UF Faculty and Staff Climate Initiative

climatesurveyAt his September 2015 State of the University Address, President Fuchs announced a university-wide faculty and staff climate survey.  The UF Faculty and Staff Climate Survey was available for completion from October 27 through November 27 of 2015 and was designed to help determine how well the university fosters an overall sense of belonging for its faculty and staff while leveraging the uniqueness of the people who work here.  Creating an inclusive climate allows all of us to do our best work and together shape a better UF.

The UF Faculty and Staff Climate Survey built on the work of the UF President’s Council on Diversity, the Faculty Senate, and a long list of other campus participants, and it was informed by comparable work done at peer institutions.  Based on the results of this survey, action items will be identified to influence our workplace practices, interactions, and/or general environment.


Action items announced, UF Climate Survey Tool now available

Based on discussions and feedback received since the survey results were released in June of 2016, the Climate Survey Working Group has identified three areas on which to focus along with associated action items that it will begin to address with campus stakeholders in the coming months:

Inclusiveness

  • Identify and share best practices designed to create a more inclusive environment already in place at UF
  • Launch a robust professional development program to address, among other topics: unconscious and implicit bias, micro-aggressions and affirmations, bullying and civility
  • Increase staff members’ visibility on the university’s home page to highlight their accomplishments/contributions

Professional Advancement

  • Map current jobs to a career framework to help identify how staff may advance at UF
  • Introduce an aligned and contemporary approach to performance management that focuses on fostering high performance

Respect

  • Expand the university’s ombuds program to include staff for improved problem-solving
  • Introduce an onboarding process for leaders that conveys ways to model and encourage a respectful and inclusive environment
  • Invite experts to help us learn from and explore conflict/mediation approaches used at other institutions

Additionally, another short-term priority identified through UFHR’s strategic planning process further supports feedback received from the climate survey and forum debriefs: Modernize UF’s leave program to be more responsive to faculty and staff needs. A UF cabinet-level work group also will soon be making recommendations about what type of organizational structure would be helpful to support diversity and inclusion.

As promised, the Office of Institutional Planning and Research has also created an online tool for colleges to peer into the data more closely than they were able to in the high-level report. The UF Climate Survey Tool is a companion to the UF Climate Survey full report. It has five parts following the structure of the survey. Open-ended questions are not shown.

Within each part of the tool, selections can be made through various filters; however, using multiple filters may show few results due to small respondent size. In many cases, employees also may have chosen not to identify where they worked, which will also limit the ability to draw conclusions at the college level.

Access the UF Climate Survey Tool now.

The Climate Study Working Group anticipates announcing some additional action items in April based on colleges’ responses after looking more closely at the data.

Survey Results

The results are now available from last fall’s survey of the University of Florida faculty and staff to better understand the campus work environment and the relationships of its members within the UF community.

UF is dedicated to fostering a caring community that provides leadership for constructive participation in a diverse, multicultural world. The President’s Council on Diversity Climate Study Working Group, or CSWG, was formed in 2015, composed of faculty, staff and administrators.

More than one-third (36 percent) completed the survey when it was available online from Oct. 27 through Nov. 27. The survey contained 79 items – 17 qualitative and 62 quantitative – and was available via a secure online portal and in hard copy format. All faculty and staff within the UF community received an invitation to participate.

UF’s assessment was the result of a comprehensive process to identify the strengths and challenges of campus climate, with a specific focus on the distribution of power and privilege among differing social groups.

This survey is a starting point. It’s important that we understand what we do well, but also address head-on what is not working well and can be improved upon. The information that participants provided about their perceptions and experience of the campus climate at UF can help guide us toward building a more supportive campus community. Creating an inclusive climate allows all of us to do our best work and together shape a better UF.

Climate is defined as the “current attitudes, behaviors and standards of employees concerning the access for, inclusion of, and level of respect for individual and group needs, abilities and potential.”

Below are some highlights of what the survey results revealed.

High levels of comfort at UF

  • 73 percent - comfortable or very comfortable with the climate at UF
  • 70 percent - comfortable or very comfortable with the climate in their departments/work units
  • 62 percent - comfortable or very comfortable with the climate in their classes/learning environments

Positively, 70 percent to 73 percent of respondents were comfortable with the overall climate and department/work unit climate at UF. The majority of respondents expressed positive perceptions of the workplace climate and felt valued and that their work was valued at UF. The campus climate findings at UF were consistent with those found in higher education institutions, with the national average between 70 percent and 80 percent.

Ninety percent of staff respondents believed that UF is supportive of taking extended leave and 85 percent believed UF provides training and professional development opportunities. 

Among faculty respondents, 75 percent felt criteria for tenure are clear and 74 percent felt that opportunities for substantive committee involvement are available. Seventy-six percent of all faculty felt that they have job security, 75 percent believed their health insurance benefits are competitive, and 74 percent believed their colleagues are helpful to their careers. Eighty-three percent had colleagues/co-workers who offered them job/career advice or guidance when needed and 83 percent felt that their supervisors provided adequate support for them to manage work-life balance.

Positive attitudes about work-life issues

  • 84 percent felt they were given a reasonable time frame to complete assigned responsibilities
  • 72 percent felt UF and their supervisors provided resources to pursue training/development
  • 73 percent felt UF was supportive of flexible work schedules

Opportunities

The survey also highlighted opportunities for us to improve. 

Salaries and work-life balance emerged as issues of concern. Exclusionary conduct has been observed or experienced by 24 percent to 27 percent of the respondents within the last year at UF, most typically because of position within the organization or education credentials. 

It will take work to ensure our faculty and staff feel valued by senior administration, with only 33 percent of respondents noting that. While the reasons may vary, 57 percent of respondents seriously considered leaving UF in the past year. A total of 53 percent of these did so because of financial reasons, while 43 percent indicated they felt this way because of limited opportunities.

Other challenges for us include the perception that “who you know” impacts hiring and promotion opportunities. The impact of hierarchy and the need for more clarity surrounding career advancement for both staff and faculty emerged as themes as well. Respect and civility are other opportunities for improvement. The climate assessment findings allow UF to build on its strengths.  

These results, among others highlighted in the report, will serve as a starting point for conversations surrounding how we can move forward as a university — building on what we do well, but also addressing how we can ensure respect and inclusion.

Beginning next week, we will hold a series of faculty and staff forums to discuss the results and what they mean. Having the opportunity for an open exchange of ideas is critical to improving the campus climate.

From these forums, action items will be identified that can be accomplished in 12 to 18 months.

The information people have provided about their perceptions and experience of the campus climate at UF can help guide us toward building a more welcoming and inclusive campus community.

Finally, thank you to those of you who took the time to share your experiences through this survey. Your input will be critical in making UF an even better institution for all of us.

Exec Summary | PPT from Town Hall | Climate Survey Full Report

We invite you to join the conversation to Identify Next Steps.