Human resources to lead employee engagement initiative

People holding cogwheels

The Office of Human Resources will take the lead in launching the employee engagement and onboarding work group formed by interim President Patrick Phillips in response to the findings of the IDEAL climate survey.

Chief Human Resources Officer Mark Schmelz announced that Kaia Rogers, senior director for HR programs, services and strategic initiatives, will chair the work group. Its charge is to identify resources, tools and activities that will enhance onboarding and engagement practices at the university and recommend strategies for campus leaders to use within their units, schools or colleges to positively impact employee engagement.  

Phillips recently shared with the campus community the formation of four work groups to address key areas identified for improvement by the survey: employee engagement and onboarding; equity; antidiscrimination response and reporting; and faculty service, promotion and tenure.

“I share in interim President Phillips’ view that the results of the IDEAL climate survey are eye-opening and show we have much more work to do to ensure everyone feels valued, respected and supported,” Schmelz said. “In collaboration with university leadership, human resources will support the establishment of employee engagement as an institutional priority and provide tools and resources to help campus leaders facilitate systemic change and sustainable progress.”

Schmelz emphasized the importance of building a culture of accountability by creating opportunities for employees to contribute to the engagement process and setting clear expectations for supervisors.

He announced that supervisors and managers at all levels will be expected to focus on employee engagement on an ongoing basis and participate in implementation processes within their unit. Human resources will work with units to implement accountability measures based on recommendations provided by the engagement and onboarding work group.

“Prioritizing employee engagement at the UO is not about momentary action or a large-scale initiative. It is about the effort each of us makes every day in every interaction,” Schmelz said. “As the engagement work group begins their work, we can all take a moment to reflect on how to enhance the engagement strategies we currently rely on and discover new ways to improve our own experience and that of our co-workers.”

Human resources provides an updated employee engagement guide that includes information and resources about the importance of shared responsibility and the difference that engagement makes in the workplace. It also leverages resources available through Gallup and LinkedIn Learning to give managers and employees strategies.

“The employee engagement guide gives our campus community shared language and a common understanding to build upon,” Rogers said. “It provides an important first step to give supervisors and employees actionable ideas they can start using now while the work groups and unit leaders assess needs and implement action plans.”

Schmelz added that enhancing employee experience, achieving higher engagement, and improving workplace climate takes continuous commitment and sustained effort over time. Change does not occur simply because a priority is set or an online resource is created.

“What is most important is that we start moving in the direction of our goal of improving our campus culture,” Schmelz said. “It is our actions, no matter how great or how small, that propel us forward on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis. Over time, we will be able to look back, see a difference and measure our improvement.”