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American University is conducting a staff workforce assessment to collect information and data about how we work today, including structures, job functions, and collaboration. This project is an opportunity to better understand how our workforce aligns with our strategic priorities and operations and the workload of our staff, which is a key priority identified in the most recent staff survey.

The goals of the project are to: collect information, data, and community perspectives, including hearing directly from staff; to understand what the ideal workforce structure would be to advance our strategic priorities and best support our people in the work; enhance how we work together; and inform the university’s future decision-making.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Categories

Workforce Assessment

Why is AU conducting a workforce assessment?  

As part of our continued effort to improve How AU Works, a key component of AU’s strategic plan, we are exploring how our workforce is aligned with key university objectives. We are asking important questions to collect necessary information, data, and community perspectives on how our workforce and structure aligns with our strategic priorities and our ability to deliver on our mission. 

Why is AU working with Huron? 

The university engages external consultants when they offer resources, tools, and comparative data that AU does not have on our own. Huron is a leading higher education consulting firm, working with more than 400 higher education institutions on wide variety of projects. While Huron has worked with universities that ultimately made workforce changes, the goal of AU’s project and Huron’s work is to collect data and information. Huron will provide information, analysis, and recommendations that will contribute to our future decision-making, but Huron does not determine AU’s workforce strategy. Consultants, including Huron, are engaged following the university’s established procurement process. 

Does the assessment impact me and why should I participate?  

The assessment is an opportunity for staff and faculty who supervise staff to provide their perspectives on how AU works and what we should consider to help our workforce thrive. We have heard from our staff about the need for a holistic assessment of our workforce strategy in light of current university priorities and workloads, and this is an important opportunity for staff members to directly provide feedback and input based on their experience. We encourage you to engage with Huron, complete the study, ask questions, and provide feedback based on your work experience. The project will be successful if it features extensive input from the community. 

How will the assessment be used? 

The assessment will provide data, information, and community input that we need to help make informed decisions about our future workforce strategy. Findings and recommendations from the assessment will be part of ongoing discussions and community engagement as we explore how to improve our work and deliver on our mission.  

Huron Administrative Activity Study Overview

What is the Huron Administrative Activity Study (Study)?  

The Study provides insight into how work is distributed across AU, the level of effort dedicated to the work, and staff members’ workloads. This is an important opportunity for staff across the organization to provide their input about how they spend their time. 

Who was selected to participate in the Study?

The Study includes employees with at least 20% effort spent on “administrative” or what is defined as business operations work. Academic leaders, such as chairs or deans, and other faculty who supervise staff, who generally have administrative responsibilities have also been included. Not all American University staff were included as participants in the study. For example, some employees who hold roles in the trades, security, athletic training, healthcare, and campus childcare may not be included as the Huron instrument captures only administrative or business operations responsibilities.

Does the Study involve faculty? 

The only faculty who will participate are those that supervise staff and only as it relates to that aspect of their role. Faculty and academic program assessment will be conducted through shared governance processes and internal review via the schools and colleges, programs, Faculty Senate Graduate Curriculum Committee, and the Office of the Provost. 

Why is completing the Study strongly recommended?  

We have heard from our staff about the need for a holistic assessment of our workforce strategy in light of current university priorities and workloads, and this is an important opportunity for staff members to directly provide feedback and input based on their experience. To obtain a comprehensive view of activity within the organization, AU is hoping to have completion levels as close to 100% as possible. Broad participation ensures that we receive an accurate and holistic view of activities across all AU units and that as wide a range of staff as possible has an opportunity to provide their direct input. 

Will the Study be used as part of the annual performance review or for potential merit increases? 

No. The Study is not an evaluation of an individual’s performance or in any way associated with an individual employee’s classification, performance evaluation, or compensation. 

How will the project team use the information from the Study? 

This Study is focused on better understanding AU staff’s work across the university and how we work together today. The project team will aggregate the Study responses and look for broad themes and findings. Individual responses will not be shared with anyone at AU and will be reported only in the aggregate. 

I am having technical difficulties or accidentally submitted the Study too soon. Who do I contact? 

Please reach out to the project team at HAAS@hcg.com and detail what technical issues you are experiencing. We will respond to you as soon as possible.  

Huron Administrative Activity Study Process

How long will it take to complete the Study? 

Your response to the Study should take between 15 to 60 minutes to complete but could take longer depending on the range of your job duties and functions.  

What if I want to come back to the Study or change my response later? 

Your Study link will remain open until the February 5 close date and will not be finalized until you click “submit.” If you do not finish in a single sitting, your progress will be saved when you start allocating time and will be accessible via your individual link until you complete the exercise or the response period closes. However, we recommend you complete your Study in a single sitting. If you accidentally submit and want to have your study re-opened during the response period, email the project team at HAAS@hcg.com and they can re-open your assessment. 

What if I cannot remember everything I do throughout the year? 

That’s ok – the Study is designed to capture your activities throughout the year to the best of your ability. We recognize this is a challenge as certain activities often have different levels of importance and effort throughout the year. We recommend that you spend time reflecting on your annual duties before you begin the Study in order to provide the best possible estimates. Sometimes using prompts like a calendar can help jog your memory on how you spend your time throughout the year. 

If I work more than my regular work week schedule, how should I respond to the Study? 

You will be asked to estimate your average hours worked per week as part of your submission. You will then be able to provide a more detailed breakdown of functions and activities performed, either in percentages or hours. 

What if I do work for other departments? Should I allocate that time in the Study as well? 

Yes. You should allocate all substantive time performed as part of your regular employment with AU, regardless of the department in which it is performed. The Study is an accounting of how you spend time on regular functions and activities, regardless of unit or department. For example, an employee who works in the Communications Department may spend time regularly performing activities that are categorized under IT, and the Study is designed to capture that work. 

Can I allocate less than 1% of time or less than 1 hour on average per week to an activity on the Study? 

Yes. You can allocate fractions of percentages or hours on the Study. This will likely be the case when you describe activities that you only do for a short time over the course of a year. For example, you may only perform end of year close-out activities for a couple of weeks per year. Taken over the course of a year’s time, that may result in a fractional percentage amount when you estimate an average week.  

Can I update the department or supervisor listed on my Study response when I receive it? 

Yes. At the beginning the of the Study, you will be asked to verify your name, department, and supervisor. If any of this information is incorrect, you may update that directly in the study. You may then proceed to complete and submit your Study response; the updated information you provided will be sent to HR for review and validation. 

The Study asks me to verify my supervisor. The supervisor position in my area is currently vacant, what should I do? 

Unless otherwise assigned, employees should go up the leadership chain in their organization (i.e., input the name of their supervisor’s supervisor). 

How do I account for the time I spend teaching, researching, or performing clinical work? 

At the beginning of the Study, you will be asked to indicate whether you spend any time teaching students for credit, performing research, or providing clinical care for patients. This question is intended for faculty members who supervise staff, AUX instructors, or other staff members that teach for-credit courses as part of their primary role. This question is not intended for staff who teach but teaching is not part of their primary duties (i.e., a staff member who occasionally teaches a course as an adjunct). Please only indicate “yes” if your primary role involves teaching for-credit courses. If you indicated “yes”, you will then be able to note how much time you spend teaching for credit. However, since the Study is not designed to gather information about teaching, research, or clinical work, you will not be asked to provide any additional information about these aspects of your responsibilities. 

What should I do if I just started in a new role? 

Participants should estimate time spent on various activities in their current role, even if it is new. For individuals who are newer to their roles, we recommend that they refer to their position description and related onboarding materials, in addition to having conversations with their supervisors, to complete the Study as best they can. 

If I don’t see my job activities on the tool, can I upload additional documents? 

The Study tool does not allow for attachments. There is an opportunity to allocate time to “Other” activities throughout the study, although it is intended only as a last resort. The details in the catalog are intended to help define the activity to which employees map their time; they are not intended to be an exhaustive list of specific tasks/duties. Participants should do their best to map to the available activities. Note: If you have difficulty identifying where an activity you perform should categorized, please use the search function on the catalog PDF (Ctrl + F) to look for key words or phrases. 

Is the Study accessible to someone who has low vision and uses assistive technology to navigate the web? 

The content in the Study is generally compatible with most screen readers (e.g., Jaws). If you have questions or need additional accommodations, please contact the project team at HAAS@hcg.com.  

Huron Administrative Activity Study & Workday 

My job responsibilities may be shifting because of the Workday Implementation. How do I accurately account for my responsibilities if they are still being defined? 

While we are launching the study in January, the Study is meant to capture your activities throughout the past year (2023) prior to the Workday implementation. We understand that Workday may impact your job responsibilities and that for some staff members, new job responsibilities are still being defined due to the Workday implementation.  

Feedback

Please submit any workforce assessment questions or feedback via our contact form. Please submit questions about Huron’s online Study to HAAS@hcg.com

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