There are also some very tangible, demonstrable
benefits to be gained from this initiative. Here's the detailed
In addition, the effort would provide an environment
for successfully demonstrating important UM research about
people at work.
Scholars in several UM schools, colleges, and institutes —
among them the College of Literature, Science, & the Arts;
the Business School; the School of Education; the School of
Natural Resources and the Environment; the School of Social
Work; and the Institute for Social Research — have contributed
significantly to the national body of knowledge about people
at work. To date, however, this knowledge has seldom been
directly applied in a university.
Current faculty members from each of the above
schools now serve as faculty advisors
to this initiative, offering insights from their own research,
and involving students in related
studies. The Building Great Places to Work initiative provides
an environment for success for such research, developing knowledge
about the unique aspects of the academic workplace.
It is clear that positive workplaces sustain
outstanding performance, leading to organizational success. In the private sector each year, the Great Place to Work® Institute produces FORTUNE’s "100 Best Companies to Work for®" list, chosen on criteria measuring the quality of the workplace climate from the employees' point of view. The Institute's research indicates that those "100 Best" also outperform their competitors financially.
At the University, we need to focus on sustaining
positive workplaces that will enhance staff and faculty performance
— thus contributing to the best possible experience
for our students.
These efforts can also enhance patient care,
and contribute to the highest quality of staff support for
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health care costs
Great Place to Work® Institute's research, mentioned above,
also finds that the "100 Best" companies experience
reduced health care costs.
Recently, the University's Work~Connections
service published data3 on the
cost of employee disabilities and illnesses of all kinds.
For the calendar year 2001, the figure was in excess of $37.5
million in direct costs — 3.3% of the University's annual
payroll. In fact, this compares favorably with an industry
average of 5–6% of payroll, but is still an enormous
drain that could be further reduced.
A telling (and disturbing) detail in the publication
points to the University's higher-than-average level of stress-related
illness: the percentage of UM's long-term disability claims
due to mental disorders is 17%, more than twice the expected
national figure of 7%.
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To maintain its world-class reputation, the University must
be able to recruit the best talent for both faculty and staff
positions. The quality of the working environment is critical
in this regard for several reasons.
Recently, the Institute for Social Research
surveyed4 1200 faculty and staff
members hired within the last three years at the University
of Michigan. The survey asked respondents to rate factors
that influenced individual decisions to come to the University.
Of the seven factors tested, the working environment rated
highest for both faculty and staff, followed by the workload
and the nature of the work itself. Benefits (retirement and
insurance) and compensation rated third and fifth, respectively.
In addition, the Great Place to Work® Institute
research, cited above, indicates that the "100 Best"
companies receive more qualified job applications than their
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the University's competitive edge by retaining the best
Further data from the Great Place to Work® Institute indicate that the
"100 Best" companies also:
- Experience a lower level of turnover.
- Enjoy higher levels of customer satisfaction and customer
- Foster greater innovation, creativity, and risk taking.
- Benefit from higher productivity and profitability.
They do so not just by attracting great talent,
but by keeping it. UM Health Systems surveyed5
1700+ staff members in 2002, to learn what makes them stay,
and what would make them leave. Results indicate that, while
the top reasons for staying are benefits and location, the
next most important is the ability to balance work and home
The absence of that balance is also one of the
top reasons why people would leave, along with poor-quality
supervision and the lack of trust in the workplace.
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the high cost of turnover
In a recent Saratoga Institute survey6,
the direct cost of filling a single position — advertising,
recruiters, travel expenses, and so on — averaged $4,588,
and could reach as much as $12,000. Additional costs include
the salaried time of interviewers, search committees, and
managers conducting interviews, as well as the cost of lost
productivity while the position is vacant and while the new
incumbent learns the job. That can be a lengthy time. In the
Saratoga study, the average time to fill an open position
is 52 days.7
With direct and indirect costs included, surveys
suggest that the total cost of replacing a worker averages
150% of that person's annual earnings. And the more specialized
that person's skills — the more significant they may
be to the organization's success — the higher that figure
In light of all of these potential advantages,
Human Resources & Affirmative Action seeks your endorsement
of, support for, and participation
in the Building Great Places to Work Initiative. With your
support, these activities can build and enhance working climates
of trust and respect across our great institution.
of Student Experience," conducted by Campbell Research
for the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan,
Great Place to Work® Institute, on the web at: www.greatplacetowork.com
3 "Work~Connections Program
Review," conducted by Towers-Perrin for the University
of Michigan, March 2002, pp. 31–42.
4 Survey of Recent Hires, Institute
for Social Research, the University of Michigan, August 2000,
"Executive Summary," page 2.
5 "Workforce Planning Retention
Survey," UMHS web-based survey, 2002.
6 Families and Work Institute,
1992; Saratoga Institute Human Resource Financial Report,
7 Saratoga Institute Human Capital
Report for 2000, Spherion, Ft. Lauderdale, FL. 2001.
* 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.