WE SPEAK survey set to roll out in New Year

Your voice matters at Western – and a great opportunity to have your say is coming soon.

Starting in the New Year, the university is set to deliver the WE SPEAK Faculty and Staff Survey 2020, which runs Jan. 28-Feb. 14, and is designed to measure workplace culture and employee engagement.

Western employees will receive an email from Metrics@Work containing a link to the survey and a unique password. This password ensures each individual takes the survey only once. For accessibility needs, paper copies will also be available during that time in Human Resources.

The survey will take about 20 minutes to complete and contains questions about both work engagement and organizational engagement.

The survey is confidential and optional. Western will not receive any results that identify individual responses – only group reports for a team, department or faculty.

Survey results are used to benefit local work areas as well as Western as a whole. For example, Western has used results from 2012 and 2017 surveys to explore and improve wellness and health programming, funding of continued learning, employee recognition programs and more.

For instance, Living Well @ Western has expanded in recent years to offer more free lunch hour wellness classes, as well as onsite wellness breaks.

Cathy Thorpe, Research Associate/ Manager of the Centre for Studies in Family Medicine, brought Living Well Coordinator Adam Craig in for weekly stretch breaks. Cathy’s academic background/research and her own experience with health/illness has led her to recognize that even short wellness breaks can have a positive impact on health and well-being.

“A 15-minute stretch session can really make a difference. It gives people a small break, gets them out of their office, and helps them recharge physically and mentally. I believe these sessions benefit the participants as well as others who gain from having more focused, energized teammates. We’ve expanded on what Adam offers; we facilitate yoga-style mindful stretching once a week, too, and have given meditation a try.”

While WE SPEAK results can spur Western-wide changes, the most impact happens locally.

Typically, departments or faculties discuss local results with their teams, identify areas for celebration, and areas where improvement is possible. Many departments/faculties then hold town-hall meetings to promote discussion of the results, allowing deeper insight into concerns or ideas for change and growth. Some departments have formed WE ACT committees or working groups to review ideas, and recommend or plan action.

In 2017, Western’s WORLDiscoveries team used WE SPEAK results to identify areas of pride, as well as three areas where they wanted to improve. They partnered with Western Human Resources who facilitated three separate sessions for the team over three years. They focused on three goals – better internal communication within World Discoveries, better communication with the broader Research Western, and on innovation and continuous improvement.

Lisa Cechetto, WORLDiscoveries Executive Director, says her team’s work is continuing, and big changes do not happen overnight.

“Once people see some tangible results, and learn there are no negative consequences for sharing their concerns, things can start to happen,” she said. “It’s about shifting the culture over time.”

Western Engineering has also put WE SPEAK results to good use since the first survey in 2012.

The faculty formed working groups on communication, mentorship and work/life balance.

Andy Hrymak, Provost and Vice-President (Academic), was Dean of Engineering for both the 2012 and 2017 surveys. He says the university continues to use the survey results as part of academic and budget planning discussions, because faculties are asked to comment on actions they have taken and changes made in response to their survey results.

“There are actionable items in the survey results,” Hrymak said. “The input we receive from our faculty and staff members is valuable. That’s why it is important to encourage as many people as possible to participate in this survey to ensure the results are as meaningful and as informed as possible. It can make Western a better place for all.”

As WORLDiscoveries’ Cechetto says, WE SPEAK is a “great opportunity to get feedback that can be used as a foundation to celebrate what we’re doing well and to explore opportunities to make it even better.”