Denison culture survey will assess Ursinus workplace environment

Photograph courtesy of Grizzly Staff

Julie Krasutsky

In the past month, students may have noticed posters and t-shirts on campus advertising a campaign with the slogan: “Culture Matters. You Matter.”

The Human Resources office sent out the Denison “Culture Matters” survey UC faculty and staff members last week to gain some insight on the organizational culture at Ursinus.

The annual culture and climate survey was open online from Jan. 22 to Feb. 4 in order to gauge what challenges employees face in the workplace and understand its organizational culture, according to a bulletin sent out to faculty and staff by Barbara Shilowich, the People and Culture Strategist for the HR department.

The HR office used a survey developed by the Denison consulting firm, based in Ann Arbor, MI, whose mission is “to optimize the performance of organizations by improving their culture and leadership,” their website states.

In a published guide by Daniel Denison, chairman and founding partner of the Denison Survey, he explained that he was a professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of Michigan Business School where he conducted multiple studies about “the relationship between organizational culture and organizational effectiveness.”

This survey will help to determine what the organization’s culture is at Ursinus.  “The survey is a 60-item instrument that is designed to give a simple, yet comprehensive analysis of the culture of an organization by evaluating the underlying cultural traits and management practices that influence business performance,” the guide states.      Shilowich explained in a bulletin sent to faculty and staff that HR chose this specific survey because “it employs a strong research foundation, providing results that are compared to a comprehensive benchmarking database.”

In another online bulletin, Shilowich clarified that organizational culture is “the way people think and act, how we really get things done versus how we say we get them done, the unwritten rules that drive our behavior and the personality of the organization.”

Ed Moorhouse, director of Ursinus communications, added that “the purpose of the survey is to help us better understand our workplace and campus culture so that we can be more thoughtful about how we can further invest in our campus community, achieve our goals and realize our growth, strategic vision and liberal arts mission.”

In the frequently asked questions on the Human Resources page the HR department explained that the survey wasn’t to see how individuals respond to the survey but how the whole school responds to it as a unit and “what the themes are on campus.”

The survey will allow the faculty and staff to communicate to the college about what is working and what is not working in terms of how we deal with our culture as individuals and a community.

The survey receives the opinions and perceptions of the community’s members and will meet to implement better plans with the hope that the college’s culture can be inclusive to everyone.

“We are looking forward to further engaging with faculty and staff about our culture and how we can improve it as we learn where we are, where we want to go, and how we can get there together,” Shilowich said. “This is our first step forward in learning how we can best invest in our people as our most important asset.”

The survey results will first be given to “Ursinus leadership” and then presented to the campus community in April. After they share the results, according to Moorehouse, they will then begin the discussion among the whole campus community on how we can fix problems that were shown in the survey.

71.8% of staff and faculty took the survey. The staff participation rate was 31% higher than faculty participation. Full-time employees participated at a rate 53.7% higher than the part-time employees.

Regarding the school’s choice of the slogan “Culture Matters, You Matter,” Moorehouse explained that “[it] was a way to promote and generate excitement about the survey among faculty and staff.”