Final results of the UWSA May 2020 COVID Climate Survey

Friday, July 31, 2020

The University of Waterloo Staff Association (UWSA) Communication and Membership Committee is pleased to provide this final results document based on our May 2020 COVID Climate Survey.

On July 14th, we published our preliminary results where we provided the numerical results of how prepared staff felt to do their job in the current conditions and how they felt we in the UWSA were doing in communicating with staff. 

There were three other free-form text questions asking about what you felt were the most pressing issues.  Since they were free-form, they did take more effort to process.  From the 738 respondents there were a total of 1,328 text responses for the 3 questions.  We decided to combine the answers from those 3 questions.  We came up with a list of categories and assigned each response to one of those categories and noted whether it was “Positive”, “Negative” or simply a “Mention”.  From that we generated a “heat map” of the results.   We ended up creating 37 categories, where some categories had very few responses.  We calculated the total weight of each concern by taking the positive responses minus the negative responses to get a total score.  “Mentions” were considered neutral.   Here, then, are the top 10 concerns:

 1) workspace equipment/ environment; 2) working with family responsibilities; 3) workload; 4) general adequacy of communication; 5) missing colleagues or students, morale; 6) uncertainty: employment stability; 7) uncertainty /anxiety: returning to campus; 8) stress/ pressure/anxiety; 9) work efficiency/ productivity; 10) safety - return to campus

Some of these topics could, arguably, be lumped together but we felt that there was enough distinction between the responses to warrant these separate counts.  However, this does give you an idea of the key concerns that staff have – workspace at home, working with family responsibilities, workload, mental wellness and concerns about communication.  We note that several of these top categories involve mental wellness concerns, so know that you are not alone.

The UWSA will raise these concerns with University administration in the many venues where we have an opportunity including the Staff Relations Committee, the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Staff Compensation, meetings with HR, etc.

Several people have had concerns about work from home and expenses and inquired about possible tax deductions.  We raised these concerns with HR and then to Finance.  Finance has been working with the Canada Revenue Agency to determine eligibility.  They have recently put out a news item entitled “Personal Income Tax Forms Related to Working from Home for Calendar Year 2020”.   Please check that for details.

On the positive side, we had these four issues rated above zero:

 UW admin

Perhaps surprisingly, we see that quite a number of people did find the current situation fine or better.  We were also particularly gratified that people, on balance, were happy with the work we’re doing.

If you would like to see the full set of 37 categories and scores – positive, negative and mentions, please see the PDF here.

We hope to run another survey in September once the new term starts, more staff are coming on campus and fresh concerns may arise.  Please stay tuned for that.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the survey, please contact and they will get that to the committee.

Thank you to all who participated!

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