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Spring 2014 Staff Well-Being Survey Results

Nancy Whelchel (, Institutional Research and Planning Associate Director for Survey Research) reported on the following summary of results from the Staff Well Being Survey. Nancy’s presentation to the Staff Senate can be viewed at the link provided below.

The following summary is a descriptive analysis of the overall results from the 2014 Staff Well- Being Survey (SWBS). While differences in ratings between the 2014 and 2008 Staff Well- Being Surveys are noted, differences in responses in the current survey by various groups (e.g., by race/ethnicity, by gender) are not reported here. Results are described as “positive” when at least 75 percent of respondents gave a favorable response (e.g., “excellent” or “good,” “very satisfied” or “satisfied”), and as “negative” when more than 25 percent of respondents gave an unfavorable response (e.g., “fair” or “poor,” “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied”).

Survey Administration

The 2014 Staff Well-Being Survey was administered between April 15 and June 10, 2014 to all permanent and time-limited, non-instructional (excluding librarians and extension employees), non-administrative (i.e., SAAO Tier 1 and 2) employees with an FTE of 0.5 or higher who had been employed at NC State for at least six months at the time of survey. The survey was primarily online, with paper copies distributed to those in jobs classified as skilled crafts or service maintenance. The response rate was 54 percent, with 3,162 of the 5,860 eligible employees participating. With the exception of females being slightly overrepresented among respondents compared to their numbers in the survey population, respondents closely mirror the make-up of the survey population in terms of race, age, EPA/SPA status, division, on- versus off-campus location, and number of years worked at NC State.

Overall Satisfaction

Overall, staff at NC State are satisfied with their employment, although they are slightly less likely than those in the 2008 SWBS to say they are “very satisfied” working at NC State. As in the 2008 survey, the vast majority of staff take pride in working at NC State and say that they feel like they make a difference here. Most say that they would recommend their department as a good place to work – – they feel like they fit in and that they are valued. Almost 90 percent report that in general they look forward to coming to work. While about one-third said that in the past year they had taken one or more days off simply because they did not want to come to work, almost all of those said they did so only once or twice.

While the findings above are similar to those in the 2008 SWBS, there are differences in the two surveys regarding whether staff say they more satisfied or less satisfied now at NC State than they were three years ago. Currently one-in-three of the staff say they are less satisfied now than they were three years ago, compared to about one-in-five expressing such an opinion in 2008. In addition, the proportion of staff who say they have “very seriously” considered leaving NC State

in the past year or two has tripled that from the 2008 survey (42% vs 14%). As in 2008, however, most staff members report that they will continue to work at the university for at least the next three years.

Work Activities

Almost all staff say they have a formal job description for their position and that the tasks they perform on a daily basis closely match what is outlined in their job description. The vast majority are satisfied with the actual tasks/assignments they are asked to do, find their work enjoyable, and believe it gives them a sense of purpose. Over ninety percent of staff report going beyond what is expected of their job because they enjoy the work they do, with just over half saying they “often” do so. However, more than one-third of staff say that when they do work above and beyond that which is outlined in their work plan or job description it is not formally documented (e.g., in a performance review).

Staff are satisfied with the basic training they received to perform their job, and are clear on what is expected of them. Regular conversations with supervisors are seen are more useful in determining job expectations than are other methods such as job descriptions or work plans, annual appraisals/performance reviews, or department meetings.

While majorities report that they are satisfied with the amount of work expected and the time given for completing their tasks, over 40 percent say that there is more work than they expected. Just over half say additional qualified people are needed in their unit to do the work expected of them, representing a notable increase from what was reported in the 2008 survey. When asked to rate how well they are handling work-related demands on a scale of “1” indicating “managing fine” to “5” indicating “completely overwhelmed”, one-in-four in the current survey give a rating of “5” or “4,” up slightly from about one-in-five in 2008. As in 2008 “workload” is more likely than any other activity or concern asked about to be a source of stress, with half of the staff in the current survey saying they experience at least some stress due to workload.

Work Relationships

An overwhelming majority of staff say they enjoy working with their immediate co-workers, and that they get along and treat each other with respect. Staff evaluate their co-workers as knowledgeable and hardworking, and say they communicate well with each other and share helpful ideas with one another.

Staff also believe they are treated with respect by staff they supervise, their own supervisors, staff in their department with whom they do not directly work, and by others with whom they might interact, such as students and customers or clients.

While still giving very favorable ratings, staff are slightly less likely to “strongly agree” that they are treated with respect by faculty and by the upper administration in their department and in

their college/division. Consistent with this latter finding, again while favorable overall, about one-third or more of staff rate the quality of relations between staff in their work unit and both the upper administration in their department and in their college/division as “fair” or “poor.” In addition, 40 percent rate relations between NC State staff overall and upper administration at the university as “fair” or “poor” – – up from one-third of staff expressing such an opinion in the 2008 survey.


Staff members’ evaluations of immediate supervisors are generally positive. Half of the staff rate their supervisor as “excellent” with respect to setting a good example through his/her own work habits, professionalism, and high standards. Staff give their immediate supervisors highest rating for being supportive, approachable, available, appreciative, and for being good advocates for their staff. Staff give favorable ratings to the relationship between the staff in their work unit and their supervisor, and report that supervisors listen to them and give straight answers to reasonable questions, that they use ideas from staff, and that they make rational and understandable decisions. Supervisors also got positive ratings for the extent to which they encourage teamwork and provide opportunities for staff input concerning planning, decision making, and problem solving as it relates to work responsibilities. While a sizeable number of staff report they have at most a limited understanding of the way resources are allocated within their work unit, they generally believe that their supervisors do a good job providing and fairly distributing essential resources.

Although still rated positively by a majority of staff, supervisors get slightly lower ratings for showing “favoritism” in their treatment of the different members of the work unit and in the way they distribute work assignments. Supervisors also get somewhat lower rating for their ability to set short and long term goals and objectives, for setting goals that are attainable, and for setting clear priorities for the work unit. Finally, supervisors were given the lowest ratings for their ability to resolve internal conflicts in the work unit, with one-third of staff evaluating them as “fair” or “poor” in this area.

Staff ratings of their supervisors were either very similar to or slightly more favorable in the current survey than they were in 2008. Most notable increases were in the proportion of staff giving a rating of “excellent” to supervisors encouraging teamwork and for being supportive when personal issues arise.

Resources and Professional Support

While a majority of staff say they understand how resources are allocated to their work unit at least “pretty well,” such understanding dramatically declines when asked their understanding of resource allocation at the department, college/division, and university level. An understanding of resource allocation at all levels has increased slightly since the 2008 survey, but in the current

survey over two-thirds report having little or no understanding of the process at the university level.

Staff generally believe that their supervisors do a good job providing and fairly distributing essential resources, and the majority report having the essential materials, up-to-date equipment, and technical support needed to do their work. However, more than one-fourth disagree that there is sufficient clerical support to allow staff members to get their work done, and almost one- third report experiencing at least some stress over not having the tools/resources needed to do their job.

Professional Development

One-third of staff do not believe their department is creating a culture where staff can develop to their full potential. While majorities are satisfied with various professional development and training opportunities, they are consistently less satisfied than they were in the 2008 survey. In the current survey almost 90 percent are satisfied with their supervisor giving them time to participate in professional develop and training opportunities, but satisfaction drops to 70 percent with respect to getting departmental financial support for such opportunities. In looking at specific types of training, staff are most likely to be satisfied with opportunities to broaden their experiences and to improve their skills in their current job, and are notably less satisfied with opportunities to improve their skills to increase their chances for a better job, and for leadership development.

Only a small portion of staff members say they were assigned a mentor or buddy when they first began working at the university. However, a large majority of staff say they believe that it would be helpful to have such a mentor.

Performance evaluation

Most staff members understand the formal process used by the department to evaluate their performance, with a notable increase since the 2008 survey in the proportion who say they understand it “very well.” Staff believe the process is fair and reasonable, and say they have at least some input in it – – although EPA staff are twice as likely as SPS staff to say they have “a great deal” of input on their reviews. Staff members report that their performance reviews/Annual Appraisals are appropriately based on their job description, reflect their key responsibilities and competencies of banded employees (SPA only) or are based on agreed upon objectives (EPA), are provided in a timely fashion, reflect how they think they are doing, and help staff to identify what they are doing well and what they need to improve on. Performance reviews/Annual Appraisals are generally seen as less useful in furthering staff members’ career planning, and, among EPA employees, their career development. There have, however, been notable changes in staff evaluations of performance reviews/Annual Appraisals related to these latter two areas. While SPA employees are now much more likely than in 2008 to see their

Annual Appraisals as helpful to their career development, the perceived helpfulness of their Annual Appraisal to planning their career has declined. EPA employees are less likely now than they were in 2008 to see their annual reviews as helpful to either their career planning and or career development.

SPA staff report that talking with their supervisor about their Annual Appraisal is the most useful way for the staff member to understand how well he/she is doing his/her job, followed by the written comments on the Appraisal. The numeric ratings given on the Annual Appraisal are rated considerably less helpful. In addition, the perceived usefulness of the numeric ratings has notably declined since 2008.

In thinking more generally about other types of feedback related to their job performance, both SPA and EPA employees are most likely to say their immediate supervisor and customers/clients with whom they might interact are “very important” in helping them to understand how well they are performing their job. Most staff also believe that staff they supervise (among supervisors) and staff in their work unit are also at least somewhat important in providing such feedback. Majorities of those who indicate they interact with faculty and with students also find their feedback important in assessing their own job performance.

Incentives, Recognition, & Rewards

Over half the staff report being dissatisfied with incentives, recognition, and rewards offered by their department for excellent job performance, with the proportion of those saying they are “very dissatisfied” rising from 18 percent in 2008 to 25 percent in 2014. While 30 percent of staff say their supervisor “frequently” publicly acknowledge and/or expresses appreciation for the work that they do, about 20 percent say their supervisor “seldom or never” does so. Staff are more likely to report that people other than their supervisor (e.g., customers, faculty) at least occasionally offer public acknowledgement or appreciation for the work they do. Staff also give relatively low ratings to the extent to which their department recognizes or appreciates their efforts to find more efficient and effective ways to get things done.

Salary and Benefits

Fifty percent of staff members indicate that they are satisfied with the total compensation package (salary and benefits) they receive at NC State University – – down from 62 percent in 2008. About half of those expressing an opinion do not believe their salary is competitive with employees doing the same or similar work in their college/division or in other colleges/divisions at NC State, and two-thirds or more do not think their salary is competitive with those at other Raleigh-area places of employment, or at other universities. They are slightly more likely to think their salary is comparable to that of others in their own department, but more than 40 percent still disagree that that is the case. Similar to feelings about their overall salary and

benefits, feelings about their pay relative to all other groups asked about have become even less positive than what was reported in the 2008 survey.

Staff members’ evaluations of benefits are considerably more favorable. About three-fourths or more of staff rate voluntary benefits, retirement contributions, and healthcare benefits as reasonably competitive compared to other employers for whom they could work. In addition, more than 90 percent say they can find the information they need to understand benefits at NC State, and can make informed decisions based on that information.

Work-Life Integration

Forty percent of staff report experiencing at least some stress due to the balance between their work and personal life, making it the second highest sources of stress for staff, behind “workload.” However, most staff say they work in an environment that enables them to successfully negotiate the competing demands of work and home, and that the university provides programs that facilitate this balance.

Staff are most likely to identify flexible working hours as an important work-life integration benefit that should be provided to employees. Employee assistance programs (e.g., for personal issues like coping with family, financial, or substance abuse problems), proactive wellness programs (such as weight loss, health lifestyle education, and smoking cessation), domestic partner benefits, telecommuting options, and access to Campus Health Services are also rated as ‘very important’ by half or more staff. While there has been a slight decline since 2008 in the perceived importance of access to a child care facility and for tuition waivers for dependents, there has been an increase in perceptions of the importance of employee assistance programs and, more notably, domestic partner benefits.

Just over half of staff say it is “very likely” that they would use a tuition waiver or benefit for their dependent child(ren) or spouse to attend NC State if it were available, and almost thirty percent say it is “very likely” that over the next five years they would use a campus childcare facility if it were available at a cost comparable to where they could find elsewhere. About sixty percent say that they would have at least some interest in a computer purchase program through the NC State Bookstore, in using Campus Health Services at NC State, and in participating in informal or individual pro-active wellness programs. They are somewhat less likely to be interested in participating in formal proactive wellness programs in a group setting at the university.

Vision and Direction

Although the vast majority of staff are far more likely to believe that their department, their college/division, and the university are “heading in the right direction” than to say things have “gotten off on the wrong track,” the proportion holding that opinion has decreased slightly from

the 2008 survey. In addition, while about half of staff think each of these units will be better five years from now than they are today, and relatively few think things will have gotten worse, staff in the 2008 survey were much more inclined than those in the current survey to think things would be getting better. While they are not now noticeably more likely to say they think things will be getting worse, they are more likely than in 2008 to believe things will not change one way or the other.

Half the staff believe that their department has a clear set of goals for the future, and that they are actively working toward meeting those goals, while about one-third believe that progress toward established goals is slow. Regardless of the speed in reaching set goals, the vast majority of staff believe their department is successful in meeting its goals. Staff members also agree that their department is doing a good job of recruiting the best staff to accomplish these goals of the department. However, not only do sizeable numbers disagree that their department is successful at retaining effective and productive staff, the numbers expressing this opinion has increased slightly since the 2008 survey.

College/Division and University Management/leadership

Staff were less likely to express an opinion on the leadership styles of upper administration in their department, and even less likely to do so for upper administration at the university. However, among those expressing an opinion, staff give upper administration within departments and at the university noticeably less favorable ratings than they do their immediate supervisors on each of the areas in common asked about. Similar to supervisors, department upper administration got highest ratings for setting a good example through his/her own work habits, professionalism, and high standards. Staff also judged department administration favorably for their ability to serve as an advocate for the department, for encouraging teamwork, and in being approachable when an immediate supervisor was not responsive to staff needs. Department administrators were given relatively lower ratings by staff for communicating with them, and for resolving internal conflicts within the department quickly and effectively.

Among those expressing an opinion, university upper administration got highest ratings from staff for serving as an advocate for the university to external customers. Between one-third and half of staff expressing an opinion give university leaders unfavorable ratings for communicating with staff, listening to ideas from staff, giving a straight answer when asked a reasonable question, and for distributing resources fairly.

Staff ratings of department and university leadership were either very similar to or slightly more favorable in the current survey than they were in 2008. Most notable increases were in the proportion of staff giving a rating of “excellent” to department leadership for encouraging teamwork, appreciating the role staff play in the success of the unit, and for serving as an advocate for the department. The most notable increases in favorable rating for university leadership were for advocating for NC State and for establishing clear priorities for the university.


Although one-in-ten staff think it is either “not very important” or “not at all important” for the university to have an institutional emphasis on diversity, an increasing number of staff believe it is “very important” to do so (up to 57% from 49% in 2008). A large majority staff believe that their work colleagues, their supervisor, their department administration, and university administration actively promote and support diversity. Staff in the current survey, however, are slightly less likely than those in the 2008 survey to say such people do “a great deal” to support and promote diversity. While a sizable number say they don’t know enough to have an opinion, among those that do the majority of staff believe that their department administration actively works to recruit, retain and support staff members from historically underrepresented groups – – although the number who “strongly agree” they do so has also declined slightly from the 2008 survey.

According to large majorities of staff, their work environment is accepting and respectful of a wide range of differences (e.g., in age, disability status, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, veteran status). In addition, staff in the current survey are slightly more likely than they were in 2008 to “strongly agree” that this is the case in their department.

A slight majority of staff report having attended diversity or multicultural events, programs, workshops, or training activities on campus at least a few times since coming to NC State. The most common reasons cited for rarely or never attending such events are that the activities are not convenient, and not being aware of such activities.

Campus Infrastructure

Overall, staff members respond favorably to survey questions related to the physical environment within which they work. According to survey results, staff members report high levels of satisfaction with their immediate physical workspace, including their office, lab or general work area, their access to a computer, and to the maintenance and condition of the infrastructure in the building(s) where they typically work. The upkeep of campus grounds is also given high ratings by staff, as is the amount of “green” space on campus. The number of staff indicating they are “very satisfied” has increased since the 2008 survey in all these areas, most notably for the amount of green space and the upkeep of campus grounds.

Large majorities of staff give high ratings to safety, but are more satisfied with the safety of their own immediate work environment than with campus safety overall. Perceptions of safety in both areas, however, has significantly increased since the 2008 survey.

Relative to other areas asked about, although still very positive, staff are slightly less satisfied with the availability of informal places to relax on campus and dining options on campus, although again ratings are more positive in these areas than they were in 2008. Dissatisfaction among staff is highest when it comes to parking, with over 40 percent being dissatisfied with the availability of parking, and over two-thirds being dissatisfied with the cost of parking.

Administrative Processes

“Administrative processes (e.g., ‘bureaucracy’ or ‘red tape’)” is one of the most commonly cited sources of stress among staff, with close to half of staff saying it causes them at least “some” or “a great deal” of stress. Staff were asked their satisfaction with a number of specific administrative processes they might need to use in their work at NC State. Staff were most likely to indicate they use time and leave tracking processes, with the large majority of those using such processes saying they are satisfied with them. Satisfaction was also widespread with procurement to payment processes, travel processes, and access to data needed for reporting, although staff were much less likely to have any experience in using these processes. In contrast, one-fourth or more of those using research/contracts and grants processes, budget processes, and recruitment and hiring processes expressed dissatisfaction in using them. Fully half of those using “position classification and compensation” processes say they are dissatisfied in using them.

Overall, large majorities of those using the various features in MyPack Portal are comfortable getting and providing information through the system. Almost three-fourths report that they are “very comfortable” using the Employee Self Service area of MyPack Portal, while less than five percent say they are either “not very comfortable” or “not at all comfortable” doing so. Among the smaller group of staff using other features, comfort levels are also relatively high, with more than three-fourths saying they are comfortable using Financial Systems, the Student Information Systems, and the Human Resources Systems.

Involvement in Campus Activities

With the exception of having attended a Wolfpack athletic event, majorities of staff indicated that in the past year they had never participated in the various NC State activities or programs asked about. Over half of the staff said that their work location at least somewhat limited their ability to participate in activities on campus. In addition to Wolfpack athletics events, staff were most likely to have used outdoor physical recreation space on campus, to have attended an ARTS NC State program or other cultural activity on campus, or to have participated in a physical recreation activity on campus. Use of outdoor physical recreation space increased to about one- in-five staff using it at least once per month from less than one-in-ten doing so in 2008. While large numbers of staff indicated they did not know enough to express an opinion, satisfaction with all such activities asked about was high among those familiar with them.

 Full Survey Results