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May 6, 2010

PULSE Survey, Extension version

A couple months ago I headed over to the U's Quality Fair, one of my favorite University-sponsored events (for which I think this year may have been the last? since that department has been dissolved? anybody know?). It was at the new stadium (on the press level! FANCY!) so that was very exciting for me to see for the first time. The press level has cushy chairs and very nice bathrooms. Bathrooms that broadcast the keynote speaker! You won't miss a thing! However, you will miss a thing if you obsess over there being NO COFFEE for the whole day. ARE THEY TRYING TO KILL ME.

Anyway. My point here was what. Oh yes! Even in my coffee-parched stupor, I happened upon a great poster at the Poster Session: a department had utilized the results of their PULSE survey to target training and try to increase job satisfaction and retention. Now I'm no HR person, but that sounded neat! I came back and talked to our HR and got a copy of our PULSE results from the last survey in 2008. I was hoping to look through and find any areas where we could target some resources from a programmatic perspective.

It was exciting to see that Extension as a unit (with 54% response rate) has very high job satisfaction, job importance, job worth type of feelings. We feel important! We like our co-workers and are overall pretty happy with benefits and pay and working at the U.

Two things I thought were interesting were a high level of work-family conflict and a low level of what they termed "work interdependence."

For the first one, work-family conflict, I have to admit I was a little surprised that Extension's work-family conflict was so much higher than other units at the U. Something about our jobs is tougher on personal lives than perhaps it could/should be and it would be a great project to figure that out.

For the second thing I thought was alarming, "work interdependence" is supposedly a measure of teamwork, but if you read the questions that figure into the data, it seems to be more of a measure of cross-teamwork ("How much do members of your workgroup depend on other workgroup members for help or assistance to do their work?"). Extension as a unit rated the lowest in the whole University for these questions. I think this reflects a fundamental cross-Center work problem that has been around Extension for years. I remember my first day in Extension, my boss explaining to me that we can't have "silos" and I'm not a farm girl so I was like, blink. blink. silos are bad?

One idea I have to try to combat the silos is a cross-Center "buddy" program. CHEEZY, right? (At least you'll have something to talk about with your buddy, as in "OMG this is so cheezy") But do you think it could work for opening channels into other Centers? I had a conversation with the evaluation team about doing what they called an 'overlap analysis,' where everybody fills out a survey and it shows where people are most likely to have overlap in their work, and then voila you know who your new buddy is. I can also see merits to random buddies--then there could be serendipity with combos of programming ideas no one would have ever thought of.

Well that is my take on Extension's 2008 PULSE results. If you'd care to shed any light on any of these issues, just leave a comment or drop me an email! Thanks!