Step 1: Talk about it
A great first step is a talking about the building blocks of a great workplace– trust, respect, fairness, credibility, camaraderie and pride.
Step 2: Measure the climate
A typical starting point for improving the climate
is a workplace survey. There are many such surveys available
on the market — for example, see:
Be aware that every such survey is built on
assumptions about what is "good" and "desirable"
in the workplace — and those assumptions may or may
not be what you want to test.
We know of two University units — the
School of Dentistry and the Housing Division — that
have created custom-designed surveys, tailored to their own
purposes. Both units found professional help with survey design
and professional consulting on the content within the University.
Contact us for further information.
Notes on conducting a
There's an old saw in parenting and in
litigation: "Don't ask if you don't want
to know the answer."
That's true with workplace surveys as well.
Unless unit leadership is committed to a real exchange of
information, and to following up by making needed changes,
a survey will only irritate those surveyed.
Here's how one unit addressed its climate:
- A “vertical slice” of our organization – faculty, administration, and support staff – met to review the “ draft statement of goals for the University's workplaces ”, and to draft such a statement for our school.
- Their charge was to draft the statement to answer the question, “How do we want the men and women who work here to be treated?”
- All members of the faculty and staff received copies of the statement for their reaction, and the draft was edited accordingly.
- We created a standing Work Climate Committee with the primary responsibility for monitoring our climate and proposing needed changes.
- The committee developed and conducted a unique workplace survey that reflected our draft statement of goals.
- Based on the results of the survey, the committee recommended five steps:
- Develop a school work/life policy that would enable each person to more easily fulfill family responsibilities while maintaining their job responsibilities.
- Develop a staff career development program, allowing each staff member a certain number of hours each year to consult with career counselors (CEW, HRD, other) and to work on their own professional development.
- Develop in-house communication that focused on both faculty and staff members as individuals, recognizing them and recognizing their work.
- Developing a set of “expectations” of supervisors, describing the supervisor's responsibilities to communicate with, and support the career development of, each staff member.
- Contract with HRD to develop sessions for supervisors to discuss how they carry out these responsibilites.
- The committee will track these efforts, and be responsible to continue monitoring the school's work climate.
Step 3: Post-survey recommendations
We suggest you get help from UM's Human
Resource Development or other competent consultants on
the follow-up to the survey, including:
- communicating the results
- planning and implementing changes
- conducting a follow-up survey to check for
If you'd like assistance in designing your own
approach, HRD can help. See http://www.umich.edu/~hrd/consulting.html
* Much of the information contained herein is an interpretation by the University of Michigan of the findings of Great Place to Work® Institute and the Great Place to Work® Model©. This information does not necessarily represent the findings of Great Place to Work® Institute. Comprehensive information on Great Place to Work® Institute research may be found at http://www.greatplacetowork.com.