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General Questions

What is staff engagement and why is it important?

Our staff members are critical to advancing Northwestern’s strategic trajectory as a leading research and academic institution. It is important for us to understand what staff members value, what motivates them, and how they experience the University. This fall, Northwestern will conduct its first-ever staff engagement survey. We define engagement as the dynamic between staff and their place of work and how staff are individually motivated to contribute to an organization’s success. We are committed to rigorous methodology and objectivity in administering our survey to aid in understanding our staff and to drive progress at Northwestern into the future.

At Northwestern, engagement means you are:

  • Valued as a member of our vibrant and dynamic community
  • Connected to the mission and values of the University
  • Enabled and supported in seeking opportunities to learn and grow
  • Empowered to collaborate with others to achieve great things

What are the goals of Northwestern’s staff survey?

  • Understand the motivations, values, and challenges of our staff members
  • Analyze staff members’ feedback and turn the results into areas of improvement
  • Engage our staff and use data to drive action
  • Attract and retain top talent – be an employer of choice

When can I take the survey?

The staff survey may be taken November 1 – November 17, 2017.

Who is Aon Hewitt and why did Northwestern choose to work with them?

After a competitive review process, Northwestern selected Aon Hewitt, an external consulting firm, to administer the 2017 Staff Survey. They are a global leader and expert in the talent management and staff engagement field. The solutions Aon offers are based on years of rigorous research, thus ensuring the recommendations result in significant, positive improvements for their clients. Northwestern is excited to partner with Aon Hewitt to launch this important initiative. Learn more about Northwestern’s collaboration with Aon Hewitt.

How will the survey be administered?

To administer the survey, Northwestern has contracted with Aon Hewitt, an expert, independent third-party vendor. You will receive an email from Aon Hewitt on November 1 with your individualized link to take the survey. Click on the individualized link provided by Aon Hewitt, and you’ll be given instructions on how to fill out the survey. Aon Hewitt and Northwestern will email you several reminders throughout the survey period of November 1–November 17. Only Aon Hewitt will have access to your answers. The company will provide Northwestern leadership with the aggregate data, information that will help transform the results into actions throughout the University.

Who had input into the creation of the survey?

Your colleagues were selected from schools and units throughout the university to provide input on the survey’s creation. We call these leaders "Engagement Champions." They have been working closely with those leading the staff survey initiative to elicit your Dean/VP and school/unit leadership team’s commitment to this effort; directing your school/unit’s people and resources to implement the survey; leading communications within your school/unit; and working with the project team on the design and delivery of the survey.

Learn more about Engagement Champions

Whom do I contact with questions about the survey?

Starting on November 1, contact the Aon Help Desk through the link provided in their email for questions on survey access. If you did not receive an email from Aon Hewitt, email the staff survey human resources team for assistance. Please visit the contact information page for additional information.

Who is invited to participate?

All part-time and full-time benefits-eligible staff who are employed as of October 16, 2017, are invited to complete the survey. The October 16 cutoff date is necessary to accommodate the process time needed for our external consulting firm, Aon Hewitt, to prepare the individualized survey links for all participants.

Please view the 2017 Staff Survey Participation Fact Sheet to learn more about how the survey populations are defined.

Are postdocs able to participate in the survey?

No. Postdocs will not be invited to participate in the staff engagement survey due to the nature of their appointments and/or the limited time they are working at the University.

How does this differ from surveys I receive related to program review?

Please view the staff engagement vs. program review FAQ to learn more about the differences between the surveys.

How often will Northwestern University conduct the staff survey?

We plan to make the survey a regular event at Northwestern, likely every two to three years. The exact frequency will be determined at a later date after we have insight into the results from this year’s survey. The survey is just one part of Northwestern’s commitment to continuous efforts at improvement.

Is participation in the survey required?

No. Participation is purely voluntary. However, we can’t learn about your experience without your feedback. Therefore, we strongly encourage staff members to participate in the survey. Your voice is essential in helping us identify where you believe Northwestern is doing a good job as well as areas we should improve upon in order to strengthen our position as an employer of choice. It is only through open and honest feedback from our staff members that we can continuously improve and enhance Northwestern University as a great place to work.

How long will the survey take to complete?

The survey should take less than 20 minutes to complete. If necessary, you can save your responses and come back to complete the survey at a different time.

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