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January 27, 2010 | NCAR's Workforce Management Plan, a work in progress for the past year, was released at the end of 2009. The goal of the WMP is to ensure a vibrant and productive workforce into the future and maintain a high morale among staff.
The plan stems from UCAR's 2007 proposal to NSF to manage NCAR, in which UCAR pledged to work with the NCAR Executive Committee to develop an overall workforce plan as part of NCAR's strategic planning process. The completion of an NCAR strategic plan for the 2009-2014 period presented an ideal opportunity to assess the organization's workforce.
"The WMP was a very healthy exercise for the institute," says Roger Wakimoto, who led the effort as EOL director. "It's a balanced document that highlights a broad range of issues and has resulted in a number of thoughtful recommendations."
The WMP Executive Committee, chaired by Roger, led the process of gathering input and crafting the plan. The WMP process was an NCAR-wide effort, with staff contributing via regular town hall meetings, Web surveys, and direct correspondence with the committee. The committee focused on two main topics: determining whether the current NCAR workforce is optimal for executing the NCAR Strategic Plan, and identifying areas of improvement such as mentoring, diversity, performance evaluations, and work environment.
Five subcommittees that comprised more than 50 managers and staff addressed key areas of the plan:
Although the WMP was originally intended for NCAR staff, a number of the recommendations contained in the document are being assessed on their appropriateness for UCAR staff, according to Roger.
Staff weighs in on the workplace
As part of the WMP, a Workplace Climate Survey was conducted with almost half of NCAR staff (413 in all; 237 men and 176 women) responding to questions about different aspects of the organization’s environment. The goal of the survey was to explore staff perceptions of the workplace. Data are contained in the WMP report.
• 85% of respondents agreed that the NCAR workplace is welcoming.
• 89% reported that it’s friendly.
• 88% reported that it’s flexible.
• 80% of respondents feel suitably challenged by their jobs and feel that their skills are well utilized.
In addition, in a series of open-ended questions, 60% of respondents commented on what contributed to their workplace success, citing good supervisors and mentors, flexible schedules, supportive coworkers, intellectual freedom, and the absence of micromanagement. Fifty-six percent of respondents wrote about hindrances, mentioning inadequate budgets and insufficient resources, reorganizations and moves, overwhelming workloads, issues with management practices and decisions, and the absence of opportunities for advancement. Suggestions for improving the work environment included better communication (particularly as related to budget decisions), the need for better management skills, mentoring, and assistance with career planning.