May 17, 2024

TO: Carla Browning, Employee Experience Task Force, Chair
FROM: Daniel M. White, Chancellor
RE: Employee Experience Task Force Recommendation Memo Response

Thank you to the UAF Employee Experience Task Force for your initial report on short term
recommendations in response to the Employee Experience survey distributed in Fall 2023. I
appreciate the time and effort that went into distilling the information in the survey into
actionable short-term recommendations.
There are a number of fairly straightforward recommendations that the Chancellor’s Office will
prioritize in the coming months, and I’ll be working with the Core Cabinet to make those
changes. This summer, I plan to take the following actions based on your recommendations:
• Task Onboarding and Engagement Manager Carla Browning to collaborate with UAHR
to develop and deliver an engagement training for deans and directors to encourage all
levels of leadership to use the survey data in Qualtrics to improve the overall employee
experience at UAF.
• Work with UAF Events Manager Kara Nash to update Chancellor’s Forums in Fall 2024
with the goal of increasing two-way communication and interactive elements.
• Communicate the availability of resources and training available to support employee
well-being (e.g. Employee Assistance Program, family-friendly policies, wellness
initiatives, outdoor activities, financial resources, etc.)
• Communicate with Provost’s Council to increase awareness of compensation options
available through policy and regulation, and options to reward and recognize employees.
• Explore improved communication mechanisms around proposed changes when they may
have an impact on internal/external customers, unit workflows, or a program structure.
• Charge Provost Prakash with exploring formal staff and faculty mentorship opportunities
at UAF.

UA is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer, educational institution and provider and prohibits illegal discrimination

against any individual:

When you reconvene in Fall 2024 to continue developing long-term recommendations, please
keep in mind how work and the workplace is evolving against a backdrop of continual change
and technological advances. In addition, I encourage you to focus on engaging all employees in
planning for the future as you continue to explore recommendations for opportunities in the
following areas:
• Additional recommendations around improved two-way communication among
employees and leaders across campus.
• Options for increasing employee well-being and engagement in all locations
• Additional areas of strength for UAF that can be expanded upon, and areas where we can
recognize employees and celebrate achievements.
• Opportunities for employees to influence their employee experience at UAF.
And if time permits:
• Opportunities to improve the employee experience around successful collaboration and
innovation across units and work teams.
• Improving employee experience for UAF’s diverse workforce including hybrid and
remote employees.
Thank you again for your important work.


CC: Chancellor’s Core Cabinet

May 6, 2024

To: Dan White, UAF Chancellor

From: Carla Browning, Chair, UAF’s Employee Experience Task Force

The Employee Experience Task Force was asked to provide short-term recommendations
to improve the employee experience in Fall 2024. We reviewed the survey data and Qualtrics EX and made short-term recommendations
around specific areas that influence how employees feel about working at UAF. We have also
included a number of recommendations which build on existing program strengths. In some
cases, these may simply require broader communication, explanation, or tools to aid
implementation. Finally, we have included related longer-term recommendations for

Initial findings
The university is emerging from a period of unprecedented challenges, including significant
budget reductions and abrupt changes brought about by the pandemic. In spite of these
challenges, employees indicated a significant level of commitment to the university’s
mission, and most are likely to recommend UAF to those seeking higher education
opportunities. Data referenced was also sent as an attachment.

Three-fourths of respondents are proud of the university’s efforts to positively impact the
communities we serve and would recommend the university to people seeking education or
job and technical training. Nearly 90% of respondents reported favorably that they felt their
work is meaningful, and 82% of respondents indicated their work gives them a sense of
personal accomplishment. Additionally, 83% of respondents said they routinely collaborate
to get their work done. This level of commitment and collegiality is part of UAF’s competitive

Staff and faculty denote somewhat less confidence when asked about the future of the
university, however, with 55% of employees responding favorably; and 59% responding
favorably to the university being “a great place to work.” Opinions differ somewhat based on
role. These areas offer opportunities for improved engagement and should be addressed.

Three-quarters of respondents indicated the frequency of meaningful communications with
their supervisors is adequate. Favorability drops, however, when asked about “open, honest,
two-way communication” at the university level (42%). Nearly 40% of executives and more
than a third (34% of 251) of faculty responded unfavorably to this question.

According to Qualtrics EX, open communication, respect and ethical decisions are
important drivers for well-being. To the question, “University-level leadership’s actions show
they genuinely care about my well-being,” a little more than one-third (31%) of UAF
respondents answered favorably; 35% neutral; and 33% unfavorable.

A broad range of strategies are indicated, but one of the most important is that employees
feel their feedback has been heard and considered, and that changes will take place as a
result of the survey.

When executives were asked if they believe positive actions will take place as a result of the
survey, just 26% responded favorably, 22% responded neutrally, and 52% responded

Given these findings, the committee focused on six key areas where leaders can make the
biggest impact and help ensure employees feel their feedback has been heard.

  • Leadership engagement
  • Clarity and alignment
  • Strategic communications
  • Employee well-being
  • Developing people
  • Compensation and benefits

The first two areas, leadership engagement and clarity and alignment, are areas where we
can build on existing efforts and leverage UAF’s strengths.


I. Leadership engagement — fully implement Qualtrics EX
Given the response from executives on their lack of confidence in changes coming
about as a result of the survey, it will be important to engage leadership at all levels
to leverage employee feedback and resources to identify unit-level actions. It’s also
important to update employees on actions that have taken place to reinforce the
importance of their voice in shaping the university’s future.

Recommended actions:

  • Charge university leaders (provost, vice chancellors, deans and directors) with
    reviewing data in their areas of responsibility and proposing 2-3 actions they will
    take based on the feedback.
  • Charge leadership to work with the communication team to share steps taken to
    act on employee feedback, as well as major initiatives and timelines from the
    System Office that may impact the overall employee experience.

II. Clarity and alignment
Communicating and clarifying UAF’s mission and vision to employees can lead to
better understanding and rationalization of expectations overall. Fostering a sense
of purpose and connection is also strongly associated with employee well-being and
helps to reduce employee burnout. UAF should continue onboarding and other
efforts to increase a sense of belonging and ensure employees understand the
mission, vision and goals, as well as how their individual and department’s
contributions support UAF’s stated objectives.

Recommended actions:

  • Continue, and strengthen, new employee events, faculty orientation, and
    development activities; add/enhance onboarding programs for remote workers,
    and automate processes where possible to ensure new hires have what they
    need to be successful.
  • Consider hosting a series of small, department listening sessions to strengthen
    communication between executives/faculty and leadership.
    Implement a faculty/staff mentoring program to increase employee
    connections and well-being. (See attached proposal from this year’s Academic
    Leadership Institute.)

III. Strategic, two-way communications
The task force recommends a number of strategies to foster communication and
ensure exceptional leaders and communicators throughout the organization.
Providing transparent, two-way communication about high-level issues such as
institutional finances, restructuring and other major initiatives, will advance trust
across the organization. Such communication should include soliciting feedback and
sharing decision rationales. Leaders should empower in-house communications
professionals to identify solutions and implement plans.

Recommended actions:

  • Build upon the existing structure and frequency of the Chancellor’s Forums to
    make them more interactive by including live conversation and questions.
    Allow participants to provide ideas and input directly to leadership during the
    forum. Replicate the forums at the vice chancellor/dean/director levels.
    • Focus on improving internal, two-way communication
    • Look for opportunities, and develop communication plans, to share
      information with employees early when there are proposed changes
      to process, and ask for feedback — especially when changes impact
      their internal/external customers, workflows, or program structure.
    • Create secure opportunities for people to share concerns and ideas
      anonymously, without fear of judgment or reprisal (e.g., suggestion
      boxes, online input methods or Q&A website), and ensure procedures
      for acting on feedback in a timely fashion.
  • Work with in-house communications to find the most effective ways to
    communicate the financial position and improvement plans of the university
    (e.g., visuals, such as a story map or infographic).
  • Longer term: Consider hiring a communication consultant to work with
    leadership, communication teams and engagement staff to streamline
    internal communications.

IV. Employee well-being
In addition to the recommendations above, UAF leadership should emphasize the
importance of employee well-being to include encouraging check-ins about
workloads, flexible work arrangements, and training to help supervisors manage
work agreements effectively.

Recommended actions:

  • Implement improvements where possible and reinforce the availability of
    family-friendly services and policies such as child care options and lactation
    rooms to support balancing work and family responsibilities.
  • Communicate the availability of employee assistance programs and wellness
    initiatives, such as stress management, mindfulness sessions, or flexible
    work arrangements
  • Provide training to managers and supervisors on ways to support employee
    well-being and engagement (e.g., recognizing signs of stress and burnout,
    facilitating open communication on wellness issues, etc.).

V. Developing people
Professional development and training were a recurring theme in the survey. The
recommendations around training on effective leadership, team building,
supervision and employee communication support the employee experience.

Recommended actions:

  • Provide training for leaders and supervisors to develop people and teams to
    ensure clear expectations, improve decision-making at the lowest level
    possible; and extend trust to help employees perform at their best.
  • Continue to provide opportunities for employees at all levels to be exposed to
    new ideas, approaches, and technologies to encourage innovation in
    teaching, research, and service.
    •  Develop programs, training or workshops on topics such as:
    •  Effectively managing flexible-work/hybrid, remote employees
    • Employee development and career coaching to include, giving and
      receiving feedback, setting boundaries and

VI. Compensation and benefits
While compensation isn’t a strong driver of engagement, it does have an impact on
satisfaction and can drive down engagement, and retention, if not competitive.
Leaders should consider focused efforts to address consistent, fair practices around
performance increases and other mechanisms to reward and recognize employees.
Additionally, benefits are a top reason people work at UAF and should be presented
in an engaging format to increase understanding and accentuate benefit packages.

Recommended actions:

  • Share information about the purpose and progress of the UA Compensation
    Committee, including proposed actions to address salary compression. Provide
    updates on the progress toward a new compensation framework.
  • Explore options for salary equity and alignment.
    • Request all UAF supervisors compare salaries to the market median to determine if staff are out of alignment.
    • Work with Human Resources to ensure supervisors understand compensation options available through policy and regulations (e.g. performance bonuses, in-grade step increases), and work with communications professionals to create engaging benefits materials and presentations.

The Employee Experience Task Force has identified a number of other areas to explore, and
expects to continue their work in fall of 2024.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Task Force Members
Carla Browning, chair, Onboarding and Engagement Manager
Kacey Miller, Staff Council/College of Indigenous Studies, Staff
Marine Gillespie, Alaska Center for UAF Integration Staff
David Hooper, Facilities Service Staff
Hannah Robinson, Center for Alaska Native Health Research Staff
Kristin Summerlin, University Relations, Public Information Officer Staff
Richie Berndt, Faculty Senate, Community and Technical College Faculty
Holly Dean, Rasmuson Library Faculty
Kay McMonigal, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences Faculty
Zoë Marie Jones, College of Liberal Arts Faculty
Nima Farzadnia, College of Engineering and Mines Faculty
Kathy Kitts, Associated Students of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Student
Margo Griffith, Ex-Officio Member, UA HR Director of Talent Acquisition and Development

A. Data summary and visual references
B. ALI proposed mentorship program example
C. Tracking spreadsheet for prioritized actions


April 5, 2024

TO: Carla Browning, UAF Onboarding and Engagement Manager

FROM: Daniel M. White, Chancellor, University of Alaska Fairbanks

RE: UAF Employee Experience Task Force

Pending your acceptance, I am pleased to appoint you as the Chair of the UAF Employee Experience Task Force (EETF). The EETF will address the UA Employee Experience Survey results released in February 2024. This task force is responsible for analyzing the employee experience survey (EES) data and providing me with recommendations on expanding on UAF's strengths and addressing areas in need of improvement

The chair and task force members are responsible for identifying the frequency and length of meetings. The EETF is not expected to work during the summer while faculty are off contract. Expected deliverables include:

  • May 1, 2024: Short-term recommendations to improve the employee experience that can be implemented in Fall 2024
  • Dec. 1, 2024: Long-term recommendations to improve the employee experience and final report

Following the delivery of the final report, the UAF Employee Experience Task Force will sunset unless the EETF requests an extension.

Charge & Responsibilities

The UAF Employee Experience Task Force will have the following responsibilities:

  • Review survey data available from the UA Employee Experience Survey distributed by UAHR in February 2024
  • Provide recommendations on how to grow areas of strength identified in EES.
  • Provide recommendations on how to address areas in need of improvement identified in EES data.
  • Provide specific recommendations to improve the employee experience for groups disaggregated in the data (faculty, staff, remote, etc.)


  • On the requested dates, the EETF will deliver short-term and long-term recommendations to improve the employee experience. Recommendations will be submitted to the Chancellor by the chair in writing.
  • If time-sensitive recommendations come up outside of the report delivery dates, they should be submitted to the Chancellor by the chair in writing.


Membership in the EETF consists of self-nominees and representation from Shared Governance groups. The EETF will consist of a chair, one representative from the Faculty Senate, one representative from the Staff Council, one representative from ASUAF, and representation of staff and faculty members. The University of Alaska Human Resources (UAHR) department will hold an ex officio advisory role on the task force.

Pending acceptance of appointees, membership for UAF Employee Experience Task Force will include:

EETF membership
Name Title

Carla Browning, Chair

UAF Onboarding and Engagement Manager

Kacey Miller

Staff Council / College of Indigenous Studies Staff

Marine Gillespie

Alaska Center for UAS Integration Staff

David Hooper

Facilities Services Staff

Hannah Robinson

Center for Alaska Native Health and Research/Institute of Arctic Biology Staff

Kristin Summerlin

University Relations

Richie Berndt

Faculty Senate / Community and Technical College

Holly Dean

UAF Rasmuson Library Faculty

Kay McMonigal

College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences Faculty

Zoë Marie Jones

College of Liberal Arts Faculty

Nima Farzadnia

College of Engineering and Mines Faculty

Kathy Kitts


Margo Griffith

UAHR Ex Officio Member

Please contact the Executive Assistant to the Chancellor at if you are able to accept your appointment to the EETF.