Wednesday, October 15, 2008

University of Michigan Workplace Initiative

Making the University of Michigan workplace great

The University of Michigan is my alma mater. I graduated from there with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. I also attended graduate school at Michigan State University, but Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan have always been my first choice for education. There are few places like it. It truly is "Uniquely Michigan".

I am happy to profile their use of best practices in creating a great work place. Check out links to their web site devoted exclusively to that initiative here.
The Initiative

The goal of the Building Great Places to Work Initiative at the University of Michigan is to focus on enhancing local working climates, in order to support each of us in working/contributing at our best.

Operating units at U-M are encouraged to review their work and endeavor to become "great places to work." We believe such workplaces are those, more than anything else, where people experience mutual trust, mutual respect, and success.

The work so far

Utilizing national and local research, faculty/staff surveys and focus groups, the UM Design Team compiled a Statement of Goals for the University's Workplaces. They also developed a list of attributes which define a great work place at the University of Michigan.

Due to the diverse nature of the University community, with many business purposes and cultures, the statement acts as a model starting point for adaptation to departments and workplaces within the University community.

The statement is as follows:

The University of Michigan's excellence depends upon the full commitment of every faculty and staff member who works here. As we seek to be an example of excellence within the community, the University has set these goals for our workplaces:

The University of Michigan:

  • Values the differing contributions of each member of the community.
  • Seeks to support faculty and staff members in managing a healthy work/life balance.
  • Encourages and supports each faculty and staff member to achieve career success.

The workplace is characterized by:

  • The inclusion and involvement of every member
  • Respect, evident in every interaction
  • Honesty and fairness in our work relationships, creating an atmosphere of trust

Each person:

  • Gives the best of her or his ability.
  • Carries out his or her work with integrity.
  • Can view his or her work with pride.
From those same responses and from nationwide research, the Design Team recognized six areas of importance, for any workplace to be truly great:
  1. A climate of trust.
  2. Knowledge of the importance of our work, and involvement in achieving meaningful outcomes.
  3. Recognition: Knowing that others know our work is meaningful; appreciation for what we do.
  4. Career support: Knowing that my department cares about and supports my success, because the more successful I am, the more I contribute to my department's success.
  5. A workplace that's flexible, so that people can carry out their family responsibilities AND their work responsibilities.
  6. Perks and privileges that go beyond staff benefits, and that are equally available to everyone who works here.
Why adopt such an Intiative at Michigan?

There is the obvious answer — employees at Univerity of Michigan deserve nothing less!

There are also some very tangible, demonstrable benefits to be gained from this initiative. Here's the detailed rationale:

  • A new area in which to apply U-M scholarship
  • Enhancing student satisfaction, which fosters alumni loyalty
  • Reducing health care costs to the organization
  • Attracting higher numbers of the most talented faculty and staff
  • Maintaining a competitive edge by keeping that talent
  • voiding the high cost of turnover
In addition, the effort would provide an environment for successfully demonstrating important UM research about people at work.

Check out Univeristy tools and resources via the links below:
  • See a step-by-step approach for an entire school or department here.
  • See how to gain support for integrating your career, family, and life by starting with Respect.
  • Scan tools and suggestions for building trust, pride, and camaraderie in the workplace
  • Check out success stories

DIsclaimer from the Michigan site:

Much of the information contained herein is an interpretation by the University of Michigan of the findings of Great Place to Work® Institute and the Great Place to Work® Model©. This information does not necessarily represent the findings of Great Place to Work® Institute. Comprehensive information on Great Place to Work® Institute research may be found at
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