Enhancing staff engagement

To: UC Santa Cruz Staff

From:  Marlene Tromp Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Sarah Latham Vice Chancellor for Business and Administrative Services Chair of the Campus Welfare Committee

Staff members play a central role in the mission of UC Santa Cruz, and it is vital that they feel valued and engaged. This is important for staff retention, as well as for the success of our campus and the fundamental health of our community. It was, in fact, the importance of staff that inspired the reinstitution of the Campus Welfare Committee (CWC) last year and the charge that instructed this group to focus on ways to improve staff engagement.

The work of the CWC

CWC began by looking at the research on employee engagement to better understand what impacts it. The committee also reviewed the results of the last three UC employee engagement surveys. Compared to other campuses in the system, UC Santa Cruz has performed at or near the bottom on the level of engagement.

Four areas where UC Santa Cruz had statistically significant lower levels of performance were in the areas of engagement, career development, organizational change, and image/brand. In addition to reviewing the engagement survey findings, the committee invited members from the 2016–17 CORO cohort, which is a UC-wide leadership development program, to present the findings of their year-long study on diversity and inclusion across employees at UC. The committee felt the CORO findings would help provide additional context on the engagement of employees.

From this work, the CWC identified six categories to frame their exploration on engagement and the development of recommendations:

  • community building
  • communication
  • workload
  • professional advancement
  • change management
  • training and mentorship

In order to generate feedback to form recommendations in each of the six categories, the CWC conducted focus groups and sent out a campus survey. The CWC also sought feedback on activities already underway across the campus in the six categories.

As a result of this work the CWC identified a set of recommendations in the six categories of engagement. These recommendations consist of a mix of current best practices, enhanced communication about existing programs, and potential new initiatives and programs.

Ways to learn more and provide feedback

In order to share the recommendations, discuss actions underway and get feedback on the priorities for investment, we are hosting three staff listening sessions. They will take place at:

  • 10 a.m., May 4 in the Auditorium at the UC Santa Cruz Scotts Valley Center.
  • 2 p.m., June 6 at the Stevenson Event Center at the UC Santa Cruz main campus.
  • 3 p.m on June 26 in Room 2110 at the Silicon Valley Center.

Each session will last one hour and is open to all staff. Members of the CWC and Staff Human Resources will be on hand to help facilitate the discussion and feedback.

Next steps

Through 2018, the committee will continue its work into the next phase of activity, consisting of:

  1. Monitoring implementation of actions already underway,
  2. Engaging with the campus community as to other recommendations that would require new programs, initiatives, or resources, and
  3. Overseeing a task force charged with focusing on the development of a compensation philosophy. The lack of a locally articulated compensation philosophy can lead to confusion and negatively impact employee engagement and satisfaction. This task force will work to develop a campus compensation philosophy. During our listening sessions, we will review the charge of the compensation philosophy task force.

Ensuring we can enhance our employee engagement is a priority for the campus leadership team. Our employees and their contributions are valuable to our community. We hope that staff will join us for our listening sessions to discuss this very important aspect of our campus community.