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Northwestern announces staff survey results and what's next

Northwestern University staff members enjoy their jobs, and they tell others about their experience, according to a survey conducted last fall.

More than 70 percent of staff replied when asked to share their thoughts about what it’s like to work at the University. The survey highlighted several strengths and revealed some areas for opportunity.

“The insights staff provided are critical to our evolution as an employer of choice,” wrote Provost Jonathan Holloway and Executive Vice President Nim Chinniah in a recent message to staff. “Northwestern is committed to addressing the results of the Staff Survey, recognizing demonstrated dedication of staff and their important contributions to the University.”


Based on survey results, the Northwestern staff member engagement score is 64 percent, above that of other peer research universities as well as other U.S. industries. The score represents the level at which staff members feel motivated to tell others great things about working here. The score also reflects those staff members who want to stay at Northwestern and who feel inspired to do their best work every day. Staff also spoke highly of Northwestern’s reputation and benefits.

Still, staff see room for improvement related to enhancing and communicating career opportunities, tools and resources to improve staff members’ work processes, and helping them identify development needs and create meaningful plans to address them. Staff also feel somewhat disconnected to leadership and have lower confidence in University responses to unfair treatment.

What’s next

The survey itself is just the first step in the overall staff engagement process

Northwestern is using the winter quarter to explore areas of opportunity at the University level and identify the next steps to engage staff in implementing long-term solutions and meaningful changes. University leadership emphasized the importance of embracing staff and making strategic decisions about the critical role staff play in furthering University priorities. 

Human Resources has been briefing schools and units on their overall themes, and the University will provide tools and support to realize improvements. School and unit leadership will provide further information regarding next steps. 

University leadership is eager to act upon the survey results and work collaboratively with staff, as well as schools and units, to make Northwestern an even greater academic and research institution. Northwestern’s excellence is built on the people who advance the ambitious work of the University.

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