UNC System Employee Engagement Survey

The UNC System Employee Engagement Survey is a five-year project developed to achieve the goals of the UNC Strategic Plan.

  • The data collected will establish a baseline metric for engagement to track over the next five years in concert with other human capital metrics.
  • This will allow UNC System leadership to address those areas in which employee engagement challenges may exist and to recognize those areas that are successfully fostering employee engagement.
  • The survey results may also assist the UNC System in advocating for improvements to human resources policies at the statewide level that are generally beyond the University’s institutional control.

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is this?

The UNC System Employee Engagement Survey is a new program sponsored by the UNC System Office. It is an annual survey on workplace satisfaction that will take place each year for the next five years at all UNC institutions as part of the UNC System Strategic Plan.

In 2018, 2020, and 2022, the survey will go to all permanent full-time faculty and staff. However, the second and fourth years will be a “pulse” survey (that is, in 2019 and 2021, only a sampling of employees will receive the survey).

The survey is being administered through an outside vendor (ModernThink).


Why are we doing this?

The University is seeking to measure workplace engagement. Studies have shown that the more engaged an employee is at their workplace, the more satisfied the employee is and the more productive the work unit is.

The University has limited useful system-wide information about how faculty and staff feel about their workplace. The engagement survey will collect data from both faculty and staff and will help the University identify areas of strength at each institution and areas that need improvement.


When is this happening?

The survey will launch on January 29 and run two weeks through February 12.

The survey takes on average about 20-30 minutes to complete.

Faculty and staff will receive an email invitation directly from ModernThink.

Faculty and staff can take the survey either on work time or off work time using a laptop or mobile device. (Note: If you decide to complete the survey outside your regular work schedule, then you will not be paid for that time.)

Reporting of survey results will begin over the summer 2018.


Who is participating in this?

The survey is being sent to all permanent full-time (75% time or more) faculty and staff employed as of December 2017.

Participation is voluntary. Although no one should feel pressured to participate, this is a great chance for faculty and staff to be heard, so participation is strongly encouraged.

We are aiming for at least 50% participation system-wide but would like to see the number much higher than that. It is important that the University hears from as many faculty and staff as we can in order to get the most complete feedback.


How does this relate to other surveys?

Many UNC institutions participate in the COACHE survey, which addresses a wider variety of faculty-related issues but does not cover staff issues. It will be valuable to review COACHE information along with this engagement survey information, so we encourage faculty to participate in both programs.

Some UNC institutions have done similar surveys in the past, but this is the first survey to be issued system-wide. It will provide a common dataset for the entire UNC System.


What’s on the survey?

Work Environment Questions: These relate to key dimensions of employee engagement, including job satisfaction, institutional pride, communication, and fairness. Examples: “My job makes good use of my skills and abilities,” “People in my department work well together,” and “I understand how my job contributes to this institution’s mission.”

Benefits Questions: These relate to satisfaction with a variety of benefits programs provided by the State/University.

Open-Ended Questions: There are two open-ended questions for write-in responses.

Demographics Questions: These are for reporting purposes, such as race, gender, years of service, salary range, organizational unit, etc.


What about confidentiality?

Direct supervisors and university leadership will not have access to individual responses. Only the administrator of the survey (ModernThink) will have direct access to individual responses, and the data are stored on ModernThink’s servers, not the University’s. The University will receive a variety of summary reports.

Reporting will be available only if there are at least five responses in a defined demographic group. For example, for a report specifically on African-American female faculty, we would receive the report only if at least five respondents completed the survey that fit that full demographic profile (i.e., African-American, female, and faculty).

Note: The narrative comments submitted for the two open-ended questions will be shared with institutional leadership. Faculty and staff may wish to consider how they phrase their responses so that their remarks are not too identifiable.

ModernThink provides a helpline (888.684.4658) for participants to call if they have questions about confidentiality, and faculty and staff can review a confidentiality statement.


What changes will come from this?

In most cases, any progress that comes from this program will be incremental and not occur all at once, or may not be visible to all employees as it happens. This means it may take time to address certain issues or take time for faculty and staff to see the positive effects of any actions taken.

Some faculty and staff concerns (e.g., better salaries/raises, better benefits, etc.) may be outside the control of your direct supervisor or the University.

Some suggestions from faculty and staff for certain changes may be cost prohibitive or may require legislative action by the NC General Assembly.

However, having data that identify these concerns and suggestions puts the University in a better position to prioritize ways to address them and to bring these issues to those who have the authority to make any necessary changes.


Where can I get more information?

ModernThink provides a helpline (888.684.4658) for participants to call if they have questions about confidentiality or about how to complete the survey.

See also:

Program Overview

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Reporting Information

Standard Reports

Analysis and reporting of the survey data will occur over the summer. Each UNC institution will receive a standard report suite. Certain reports also include benchmark data for comparison. The UNC System Office is providing six standard benchmarks of aggregate data from higher education institutions that have participated in ModernThink’s sponsored surveys.

  • The Great Colleges “Honor Roll” (highest rated institutions participating in that program)
  • Carnegie classification
  • Public institutions
  • Enrollment size
  • Region (south)
  • Single aggregate comparison to all UNC institutions

Other reports show response rates by employee group and responses grouped by organizational structure and by demographics.

See Sample Reports & Benchmarks

Report & Benchmark Examples

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About ModernThink

The information below provides some additional information about the engagement survey administrator, ModernThink, and the Great Colleges program.

ModernThink Information

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Program Administration

Program Administration

Communication Resources

What if all North Carolinians reached their full potential?
What would that mean for our state and what would it take to get us there?

— UNC System President Margaret Spellings, October 13, 2016