Highly motivated sloggers at KTH
“Many people feel that they never get the chance to recuperate”.
KTH’s employees are highly motivated and extremely committed to their work. At the same time many of them are working at a high tempo and often have, or very often have, high peak workloads. These are the results of the first KTH joint survey which looked at work environment and health.
The employee survey carried out in December 2009 is the first survey of its kind whereby all employees at KTH were asked the same questions. The summary shows a remarkable consistency throughout all of KTH.
The vast majority feel very committed to their work. At the same time many people feel that they are under pressure with recurring work peaks and a high tempo.
“We have quite a lot to do as regards workload. The fact that many people feel that they very seldom have the chance to recuperate properly between work peaks is not good at all actually,” says HR consultant Anna Vogt, who led the survey work.
The results of the survey have been reported with the help of an index from 0 to 100 for the eight areas that were analysed: objectives, leverage over what happens at work, work requirements, motivation, leadership, internal trademark, satisfied employee and health/well-being.
High index values are positive. Except for two areas, KTH received a score (index values) of around 60. The two areas that deviate include motivation which had an index value of 77 and work requirements which plunged to the value 41.
“The high level of motivation applies to all professional groups. It is not just teaching and research personnel that feel that they are strongly committed to their work,” says Anna Vogt.
An unusual situation at KTH
At KTH, there is an unusual correlation between work requirements/workload and motivation. When similar employee surveys have been carried out with other companies, there is often a positive correlation between high index values for work requirements and motivation.
Having just the right amount of work to do at a reasonable work tempo – things which provide high index values for work requirements – are usually reflected in higher index values for motivation as well. At KTH there is a negative correlation instead, which means that people who are highly motivated (high index value) also feel that they have high work requirements (low index value).
“It does not look like this in other organisations. But it is most likely to some extent a cultural issue and we have not for instance been able to compare our results with another university,” Anna Vogt says.
Dealing with the workload situation in a better way is the most obvious area to start in order to make KTH a better workplace. But when compared to other organisations that have been examined, the index values for other areas in the survey are no more than satisfactory.
“According to the consultancy firm that carried out the survey, it is not uncommon with an index score of around 80 in several areas. So there are therefore excellent opportunities for development,” says Anna Vogt.
Differences further down within the organisation
Despite the fact that all KTH schools have rather different situations, there are no major differences between the various schools; all of them follow the overall pattern. But the survey’s 157 sub reports also reflect the conditions further down within the organisation and that is where you find greater variations. That is also where work is needed, says Anna Vogt.
“In order for the discussion to deal with the right things, it should start from the bottom – what can we do here within our unit, within our group, where should we invest our time and effort? The needs are different in different units and everybody must be involved and contribute at their own level,” says Anna Vogt.
One thing that must be done centrally will be to develop leadership through life and career planning for managers. But in essence, the responsibility lies with the schools.
The employee survey forms part of a larger project “Personnel and economic follow-up instruments” which aims to provide general improvements to the working environment.
“At the end of the day it is all about having good personnel politics to achieve a more effective organisation and to get closer to the organisation’s goals,” Anna Vogt says.
Text: Ursula Stigzelius