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What’s it like working at KTH? The annual employee survey is being sent out in April. (Illustration: Ida Björs)

What’s it like at work?

Published Apr 04, 2018

KTH is about to send out its recurring employee survey. The purpose of the survey is to get a clear picture of the working environment. This year, many of the questions address harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination.

Annica Fröberg

This is the fifth time KTH has conducted a survey to find out more about employees’ views on job satisfaction and the working environment.

“This time we’re particularly emphasising the President’s prioritised area: discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment,” says Annica Fröberg, Director of Personnel at KTH.

As in previous surveys, there are also questions about leadership and the working climate. The survey is being sent out to all employees at KTH. This year, it will also be sent out to doctoral students funded other than through an employment contract.

What does the survey mean to KTH?
“I’d describe it as a workplace temperature check,” she says. “We can identify areas of improvement that we can prioritise. But then it’s always a balancing act when it comes to reading and interpreting the answers.”

Earlier surveys showed that many employees were stressed. This led to KTH offering stress management seminars via occupational health. Lectures were also given and were made available for viewing on the intranet. The various schools have also run activities.

“Together with the unions, we finance life and career planning for employees looking for more input on developing their lives and careers.”

KTH offers staff life and career planning twice a year.

Other initiatives carried out as a result of the survey include increasing awareness of procedures in the event of emergencies, near-accidents and fire evacuation, and clearly setting out how discrimination, harassment and discriminatory treatment are handled.

What have the results of the survey been like in the longer term?
“The positive thing is that staff have always been hugely committed and proud to work here. In the early surveys, people weren’t sure how to report discrimination and receive support, and we have improved in that respect. Stress has been harder to tackle.”

Annica Fröberg wants to encourage everyone who receives the survey to have their say on the working environment at KTH.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to play a part in helping to create a good working environment. It’s important that every member of staff enjoys their work and wants to contribute.”

The survey is also an opportunity for self-reflection, she says.

“We have zero tolerance of discrimination and harassment. We need to start with ourselves. How do I think and how do I want to be treated? How am I contributing to our working environment?”

What some of the unions think about the employee survey:

Erik Edstam

Erik Edstam, chair of ST, the Union of Civil Servants, at KTH:
“Parts of operations that need further attention can be identified, especially when it comes to the organisational and social working environment. But it is sometimes easy to say ‘73 percent are happy with their working environment’ and stop there instead of looking at the other 27 percent. The survey is an important tool but it doesn’t provide any direct answers.”

When it comes to following up the results of previous years, Erik Edstam thinks that the activities based on the survey results have often been appropriate, but it has taken too long to implement them.

“The situation has changed in the meantime, making it hard for staff to see the link between the survey and the activities put in place.”

Jelena Elfving, union representative for SEKO at KTH:
“It is an important tool when the employer and the unions are aiming to identify and prioritise areas and facilitate development. The survey provides a holistic view of operations. The working environment and leadership are important questions.”

When it comes to following up the survey, Jelena Elfving is fairly happy.

“Generally the survey is followed up well. I can’t speak for the whole campus but the psychosocial working environment and work-related stress have been discussed a great deal. The Central Government Social Partners’ Council* has also offered different courses on the working environment and held workshops about stress and sleep.”

*The Central Government Social Partners Council is a non-profit organisation that comprises the Swedish Agency for Government Employers and unions.

Text: Ann Patmalnieks 

How the survey is run

  • The survey, which is web-based and sent out by e-mail on 4 April, is conducted with the help of the company Quicksearch. The results will be presented by the President's Strategic Council and the management of the respective school at the end of the spring semester 2018. After that, Human Resources and the Safety Committee will draw up an action plan for the whole of KTH. Each school also draws up its own action plan.
  • Previous surveys were conducted in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2016. The previous survey was answered by 70 percent of employees.
  • Read more about the survey here