Feb. 23, 2001

Steering group appointed to oversee development of upcoming employee survey

Development of a comprehensive survey of employee views of the work environment is intensifying following the conclusion of the recent senior management off-site and discussions with several focus groups to identify important workforce issues.

A steering group has been named to develop the survey as well as a path forward following the survey.

"We’ll be prioritizing the survey’s objectives and sub-objectives over the next week or two," said Bob Kuckuck, chair of the Survey Steering Group. Once that is completed, the group will hone those objectives and help formulate the questions for the survey.

The survey will be given to employees during the spring, most likely in the late April to late May time frame, said Kuckuck.

The survey is being developed by International Survey Research (ISR), which conducted the Laboratory’s 1995 diversity survey. The present plan is to offer the survey both on line and in paper form, and for it to require less than 30 minutes to complete. The survey will collect data that will permit trend analyses, benchmark comparisons with other laboratories and companies, and clarification and prioritization of Lab-specific issues.

"We received a 68 percent return on the diversity survey," explained Kuckuck. "ISR told us that was extraordinarily high, but for this survey we would like 68 percent to be extraordinarily low. We would like all employees to give us their opinions by responding to this survey."

To attract those higher numbers, Kuckuck said the steering group is spending additional time to design the survey to address as many issues as practicable. The Lab is also looking into developing supplemental question sets that will be tailored to specific groups of respondents.

"It’s an intense task to integrate all of the varying objectives and issues people would like to address with this survey, but we really want to get it right," said Kuckuck. "This is a prime opportunity to understand employee views of the work environment, with a goal of enhancing the Lab’s desirability as a place of employment."

Already a diverse range of focus groups has been interviewed for input into the survey’s content. These focus groups include employee networking groups, administrative employees, newly hired scientists and engineers (S&E), machinists/laborers, postdocs and S&E foreign nationals, the Laboratory Administrative Committee, the Ombuds Council, technicians, S&Es from discipline and program organizations, first-line supervisors, as well as focus groups on ethnic and women’s diversity, safety and security, and recruitment and retention issues. ADs and other senior managers have been interviewed for input on survey content and process, and individual employees have been asked to provide input via a special e-mail address.

Focus groups were designed to gather the widest spectrum of unconstrained input for the survey. Further groups may be convened and employees are still encouraged to provide input via e-mail ( workforce2001 [at] llnl.gov ( ) ).

Such broad employee involvement is the directive of Lab Director Bruce Tarter, who called for the survey to measure views from as many employees as possible. He also asked that the survey attempt to identify employee priority issues and solutions and, where possible, identify issues specific to subsets of employeess — issues that may be amenable to localized resolution.

Finally, Tarter charged that the entire survey must be designed to address issues and responsive actions in a context consistent with achieving the Lab’s missions.

"We need to maintain our highly skilled workforce as we prepare for the future," Tarter said when announcing the survey in the Jan. 12 issue of Newsline. "I want to ensure the Lab is seen as a good place to work, an ‘employer of choice.’ "

Additional information about the survey and survey process will appear in upcoming issues of Newsline.