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2018 Staff Survey Results

Two-thirds of Stanford's staff shared their voices about their employee experience in our fall 2018 university-wide survey. Nine out of ten staff expressed pride in working for Stanford and feel confident in the future success of the university. Overall, staff are energized by their job while also voicing a need for better collaboration across departments, groups, and schools and units, and indicating an opportunity for improved efficiency by removing or minimizing unnecessary administrative barriers.

Of the 13,122 staff members invited to participate in the 2018 survey, 66.7 percent (8,754) responded— an increase of 1,528 staff respondents from 2015.

Survey categories and key results

The survey included 48 core questions spread across 11 categories (Agility, Alignment, Collaboration, Continuous Improvement, Development, Efficiency, Engagement, Inclusion, Openness, Performance Management, and Respect & Trust) and one open-ended question. Four of the categories are recognized as being among the most influential drivers of staff engagement; Alignment, Collaboration, Efficiency, and Inclusion.

Overall, the level of staff engagement at Stanford is exceptionally high, exceeding the U.S. High Performing and U.S. Higher Education benchmarks, with an increase from the 2015 survey in staff feeling energized by their jobs.

The recent 2018 survey revealed that key findings in the survey categories include:

  • Alignment has considerably improved since 2015, with 76 percent of staff seeing a clear link between their work and school/unit goals and objectives.
  • Collaboration scores of 64 percent overall indicate opportunities for greater cooperation and sharing of best practices across departments, groups and schools and units.
  • Efficiency is our greatest opportunity for improvement at 42 percent—with scores declining slightly from 2015 and falling below benchmarks.
  • Inclusion scores show that 80 percent of respondents agree that Stanford encourages and promotes diversity of backgrounds, talents and perspectives.  While the score is high, it falls below the U.S. High Performing benchmark. Inclusion is already identified as a key area of emphasis in Stanford’s long-range plan IDEAL initiative, and staff’s feedback will inform the work of the IDEAL team.

Results for remaining categories:

Agility has improved since 2015 and now exceeds the Higher Education and U.S. High Performing benchmarks by double-digits. Work groups adapting and dedicating time for planning for change are among the most improved items in the survey, and 73 percent report team members stay informed of issues impacting the organization.

The overall score for Continuous Improvement has increased from 2015, showing that 75 percent of staff feel empowered to improve the quality of their own work, and 77 percent feel encouraged to innovate.

Scores related to Development show that over 80 percent of respondents believe that Stanford provides opportunities to learn new skills. In addition, 83 percent feel their work group is continually improving the quality of work they do.

When rating Openness, 77 percent—2 percent higher than in 2015—feel their immediate supervisor communicates useful and important information.

Performance Management scores revealed that 65 percent of staff members feel they receive ongoing feedback that helps improve their performance.

When answering survey questions related to Respect and Trust, 74 percent of staff respondents said they feel valued as an employee of Stanford, and 68 percent trust their peers to put their work group goals before their own. When asked about whether all levels of those who work at Stanford are treated with respect, the results show a lower score, with 61 percent in agreement. 

The open-ended question, “What else do you want to add about working at Stanford?” was answered by 72 percent of survey respondents. The top themes that surfaced reveal that staff are proud to work for Stanford and support the university’s mission, with high levels of meaning associated with their work. However, respondents also expressed a number of pain points, including those related to affordability issues of living in the Bay Area and options for flexible work schedules.

Plan to use results moving forward

School and units have designated one or more survey liaisons to partner with leadership to communicate local results in February. In some areas, there are strategic plans or other workplace initiatives already underway, so the staff survey results will align with those efforts. Leaders may follow up to better understand local survey results to identify priorities for workplace improvement actions, as well as how to preserve what is working well within schools and units. Follow-ups could take several forms, such as brief pulse surveys on specific topics that surfaced from the survey results, in-person and Zoom focus groups, Slack channel group conversations, or online polling.

As leaders are working to understand the university-wide survey results more deeply, along with how the data can be used to inform current university initiatives, staff may be asked to share additional input while also possibly being invited to participate in other surveys, assessments, and focus groups. While they may seem similar to the Staff Engagement Survey, each is unique and serves an important function to understand our current state, and to inform decisions and direction for Stanford. We encourage staff to take advantage of these opportunities to share your voice in support of Stanford’s mission.

Staff survey background

The university-wide staff survey was first conducted in 2015, and encourages staff to share their feedback in a consistent and confidential way. Since 2015, actions have been taken to improve the staff experience across the university and within schools/units. In the inaugural survey, there were 51 questions, 46 of which were carried over to the 2018 staff survey, allowing benchmarking of the results against our prior results to identify what is going well and where there are opportunities for improvement. Additional benchmarks include other four-year universities nationwide and high-performing companies, such as those identified by Fortune’s Most Admired and Best to Work For lists.

Employees can learn more and view an infographic summary of the survey results by visiting the Cardinal at Work website.

Engage, Working at Stanford