Dalhousie introduces new "Your Voice" workplace survey

- November 5, 2019

Employees are invited to take the Your Voice workplace survey this month.
Employees are invited to take the Your Voice workplace survey this month.

On Monday (November 4), faculty and staff were invited to take part in a new workplace survey called Your Voice. The university wants to learn more about the way employees experience work at Dal, from teaching to research to administration and everything in between.

The Your Voice survey will be shorter, contain fewer personal health questions, and will provide leaders with more data and recommendations.

“This survey was developed just for Dal to help us better understand the needs of our faculty and staff,” says Jasmine Walsh, assistant vice-president, Human Resources. “We held consultation sessions with leaders and employees on campus in the summer to help us understand what we need from our survey.”

The survey was emailed to employees (faculty and staff, 50% FTE or greater) from Narrative Research, a third-party survey provider, on November 4 and will be open until November 18. If employees do not receive the survey, and want to participate, contact YourVoice@dal.ca and a survey link can be arranged.

The survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete and can be saved and completed later. No individual information will be shared with, or reported to, Dalhousie.

“We want to know how we are doing. Once we do, we will work with faculty and staff to improve the experience of employment at Dalhousie,” adds Walsh. “We appreciate everyone taking the time to complete the survey, and we want to assure employees that all feedback will be heard and discussed, with a commitment to act on the results.”

Anyone who completes the survey will have the option to be entered to win prizes, including gift cards to the University Bookstore and Tim Horton’s, a pair of Beats wireless headphones, 2,500 Air Miles donated by Johnson Insurance, and the grand prize of a reserved parking space in the Dunn Building parking lot.

During the survey campaign, Ol’ School Donuts will visit each of the campuses and provide faculty and staff with some special, free treats. Employees are asked to bring their Dal cards to identify themselves.

  • November 6, 10-11 a.m. Sexton Campus, across from IDEA Building
  • November 7, 10-11 a.m. Agricultural Campus, MacRae Library Parking Lot
  • November 13, 10-11 a.m., Carleton Campus, entrance to Dentistry Building
  • November 14, 10-11 a.m., Studley Campus, Killam loop (lower Quad), University Avenue

Progress made since 2017

We know from our last workplace survey conducted in 2017 that 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 reported experiencing challenges with physical fitness, and they would like to see more career advancement opportunities and a more respectful workplace. In response to the results:

Move More fitness membership - Dal introduced a Move More fitness membership last spring to provide faculty and staff with a free six-month membership to any of the fitness facilities on campus – Dalplex, Sexton Gym and the Langille Athletic Centre (Truro).

Respectful Workplace toolkit - The university launched a Respectful Workplace toolkit that is available on the DalSafe app that provides faculty and staff access to supports and resources to respond to issues of disrespect, incivility and harassment in their workplaces. A career development program is currently under development and will be launched soon.

Workplace Wellness grants program - A Workplace Wellness grants program was introduced by Human Resources to help departments and faculties fund projects that promote workplace wellness for their faculty and staff through events, projects, applied research or enhancements of existing initiatives. Nine applications were funded in 2019-2020 for a total of $25,000 in funding, including – Centre for Collaborative Clinical Learning and Research; Faculties of Agriculture, Computer Science, Dentistry, Health, Management, Science; Security Services and School of Occupational Therapy.

Shining examples

Progress on the survey results would not be possible without the hard work that has been done and is currently underway at the department and faculty-level. The Faculty of Dentistry and the Financial Services department are two examples of areas on campus that evaluated their survey results and developed innovative action plans to move them forward.

“Dal’s 2017 Quality of Work Life survey was an important catalyst for us,” says Ben Davis, dean, Faculty of Dentistry. “Concerns that were specific to our Faculty were raised and we wanted to address them.”

The Faculty decided to bring in an external consultant and create a working group, including faculty members, dental assistants, human resources, the dental lab, instrument sterilization, and administrative staff.  They looked at the health and workplace culture of the Faculty and explored ways of making it better. As a result, Dentistry developed a set of five guiding principles for everyone who works in the Faculty, which are displayed on large posters throughout the Dentistry Building.

“We have also created guidelines for annual performance conversations and come up with ways to improve the workflow between units,” adds Dr. Davis. “The work of the group will continue, and I am urging everyone in our Faculty to complete this year’s Your Voice survey so that we know where to direct future efforts.”  

The Financial Services department also reviewed its 2017 survey results and identified two key areas for improvement: management communication and workload. To dig deeper, the leaders within the department engaged their staff through a departmental survey, focus groups and a town hall to learn more about their specific concerns.

With the help of the Human Resources team, Financial Services developed action plans specific to its areas of focus. As a result, the department offered staff more support and coaching, including Difficult Conversations training for everyone. In addition, the department submitted a nomination for the Healthy Workplace Award and received a Healthy Workplace Kudo for their random acts of kindness program. A health and safety committee was created, a walking initiative was a huge hit, and their social committee was re-established.

“While there is more work to do, we are proud of the progress we’ve made to date, and we are very interested to see the Your Voice survey results,” says Susan Robertson, assistant vice-president of Finance Services. “The survey gives us the opportunity to engage with our staff based on their feedback and really open up the channels of communication.”

Your Voice survey details

The Your Voice survey results will be available in January and will be shared with the university community. The institutional summary report will be accessible on the HR website and leaders of each faculty and large administrative department (greater than 20 respondents) will receive their own results, as they did with previous workplace surveys.

Paper copies of the survey will be available in the Human Resources Office, Room 150, Henry Hicks Building.

If you have questions about the survey, please visit dal.ca/YourVoice or send questions to YourVoice@dal.ca.


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