Employee Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction at UWP

Report from the Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Committee
Written by David Zierath and Joan Riedle

This report is based on responses to a questionnaire sent to all UWP faculty, academic staff, and classified staff employees during the spring of 2001. A total of 367 questionnaires were returned, for a response rate of 53%. In a major section of that questionnaire employees were asked for indications of the level of satisfaction/dissatisfaction experienced regarding 42 specific aspects of being employed at UWP. This report addresses those 42 items, which are listed in Appendix A.

We were interested in how the entire employee population (excluding LTEs) evaluated the various aspects related to employment at UWP. We were also interested in whether women or racial/ethnic minorities evaluated those 42 aspects differently than did men or white respondents. In addition, we examined whether people within the three broad employment categories of faculty, academic staff, and classified staff responded differently to those items.

In this report, we summarize the items on which a high proportion of employees indicated a high level of satisfaction, by giving a rating of 1 or 2 on those items. These are presented in Appendix B. Following that is a summary of items on which a relatively high proportion of employees indicated a high level of dissatisfaction, by giving a rating of 4 or 5 on those items. These are presented in Appendix C.

Then we summarize the items on which there are statistically significant differences in evaluations by minority and majority employees (Appendix D), female and male employees (Appendix E) and different categories of employees (Appendix F).

Positive and Negative Aspects of Employment at UWP
The first thing to note is that employees expressed greater satisfaction on a larger number of items than they expressed dissatisfaction. In fact, at least 25% of respondents gave the highest satisfaction score (1) to 25 of the 42 items on the list. (See Appendix B.) Included are most items asking about diversity and toleration, local opportunities for activities, sense of support for family, security and acceptance, and relations with others at work.

The ratings given on items 23-29 on diversity, tolerance, and response to discrimination could reflect the thinking of a rather homogeneous and predominantly white population who believe the institution and the community to be open and tolerant. Whether there are differences on those items by racial/ethnic minorities and women will be described in later sections. The rating on Platteville’s “small town feel” (#35) is among the highest overall scores and is linked to items 30-32 about availability of activities on campus. Support for family members and for personal employment choices and security are expressed in items 34, 9, 6, and 36 while items 17 and 18 along with 3, 11, 21, and 22 (in the bottom section of Appendix B) all point to good general working relationships for fairly large portions of the UWP employees.

A smaller number of items were given the highest dissatisfaction score (5), but at least 15% of respondents gave such scores on 10 of the 42 items. (See Appendix C.) Included were items concerning opportunities, equitable pay and fair treatment, being held to similar standards, and involvement in and openness of decision making processes. Lack of opportunities is reflected in responses to items 8, 12, 5, and (for family members) 33. Lack of equitable pay and fair treatment for all is expressed in items 13 and 16, as well as 1 and 4 in the bottom section of Appendix C.

Perception of a lack of openness and ability to be involved in decision making is expressed in items 19 and 20. Item 41 indicates perception of a lack of a supportive environment for singles in the small town setting of Platteville, and level of taxation in Wisconsin (#40) also drew expressions of dissatisfaction.

Finally, “closeness geographically to family” (#42) was on both lists for high satisfaction and for high dissatisfaction, implying that relatively few experience that issue in a neutral way.

Perceptions of Minority and Majority Employees
Only 20 respondents identified themselves as belonging to a racial minority. The responses from those 20 individuals were combined and then contrasted with the 280 respondents who had indicated that they were Caucasian. Obviously, comparisons across such an unevenly distributed sample must be interpreted cautiously. While statistically significant differences emerged on seven of the items, on five of those the averages for minority and majority respondents were on the same end of the response continuum (i.e., both on the satisfied end or both on the dissatisfied end). Overall, the data paint a picture reflecting much similarity and little difference.

On one item, work load expectations, minority members indicated greater satisfaction. Both groups expressed overall satisfaction with the university’s encouragement of service to the community, but the minorities were less satisfied.

Minorities indicated dissatisfaction, while majority members indicated satisfaction, with respect to the following items:
Minority and majority respondents both expressed dissatisfaction, with the minorities being significantly more dissatisfied on:
Minority members employed at UWP often come from great distances to join our community. Doing so may present a set of family issues greater than those encountered by other faculty and staff and may provide them with more personal awareness of the economic contrasts of our state with others.

Perceptions of Female and Male Employees
Respondents included 177 women and 171 men. Women expressed significantly greater satisfaction on three items, though on all three the average rating for women and for men was on the satisfied end of the response continuum. Women were more satisfied with:
Women were less satisfied than men, though still overall satisfied, with:
Women were not satisfied, while men were close to neutral, on two items:
Given the importance of item 25 and 27 to the Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity Committee, the pattern of responses was explored further. On item 25, a total of 163 women responded. Of those, seven (4.3%) gave a rating of 5; overall 21.5% expressed some dissatisfaction. On item 27, a total of 100 women responded. Of those, eight (8%) gave a rating of 5; overall 21% expressed some dissatisfaction. Further exploration is warranted to determine why these female employees, even though in the minority, expressed dissatisfaction in these areas.

Perceptions of Academic Staff, Faculty, and Classified Staff
Significant differences emerged on 11 items. On seven of those, the averages for all three employment categories were on the positive/satisfied end of the continuum. Those items include:
On four additional items differences emerged, including:
Overall, the most interesting items may be those on which one group was troubled and the other two were not. For academic staff, that would be stability and security of employment. For the classified, those would include input through governance or other representation and local cost of living. For the faculty, those would include open acceptance of cultural diversity, experience of racial tolerance on campus, and closeness geographically to family.

We would like to express our appreciation to those who provided funding for this project (Dean Standiford, the College of Liberal Arts and Education, the Department of Social Sciences, and the Department of Psychology) and to the members of the classified staff, academic staff, and faculty who participated in focus groups which helped formulate items for our questionnaire.