Quality of Work Environment Initiative continues with new programs, training initiatives

January 15, 2015  

Purdue has completed the first two phases of its Quality of Work Environment Initiative and is now working toward implementation of new programs and training as its next step.

Purdue launched the initiative last spring with the goal of understanding and improving the work environment for the more than 7,000 non-faculty staff members on Purdue's West Lafayette campus.

The first two phases of QWEI are now complete. Phase I consisted of focus groups, which produced themes that guided the development of a survey used in Phase II. The themes that emerged included workload, leadership competence/supervisor support, co-worker support, staff development and workplace flexibility.

Phase II involved surveying staff and analyzing their responses. More than 2,500 staff completed the survey. Results provided campus leadership with employee perceptions on the following:

* The extent to which employees feel immersed in their work.

* The extent to which employees feel they can handle the amount of work they are asked to do.

* Supervisor competency in a number of leadership areas.

* Fair treatment by co-workers.

* Career advancement and development opportunities.

* Well-being (both at work and overall, as well as the additional demands placed on staff outside of work).

Survey results indicated, in general, that West Lafayette employees were moderately satisfied with their work environment. While this finding provides reason for optimism, there is clear room for improvement to the quality of work/life, says Deborah Rupp, the William C. Byham Chair in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

Rupp is leading QWEI with Ellen Kossek, the Basil S. Turner Professor of Management and research director at the Butler Center for Leadership Excellence. Advisory committee members include representatives from the Administrative and Professional Staff Advisory Committee, the Clerical and Service Staff Advisory Committee and Human Resources.

In direct response to the survey findings, a number of activities are being planned for Phase III. They include:

* Pilot testing supervisory training initiatives focused on developing leadership proficiency and creating supportive work environments.

* Establishing programs that support balancing work and non-work responsibilities.

* Creating programs focused on establishing a culture of comfort around reporting bullying and harassing behaviors.

* Developing awareness-building activities focused on development opportunities for staff.

* Forming programs focused on building a culture of respect and recognition among staff and supervisors.

Some of these developments -- including meeting with campus advisory groups to discuss development opportunities -- are already underway, and others will be launched more formally in January. Phase IV, a second survey designed to assess improvement in work environment quality, will be administered in the spring. All non-faculty staff on the West Lafayette campus again will be invited and encouraged to participate.

Confidential questions or comments regarding QWEI can be sent to workqual@purdue.edu or 49-46075. Watch for additional Purdue Today articles focusing on specific results stemming from the Phase II survey.

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