Workplace surveys, also referred to as employee engagement surveys, are becoming more common as administrators strive to take the temperature of the workplace. At Wheaton College, results of the latest survey were recently announced. The survey was administered last Fall and the recent announcement compared 2018 results to the previous survey from 2015. Wheaton uses a survey from the Best Christian Workplaces Institute (BCWI), and the response rate to the 2018 survey was quite high. Here are some thoughts and observations about those results.
First, Wheaton continues to be average in its overall rating in comparison to similar schools, although it was striking to me that it’s overall score actually declined a bit in comparison to 2015 results. Striking, because our administration has communicated that it takes this survey seriously, and leaders have acted in many ways to try to improve our overall score from 2015. In spite of those efforts, according to survey results, overall progress has not been made, and I think that’s pretty significant. This indicates that more needs to be done to address employee concerns.
Second, areas from the survey in which the college scored the biggest decline since 2015 are areas that are not surprising to me. I won’t go into specifics here but they relate to issues of trust and transparency. I won’t speculate a lot about why these scores declined except to point out that there have been several campus incidents and situations that have been difficult or controversial, and I think that contributed quite a bit to these results. Even incidents that happened two or three years ago still resonate today on campus among employees. That is, they are not fully resolved.
Third, there are a few encouraging aspects to this whole thing. Apparently our scores improved in some areas, particularly relating to diversity, although a lot more needs to be done. And in general, I commend those in leadership at the college for focusing attention on this survey and on taking its results seriously. I get the sense that there is a genuine desire to address problematic areas highlighted by the survey, and even the fact that a lot of effort is put into administering a survey like this is a good thing.
I’ve worked in a wide variety of contexts in my nearly 30 years of post-graduate school work, mostly in non-Christian environments. One thing I learned a long time ago is that just because a workplace is Christian does not inherently mean it’s a wonderful environment in which to work. In some ways, a Christian workplace can be significantly more challenging to work in than a non-Christian one. Some may think that is overly negative or doesn’t make sense, but I’m simply being honest about my own experience. To be clear, I’m not singling out Wheaton specifically here, although while I’m being honest, I’ll admit that I’ve found some aspects of working at the college to be challenging.
But taken as a whole, I’m thankful for my job, and am thankful for what the college is trying to do. I hope that employee concerns will truly be taken seriously; that they will be listened to and that concrete, substantial improvements will be made to address them. Above all else, I hope and pray for systemic problems to be resolved so that as a community, we can do the best possible work in support of the college’s mission and vision.