Office of the President and Vice Chancellor

November 2023

This is the first in a regular series of reports on the implementation of Vision 2023. Since its approval by Senate and the Board in May/June this year, considerable work has been undertaken to lay out the agenda that the strategic plan outlines.

Parallel updates and scorecards to the Academic Plan will be issued by the Office of the Provost.

Enriching the Employee Experience

We heard clearly in during the Vision 2023 development and in the many Academic Plan discussions that more focus is needed on ensuring a positive experience for our students, employees and friends.

KPU has grown steadily and diversified in many ways over the years, adding programs, partnerships and pathways, and growing its international student population. During the last 18 months or so, international enrollments grew dramatically, and while we have welcomed these students as we always do, the impact on all aspects of our operations was strongly felt.

I appreciate the extra time and effort that many of you put into making sure that KPU does all it can to serve all of our students as our resources allow. The effort has, however, stretched our resources. We continue to deal with funding and compensation constraints, for instance. Given this context, the results of a new Employee Engagement Survey are disappointing, though not surprising.

The survey was conducted early in 2018 and the results were reported to the Board Human Resource Committee on September 6. Next steps and an action plan are in development.

Because the survey was conducted by an external company, with different methodologies than previous surveys, it is not possible to compare the latest results to previous KPU-issued employee engagement surveys, except to complete the relevant indicators in the Vision 2018 performance report. The 2018 survey gives us a new baseline against which we can measure progress. 

The most positive results suggested that our employees see their jobs as being a good fit with their skills and abilities, that they have a sense of accomplishment in their work, and enjoy their daily work tasks.

As well, KPU offers a work environment that is accepting of diverse talent, experience and ways of thinking, and co-workers collaborate to achieve goals, and share best practices and job knowledge with each other.

The majority of employees would not hesitate to recommend KPU to a friend seeking employment, and they are proud to be part of the university.

Some areas where we need to focus have been long-standing and, in some cases, we have little control. Pay, for instance, is consistently cited as an issue.

Both managers and those they supervise do not feel that there is time for adequate feedback and coaching, and respondents have told us the way we manage performance does not enable employees to contribute what they can to KPU’s success.

As well, there is little confidence among employees that these survey results will lead to any action. I hope this will not be the case; as you will see below, we are already planning next steps.

Overall, the consistent themes focus leadership commitment to taking action on these results on:

  • improving connections to the senior leadership,
  • helping supervisors with performance management and employee recognition, and
  • doing more to enable work (better processes, more staffing, adopting new ideas).

As with all surveys, the results do not offer the full story, but they do prompt more consultation to determine what underlies some of the results and what can be done in the short- and long-term to improve. This is now our focus.  To better understand the 2018 survey results, we will be engaging ThoughtExchange to help us drill down further through a brief follow-up survey in response to the common themes identified as areas for improvement as noted above.  In doing so, this will serve as the foundation for creating practical action plans in response to your feedback.  You may recall that we used ThoughtExchange as an online discussion and collaboration tool in the creation of Vision 2023.  We are planning to run this follow-up discussion over the next two weeks.  

We will also be creating employee engagement work groups to better understand our university-wide opportunities to enrich the employee experience.  We will be sharing the results of these work groups and establishing short- and long-term action plans to improve the employee experience at KPU.  We have also begun working with leaders to establish departmental action and communication plans as part of our commitment to following through on your feedback, ideas and solutions to enrich the employee experience.

This is a key priority for myself and the senior executive team and we are committed to meeting Goal A.2 of Vision 2023:  We will enrich the experience of our employees.

I look forward to keeping you informed of progress as we work toward this goal.

Alan Davis, PhD
President and Vice Chancellor