The purpose of this toolkit is to provide information and resources about the VCFA EID initiative and how it could be used and operationalized within an organization/unit to improve organizational culture and the employee experience.
EID Strategic Planning
Understanding the Organization
Every organization has its own culture. Every organization has its own norms, habits, customs, and ways of doing things. To change workplace culture, enhance workplace culture, and/or benefit from workplace culture, it is important to understand the overall culture, including its nuances, as it exists in the workplace today.
Questions to consider to learn more and to understand your organization’s culture:
- What are the organization’s shared beliefs and values? What beliefs and values have been established and are modeled by leaders and communicated to employees?
- How does the organization define its business, employees, and constituents?
- Which behaviors and/or emotions are people encouraged to model/express, and which ones are suppressed?
Facilitating a Needs Assessment
A needs assessment is a process used by organizations, divisions, and/or units to identify the organization’s priorities, improvements, and resource needs. It is important for organizations and units to continually determine what the organizational needs and gaps are in order to meet the needs of the employees and the overall organization. A needs assessment provides an organization the opportunity to truly understand the gap between where they are and where they want to be. Four general steps that can be taken to identify the needs and gap areas of an organization/unit include:
- Exploration and identification
- What do you currently know about the organization?
- What are the strengths, areas of improvement, areas for opportunity, barriers to consider?
- What are the priorities? Are you currently meeting those priorities?
- Data gathering and analysis
- What kind of information do you need to better understand the gaps between where you are and where you want to be as an organization?
- What is the best, most effective way to collect this information?
- How will this information/data be analyzed?
- Taking action
- How will the organization use the data/information that has been collected?
- Re-visit the organization’s priorities. How does the data collected align?
- What is the best solution based on benefits, capacity, resources, cost?
- How will you develop a plan to address the needs of the organization?
- How will resources be allocated to implement plans?
- How will the organization evaluate the results of their needs assessment?
- Was the action plan successful? Has the action plan closed the gap?
- What changes need to be implemented to address existing gaps?
Shifting the Culture
How an organization’s culture is defined and/or perceived can have a significant impact on the employee experience as it relates to recruitment and retention. “Changing an organization’s culture is one of the most difficult leadership challenges. That’s because an organization’s culture comprises an interlocking set of goals, roles, processes, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions” (Denning, 2011). If an organization or unit is working to shift the organizational culture to better meet the needs of its employees, it’s important to consider the following:
- Align culture with organizational strategy and processes
- Leaders model the organizational beliefs and values
- Writing down or saying the organizational beliefs and values out loud may not be enough for employees to understand that they are working in a supportive and inclusive working environment. Employees need to see that the organizational beliefs and values are clear in the actions of their leaders. The mission, vision, and values must be a priority for directors, managers and supervisors in order for employees to live out the organization’s mission, vision, and values
- Defining values, behaviors, roles, responsibilities, and accountability measures
- Do employees understand the organization’s desired values and how they relate to their day-to-day workplace behaviors?
- Open communication and feedback channels
- Ongoing communication and messaging (all-staff meetings, regular EID announcements, EID email, EID website/webpage, print materials, etc.)
- Continuous learning, training, and/or professional development
- Embedded throughout employee lifecycle (onboarding, training, learning communities, communities of practice)
- Empowering employees
- Collaborative and engaging work environments
- Shared language, understanding and responsibility
EID Organizational Structures
Accountability and shared responsibility are core guiding principles of employee engagement, inclusion and diversity. All levels of the organization—employees, leadership, and management—must support, model, and hold each other accountable to engagement, inclusion and diversity values, principles and strategies. It’s important to explore different organizational structures to institutionalize the work around engagement, inclusion and diversity.
Numerous employee engagement surveys consistently identify management and leadership credibility as a key factor in an employee’s connection to their workplace. Formal leadership can play a powerful role in creating a healthy, inclusive, and engaging workplace for employees.
Engagement Toolkit for Managers and Supervisors
Employee Engagement Strategies for Leaders
Employee Engagement, Inclusion and Diversity (EID) committees
The work around employee engagement, inclusion and diversity cannot be done in isolation or by one person. Many units within a larger organization have developed local level EID committees to address specific EID-related initiatives, issues,. and concerns that directly impact that particular unit.
EID committees were developed to provide space for a group of people within a particular division to take the lead on developing and implementing that division’s EID programs and initiatives. Ideally, EID committees will have representatives across all units within the division.
Developing a committee charter
Once a committee is established, it is extremely important for a committee to develop a committee charter, which states the purpose of the committee, its members, their functions, when they are to meet, reporting structures, and executive sponsors. A committee charter is made official by vote of the committee and the executive sponsors.
EID committee charter template
- Provide an orientation or introductory meeting
An orientation or an introductory meeting will provide an opportunity for new committee members to meet current and/or outgoing committee members and an opportunity to review committee member expectations. Ideally, this is done by the current committee chair/co-chairs and the unit director. This helps all (incoming and current) committee members become acquainted with one another and allows them to ask questions and network in an informal setting.
A new committee member should walk away from an orientation with a clear understanding of the mission and work of the committee and how they can help advance the work of the committee. It should allow for new and current members to get to know one another, highlight key challenges and issues, and provide time for questions-and-answers to clarify any points of confusion or concern.
- Pair new committee members with a peer mentor
If there is capacity and need for additional mentorship, it can be helpful to pair new committee members with a more seasoned committee member. A peer mentor can supplement the orientation process and tends to accelerate learning and make the transition more comfortable.
- Provide committee information and documentation
Educate new committee members about the history, work, and scope of the committee. Some core components may include:
- Committee information (committee charter, committee roster, program overview, current and historical EID plans, decision-making process and budget if applicable)
- Committee member information (member expectations, member contact information, meeting schedule)
- Committee meeting materials (schedule of meetings, agendas and minutes, how to access meeting materials)
- Announce new committee members publicly
Once new committee members are selected and move through the onboarding process, a formal announcement should be shared with the entire division or unit to inform the organization of the new EID committee membership. It is important for all employees to know who is representing them on the committee. This helps hold committee members accountable to the work and provides new points of contact for the organization.
- New committee member development
The orientation process should also include a member development plan. A development plan helps build and grow new members. It is recommended that a development plan include:
- Clear and concrete learning goals and objectives that are measurable. Learning goals and objectives should be reviewed and discussed regularly to ensure that goals and objectives are being met and to share feedback on what is needed to meet those goals and objectives.
- Opportunities for ongoing training and professional development. It’s important to provide opportunities for members to build and enhance their knowledge and skills around employee engagement, inclusion and diversity. Work with members to learn more about their needs and the areas where they would like to improve to ensure that the opportunities that are provided align.
- Encourage new members to continue to work with their peer mentor. Mentors can continue to serve as the go-to people for their mentees and they can continue to provide guidance as new members learn. This will provide a consistent support person as they transition.
The EID Survey is a comprehensive, biennial survey that has provided an opportunity for VCFA divisions to use data to leverage EID work at the local levels. Employee engagement, inclusion and diversity continue to be key priorities for all VCFA units.
An employee pulse survey is another assessment tool to provide quick insight into the employee experience. A pulse survey is typically short, fast, and done on a much more frequent and regular basis than a traditional engagement or organizational survey. Pulse surveys allow organizations and units to track employee experience trends more frequently and help organizations connect improvements to actions organizations have taken to address employee engagement, inclusion and diversity.
Benefits of a pulse survey
- It allows organizations an opportunity to collect feedback from employees on a more frequent basis.
- It allows organizations to get a “pulse” on what is currently going on within the organization, and gives organizations the opportunity to shift or pivot the work they are doing around EID to meet the changing needs of the organization and their employees.
- Reduced time in completion in comparison to an annual/biennial survey.
- Encourages open communication among employees, managers, and supervisors.
- Pulsing reminds employees that managers and supervisors are open and to value employee feedback.
Creating a successful pulse survey
- Thoughtful questions—what would the organization like to get a “pulse” on (e.g., feelings/perception of management, workload or work/life integration, inclusive work environments)? It is recommended to limit pulse survey questions to 5–7 questions.
- Communication about the survey— It is important to prime your employees for every survey or feedback tool that is launched.
- Consider the frequency—It is important to respect your employees’ time. Be transparent with how long the survey will take and how frequently you will be requesting feedback. Be mindful of survey fatigue. Surveys can get exhausting if employees are asked to complete them too frequently.
- Analyze the responses.
- Share the results with the organization—It is critical to share survey results with your units/teams and stakeholders. This ensures employees that the message they are trying to share is being heard.
- Take action on survey results.
- Review and repeat.
Stay surveys and stay interviews
Stay surveys and stay interviews are feedback tools conducted throughout the lifecycle of an employee. These tools takes a more positive approach (in comparison to an exit survey) to understanding why employees stay in their jobs and how they are feeling about their current roles and responsibilities. Stay surveys and stay interviews have become effective tools in retaining an organization’s best and most talented employees. Stay surveys also help managers and supervisors better understand the needs and preferences of their employees.
What is a stay survey?
A stay survey is a series of questions asked of current employees, conducted by human resources or managers/supervisors, to gauge how an employee is feeling about their job, job roles, workplace, and organization.
What is a stay interview?
“A stay interview is a structured discussion a leaders conducts with an individual employee to learn specific actions the leader can take to strengthen the employee’s engagement and retention with the organization.” (Chapter 4, The Power of Stay Interviews for Engagement and Retention, Second Edition, SHRM, 2018).
Benefits of stay surveys and/or interviews
- To understand why key employees choose to stay with an organization
- To identify triggers that may cause key employees to leave
- To identify what about the organization can be improved to retain key employees
- To provide another mechanism for employees to share their feedback with managers/supervisors
Elements of a successful stay interview
Sample stay interview questions
- Why do you stay in your current role (e.g., people, job responsibilities, benefits)?
- How would you like to develop in your career?
- What do you like most about your job? Co-workers? Management?
- What challenges or excites you about your job?
- What do you want more of from your job? Less of?
Exit surveys and exit interviews
Exit surveys and exit interviews are feedback tools conducted when an employee decides to leave an organization. The information collected from exit surveys or interviews is used to provide insight on why employees may be leaving, what they liked about their experience as an employee, and what areas they feel the organization needs to improve. This information can ultimately help other employees at the organization and can mitigate the likelihood of other employees leaving if the information collected is used in meaningful ways.
Benefits of exit surveys and/or interviews
- To identify the organization’s weaknesses or areas for improvement
- To identify staff retention issues and strategies to reduce employee turnover
- To identify opportunities to improve employee engagement, inclusion and diversity
Elements of a successful exit interview
In general, exit interviews are conducted in person. Employees typically appreciate an opportunity to meet face-to-face to discuss their experience. It is recommended to ask the employee what type of format they would prefer for their exit interview. Managers and supervisors may also choose to give employees a written survey first and follow up with an in-person meeting.
- Determine exit interview questions
It’s important to keep the discussion a bit more conversational so that employees feel comfortable sharing their honest feedback. However, there are some important questions that should be addressed in an exit interview. Some of the core questions should be asked in every exit interview in order to identify common themes and to compare responses.
Before beginning the interview, be sure to clarify the purpose of the exit interview and inform the employee that they do not have to respond to every question. It’s also important to share with the employee how the information collected will be used or shared.
After collecting feedback from an exit interview, begin looking for patterns in feedback from employees who left the organization. Are there high level themes that speak to management issues, organizational culture issues, etc.? If trends are not clear, share themes with the organization’s leadership team to begin brainstorming action steps.
- Take action on feedback (if needed/applicable)
After collecting and processing through feedback, it’s critical for managers, supervisors and/or leadership teams to take action on the feedback collected. Employees need to know that what they are sharing is being heard and is valued. Taking action or failing to do so can send a strong message to employees and can greatly impact employee morale and organizational culture.
Sample exit interview questions
- What circumstances prompted you to start looking for another job?
- Why did you decide to leave your current position?
- Did you feel you had the tools, resources, and working conditions to be successful in your role? If not, which areas could be improved and how?
- Do you feel you had the necessary training and professional development to be successful in your role? If not, how could it have been better?
- How would you describe the culture of the organization?
- Did your job responsibilities and demands match your expectations for the job?
- What was the best part about your job?
- What do you think the organization can improve on?
- What could we have done to keep you here?
- What would make this a better place to work?
- Do you have any other issues, comments, or feedback you would like to share?
Focus group interviewing
Focus group interviewing is another tool to collect information and learn more about an employee’s attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and experiences within the organization. Information collected from focus groups can help supplement the data collected from surveys.
Understanding the value of collecting data around employee engagement, inclusion and diversity is not enough. Accountability must be addressed in order to truly create a culture where employees are engaged and included in everyday work practice. Managers, supervisors, and employees must take ownership of EID data to drive decisions and to implement actions to shift the culture. Without accountability, employee engagement, inclusion and diversity will suffer and could lead to an environment that worsens.
Action planning guide 101
- Communicate results
It’s important for units to plan for a strategic communications plan following the completion of an EID survey. Consistent and clear communication to employees before, during, and after an employee-driven survey is crucial. Here is a recommended timeline to follow after an EID survey period closes.
|Day of or day after survey closes
||Send a thank you email to all employees thanking them for their participation and sharing their constructive feedback. Provide a reminder of how results will be used and when employees should hear back regarding results.
|2-3 weeks after the survey closes
||Provide a broad overview of survey results to employees and clarify next steps in the review/results process.
|3-4 weeks after the survey closes
||Your organization’s management or leadership team should meet to discuss results to determine clear action steps for units/employees.
|1-2 months after the survey closes
||Detailed results should be shared with each unit
|1-2 months after the survey closes
||Facilitate an all-staff follow up meeting to go through results in-person, provide an overview of the action plan, and answer any questions staff may have about the results, review process, and action plan.
- Transparency in discussing and sharing results
Providing a clear overview and necessary details of the results is critical to the trust an organization builds with an employee. Honest and transparent communication of the results tells employees that their voices have been heard and that leaders are willing to acknowledge gaps and address these areas moving forward.
- Determine areas of improvement and discuss in depth
Work with your employees (staff meetings, focus groups, etc.) to identify areas that the organization can improve. It’s important that employees are involved in identifying the priorities around engagement, inclusion and diversity. This process in itself can positively impact employee engagement. It also increases the likelihood that employees will support the priority areas if they are involved in identifying them.
- Make and implement decisions
Taking action on the priority areas identified by your organization and employees is critical. Work with your teams to determine priorities based on the areas of improvement identified by your employees. It’s incredibly important to involve your teams to decide on your three to four EID priorities for the year. Action plans should be clear, simple, actionable, and measurable. During the priority-setting phase, think strategically and focus on areas that could positively impact other gaps within the organization or unit.
Questions to consider:
- What specific issues need to be addressed?
- What is the opportunity for improvement?
- What is the desired outcome?
- What behaviors need to start, stop or continue to address these issues?
- What action steps need to be met to achieve your desired outcome?
SMART Goal Customizable Template
- Check-in and evaluate initiatives
Identify clear and regular time frames to check in on action items and priorities. This will hold all parties accountable and help ensure that goals are in progress and will be met by the intended goal date. During each check-in, take the time to review current program and initiatives in progress. Are these programs or initiatives meeting the goals that the team has outlined? If not, what changes need to be made to ensure that the goal(s) will be met?
- Repeat and keep moving forward
Organizational and employee needs are ever-changing. It’s important to assess organizational and employee needs on an ongoing basis to retain your best employees and to ensure the success of your organization.
Action planning questions
Action planning questions should be forward-focused and seek to address a concern or issue.
- What are areas of improvement/need?
- What are solutions to improve these areas?
- What outcomes do you hope to achieve?
- What are measures of success?
- Who will take the lead on this solution or initiative? Who will hold ownership?
- What is the timeline for completion?
Action plan template
EID and the Employee Lifecycle
The ultimate goal of EID is to center the employee experience and to create and sustain diverse and inclusive workspaces. To do this, we cannot view EID as a stand-alone, isolated initiative. EID principles must be intentionally embedded into every phase of the employee lifecycle and our day-to-day work practices.
Questions to consider:
- How do we diversify our applicant pools? How do we recruit diverse applicants?
- What kind of language is included in the position or posting summary? Is EID named in the position or posting summary?
- Are open positions written and posted in accessible ways?
- Is the search and screen committee made of up diverse units, positions, backgrounds and experiences?
- Is the search and screen committee actively trying to mitigate bias in the recruitment process?
- Is the interview process inclusive? What questions are being asked? What messages are being sent to the applicant?
Questions to consider:
- Are new employee equipped to learn and be successful in their new job?
- Do new employees have an understanding of the resources and support networks available?
- Are new employees aware of workplace policies? Are policies accessible? Are new employees aware of the organization’s values and commitment to EID?
Questions to consider:
- Are employees aware of the culture and expectations around EID?
- Are employees encouraged to set goals centered in the EID principles?
- Is there language included in performance evaluations around EID? Does this language align with the organization’s EID values and principles?
- Are managers and supervisors engaging in informal conversations centered around the EID principles?
- Are managers and supervisors addressing the needs/goals of their employees?
- Are professional development opportunities available to employees to explore the EID principles and/or to grow in their roles?
Performance Management Toolkit
Questions to consider:
- Do employees feel like they can thrive and be successful in their roles? Are employees engaged with the work and the workplace?
- Do employees have a high level of work-life integration? Are managers and supervisors mindful of the well-being of their employees?
- Does the organizational culture align with the employee’s needs and values?
- Are employees recognized for their work? How?
- Are employees given the tools and resources they need to grow and thrive in their work and current positions?
- Are employees aware of career development or promotional opportunities within the organization?
Strategies to retain employees:
Inclusion in the workplace
Diversity and inclusion are both critical components to a successful organization. Many divisions and units on campus articulate diversity and inclusion as organizational priorities; however, there is often a gap between what’s said and what’s done. Even organizations who are successful in achieving a diverse workforce can lack inclusive workplaces and practices. “Inclusion is about welcoming, developing and advancing a diverse mix of individuals,” says Ellen Taaffe, an assistant professor of leadership and director of women’s leadership programs at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. “It’s about making all people feel valued, including changing practices that might unfairly benefit any one group, and making sure that everyone feels they have the same opportunity to advance and make an impact. Creating that environment is where the real challenge lies.”
Strategies to build inclusive workplaces
To retain employees, focus on inclusion
Career management is the process of identifying and aligning skills, strengths, and goals with organizational needs and individual well-being.
Benefits of career management
- Increased awareness and alignment between employees and organizations
Meaningful conversations around career management allows employees to identify and explore their own career goals and how that may align with the organization’s goals.
- Development of professional skills
Ongoing conversations around career development and career goals help managers/supervisors and employees identify and develop the skills that the organization may require currently and in the future. These conversations allow for managers/supervisors to work in collaboration with employees to determine professional development needs and activities that can contribute the employee’s growth and the growth of the organization.
- Improves employee engagement and employee retention
Many studies have found that employees are more likely to stay with an organization when engaged and offered the opportunity to further development their skills. Focusing on career and professional development can be a long-term strategy to retain high quality employees and for employees to contribute more meaningfully to the organization.
- Improves employee productivity and performance
Career conversations can also increase an employee’s motivation to achieve and exceed job goals and expectations. Many studies have shown that employee and organizational performance are positively linked with employee career development activities. There is a clear mutual benefit for the employee and the organization to explore career and professional development opportunities.
Career Management Roles at UW-Madison
Career & Education Planning at UW-Madison
In order to recruit and retain high quality employees, it is essential for organizations to intentionally develop and offer professional development opportunities for employees through formal and informal means.
Employee learning map
A sample of current employee learning resources that will help employees build their own capacity for engagement, inclusion, leadership and continued career development at UW–Madison.
Employee recognition is the open acknowledgement and appreciation for an employee’s contribution to the organization. Recognizing employees for their work sends the message that leaders care about them as individuals and the work that they are doing. Employees also gain a better understanding of how leaders would like to see them contributing to the work and workplace. “Organizations adopt employee recognition programs to raise employee morale; attract and retain key employees; elevate productivity; increase competitiveness, revenues and profitability; improve quality, safety and customer service; and reduce employee stress, absenteeism and turnover” (Society of Human Resource Management, SHRM).
Managing Employee Recognition Programs (SHRM)
Overview of employee recognition programs, the employee recognition process, requirements for program success, management training, and program assessment.
Leaders, managers, and supervisors need to clarify their expectations of employees and provide feedback regularly. Employees need to know what they are doing well, what they can improve upon, and that they have the support to move forward in their work. Lack of communication and/or ineffective communication can have a negative impact on how employees engage and subsequently impact the workplace environment.
Role of Communication in Creating Engagement
The EID Newsletter is another opportunity to learn more about upcoming EID-related events on campus and in the community, as well as relevant EID news and resources. If you would like to receive the newsletter, email firstname.lastname@example.org.