Berkeley Lab’s first-ever systematic workplace climate survey proved to be a huge success, with more than 1,700 employees expressing their views on everything from physical work conditions to diversity and work/life balance. Laboratory Director Steve Chu, who commissioned the survey, was pleased with the return, which represents more than one-third of the entire Lab population and 60 percent of all career employees.
“I was very impressed with the response. The results will provide guidance to us as we consider best practices for creating a great place to work,” Chu said. “It builds upon our current understanding of workplace issues and further opens the lines of communication between Lab employees and Lab management. Only through a thorough understanding of the problems can we develop effective solutions.”
The survey was offered on-line between June 7 and July 20 to all career, term, and faculty employees, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate student research assistants.
Respondents had both positive and negative comments to share. They were generally favorable toward how the Laboratory lives up to the principles it espouses, according to Ombudsman Harry Reed, who coordinated the survey. “Our mean values (on a scale of 1 to 6) in each category were 4 and 5, which suggests a generally positive evaluation of Lab employee experience.”
The Lab’s physical working conditions received the highest overall score among the respondents, with a mean rating of 5. Also scoring high were questions about personal commitment to the Lab, safety, direct supervision, competency of peers, work/life balance, and perception of Berkeley Lab as a good place to work.
Areas whose scores reflected less satisfaction included mentoring, career advancement opportunities, performance recognition, involvement in decision making, and how effectively the Lab is managed. Women respondents, in particular, cited the absence of their gender in upper management jobs (although women were recently hired by Director Chu and Chief Operating Officer David McGraw to manage Information Technology and Human Resources departments).
Chu said he plans further employee dialogue about the survey’s findings, in the form of town-hall meetings and possibly focus groups. Full story.