OA Focus Groups on Employment Policies
May 7th , 2008
TO: University Officers of Administration
FROM: Linda L. King, Associate Vice President for Human Resources
SUBJECT: OA FOCUS GROUPS ON EMPLOYMENT POLICIES
Last year, Linda Brady, Senior Vice President and Provost, and Frances Dyke, Vice President for Finance and Administration, authorized an initiative to comprehensively review Officer of Administration (OA) personnel policies and charged members of the Officer of Administration Employment Policy Review Committee to conduct this review and recommend policy revisions and potential new policies. Information about the initiative and committee membership can be found on the HR website at: /oa/OApersonnelpolicyreview.
This work on OA employment policies is consistent with the institutional response to the accreditation report from the 2007 Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, which recommends that university policies be reviewed and reworked to ensure comprehensiveness, consistency, and common understanding. This employment policy project also serves the goals of transparency and accountability, as articulated by university leadership, to promote excellence and prepare the university for the challenges of the 21st century.
One of the first priorities for the committee is to give OAs the opportunity to share their perspectives about university employment policies pertinent to their work. To accomplish this, we have contracted with Bev Mayhew of the Ulum Group to conduct this information-gathering process. Bev has extensive experience in facilitating group processes and has worked with the University of Oregon on past projects, including most recently the “Integrated Marketing and Strategic Communications” planning process.
This process will provide valuable information to assist the committee as it begins its work. As described in the initiative summary on the website, the review also involves research of other institutions’ policies and campus consultation before recommendations are drafted and forwarded to university leadership. In addition, periodic updates will be furnished to the campus community as the work progresses.
The initial information-gathering process with OAs has three components: focus groups, a general update meeting, and an online survey.
Bev Mayhew will conduct three general focus groups made up of 18-20 OAs each and a fourth that is comprised of current and past OA Council members. Each of the three focus groups will be made up of OAs from one of the three types of OA positions at UO: academic/research related, professional, and administrative. Focus groups are designated by type of work based on the belief that the conversation will be more productive among those with common work responsibilities. OAs will be selected electronically using a random number generator and invited to participate in the focus groups appropriate to their positions. Deans and executive positions above the level of associate vice-provost or associate vice-president will not be included in the focus groups.
Bev will facilitate the focus groups’ discussions on:
- Identifying the effect of current employment policies on OAs’ ability to do their jobs (i.e., what supports and what detracts from success);
- Prioritizing policies or practices based on participant preference;
- Identifying and discussing job satisfiers and areas for improvement.
The focus group sessions will occur in May and last 1 to 1 ½ hours. To promote a free and open discussion, Bev will conduct the focus groups on her own after I introduce her and leave.
General Update Meeting
After the focus groups, Bev will facilitate one meeting to which all OAs are invited. The themes and concerns identified in the focus groups will be shared with the opportunity for questions and input as time allows. Written input may be submitted as well.
Using the information learned from focus groups and the update session, Bev will assist the committee in designing an online survey that allows respondents to provide input and preferences. Survey results will be compiled and reported to the committee.
I hope you will take the time to participate and provide your input on this important project. For questions, please contact me at email@example.com or 346-2966.