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Campus & Community

Employee Engagement Rises, Thriving Workplace Survey Finds

Results Show Link Between Program Participation, Engagement

By Maggie Haslam

Students walking/biking in front of Kirwan Hall

Photo by John T. Consoli

Results of the latest Thriving Workplace survey show campus engagement is up. Managers and supervisors can access their unit’s results through the Gallup Online portal while overall UMD results are available on the Thriving Workplace website.

Workplace engagement continues to rise among University of Maryland faculty and staff, according to new results from the 2019 Thriving Workplace Initiative (TWI) survey.

A summary of the 2019 results, released today on the Office of the President’s website, also show that those who turned to the Thriving Workplace Initiative’s resources for employee development reported significantly higher engagement in their jobs than the UMD community overall.

“The results were not surprising, but it wasn’t anything we could really quantify until this year,” said Laura Scott, director of the Center for Leadership & Organizational Change (CLOC), the campus entity that provides support to individuals and teams to create and sustain a thriving workplace.

Since 2016, the University of Maryland has partnered with Gallup to administer the TWI survey every 18 months to assess faculty and staff perceptions of their work experience at UMD. More than 6,500 UMD faculty and staff took the third survey online or on paper in seven languages, in April.

The results showed meaningful increases in 11 of 16 metrics for engagement and inclusiveness since 2016, including mutual trust, recognition, individual growth and development, and alignment to mission. Inclusiveness—encompassing measurements such as diversity, recognition, fairness and support—saw a slight decline between 2017 and 2019.


Units with high engagement ratios—four engaged employees for every actively disengaged one—included the School of Public Health, which hit Gallup's definition of "world class" with an engagement ratio of more than eight to one. Other units, including Enrollment Management and the Division of Administration and Finance, saw significant increases in the percentage of engaged staff.

Individuals who participated in a TWI signature program, such as Sharpen My Saw or Fearless Conversations, and who took both the 2016 and 2019 surveys, saw a 13% increase in engagement since 2016, compared to 7% for UMD overall.

“The scores are wonderful, but the payoff is in the day-to-day interactions,” said Colleen Auburger, executive director of financial operations in Administration and Finance, who has participated in several TWI programs. “It has changed everything and become an office philosophy.”

Thriving Workplace Initiative resources are designed to improve workplace skills in leadership, supervision, communication and employee development. Managers who simply access their unit’s results and discussing them with your team are taking a critical first step to increasing workplace engagement, Scott said.

“Having a conversation with your group about your survey results and deciding together on actions to take is critical to creating a thriving workplace,” said Scott. “In fact, a series of small individual changes enacted over time is the best way to keep up the momentum.”

Managers and supervisors can access their unit’s results through the Gallup Online portal. Overall UMD results are available on the Thriving Workplace website.

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.