2020 Working at Iowa Executive Summary

University of Iowa faculty and staff continue to report a high level of engagement with their work in support of the university’s mission and strategic goals, according to results from the 2020 Working at Iowa Survey. 

This year’s Working at Iowa survey was administered to 6,370 regular faculty and staff from October 19-30, 2020; nearly 68%, or 4,349 of the eligible population responded, making it a highly reliable representation of university employees.

In 2020, UI Health Care utilized the Working at Iowa powered by Press Ganey, which allows benchmarking against other health care facilities, and correlation with patient satisfaction surveys also conducted by Press Ganey. That survey also contained ten Working at Iowa questions. Full survey responses from UI Health Care employees will be provided directly from Press Ganey, but initial results show that of the Working at Iowa questions asked, health care faculty and staff reported highest level of agreement for:

  • My unit has a strong focus on excellent service.
  • My unit provides a supportive environment for individuals from diverse backgrounds.
  • I can speak openly about work related concerns with my supervisor.

Trends in the UI data reported below do not include UI Health Care results.

Data Highlights

UI employees taking the Working at Iowa in 2020 reported some of the highest levels of agreement in recent years. Agreement levels improved in fifteen of the twenty questions; scores stayed constant for the remaining five items. UI faculty and staff consistently indicate widespread agreement with items related to alignment with mission, service, and role expectations. Responses continue to highlight strengths of the university workforce and culture, as identified by the highest levels of agreement, over 90% agreement, with individual survey items:

  • I know what is expected of me in my work.
  • I understand how my job fits into the overall mission of the UI.
  • My unit has a strong focus on providing excellent service to those we interact with.
  • My supervisor treats me with respect.

Survey items that have historically scored lowest show an increase in agreement levels between 2018 and 2020. This demonstrates that while continued improvements are still needed, more faculty and staff agreed with these statements in 2020.

Working at Iowa 2018 and 2020 item comparisons
Working at Iowa Survey Item Agreement in 2018 Agreement in 2020
The UI recognizes accomplishments of faculty and staff. 71% 75%
My unit distributes workloads fairly. 71% 74%
There are opportunities for promotion at the UI. 69% 72%

View the University-wide results of the Working at Iowa survey (pdf). In January, each college and division will receive results for use in gaining local perspective, celebrating successes, and driving area specific improvement efforts. Campus units that requested reports, and had ten or more employees participate in the survey, will also receive local-level reports in January.

Engagement Index

Validating Results

In 2020 the survey continued to use a validated scale[1] for measuring engagement.

The engagement index shows how personally connected people are to their jobs in terms of giving their full effort, paying close attention to their work, and emotionally caring about what they do.[2]

An in-depth factor analysis by Tippie College of Business faculty confirmed the validity of the engagement measure across three factors:

  • Investing physical energy
  • Investing mental energy
  • Investing emotional energy

The Tippie study also found similar levels of validity across the three job types surveyed (faculty, merit/MSE, and P&S/SEIU staff).

Mean scores for the engagement index questions can be found in the University 2020 report.

New Reporting Features

Survey results for each college and division provide additional opportunities for leadership to gain perspective and meaning from the data.  Reports for colleges and divisions in 2020 will feature:

  • A percentile ranking, that compares each org report to the overall university, for greater perspective-building.
  • A “Top Three Strengths and Opportunities” section for beginning the local discussion of data and action planning. With this data, local leaders, in collaboration with faculty and staff, can identify objectives consistent with their strategic priorities, and develop action plans to create positive change.

Analysis of data by Tippie researchers, and the College of Public Health demonstrated that Working at Iowa survey items are correlated with one another and with the engagement index. Thus, improvements made in any items will positively contribute to improvements for the whole.

Colleges, divisions, and departments can focus on any of the Working at Iowa items to address engagement locally. A simplified report will provide a correlation between the overall Working at Iowa survey and the engagement index at the college/division level.

Taking Action

Learn more about action planning by visiting the Using Working at Iowa Results website.

Human Resource leaders on campus are available to assist individual units in communicating and utilizing the Working at Iowa results in their respective work units.  University Human Resources and the Office of the Provost will also utilize the data from the survey to develop strategies for both short-and long-term improvements that serve to support the engagement and productivity of all faculty and staff across the university.

1Crawford, E.R., LePine, J.A., & Buckman, B.R. (2013). Job engagement scale short form items adapted from Rich, B.L., LePine, J.A., & Crawford, E.R. (2010). Job engagement: Antecedents and effects on job performance. Academy of Management Journal, 53, 617-635.

2Kahn, W.A. (1990).  Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work. Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 33, pp. 692-724. May, D.R., Gilson, R.L, Harter, L.M. (2004); The psychological conditions of meaningfulness, safety and availability and the engagement of the human spirit at work,” Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, Vol. 77, pp. 11-37.

Contact Information

Organizational Effectiveness-Working at Iowa

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