Engagement identifies opportunities for leaders to create the conditions for individuals and teams to excel and grow

2020 HR Report to the University

“Engagement is about creating the right conditions for each of us to excel as individuals and together,” explains Geraldine McCune, Director of Organizational Development, Engagement and Health. “It’s about building an inclusive and respectful community where we can give our best every day; where we feel valued, supported, and energized; where we experience a sense of purpose and connection to our work, our colleagues, and the university.”

A focus on engagement reflects the understanding that what matters to faculty and staff goes beyond their salaries and benefits. High engagement is mutually beneficial for our employees and the university. It contributes to:

  • a stronger, more enjoyable, innovative and productive work environment and culture
  • improved ability to attract and retain talented people
  • reduced absenteeism
  • and improved client and student experience and satisfaction

Enhancing employee engagement starts with measuring the current state

In 2018, Human Resource Services identified engagement as a priority initiative within our five-year strategic plan: to develop and implement an employee engagement survey to be used as a metric for assessing our workplace culture.

“The survey results are an important mechanism for understanding employee engagement on our campus and making decisions about how best to support the employee experience at the U of A,” says Jennifer Tupper, Dean of the Faculty of Education. “The design of the questions allows us a fuller and more in-depth understanding of faculty and staff experiences.”

Human Resource Services and the Faculty of Education piloted a faculty and staff engagement survey and received their results early last year.

Survey results lead to departmental improvements

“Faculty and staff appreciated the opportunity to provide feedback about their experiences, make suggestions about the future, and consider the ways in which they might be better supported in their work. They appreciated seeing the results and especially the drivers of engagement for each group,” explains Tupper.

The results have led to some strategic changes that will take time to implement, and longer to see outcomes—but we expect improvement.

We learned about areas of strength, but more importantly, areas that need some care and attention. As a faculty, we are creating action plans meant to address these areas and we are excited about implementing them.  

Jennifer Tupper, Dean of the Faculty of Education

Based on the survey results for Human Resource Services, we developed guidelines for respect in our workplace as a foundation for how we interact on a daily basis with each other and our clients. We also launched an internal newsletter, monthly virtual staff meetings and a monthly memo from our AVP to facilitate better sharing of information within HR.

In 2019, we launched the university-wide engagement survey. Due to urgent and critical institutional priorities (including the pandemic), the results of the survey have not yet been released to faculties and departments.

HR creates opportunities for engagement with leaders, faculty and staff

HR provides many programs and services that support employee engagement:

  • Personal and professional development opportunities
  • Health and wellbeing resources and programs
  • Career pathways within our university to support the long-term career growth opportunities
  • Recognition events and tools (e.g. recognition e-cards) to create a culture of appreciation
  • Health recovery services so employees with injuries and illnesses can return to work safely and sustainably
  • Interactive and engaging orientation experience
  • Leadership development offerings to strengthen leadership skills that contribute to employee engagement, retention, and organizational culture.
  • Facilitating job evaluation to ensure employees have what they need to perform at their best and compensation is fair and equitable across the institution