August 01, 2011

Changes taking place as a result of 2010 climate survey

When the overall results of UAB’s first Faculty and Staff Climate Survey came in at the end of 2010, they showed that UAB exceeded the higher education norm in 20 out of the 24 items for which a norm is available.


UAB faculty and staff gave a 90 percent ranking to the question, “I find my work interesting,” compared to the national norm of 82 percent and the higher education norm of 81 percent.

Employees also posted positive scores on two questions regarding overall satisfaction, ranking “I am satisfied with my job” at 76 percent compared to the national norm of 74 percent and higher education norm of 72 percent. Faculty and staff also gave a 76 percent ranking to “I would proudly recommend UAB as a good place to work,” compared to the national norm of 72 percent and the higher education norm of 63 percent.

The survey, administered Sept. 21-Oct. 4, 2010, by HR Solutions Inc., also revealed that UAB has the opportunity to improve with regard to providing more opportunities to faculty and staff for development, growth and reward, said Chief Human Resources Officer Alesia Jones. More than 3,450 faculty and staff participated.

As detailed results at the school and administrative unit became available, Human Resources (HR) representatives held meetings with deans and vice presidents to discuss their unit-level results, interpret their meanings and begin developing plans to further make improvements.

“We have had very positive meetings with every dean and vice president about the survey results,” says Jones. “They’ve all been pleased with the areas they rated high, and they are enthusiastic about focusing on opportunities for improvement.”

UAB President Carol Garrison says the decision to conduct the survey, and the work since then, are important in the context of a shared commitment to the strategic goal of making UAB a place where all faculty and staff can excel.

“We wanted to know how faculty and staff felt about working at UAB, and we wanted to identify areas in which we could improve, so we asked,” Garrison says. “This type of survey is considered a best practice by many of our peer academic medical centers and research universities, and it’s been gratifying to see it lead to positive results here.”

In the coming weeks, the UAB Reporter will share some of the results of the survey and highlight areas where improvements and changes are under way. 

New system in development

Human Resources is one of the offices making changes as a result of the survey; one of them addresses future prospects for promotion — the implementation, within the next 12 months, of a learning management system (LMS) for the university.

The system will give employees access to online and in-classroom training. Employees will have the ability to register for the class online. Those who register for online classes will have the flexibility of taking the class when it’s convenient to them. Those who prefer to register to attend scheduled in-person classes with Training & Development will continue to have that option, as well. One of the primary goals of the LMS  is to give faculty and staff access to the training and development they need to prepare for potential career advancement.

“Some people are finding it harder and harder to get away to go to training classes,” Jones says. “The online component will give employees more opportunity and flexibility to be able to continue their professional development. This is a key factor in helping them be more prepared for promotions.”

Jones also says the online component is being added because many areas of the organization are doing more with less due to budget restraints. Types of training will include computer software, professional development and leadership courses, and will be available to all faculty and staff. Leadership training courses also will be available online, she says.

“If you’re in a new leadership role and you’ve never had to do a performance evaluation, you don’t have to wait until the next class is offered,” Jones says. “You can go online and take that class and learn to do performance evaluations immediately. I think classes like this will help to make our managers better prepared to be more effective leaders.”

HR also implemented some changes prior to the climate survey that address the topic of career advancement and promotion with the creation of a new job portal. This portal gives UAB employees the opportunity to view job opportunities before external candidates. Jobs that require UAB-specific skills or experience, or jobs that need to be filled with an internal promotion, are posted first on the BrassRing internal gateway for a minimum of three days. This enables UAB employees to apply for the job opportunity before it is posted for viewing by external candidates.