Thursday, March 10, 2022

Dear UNT Staff and Faculty,

We completed our review of data gathered through the focus group interviews and January's Employee Experience Survey. I want to thank the 2,272 faculty and staff who responded to the survey to provide feedback on working at UNT. Overall, it was gratifying to learn that a majority of you find your day-to-day work fulfilling, that your contributions are recognized, and that you feel connected to your work team and our students. We reviewed 78 pages of written comments that were invaluable in helping understand the most pressing challenges, issues, and pain points that were most on your mind.

The top four themes identified:

  • Compensation and salary compression
  • The comp time policy following last June's changes
  • A need for increased flexibility in how we work, and technology support to enable successful remote work
  • Supervisor training to help promote better work environments and engagement, and greater flexibility in remote work management

We can make progress on some of these items quickly, but others, especially those requiring major resources, will take longer as we develop strategies to chip away at them.

Changes to the comp time policy have been at the forefront of staff members' and supervisors' complaints. We heard you and, working with our UNT System Chancellor Michael Williams, we will reinstate our previous practice in the next few weeks. This change simplifies the process and allows comp time to be awarded directly by the supervisors who keep time sheets for TRS-eligible exempt employees.

Addressing salaries and wages is perhaps the hardest of items on this list. We understand that market compensation has changed rapidly, and that pay compression for long-standing UNT employees may occur when offering new hires salaries at market rates. We are determined to create a compensation plan that acknowledges market, compression, and inflation, but it will take us some time to achieve given our current finances. This will be a top priority for how we build our budgets going forward.

We also heard from many of you that your jobs could be done remotely, or partially remotely, but supervisors are not always willing to be flexible. This is tricky, because of the different jobs you have, and the culture and needs of each unit. Hybrid and remote work are now a growing reality in the modern workplace, and I have made it clear to leadership that we must adapt and allow greater flexibility, where possible. There is also a need to better train our supervisors on how to schedule and monitor remote work and promote productivity instead of time clocking. This training will commence as soon as possible.

In addition to these top themes, other issues were noted that we will need to evaluate such as equity for remote versus face-to-face work, mental health and well-being, employee recognition, career advancement, increased workload due to vacant lines, and the technological resources needed for remote work. We will develop action plans in response to survey results between now and the fall semester.

I appreciate everyone who took time to share your input. Thank you. Working together to address these issues will make UNT a stronger and more engaged community.

UNT Proud,
Neal Smatresk
UNT President