survey tailored specifically for the higher education sector, and also customise the survey to suit USQ's specific requirements, and importantly
  • the unique opportunity to benchmark directly against the sector.

How is the survey completed?

The survey is completed online and takes most people around 20 minutes to complete. It involves a combination of agree/disagree questions (where respondents give a score on a rating scale) as well as a small number of open-ended questions (where respondents can give more detailed typed or written feedback).

Is the survey confidential and anonymous?

Absolutely - USQ wants honest responses so takes a number of steps to ensure confidentiality and anonymity. All survey responses are provided directly to the Voice Project who collate and analyse the data. Online surveys are completed at a secure off-site website, and paper-based surveys are sealed in reply paid envelopes by staff and sent unopened to Voice Project. At no point is anyone within USQ given raw data from the survey. USQ is not be able to identify who has or has not completed the survey, and cannot link responses to individuals.

Individual responses are combined in groups with 10 or more people to provide aggregated reports. Free text comments given in the open-ended questions are included in the report and grouped by organisational unit where there are 10 or more responses.

Voice Project consultants are bound by the code of conduct and ethical guidelines of the Australian Psychological Society, and the Psychology Board of Australia. They are also bound by a USQ Privacy Deed.

What sort of questions are asked?

The survey allows you to have your say on key issues such as:

  • job satisfaction
  • organisational culture
  • career development
  • leadership, and
  • communication.

How often are the surveys done?

USQ hopes to conduct these types of surveys on a regular basis, ideally every two years.

USQ surveys and results

In 2006 the University conducted its first comprehensive Employee Climate Survey.  In 2010, USQ conducted its second survey - the U Count! 2010 employee engagement survey.  Internal smaller “Pulse Surveys” designed to monitor trends and improvements in key areas were conducted at six monthly intervals in 2011.  The third full Employee Engagement Survey  was conducted in 2014.

All survey results focus on high level results as opposed to individuals, with a range of measures in place to ensure the confidentiality and anonymity of all employees who complete the survey.  All survey responses are sent directly to to the external survey provider and are collated and analysed by their professional team to produce results that will be distributed to all employees across USQ. 

Who can you talk to if you want to find out more?

Please contact Trudi Davidson in Human Resources if you have any queries in relation to employee engagement surveys.