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Staff Survey: 87 Percent Report Job Satisfaction

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2008 results identify strengths, areas for improvement

Although 87 percent of Dartmouth employees report satisfaction with their present jobs, the 2008 Staff Survey reveals three key areas for improvement: communication, decision making, and opportunities for professional development and advancement.

"Staff are critical to Dartmouth's success in educating future leaders," says President James Wright. "I would like to thank the employees who participated and gave us such useful feedback."

Traci Nordberg

More than 51 percent of regular administrative and staff employees-1,742 out of 3,399-participated in the survey conducted in May 2008 by the firm Resource Systems Group Inc. (RSG).

 "We feel very strongly that it's important to have methods in place to listen to employees' concerns. Conducting this survey regularly is one way we do that," says Traci Nordberg, chief human resources officer. "The 2008 survey measures the results of our response to the initial 2006 RSG survey and to the McKinsey report of 2006 as well."

"I was pleased to see that the survey results reflect progress in many of the areas where we directed our efforts following the 2006 survey," says Wright. "The staff's well-being and morale is also tremendously important to our sense of community, and I've asked senior officers to make continued progress in their divisions a priority."

One of the most useful products of the survey, Nordberg believes, are the patterns it reveals about connections between certain aspects of employees' work situations and their job satisfaction. For example, employees who report having clear performance expectations, who feel well informed, and who have input into decisions tend to be more satisfied with their jobs.

"While these results show what we're doing well," Nordberg observes, "they also can show us how to build broader job satisfaction by highlighting conditions associated with employees who are currently pleased with their jobs."

Nordberg notes the College has taken action in response to the 2006 survey. "We're communicating more frequently and more clearly about the College's mission and priorities. Our long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion has become more visible, and we've improved options for conflict resolution." The survey also finds progress in the College's support for employees all along their career paths, from orientation to supporting staff professional development to sharing information about internal job openings, she says.

The 2008 survey indicated further attention should be paid to employees' careers, Nordberg says, in terms of the recognition they receive, and their possibilities for advancement. "The survey also tells us that we need to build unity among employees, and build more confidence in our leaders," she says. "It calls for more nimble decision making, and quicker response to change."

Division leaders including deans and vice presidents met in retreat with President Wright in September to plan improvement efforts, and will be working with colleagues in their areas to build on strengths and to address what needs improvement, especially in terms of communication within divisions and departments. A working group appointed by President Wright is supporting and tracking the College's response.


Survey says ...

Thoughts from Director of Institutional Research Heather Kim:

"Overall, the survey results are positive and reassuring. The vast majority of our staff members continue to express great enthusiasm for Dartmouth. On the other hand, the survey results demonstrate that the College can continue to work to improve communication, decision making, and opportunities for professional development and advancement for our employees."

  • 94 percent: would recommend employment at Dartmouth 
  • 93 percent: satisfied with the nature of their work 
  • 91 percent: satisfied with job security 
  • 90 percent: expect to continue at the College for at least the next year 
  • 89 percent: satisfied with the benefits the College offers

Response rate: "51 percent is a good response rate. The survey respondents are generally representative of the survey population in terms of various background characteristics. We have confidence in the survey results."

Supervisors count: "Survey results suggest that staff with more favorable views of their supervisors were more satisfied with their jobs and were more willing to recommend Dartmouth as a place to work."



Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 12/17/08