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In a good place, on the way to great

MSU Denver is using results from the 2017 employee campus-climate survey to continuously improve.

August 9, 2018

Close up of campus sign on Auraria CampusFramed by the core values of CADRE, Metropolitan State University of Denver is serious about becoming a top employment location – not just regionally but nationwide.

“We’re in a good place, working on our goal of becoming great,” said Myron Anderson, associate to the president for diversity. “And since 2010, we’ve been able to use the information from the campus-climate survey to establish, confirm and address trends affecting the entire community.”

Key survey findings

This is the third time MSU Denver has participated in an employee survey, building on data sets from 2010 and 2013. Data were collected from February through March 2017 by ModernThink, a research partner contributing to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Great Colleges to Work For.” The survey measured 60 core belief statements that underscore key institutional benchmarks across 15 dimensions.

Anderson noted the increased response rate compared with the 2013 iteration, with 46 percent of all employees participating.

Of the statements contained within, 42 showed improvements of 5 percent or more, while only three showed a regression of the same margin. Notably, responses to the prompt “All things considered, this is a great place to work” improved from 62 percent positive in 2013 to 70 percent in 2017.

Commitment to the University’s mission, the impact on students and the positive influence in the community remain particular points of pride for employees.

Among University bodies using the data are the Hispanic-Serving Institution task force, the Budget Task Force and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The results are also being used to inform thinking across each of the President’s Advisory Councils.

How survey results are being used

The next steps for using the information from the survey include further decentralization to improve access and strategic area-specific implementation.

“We’re continually using the information to inform the work we do,” Anderson said. “It also sets us up to do a deeper dive, with cross-tabulations looking at factors like race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation and more. We can use that to address both systemic and individual issues – it all goes back to creating a positive institutional climate.”

Anderson also noted that transparency and communication were central tenets to ensure that data are open and applicable. Results have been presented to the Board of Trustees and the President’s Cabinet and are available for public viewing online via the link above.

“We want people to have usable data at their fingertips,” Anderson said. “And though we’re not quite there yet, we’re all committed to helping everyone at MSU Denver improve the climate we work in.”

This is also integral to the inclusive-leadership process, which brings diverse voices to discussions to ensure better solutions.

“Together as senior leadership, we are driving the process to co-create an Inclusive Leadership Initiative to empower others to make decisions where appropriate,” said Cathy Lucas, chief of staff and vice president of strategy.

Responding to employee feedback

Survey findings also informed the recent expansion of tuition benefits as well as the move to institute parental and medical leave and to allow employees to roll over sick time year to year, said George Middlemist, interim vice president for Administration, Finance and Facilities.

MSU Denver has partnered with a consulting firm to review the University’s current staff salary structure, looking at how specific positions are compensated in comparison to similar positions within peer institutions and the private sector.

A second firm is helping the University review other creative ways to improve employee engagement and satisfaction outside of compensation increases and expanded leave time.

“We’ll get recommendations from both of those studies to see what we can implement to make it better to be a Roadrunner,” Middlemist said. “Some of the efforts will have to be at the unit level because they know best what is valuable for their team. Sometimes it will be a group effort.”

A smaller snapshot “Pulse” version of the survey is slated to deploy in 2019; also, results from a separate student-experience climate survey are available here.

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