Employee Engagement Survey FAQ

Before the survey

This year’s survey is open from Monday 5 to Monday 26 November.

This survey is confidential: ORC International, an independent research company is conducting the survey on behalf of the University to ensure complete confidentiality. All surveys go directly back to ORC International. No one at the University will see any individual’s responses and no names will be entered at any point. 

The results of any individual questions will only be reported in groups of at least 10.  For example: if you are the only male colleague in your team of 10 and everyone replies, then we won’t receive a report on how opinions differ by gender in that team. However, we would like you to still answer the questions so that we can look at gender differences across the University or by College or campus.

Or, if you are in a team of 20 and only 9 reply, then results won’t be released for your team in isolation, but instead will report at College/Service level only so that the voices aren’t lost. Questions on equality and diversity issues will only be reported at University-wide level. 

Answers to some of the questions will be regarded as personal data. This Privacy Policy tells you how ORC International keeps personal data safe and who to contact to exercise your rights of control.

The Employee Engagement Survey is the best way to have your say about working here and will show strength of feeling of colleagues on key issues. Involvement from all colleagues across every area of the University’s business is vital to the survey’s success and means your views will be listened to. The survey covers your role at the University; career and personal development; pay, reward and recognition; your manager, and the senior management in your department or service; VCEG; and your experience of change. We’ll be able to see if you feel there have been improvements or whether some areas feel worse by comparing results with the 2016 survey. We will use the data from the survey to identify other areas to improve and we will be working with you to find solutions

2018 has seen some exceptional pressures across our University community; by working together we can find solutions to help us thrive. We know that there is more we can do together to take action and support our community and bring our shared values to the fore. The survey is a major way of finding out how our values are being demonstrated through the way we behave, the way we communicate and the way we work.

The project group established to oversee delivery of the 2018 survey includes representatives from People Services, Exeter IT, Communications and Marketing (including Market Research expertise), PPBI and ORC our agreed survey provider.

They scrutinised all the questions in the main body of the questionnaire to ensure they will make sense, reflect our pressing issues, and will lead to actions. We will use the same response scale and the same themes for core questions as the 2016 survey to give useful comparison. There is an increased emphasis on wellbeing among other amends to make the results more meaningful. All Colleges and Services were given the option of adding questions about local issues, including repeating the questions from the last survey in 2016.

A programme of consultation on the main question set took place between June - August 2018 involving the PWE Board, Professor Michelle Ryan, TU leads, Equality and Diversity teams and Provost Commission.

  • The University has carried out regular staff surveys since 2005. 
  • We know that since the last survey we have seen some exceptional pressures across our University community including industrial action over the USS pension. The sector is changing with increased competition and uncertainty. All of this may affect how employees feel about the University and their role within it.
  • We know that there is more we can do together to take action and support our community and bring our shared values to the fore.
  • It is a formal and insightful way to listen to the views of colleagues. 
  • It holds a mirror up to the University as an employer and the workplace as an environment.
  • The results show patterns and trends. We will use the data to identify areas to improve and we will be working with you to find solutions.
  • Data can help inform choices and strategy wisely and help customise approaches to suit different staff groups, or areas.
  • The results help to prioritise actions and resources where they are most needed.

The survey explores employee 'engagement' and 'satisfaction'. We are not just interested in overall satisfaction and happiness with your current job and conditions, but also in how you engage with the University, how involved you feel, and how you feel about particular values, policies and practice. 

When defining engagement, academic research tend to stress the individual and the job, and there are several different models of engagement. For this survey we are using Schaufeli’s model (2002) who describes engagement as ‘a positive, fulfilling, work –related state of mind’ characterised by:

  • Vigour - high levels of energy and mental resilience while working, the willingness to invest effort in one’s work and persistence in adversity.
  • Dedication - being strongly involved in one’s work and experiencing a sense of significance, enthusiasm, inspiration, pride and challenge.
  • Absorption - being fully concentrated and engrossed in one’s work where time passes.

All colleagues holding a contract of employment with the University of Exeter will be eligible to complete the survey and there is no minimum length of service criteria. The survey is not suitable for temporary staff bank employees and leavers from 14 October onwards. 

Since 2016 action has been taken in teams, departments, colleges and services. We’ve highlighted these in Weekly Bulletin and Team Brief.  Across the University, work steered by the Positive Working Environment board has been making improvements in five themed areas: stress / wellbeing, VCEG, personal and career development, change and space – see more on this online. More than 300 actions in total were logged after the last survey. http://www.exeter.ac.uk/staffsurvey/universitywideactions/

There are 68 core questions; it should take around 20 minutes to complete.  We will use the same response scale and the same themes for core questions as the 2016 survey to give meaningful comparison. The survey covers your role at the University, career and personal development, pay, reward and recognition, your manager, the senior management in your department or service, VCEG and your experience of change. 

There is an increased emphasis on wellbeing among other amends to make the results more meaningful. All Colleges and Services were given the option of adding questions about local issues, including repeating the questions from the last survey in 2016. 

While the survey is open

Completion rates will be published online and in Weekly Bulletin each Monday while the survey is open. There are prizes of hampers for the first team and first College / Service to get 100% completion. 

These slides show the breakdown of colleges and services into departments or teams that will be used in the survey: Employee Engagement Survey Structure.  Campus location will also be asked.  If you are a Professional Services colleague please locate yourself in your professional home service, even if you work in a College and consider that to be your team. 

Results are reviewed at all levels and inform our strategy in teams, departments, colleges and services, and University-wide. Towards the end of January the University-wide results will be presented at a VCEG meeting and then shared with all colleagues. Results for colleges and services will be sent to senior teams at the same time, for discussion and cascade. This year verbatim comments will be shared internally at the same time as the results of the survey’s questions. These anonymous comments will therefore be read by VCEG, the PWE Board and the senior teams in colleges and services. They won’t go online.   

Be assured that the data is confidential and cannot be traced back to an individual.  

Answers to some of the questions will be regarded as personal data. This Privacy Policy tells you how ORC International keeps personal data safe and who to contact to exercise your rights of control.

The results data will be used to generate reports to inform plans and decision-making in key areas internally at the University over the next few years. The data will be used extensively by the Positive Working Environment Board, and also by HRBPs and colleagues working in change management, wellbeing, and learning and development amongst other areas, who will be trained to extract reports from the system.  Colleges and services will be encouraged to use the results in plans and local decision making.

We’ll be supporting local hospices (split between Exeter and Cornwall), foodbanks (split between Exeter and Penryn) and Cancer Research by donating £1 for each survey completed. These charities were chosen by colleagues – 594 votes were case to whittle a longlist of local, national and international charities that the University has links with.  

When we complete our Engagement Survey we can then choose where the donation goes, rather like putting a token in a box in a supermarket.  

After the survey

When the survey closes the completion rates and amount raised for charity will be shared.  

The release of results and follow up action planning will start in January 2019. This allows the project team and survey provider sufficient time to process the responses and prepare the statistics and presentations, incorporating verbatim comments, whilst allowing for the Christmas closure. The Vice Chancellor’s Executive Group will look at University level results in late January. In line with previous years, the results will be sent to the Trade Unions slightly ahead of the all-staff communication via Weekly Bulletin and/or email. 

Once again we wish to encourage ownership of issues at the level where there is a vested interest in achieving them and where staff are best placed to carry them forward. Colleges and Services will begin analysing their results in January 2019 and prepare for action planning workshops in February to look at both successes and areas for improvement and the underlying issues and explore options.

University-wide themes that have a broad impact across the University will be identified by the Positive Working Environment board after the results are released in January. A special planning summit with PWE board members, union representatives, a cross section of colleagues and our internal experts in theme areas will take place in March 2019. 

All of these discussions and action plans will then feed into local and University-wide plans.