AAU Update


Increased Well-being at AAU

Increased Well-being at AAU

Despite day-to-day life marked by coronavirus restrictions, the Staff Well-being Barometer 2020 shows that overall staff well-being at AAU has increased. However, Rector Per Michael Johansen continues to take seriously the high stress levels and the number of staff members who have been subjected to offensive behaviour.

By Lea Laursen Pasgaard, AAU Communication. Translated by LeeAnn Iovanni, AAU Communication

According to the results of the Staff Well-being Barometer 2020, published today, staff well-being has increased, as has motivation for going to work.  Seventy percent of AAU's 3,300 staff members took part in the survey they received in their inboxes on 2 December 2020.

- I’m very pleased to see that staff well-being has improved. Given the coronavirus crisis, I might well have feared that the numbers would have looked different. The past year placed great demands on our staff, but they gave it their all, despite having to work under often difficult conditions, says Rector Per Michael Johansen.

Wellbeing at AAU. Illustration: AAU

Staff motivation. Illustration: AAU

Improvement across campuses, genders and job categories

The Rector notes that general staff well-being increased across campuses, gender, nationality and job titles. Several units experienced major, positive improvements to well-being. Improvements from 2019 to 2020 include AAU Innovation and the Department of Politics and Society where on a scale of 1-100, scores on staff well-being increased by 9.6 and 8.3 points, respectively.

Major improvements are also evident in smaller units such as Shared Services in Copenhagen where after a decrease in 2019, well-being now increased by 11.5 points. Conversely, well-being in a few other units decreased considerably. This is true, for example, at the Department of Clinical Medicine where the level of well-being fell from a score of 74 in 2019 to 64.7 in 2020.

- The marked progress we are seeing in several AAU units, in my view, is proof that it is actually possible to change the work environment for the better. This requires a thorough effort in the local environments, which is why it is also important for me to stress that the Well-being Barometer cannot and must not stand alone. The survey needs to be considered in conjunction with the other efforts, says Per Michael Johansen, referring to other indicators such as staff performance reviews, group performance reviews and the annual workplace assessment (APV).

Talk to someone about symptoms of stress

Although there is progress on most parameters, the Rector believes that the fact that a significant proportion of staff members experience symptoms of stress particularly needs attention. The percentage of staff members who experience symptoms of stress regularly or almost every day fell from 33% in 2019 to 29% in 2020.

Stress and symptoms of stress. Illustration: AAU

- The number is still too high, and this of course is troubling. No one should get sick from going to work, and stress is clearly an issue that we still need to take seriously. However, I’m pleased to see the positive movement in the number of people contacting their immediate superior, occupational health and safety organisation or union representative if they experience problems with stress. In order for the organisation to step in and help, it is important that a staff member reaches out and talks to someone about how he or she is doing, the Rector says.

Number of staff members who have spoken to their manager about stress symptoms. Illustration: AAU

AAU says no to offensive behaviour

Similarly, Per Michael Johansen takes very seriously the number of staff members who indicate that in the last six months they were subjected to 'offensive behaviour', i.e., unwanted sexual attention, bullying/harassment, threats and/or violence.

In 2019, 4% of staff members indicated that they were subjected to offensive behaviour, in isolated cases or repeatedly. By 2020, it was 7% of staff members.

However, the two figures are not directly comparable due to changes in the question on offensive behaviour. 'Unwanted sexual attention' was added as a new category in the Well-being Barometer 2020. This is also the first time that staff members were able to elaborate on the type of offensive act experienced.

In the Well-being Barometer 2020, 166 staff members indicated that were subjected to one or more types of offensive behaviour in the last six months. Six percent of staff members report having experienced bullying/harassment, while 1% was subjected to threats or unwanted sexual attention. Three people indicated that they were a victim of violence in isolated cases, which is rounded down to 0% in the table showing the breakdown for the different types of offensive behaviour.

Number of staff members who have experienced one or more types of offensive behavior. Illustration. AAU

Offensive behavior by category. Illustration: AAU

- This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable and we will not tolerate offensive behaviour at AAU, the Rector said, referring to previous statements to AAU Update where he explained the possible consequences for those who commit offensive acts.

He further adds:

- Unfortunately, we also see that far from all staff members report their experiencing offensive behaviour to their immediate superior, occupational health and safety representative or union representative. It's important to put one’s foot down against this kind of behaviour, and in order for us to address this together, the first step is for the individual staff member to talk to someone about it, the Rector urges.

Facts: About the Staff Well-being Barometer

  • The Staff Well-being Barometer 2020 was sent to all AAU staff on 2 December 2020, with the exception of deans; the rector, pro-rector and university director; part-time lecturers; student assistants; student teachers; clinical associate professors and clinical professors; and members of staff on leave during the period. A small number of staff received the invitation to participate at a later date as their email addresses were not available at the time of circulation. 
  • The staff well-being barometer “takes the temperature” of staff well-being with nine questions. The staff well-being barometer is a supplement to the university's workplace assessment, and the report – in conjunction with a general examination of staff performance reviews and group performance reviews – provides a basis for the workplace assessment mapping. In addition, the staff well-being barometer report may serve as inspiration for a dialogue on proactive, preventive and developmental initiatives to promote occupational health and safety, including the annual occupational health and safety consultation.
  • Respondents' answers are treated confidentially and the results are reported for more than nine answers. ’Offensive behavior – by category’ is reported for level 1, 2 and 3 and only for more than 19 answers.

Read the full report on the Staff Well-being Barometer 2020 at trivselsbarometer.aau.dk