Staying engaged during a pandemic

The university recently issued a survey to gauge engagement and our community’s thoughts on a variety of questions related to the pandemic and changes in how we are working. Our college was provided with information about how our own staff and faculty responded, and I want to share some details of both with you.

On engagement, across a range of engaged, almost engaged, indifferent and disengaged, we learned that within the CoM, respondents said that 88.4% of them are either engaged (68.5%) or almost engaged (19.9%), compared to all USask respondents at 86.4% either engaged (67.4%) or almost engaged (19%). Those who indicated indifference came in at 7.2%  for the CoM and 7.1% for USask, and those considered disengaged were at 4.5% for the CoM compared to 6.5% for USask.

Generally, especially considering the pandemic, these are encouraging results.

For the USask as a whole, the survey shows respondents have significant pride in their work, and a significant majority (more than 80%) feel they contribute to the success of their department. They like their job and working here, are committed to the organization and are proud of the work USask does across study, research and other areas.

Significant numbers of people (more than 60%) indicated they did not feel ready to return to the workplace. Many also indicated they would like a return that involves more time and flexibility around working from home. Ensuring those working from home have the tools and financial supports in place to support their work was mentioned, as was getting more information and being more proactive about reopening plans, how that will work and what measures will be in place for safety. Some want Zoom access for teaching because they feel it is a superior tool. Others asked for more training in online teaching and using online tools.

The significant takeaways from the survey included that the engagement levels are good, especially in the current context; our people have supported the university in its response to COVID-19 and appreciate the priority USask has placed on health and safety; those on campus generally feel safe at 81%; and there has been good communications frequency regarding the organization’s pandemic response.

People would like more context for decisions and actions; understanding why is important. Many would like more detail on how specific actions and measures will be implemented. For those eager to get back to campus, there is a need to determine acceptable ways to do so, as there is in continuing to allow those who prefer to work remotely to do so.

What does more and more flexible working from home mean in practice for space, students, and faculty and staff? How do we provide more specific, regular and meaningful information regarding impacts of COVID-19 on people’s work? These are some of the questions that have come out of the survey responses, and are being looked at, at university and college levels.

Further work currently underway includes human resource practices relating to remote working policies and processes. For this fall and beyond, there may be further surveys to establish benchmarks and evaluate trends as the school year unfolds and the pandemic continues. I encourage all on our team to respond and share your thoughts through surveys, directly to your supervisors and colleagues, and of course by responding to this blog.

As always, I am happy to hear from you.