Employee Engagement in Action

Case Studies

University Services: Employee Engagement Action Planning

University Services. The University Services Human Resources Office conducted an employee engagement training session for leaders which focused on action planning as a response to engagement survey results. Because University Services has a diverse group of staff who perform varying functions (Facilities, Police, Dining, Housing, Parking, U Market, Printing, Addressing and Mailing, Health and Safety, Capital Planning, and varying other personnel), the goal of the training was to provide broad guidance and resources to enable more effective planning of employee engagement initiatives. An employee engagement action planning template was developed to support leaders in the process. Read more (pdf)

Global Programs and Strategy Alliance: Addressing Workload Distribution

The Global Programs and Strategy Alliance (GPS) reviewed its results to the employee engagement survey question regarding equitable distribution of workload for the first two years of the survey. GPS leadership decided to explore this question further and identified a range of employee perceptions. Given the complexity of the issue, they have implemented a variety of initiatives in response to what was learned. Read more (pdf).

School of Nursing: How Staff Influenced Culture, Climate, and Engagement

After the University of Minnesota conducted a system-wide employee engagement survey, the School of Nursing looked at what they could do differently to positively impact their results. One effort was the creation of the Staff Employee Work Group to initiate change in collaboration with school leadership. From April 2014 to date, this Work Group has used the results to design several different initiatives to address survey results. Read more (pdf).

College of Design: Improving the Diversity Climate via Employee Engagement

College of Design (pdf). In recent years, the College of Design (CDes) Diversity Committee has been actively pursuing several strategic initiatives to improve their collegiate diversity climate and ensure that the college operates in a way that is more inclusive and equitable. CDes was able to merge its most recent initiative with its college-wide Employee Engagement efforts–an assessment of their diversity climate and subsequent unit-by-unit response strategy to the findings. Read more (pdf).

Academic Support Resources: Using an Individual Development Plan for Employee Development

Academic Support Resources (pdf). In the 2015 Employee Engagement Survey, one of ASR’s improvement opportunities was to increase the number of employees who felt their manager/supervisor coached them in their development. The ASR leadership team selected employee development as an organization-wide focus and started addressing employee development by redesigning their Individual Development Plan and process, focusing on the high leverage supervisor/employee developmental conversation. Read more (pdf).

Panel Discussions

Panel discussion: Academic Leadership Development in the Department, Division, and Cooperative

During this event, Dean Brian Buhr shared his reflections on college leadership and the importance of developing future academic leaders. 

An audio recording of the event is available as a podcast along with a transcript of the event. You can also download the slides from the keynote address and Research Insights and Research Insights handout that were presented during the event.

Leadership: The Essential Ingredient to Employee Engagement

A panel of University of Minnesota leaders discussed their use of employee engagement data over the past several years and how they’ve taken action to sustain and improve employee engagement.

Additional resources provided at the session include:

Senior Academic Leaders Share Best Practices on Motivating and Engaging Faculty and Staff

Academic leaders met to discuss how engagement data is used for leadership and team development. You can access:

  • Four videos on YouTube (you can link to the others by clicking on "Show More" under the description to view the other sections):

    • Part 1: Welcome and Overview of University Results (24 minutes) by Brandon Sullivan, PhD 

    • Part 2: Panel Discussion (62 minutes) by senior leaders of best practices in taking action on employee engagement data. Panelists included: Laura Bloomberg, associate dean, Humphrey School of Public Affairs; Connie Delaney, dean, School of Nursing; Stephen Lehmkuhle, chancellor, University of Minnesota, Rochester; and, Becky Yust, interim dean, College of Design.

    • Part 3: Case Study (13 minutes) of senior leader team development and faculty leadership development programs, presented by Greg Cuomo, associate dean for Research and Graduate Programs, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, and Jean Quam, dean, College of Education and Human Development.

    • Part 4: Question and Answer Session (42 minutes) with all presenters and panelists

This session was co-sponsored by Leadership and Talent Development in the Office of Human Resources, and the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs.

Article: Action Drives Positive Engagement

Article: Action Drives Positive Employee Engagement at the University of Minnesota

Results from the first series of Employee Engagement surveys found meaningful improvements in employee engagement in six colleges that shared results and took action, although it took time and patience. Despite the efforts of leaders, faculty, and staff, some scores from these colleges actually dropped below the University average after the second survey. However, these efforts paid off and by the third survey scores significantly increased in several areas. When asked how faculty would rate their trust and confidence in leaders, these six colleges saw combined results that were 11 percentage points higher than the system-wide results among faculty, for example.

Brandon Sullivan, Ph.D., senior director of Leadership and Talent Development, said a temporary downturn in results is common as leaders, faculty, and staff begin to talk about priorities and experiences in new ways. The focus of employee engagement is really about taking action and survey results provide a snapshot in time to show areas of opportunity and strength.

“Employee engagement is about providing employees with the opportunity to have a voice and employees using that opportunity to provide thoughtful input. This input must be shared locally and discussed within the context of important goals and priorities,” Sullivan noted. “Finally, these discussions must lead to actions that make a difference.”

Sullivan said the colleges that took action had three common characteristics:

  • Leaders and their teams took ownership for engagement and saw employee engagement as a core part of their roles as leaders.
  • Results were shared and discussed in serious and meaningful ways including discussing how the data-informed advancing goals and strategic priorities. This sometimes required additional input sessions, focus groups, or more informal discussions to better understand faculty and staff feedback.
  • These colleges identified a few focused areas for action, usually between one and three, and these were aligned with important goals and priorities.