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Less discrimination – continued stress

Published Jun 26, 2018

Progress in the area of discrimination but fewer responses in total and continued indications that many are experiencing stress. These are some of the results from the 2018 employee survey at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
“It’s been a year of change and that’s reflected in the figures, but bearing that in mind, I think it’s a good result overall,” says Annica Fröberg, KTH’s personnel manager.

Annica Fröberg, personnel manager.

A total of 61 percent of KTH’s employees responded to this year’s employee survey compared to 70 percent in 2016. The biggest decrease is within the merged schools created through the reorganisation that came into force in January.

“This is actually not surprising when working with change management,” says Annica Fröberg . “It takes time for organisations to take shape, and the decline in responses may be due to the information paths regarding the employee survey not yet being fully established, with new managers and roles.”

Annica Fröberg thinks that what is most pleasing are the results in the areas of leadership, harassment and discrimination. The latter has been singled out by the President as the area of priority for the working environment, and this year’s survey focused more sharply on discrimination than previous surveys.

“It’s extremely positive that 80 percent of respondents say that their workplace is free from discrimination, an increase from 71 percent. It’s also pleasing that leadership received good results and is the area where we have the best results. You have to remember that it’s difficult being a manager in the academic world and something you often haven’t chosen as your primary career path,” Annica says.

Stress is an area in which she sees a need for further work at KTH. Even if the results for work-life balance and recovery shifted slightly upwards, 57 percent is too low a value for recovery according to Annica Fröberg, who would like to see a “green” value of at least 70.

“This is a major problem, not only for KTH but also for society in general, and it’s linked to slimmed-down organisations and lifestyle problems in major cities. We need to continue our work in this area on identifying measures that can make life easier for employees,” she says.

An area in which KTH is losing ground is the question of whether employees would recommend the university as a workplace to others. The way that this area is structured in the survey, things are looking red.

“Of course, it would have been great to see more green in the chart, but on a scale of one to ten, I still think a seven or eight can be viewed as positive. But it’s counted as negative according to the methodology used in the survey,” says Annica Fröberg.

The results of the employee survey have been presented to all schools and other groups concerned. Local evaluation processes are now taking over, with working parties and HR managers at the schools going through the results.

“This work should get started before the summer holidays. After that, the work on various measures will pick up speed during autumn. But what this will involve in concrete terms is too early to say at this point,” says Annica Fröberg and adds:

“I’d like to thank all those who got involved and took the time to respond to the employee survey. It gives us invaluable indications regarding the areas we need to carry on working with in terms of the working environment.”

Text: Per-Ola Knutas

What the unions think about the employee survey results:

Reine Bergström , chairman of Saco-S at KTH thinks it’s a shame that more people haven’t paid attention to and answered this year’s employee survey.

“We’re also looking forward to continuing work out in the schools based on the employee survey that will generate action plans,” he says.

Jelena Elfving , union representative for SEKO at KTH thinks that the extra focus on questions about discrimination and harassment were welcome components of this year’s employee survey. On the other hand, she thinks it’s disheartening that the response frequency has declined.

“The employee survey is, after all, a way for each individual employee to take part in influencing the organisation,” she says.

When it comes to results, she notes that things look better than before in the areas of work-life balance and recovery.

“But the workload is still seen as high, and there isn’t enough time for recovery. I think we need to do even more to tackle stress in the workplace. The next step is that, at our workplace meetings in the schools, departments and other contexts, we reflect on the results and discuss measures that can lead to improvements.”

Erik Edstam, ST.

Also, Erik Edstam , chairman of ST at KTH, thinks that it’s discouraging that the response frequency has fallen.

“This is regrettable, even if there are reasons behind it. What’s clear is that the organisation is perceived as ambiguous, which can perhaps be expected in view of the organisational changes both implemented and forthcoming, but despite this it’s something that needs to be managed. We think that KTH should complete and clarify leadership structures and make it clear how the university’s goals affect all parts of the organisation; this most likely requires better documentation and better communication.”

Among the positive portions of the results, Erik Edstam emphasises that the issue of stress seems to look a little better, as well as KTH being seen as a workplace with good results when it comes to how people are treated.

“At first glance, stress seems to have declined somewhat as a factor, which feels positive. But the issue is always on the table, and work on handling it needs to continue. When it comes to treatment, KTH seems to be perceived as a workplace with good results, but I’d like to see a more detailed breakdown of this question to be able to analyse different relationships more effectively.”

Facts: employee survey

  • KTH’s employee survey is carried out with the help of the company Quicksearch and is based on the same methodology as for other universities in order to make certain comparisons possible.
  • In 2018 61 percent of employees responded to the survey, compared to 70 percent in 2016. Surveys were previously carried out in 2009, 2011 and 2013.
  • Read more about the survey results here .