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Our staff is critical in advancing our strategic trajectory as a leading research institution. It is important for us to understand what staff value, what motivates them, and how they experience the University.

This fall, Northwestern will conduct its first-ever staff survey. We are applying rigorous methodology and objectivity in administering our survey to aid in understanding our staff and to drive progress over time. We have engaged an independent outside partner with proven methodology and experience in higher education to help us design, conduct, and analyze the survey.

Learn more about our approach:

  • The Survey Timeline lists the key milestones over several months.
  • The Collaboration page identifies the internal groups and external consultants who developed the survey.
  • The Confidentiality page clarifies the measures we will use to ensure confidentiality of individual responses.

This is an important project that has the full support of our leadership team, and we ask for your input and participation to ensure its success. The results will enable us to strengthen our ongoing efforts to improve our employee experience and attract, retain, and develop a world-class workforce.

Survey Design

Forty-nine research-driven questions across five dimensions and two open-ended questions will provide an overall engagement score, quantitative and qualitative data on the drivers of engagement, and key benchmarks.

What We Are Measuring

This survey measures the following five categories against a set of engagement index outcomes:

  • Leadership
  • Organization
  • Work
  • Career
  • Total Rewards


  • U.S. Average Norm
  • U.S. Top Quartile Norm
  • US Functional Benchmarks – IT, HR, Finance
  • Global Higher Education Research Institution Norm
    • Haas School of Business
    • Harvard University
    • Princeton University
    • University of Georgia
    • University of Michigan
    • University of Pennsylvania
    • University of Texas
    • London School of Economics (LSE)
    • Kingston University