In 2018, Ryerson completed a university-wide employee survey to learn about our strengths, and to help identify areas where we can improve. By asking faculty and staff about their work experiences, our goal was to receive feedback that could be used at both the organizational and local levels to implement strategies and initiatives that would improve your work experience.
With just over a year passed since leaders were asked to complete local result rollout, we’re highlighting initiatives undertaken by Ryerson’s library. These examples highlight some best practices to bring employee survey results back to top of mind, and can provide inspiration for your own local initiatives.
“The strong response rate was encouraging and showed positive feedback in terms of communication, feeling valued and recognized, and the psychological safety of our employees. At the same time, it provided some areas for improvement, such as physical safety, job clarity, and how often we were talking about equity, diversity and inclusion. While some of these results surprised me, they provided an exciting opportunity for us to come together and strengthen our work environment together.” - Carol Shepstone, chief librarian
Physical safety was a key area of focus for the Library. By design, libraries have long hours and are open to students, faculty, staff and the broader public. The Library partnered with Ryerson Community Safety and Security on a series of training workshops, including De-Escalating Potentially Violent Situations, Self-Defence and Safety Planning sessions. Additionally, they participated in pilot training for the new Get out. Hide. Fight. program. With each session, a small group from the Library explored the training prior to customize it to the Library’s specific needs.
The Library has approached the issue of job clarity in a number of ways. The implementation of a new librarian liaison model for supporting academic and SRC needs at the faculty level was in process at the time the survey results were delivered, but the results helped inform the implementation and communication around changing responsibilities and new roles.
It also became clear that creating additional OPSEU lead hand positions would help better meet new and existing needs of units and also help improve workflows. The intent is to have employees better able to directly address concerns and issues to make improvements in both the immediate and longer term.
This has become particularly important as well, as the Library has seen significant change and some staff reduction due to the recent voluntary retirement incentive program. These new roles also provide new career development opportunities for OPSEU staff.
Since releasing the results, the Library has held a series of formal and informal conversations about equity, diversity and inclusion, with many focused specifically on Truth and Reconciliation. This has included work on decolonized metadata language, wiki-editathons to improve content about equity seeking groups and marginalized topics, community workshops and programs to advance Reconciliation, and even staff supported tours of Art Gallery of Ontario and RIC exhibits.
The Library has focused on both internal initiatives and external partnerships. After Robin DiAngelo’s visit to campus last year, a number of colleagues started a book club to read White Fragility together and unpack its meaning and implications. The Library has also found ways to partner with other areas on campus, like Positive Space’s Pride event Fay and Fluffy’s Storytime: Reading is FUNdamental, and to support the work of the PowWow Education Committee.
“There is still lots of work to do, but finding many different ways to engage in these conversations and to learn about equity, diversity and inclusion is key. It is wonderful to have a committed and creative team who are leading the way on these initiatives.” says Carol
The Library is a large team. Like many areas in our university, it has hours that extend well beyond the 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, and includes a variety of positions in a variety of roles. Sharing information and finding ways to bring the whole team together can be a challenge. As a result, they’ve found ways to break down silos and connect across roles and units.
All-employee updates have increased in frequency, and opportunities for staff provide input and to contribute ideas are becoming more intentional. There have been expanded opportunities for training and development sessions open to all members of the team, and many more all team sessions talking about organizational changes and emerging issues in academic libraries and on campus.
Special attention has also been paid to supporting these learning and input opportunities and to finding new ways to support and advance grassroots program and service ideas across the team — from financial literacy workshops, to SRC speaker series, new graduate student supports, and an exam stress-busting program, these grassroots ideas reflect the wealth of expertise and creativity of the team.
Recognizing that the survey results are a starting point, the Library continues to find ways to check in with employees on how the rollout is going, to get a better understanding of what type of support is required. "The Library is here to help our students and faculty succeed. In order to do that, it’s important that our librarians and staff are set up for success in their own roles. Working through the results of the survey together has been an important way for colleagues in the Library to engage with one another to build the type of work environment that allows us to provide innovative services and programs to our faculty, staff and student community." shared Carol