IET Talks: UCD IT Forms Committee to Get Staff Talking

UC Davis Water Tower

By Ahna Heller. How do you improve staff engagement? You form a committee!

As most of us know, it’s not really that simple; if the committee doesn’t have the ear of leadership and if they don’t produce results, it’s just another committee generating ideas that don’t produce action.

At UC Davis Information & Educational Technology (IET) though, the Staff Advisory Committee has been able to put words into action and make progress toward their goal of helping to improve employee engagement and a feeling of connectedness, despite most staff working remotely.

How It Started

In 2021, a committee—the Staff Experience Survey Committee—was formed by IET staff volunteers to review IET’s overall staff experience survey results (administered by UC Davis and Glint) and propose some solutions for improving the lowest scores. The committee was made up of staff from all IET units and did not include supervisors or managers. They had their first meeting on January 29, 2021, and met weekly for a couple of months. On April 7, they gave a presentation to the Information & Educational Technology Leadership Council (IETLC), putting forward proposals related to opportunities in the survey areas of purpose, belonging, and decision making, in addition to collaboration and action taking.

What It Morphed Into

One important outcome of the presentation was formation of the IET Staff Advisory Committee. This new committee meets regularly with CIO Viji Murali, and presents recommendations to the IETLC, addressing topics important to IET staff. Members of the Staff Experience Survey Committee were invited to join the new committee and participate in it for the next year.

What They’ve Accomplished, So Far

The committee has accomplished three main items over the past year, which fall into the three areas of needed improvement, according to staff feedback from the survey:

  1. Sharing More about IET Leadership and Teams. Staff had expressed they wanted to hear more from IET leadership about goals for the organization, and to learn more about units and sub-units in the large, central IT organization. To this end, IET’s internal newsletter, the Insider, now includes a regular Q&A with executive leadership and a regular team update that introduces team members and describes who they are (with pictures), what they do, and current projects they are working on.
  2. Digging into What’s Important to Staff. Staff wanted more professional development. To get more information, the committee ran a survey in the Insider newsletter, asking staff to rank what channels of professional development they are most interested in.The committee discussed the survey results with Murali, and discussed that some staff don’t realize IET encourages training for everyone. Murali responded, “IET supports all staff to pursue training for their professional development. We have some guidelines to review as you think about your 2022 training goals.” This latter quote, the survey results, and the guidelines for training (which the committee assisted in creating), ran in an early 2022 Insider article.
  3. Helping Staff Get Acquainted. Staff also indicated they want to get better acquainted. The IET Talks program was established to encourage staff to share who they are and what they do, and to encourage people in IET to get engaged in the organization. IET Talks (kind of like Ted Talks) gives IET units and sub-units the opportunity to introduce team members and their current projects. Hosted on Zoom, IET Talks includes time for socializing and Q&A. The first one had 100 participants!

What’s Next

The committee is pleased with the progress so far and is looking forward to sustaining the programs they’ve launched. They want to continue adding more interested staff to their committee and continue the conversation with their colleagues, hopefully improving the sense of belonging within IET. Additionally, they hope their efforts help “move the needle” in the next staff experience survey results.

In the words of Fernando Socorro, a member of the IET Staff Advisory Committee, “We are gratified that the IETLC listens carefully and are interested in our findings and our proposals for change.”

Ahna Heller
Ahna Heller is in Information & Educational Technology Communications, UC Davis.

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