Employee satisfaction is on the decline at Cowley College, according to newly released information.

Cowley College logoThe information is contained in the Ruffalo Noel Levitz employee satisfaction survey conducted in 2016 at the college.

The 2016 survey results were compared to results generated in 2012 and 2014 at the college, as well as to other two-year institutions, by the company that administered the survey.

Prior to this release, open records requests for the survey results by Ark City Daily Bytes and other media outlets had been denied.

“Per legal counsel, due to privacy and proprietary rights, the college is not releasing this information at this time,” states one recent email response to Daily Bytes from Tiffany Vollmer, administrative assistant to Cowley College President Dennis Rittle and Cowley College Board of Trustees clerk.

However, following a ruling made by the Kansas Attorney General’s Office in response to a report of a Kansas Open Records Act violation filed by the Cowley CourierTraveler, the college finally released the information publicly.

Across-the-board decline

There are five sections to the survey — Campus Culture and Policies, Institutional Goals, Involvement in Planning and Decision Making, Work Environment, and Demographics.

In each section — with the exception of Demographics — employees were asked to rate each factor with a number from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest or worst rating and 5 the highest or best.

The survey showed a decline in satisfaction scores, nearly across the board — with an average rating decline of 0.25 from 2012 to 2016.

For example, one of the factors used to measure Campus Culture and Policies was the ranking of how well employees feel the college “promotes excellent employee-student relationships.”

This factor was scored by employees at an average of 4.07 in 2012, but in 2016, that score dropped to 3.7.

Another factor that showed significant decline was regarding how well the “institution consistently follows clear processes for orienting and training new employees.”

This was rated at an average of 2.01 in 2016, which was down 1.46 total points from 2012 levels.

Dissatisfaction and morale

Perhaps more significant is the overall increase in dissatisfaction measures seen in the survey.

Employees’ overall satisfaction with their employment at the college was rated at 3.09, down from 2012’s average rating of 4.19.

The employees ratings of how “proud to work at this institution” they were averaged 2.42 in 2016, in decline from 3.44 in 2012.

In addition, employees indicated the degree to which their “suggestions (are) used to improve our institution”  was only 1.98.

According to the 2016 survey, about 90 percent of employees at the college ranked “improvement of employee morale” as one of their top three priorities for the institution.

Regnier addresses survey

While he still was serving on the board, former trustee Sid Regnier also requested a copy of this survey.

Despite his elected position of governance, he said he never received a copy.

“I think there were some things that were important for the board to know,” Regnier said in an interview Thursday.

“We should be made aware of issues that could be problems for the college.”

Regnier served on the board for two years. During that time, he said, he made sure to ask questions if he thought they were pertinent.

“You weren’t supposed to ask questions,” he said. “You were just supposed to accept the way things were. But that’s not who I am.”

A former college employee for 26 years, Regnier thinks current employees should be able to voice their concerns.

“The more information you can give, the better off you are,” he said.