Connected: Healthy employees and workplaces achieving success together

- June 22, 2017

Dalhousie’s faculty and staff take pride in their work, have an increased trust in their leaders and believe that the university has made progress with diversity and inclusiveness on campus. However, they are experiencing challenges with physical fitness and they would like to see more career advancement opportunities and a more respectful workplace.

Those are just some of this year’s highlights from the 2017 Quality of Work Life (QWL) Survey that are now available to the Dal community.

In an email to faculty/staff, President Richard Florizone thanked those who participated in this year's survey.

"Great organizations are built around great people, and Dalhousie is no exception," he said. "It takes all of us, together, to make Dalhousie a great workplace."

The university conducted its latest workplace survey earlier this spring, which connects employees’ health and the workplace. This was the fifth workplace survey the university has done since 2009, but only the second using the QWL model.

“It takes a holistic approach, one that recognizes the relationship between employees’ health and their engagement with their work. This impacts the total health of the organization,” says Jasmine Walsh, assistant vice-president of Human Resources. “It provides us with valuable insight into what we’re doing well and what we need to work on to achieve a healthier workplace.”

View the full report: Dal’s 2017 QWL Survey [PDF] [log-in required]

The survey, conducted by Morneau Shepell, was distributed to all full-time/part-time faculty and staff (50 per cent FTE or greater) from April 18 to May 5. It was strictly confidential and no personally identifiable information was shared.

While it was a lower response rate (25 percent) than the 2015 survey (37 percent), more than 900 employees completed the survey with 22 percent of the respondents identifying in an academic role and 77 percent identifying in an administrative role.

“We strongly believe in the value of our survey and are collecting feedback to help us understand the lower response rate,” adds Walsh. “While there are great benefits for individuals to gain insights into their own health and for us to get an analysis of our overall workplace health, it’s how the two are interconnected that is vital.”

A closer look

Compared to the 2015 survey, some results stayed consistently high including employee pride, while others saw improvement. Eighty-two percent of employees say they are proud to work for Dalhousie; they view their workplace embracing and valuing diversity (84 percent); believe discrimination and harassment at work are now handled more fairly (59 percent); and noted an increase in trust in senior leaders (68 percent).

Recommended areas of focus include employees’ physical activity (26 percent), career advancement (36 percent) and the university as a respectful workplace (68 percent).

The survey results are centred around what’s called the university’s “Total Health Index (THI),” an overall score given to Dal compared to other Canadian employers. The university’s score is 66 percent, an improvement from 63 percent in 2015.

Three levels of action

The QWL survey process provides results across three levels of the organization – individual, departmental and institutional.

Each employee completing the survey received their own individual assessment based on four pillars – physical, mental, life and work. This confidential personal report gave scores in each area, recommendations for individual action and suggested resources for further learning.

Senior leaders of each faculty and large administrative department that has sufficient participation (greater than 20 respondents) will receive this summer their own results from the QWL survey. This is so they can better understand what employees want to see continue or change in their workplace, with Human Resources helping them develop action plans specific to their areas of focus.

In 2016, Human Resources introduced the university’s first Work Well strategy [PDF] with a goal of improving employees’ overall health. This strategy will continue to guide and shape the university’s wellness activities. “With this round of survey results in hand, we will tailor our efforts to focus on the three areas identified to give the most impact: mental health, physical health and workplace culture,” says Janice MacInnis, Manager, Organizational Health.

Learn more

All faculty and staff are invited to learn more about the survey results by attending the QWL Survey Results Presentation on Tuesday, June 27, 2 – 3 p.m., Theatre A, Tupper Building, Carleton Campus. Jasmine Walsh, Assistant Vice-President, Human Resources, and a representative from Morneau Shepell will provide an overview of the broad spectrum of results. The presentation will be webcast [] for those who are unable to attend in person.

Human Resources would like to hear from you about the QWL survey to better understand why this year’s survey had a lower response rate. If you would like to provide your feedback please send it in confidence to


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