Updated workplace survey arrives

The 2008 Yale workplace survey was released this week. It was only 550 days late.

The workplace survey — which administrators hope will garner a response from at least 75 percent of Yale’s more than 9,000 staff members by the end of the month — asks employees to rate statements on subjects ranging from workplace diversity to job happiness. Both paper and online versions of the document were released Monday, and at least 1,600 people have responded so far, Yale officials said.

In announcing the survey, University President Richard Levin implored Yale employees to participate “as we want, and need, your feedback,” as he put it.

There was only one problem: the survey arrived 1½ years later than the University had promised it would.

The survey was originally distributed to the Yale community in 2005, when the University was still reeling from the fallout of a union labor strike on campus two years earlier. At the time, administrators promised the survey would be administered every two years.

Deborah Stanley-McAulay, who supervised the effort and on Monday was named Yale’s chief diversity officer, said the survey was pushed back a year because it conflicted with other University initiatives. One administrator, who requested anonymity because the administrator is not authorized to speak about internal deliberations, said the delay resulted because Yale officials were waiting for Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Michael Peel to take office last month before releasing the survey.

Peel, for his part, said the University wanted to distribute the survey as soon as possible to jump start the planning of new University employee initiatives.

“[The survey] provides a wide range of very helpful information on how employees view their workplace, things we do well, things we could of better as we strive to continuously improve this organization,” Peel said.

Both the 2005 and 2008 surveys feature statements that employees must evaluate according to a five-point scale. This year’s survey differs from the 2005 version, however, as administrators altered the language of certain statements and cut others.

In particular, union-related statements were written with a more positive slant than when the survey was last conducted, and certain themes from the first survey — such as customer service and job security — were removed.

Statement 65 of the 2005 survey asked employees to evaluate a statement: “Labor relations between Yale and the Union seem to be changing.” By comparison, for statement 9 in the 2008 survey, survey writers added the phrase “for the better,” to read: “Labor relations between Yale University and its Unions seem to be changing for the better.”

But it is also possible that the focus on labor relations have become less important.

Statement 52 in the 2005 survey read: “Fostering a strong sense of cooperation between the union leadership and management is critical to the future success of the University.” But for statement 29 in the 2008 survey, administrators changed the word “critical” to “important,” ostensibly decreasing the stress on that relationship. It also replaced the phrase “Fostering a strong sense of cooperation” with simply “Cooperation” to read: “Cooperation between Yale University and its Unions is important to the future success of the University.”

Stanley-McAulay said in response to questions about these changes that the rephrasing of the statements reflected the “strengthening” relationship between the school and its union workers. (Neither the Local 34 nor Local 35 presidents returned multiple requests for comment.)

She said that changes were made to ensure the survey was “streamlined and integrated.” Stanley-McAulay also said certain focuses in the last survey, like customer service, were removed from the current survey due to pertinence. “It feels like the right subset of questions this time around,” she said.

Peel said this year’s survey results will be analyzed and announced by the end of December.

Comments

  • qwerty2

    I know of only 7 people who have received the survey, out of almost 200 employees in my department. I would imagine Yale is going for the very random sampling approach.