Key themes from the 2016 Employee Engagement Survey 

Message from the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, 19 December 2016

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, our biennial Employee Engagement Survey was carried out in November, and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to complete a copy of the survey.

The final response rate was 73%, which means we have a sound body of views on which to take meaningful action – it also means that together we raised £3,306 for charity, which is a fantastic achievement.

This year’s survey was a fresh start for us as we moved from the 2014 job satisfaction survey to one measuring employee engagement. We made this change as we are not simply interested in how satisfied and happy you are with your current job and conditions, but also because we want to understand more about how you engage with the University, how involved you feel, and how you feel about our values, policies, and practices.

Along with my colleagues in the Vice-Chancellors’ Executive Group (VCEG), I have been looking at the first themes to emerge from the survey results. I wanted to share these with you so you are also aware of what these initial themes are telling us.

The initial emerging themes show we are performing well in the following areas, where colleagues said they:

  • have good working relationships
  • are proud to work at the University and are committed to the strategic aims of the University
  • are satisfied with the benefits they receive, and
  • receive constructive feedback and are encouraged to look at new ways of working.

Improvements could be made in the following areas where colleagues said they:

  •  feel able to voice opinions, though are not clear how it influences ways of working
  •  are yet to see the benefits of change
  •  are not all working sustainably
  •  thought that although VCEG sets out a clear vision, there is a need for more connection and visibility. 

A time-line of the activity, including when results will be shared, is detailed below:

  • Mid-January 2017 – Results issued to Colleges/Services.
  • February - Colleges/Services run results cascade and action planning workshops for all colleagues in their areas.
  • February – Groups that look at cross-University themes are formed to further explore the results and create action plans.
  • March to Easter - Discipline/Department/teams create their action plans.
  • April  - Action plans are collated.
  • May – We will be looking for your input in focus groups on University-wide themes that have arisen.
  • May onwards - Communication of action plans and next steps.

Progress will be monitored by me, and senior colleagues, and we will share regular updates through Team Brief, the Weekly Bulletin and within Colleges/Services.

As we approach the end of 2016, I would like to thank each of you for all your hard work this year. I would also like to thank you for the continued dedication and commitment you show day in, day out, to make the exceptional happen here at the University. 

I hope you have a relaxing festive break and send all good wishes to each of you for 2017.

With best wishes,


Professor Sir Steve Smith

Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive

University of Exeter