Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the UNC System Employee Engagement Survey?

  • The UNC System Employee Engagement Survey is sponsored by the UNC System. It is a regularly scheduled survey on workplace satisfaction that took place in 2018, 2020 and 2022 as part of the UNC System Strategic Plan.
  • Due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNC System Office created a shorter survey for 2022 that focused on three specific areas: a set of baseline trend data from past surveys, diversity and inclusion statements, and statements specific to institutional actions taken due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The survey, which is administered to all permanent faculty and staff, provides insights into faculty and staff engagement trends at the institutions across the System.
  • The survey is administered by an outside vendor, ModernThink, which is the only entity that can access or view raw survey data and individual responses.

Why do we do this?

  • The UNC System wants to measure workplace engagement. Studies have shown that the more engaged an employee is at their workplace, the more satisfied the employee is and the more productive the work unit is.
  • This is one of the only ways the UNC System can obtain useful systemwide quantitative information about how faculty and staff feel about their workplace. The engagement survey collects data from both faculty and staff and helps the System identify areas of strength at each institution and areas that need improvement.
  • Some UNC institutions have done similar surveys in the past, but this is the first survey to be issued systemwide. It provides a common dataset for the entire UNC System.

Who participated in this? Is participation mandatory?

  • The 2022 survey was sent to all permanent full-time (75% time or more) faculty and staff employed as of January 2022. The survey was available online.
  • Participation in the biennial survey is always voluntary. You should not feel pressured to participate, but since this is a great chance for faculty and staff voices to be heard, we encourage your participation.
  • We aim for at least 50% participation systemwide but would like to see the number much higher than that. In 2018 when the survey was initially administered, NC State met the 50% mark; in 2020, we reached 52% participation, but in 2022 only 45% took the survey. It is important that the UNC System hears from as many faculty and staff as possible to get the most complete feedback.

When was the survey given?

  • The 2022 survey was given between March 28 and April 18.
  • The survey took about 10 to 15 minutes to complete.
  • At NC State, the survey was available in English, Spanish and French.
  • Faculty and staff were allowed to take the survey either on work time or off work time using a laptop or mobile device.

What was on the survey?

  • Work Environment Questions: As previously noted, the 2022 survey focused on three specific areas: a set of baseline trend data from past surveys, diversity and inclusion statements, and statements specific to institutional actions taken due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Open-Ended Questions: There were two open-ended questions for write-in responses. And there was one multiple-choice question that asked employees to identify the reasons they would consider leaving NC State employment.
  • Demographics Questions: These were asked for reporting purposes, such as race, gender, years of service, salary range, etc.

What happened as a result of previous surveys and what should we expect to happen in the future?

  • Systemwide topline data were shared with the UNC Board of Governors and posted publicly on the UNC System website.
  • Data points were used to compare human resource metrics such as turnover data to see if trends could be determined.
  • The results were used to support key policy and program changes, such as the introduction of paid parental leave, the pilot of the Cornerstone system to support professional development, and the launch of the Executive Leadership Institute.
  • In most cases, progress from this program will be incremental and not occur all at once, or may not be visible to all employees as it happens. This means it may take time to address certain issues or take time for faculty and staff to see the positive effects of any actions taken.
  • Some faculty and staff concerns (e.g., better salaries/raises, better benefits, etc.) may be outside the control of your direct supervisor or the UNC System.
  • Some suggestions from faculty and staff for certain changes may be cost prohibitive or may require legislative action by the NC General Assembly.
  • However, having data that identify these concerns and suggestions puts the system in a better position to prioritize ways to address them and to bring these issues to those who have the authority to make any necessary changes.

What about confidentiality?

Only the administrator of the survey (ModernThink) have direct access to individual responses, and the data are stored on ModernThink’s servers, not the UNC System’s or the university’s. The System received a variety of summary reports.

  • The UNC System supplies certain initial information to ModernThink for survey distribution and reporting purposes, including each employee’s email address, organizational unit, employee type (EHRA/SHRA), and job category.
  • Reporting is available only if there are at least five responses in a defined demographic group. For example, for a report including results specifically from African American female faculty, we would receive a report only if at least five respondents completed the survey that fit the full demographic profile (i.e., African American, female and faculty).
  • Note: The full narrative comments you submit in the two open-ended questions are shared with management. Employees were advised to consider how they phrased their responses, so remarks were not too identifiable.

Where can I get more information?

  • ModernThink provides a helpline (888.684.4658) for participants to call if they have questions about confidentiality or about how to complete the survey.
  • Additional information on the program is available on the UNC System website.
  • For a deeper dive into NC State’s survey data, visit a site maintained by Institutional Strategy and Analysis.