In  2010, the University of Richmond recruited Modern Think from the Great Colleges to Work For program to conduct a University-wide, online Higher Education Workplace Survey. With 55 percent of all employees completing the survey, results were tallied and analyzed, and division leaders began working with their departments to understand survey results, identify strengths and opportunities, establish priorities, communicate the results with members of the division, and establish recommendations for improvements.

Over the past two years, employee feedback has led to changes in several divisions across campus, including business affairs, enrollment management, and athletics.

Hossein Sadid, vice president of business and finance, says the foundation for how he interacts and engages with his division's 500-plus employees begins with communication, recognition, fairness, respect, and empowerment. "Uniformly, the entire division's attitude is that we come here everyday to do our best," he says. "We must all work together to create an environment where everyone can excel."

Business affairs established three key focus areas: communication and collaboration, participation, and fairness and performance. Some of the departmental changes have included: providing more warehouse space for facilities, establishing an employee recognition program in campus services; integrating the University's e-learning resources with the police department's career development program; organizing a staff retreat for the controller's office; creating the University Procurement Collaboration Group for procurement and strategic sourcing; scheduling quarterly staff meetings with treasury services' staff to review goals and get feedback; and staff changes in the financial planning and budget office.

For the enrollment management division, Vice President Nanci Tessier says she wanted her group to address the areas of improvement as a group. "I emphasized that we are a team, a unit, and we need to celebrate our achievements, and work on the areas that need improvement, together."

The focus areas for her team included communication, work/life integration, and respect and appreciation. "A two-day leadership retreat in August 2011 helped us establish major focus areas and ways in which we could move forward with everyone fully engaged." Three teams were established to address these topics at regular monthly divisional meetings. As a result, guest speakers have shared expertise and ideas on these topics.  In addition, several initiatives were launched, including the financial aid department's "First Friday Lunch" program designed to provide time for staff to interact outside of the office, and admission's expanded approach to communicating effectively by sharing monthly staff meeting notes, new items related to enrollment, admission and financial aid, as well as general announcements. An informal mid-year assessment also provided an opportunity for staff to provide feedback on the approach taken this year.

Improvements to the Robins Center were an immediate concern for members of the athletics department, says Cathy Rossi, assistant athletic director of business operations. "The air conditioning was one thing that was addressed, with additional upgrades to the center coming in the next few years," she says. The three focus areas addressed included facilities, communication, and compensation. Cathy says regular meetings with the athletic cabinet are improving communications throughout the division; the department has worked with human resources to conduct a compensation survey, with coach salaries being evaluated next; and the approval of the athletic strategic plan in April 2011 has set the stage for improvements to be made as part of the campus master plan.

The changes that have taken place in these divisions would not have happened without employee participationin the survey. That feedback helped identify strengths as well as areas for improvement to implement changes. "Ideally, I would like to see 100 percent participation when we next conduct the survey," Nanci says. "I want people tounderstand that their feedback really matters."