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The Source

COVID-19 Faculty and Staff Survey Initial Report

July 13, 2020

Recently, employees at Lewis & Clark completed a survey designed to help the institution gauge the impact of COVID-19 and to assess the administration’s response to the growing pandemic. The surveys included questions about how members of the community experienced the institution’s responses to COVID-19 as well as their concerns about returning to campus in the fall. The faculty survey also included open-ended questions about experiences with teaching and learning in the online environment initiated by the crisis.

Employees were also given the opportunity to submit comments via four prompts:

  • What have you appreciated most about this institution’s response to COVID-19?
  • What part of this institution’s response to COVID-19 has caused you the most stress or anxiety?
  • What are your biggest worries or concerns as you think about what’s coming up in the next few months?
  • Is there anything else you’d like to tell this institution about how we’ve responded to COVID-19 and your experience this spring?

The survey was sent to all employees (including adjunct, temporary, and seasonal) who were on the College’s payroll as of June 3, 2020. Approximately half of the faculty and three quarters of the staff responded and response rates were reflective of the population breakdown for each of the three schools and common services (47% CAS, 17% GSEC, 15% LAW, and 14% Common Services). Below is a summary of general findings. Over the next week or two, Institutional Research staff will be digging into the raw data to look for additional patterns, differences between groups, and creating summaries for each school as well as for common services.

In general, employees agreed that the administration did a good job protecting them from the negative health consequences of COVID-19, helping them adapt to the changes at the institution brought about by COVID- 19 and showed care and concern for employees as they responded to the spread of COVID-19. Faculty and staff both agreed a little less strongly that senior leadership (faculty) and supervisors (staff) helped them understand the priorities and direction in their work given the changes brought on by COVID-19.

Most employees (66% of faculty and 78% of staff) were satisfied with the support they received to adjust to all the changes this past spring. Just under two thirds of the faculty and approximately three quarters of the staff were generally or very satisfied with the timeliness and clarity of communication. Faculty were slightly less satisfied with information they received about how COVID-19 will impact their employment and both faculty and staff were not quite as satisfied with the information they received regarding the institution’s future viability.

One striking difference between faculty and staff was in response to the question “I know whom to contact if I have questions about how changes at L&C in response to COVID-19 will affect me.” Almost all staff (84%) agreed or strongly agreed with this statement, but only 65% of faculty did. This suggests that there may be differences in the way faculty and staff get information.

Not surprisingly, almost all employees are feeling at least some stress and have concerns about their own health and that of their family, colleagues and students. Likewise, employees are concerned about what the future holds for the institution. More faculty than staff worried often or very often about doing their job effectively despite the changes in the work environment (65% compared to 36%. An additional 28% of faculty and 36% of staff said they worried sometimes).

Thirteen or more percent of employees worry very often about having access to health care (13%), paying bills (13%), or losing their jobs (17%). There is also some concern about losing connections with colleagues (28%) and about one third of employees (36%) reported feeling pressured to come to work at least sometimes (faculty slightly more than staff).

Employees are concerned about returning to campus in the fall. More than half (55%) are concerned about the health of others because they care for or come into regular contact with someone who is immune compromised, in a high-risk age group or has underlying health conditions. About one third (36%) are concerned about their own health because they are immune compromised, in a high-risk age group or have underlying health conditions. Whether or not day cares and K-12 schools are open are also of concern to employees (11% and 21% respectively).

In reviewing the open-ended comments from both faculty and staff respondents, the following feedback was consistent amongst both groups. A summary for each question follows:

“What have you appreciated most about L&C’s response to COVID-19?”

  • The communications to the community and
  • The care and concern for students as we helped them transition off campus.
  • People also appreciated the college the closing of campus early and allowing people to work remotely.

“What part of L&C’s response to COVID-19 has caused you the most stress anxiety?”

  • Prospect of being in-person in the fall
  • Many unknowns that make planning difficult
  • Furloughs and delayed unemployment payments
  • Communication delays and lack of specificity

“What are your biggest worries or concerns as you think about what’s coming up in the next few months?”

  • Health and safety of students, staff and faculty – how to return safely this fall.
  • Managing work-life balance
  • Childcare concerns
  • Uncertainty about fall semester re-opening
  • Financial stability – both personal and institutional
  • Future employment/potential layoffs or extended furloughs
  • Having to prepare for potentially three types of course-delivery – on-line, hybrid and in-person. Time is needed to prepare.

“Is there anything else you’d like to tell L&C about the way we’ve responded to COVID-19 and your experience this spring?”

  • Improve clarity and uniformity of messages
  • More communication to students
  • More transparency in decision-making
  • Allow for flexibility as we return to work – remotely or in-person.
  • Prioritize health and safety
  • Broad distribution of information
  • Do not forget adjuncts and part-time employees

This summary was intended to provide a broad summary of the survey results. Though this is not by any means an exhaustive analysis, we did want to provide some quick, initial feedback to the community. A fuller analysis is forthcoming.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Institutional Research and Planning at ir@lclark.edu.