VC Notes Archive Office of the Vice Chancellor
Friday, October 13, 2017

Are We Engaged?

Good morning!

Today I’ll discuss the results of our 2017 Employee Engagement Survey.

The survey is a wonderful tool that provides us with answers to a simple question: “Is UMMC a great place to work?”

vc_employee_engage.jpgFirst of all, we couldn’t begin to answer that question if we didn’t have hard data that provides confidential information about how employees really feel.  That’s why we've been making such a big to-do about this survey the last couple of years.  Without the data it provides, we would be flying blind in our attempts to improve at all levels of the organization.

So the most important thing I can say today is THANK YOU for taking the time and effort to respond to the survey. 

Now that we have two successive years of survey results for the entire organization, the picture of where we are in our much-anticipated journey toward the upper echelon of similar institutions is coming into sharper focus.

As you might expect, the answer to the question above is not a simple yes or no, at least at this point.  Since I’m a “look on the bright side” kind of person, I see it as a two-part answer.

1. We have a lot to be encouraged about.  2. We have a pretty clear idea of what we need to work on.

First, a few encouraging things.

Our participation rate is outstanding.  Our 81 percent rate from this last year is seven points higher than the national average for such surveys and four points higher than our rate for 2016. 

To me this suggests you believe we will pay attention to the results of the survey and work on areas that need improvement.  And we will.  This year we plan to spend much more time and effort working on responding to the survey and implementing actions plans at the unit level.  You will be hearing more about that during the next few months.

Our overall engagement is slightly improved, from 3.87 to 3.92, with 5 being the highest (and best) level of engagement.  This score moved us from the 11th to the 16th percentile among academic medical centers. 

Even though these results fall short of “great,” in my mind, the fact that they are moving in the right direction is a win.  We all know last year was tough.  The financial challenge of the spring was still fresh in our minds when we took this survey and lingers today with continued tight budgets.  I’m encouraged we made progress on engagement despite this experience. 

Your responses to these two statements in particular made me feel we are on the right track.

I would like to be working here three years from now.

I am proud to tell people I work for this organization.

Aggregate responses to both were over 4 – meaning agreement – and the percentage of respondents who disagreed was in the low single digits for both questions. I've always been proud to work here and I hope others feel the same way.

The biggest improvements overall were seen in manager-employee relationships.  Employees generally felt their managers are good communicators, care about their job satisfaction and provide useful feedback.  All of these scores were around 4, reflected significant gains over the last survey, and had relatively low unfavorable responses. 

To me, one of the most interesting aspects of the survey revolved around respect.  There’s a large gap between how respectfully employees perceive they are treated by their manager, as opposed to respect coming from the organization.

The item, “The person I report to treats me with respect,” had one of the highest favorable scores in the survey, 4.30, a significant increase over last year, and with very few unfavorable responses.  I think this is great.

On the other hand, “This organization treats employees with respect” had a relatively low score of 3.61, only a smidge better than last year, and 13 percent of respondents viewed this statement unfavorably.

Clearly, I don’t think we have cracked the code for adequately demonstrating the respect we have for our employees at the institutional level.  Various groups spent a considerable amount of time working on this after the last survey and implemented wonderful ideas; perhaps that effort is showing up at the manager level.  This is something we must keep working on and it will continue to be a priority.

Equally concerning, the statement “This organization makes employees in my work unit want to go above and beyond” got an even lower engagement score of 3.28 and a 25 percent unfavorable response.  Although this item showed significant improvement over the last survey, it’s still not what we would want to see from an organization aspiring to one day achieve upper-tier status among AMCs. 

Other areas that need attention and work: too many employees feel their suggestions are not seriously considered – this was one of the few items with a significantly lower score than last time – and too many employees believe they are under-resourced in their attempts to provide the best care or service.  These concerns need to be addressed, along with employee perceptions of fair pay, job security and the quality of care UMMC provides.

On the bright side, perceptions of our commitment to diversity, a UMMC core value, were generally favorable with scores around 4.  And UMMC Holmes County Hospital continues to be the brightest star in the UMMC galaxy, ranking at the 95th percentile with an overall engagement score of 4.44.  Whatever you are doing in Lexington, I hope we can bottle it and serve it in our other locations!

All in all, I’m satisfied that we are on the right track with employee engagement.  The surveys are giving us the information we need to direct our efforts.  But change takes time. We have to be persistent and focus our attention and limited resources where they can do the most good.  And that’s precisely what we will do, on our journey to A Healthier Mississippi.

Follow me on Twitter @LAWoodwardMD