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Editorial: Take DSU survey results seriously

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Dickinson State University is such a centerpiece of this community. Not only because of its location but because of all that it provides.

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There had been rumblings across town for a few months and also calls to The Press about employee issues and staff turnover rates on campus

It's human nature. People complain about their bosses and drama seekers often love to claim they hate their jobs.

However, it seems there is some truth behind the rumblings as results from a DSU staff quality survey released Thursday paint an unpleasant picture.

Employees are the ambassadors of all businesses -- they can be good ambassadors, or bad.

Of all of the four-year North Dakota state universities, DSU has the biggest gap between how employees would like things to be and how they are. Of the 119 who took the survey, 70 percent of respondents reported being satisfied or very satisfied with employment. This is a decrease from 83 percent and the lowest percentage since 2004, according to the survey. The North Dakota University System average is 79 percent.

Maybe even more worrisome is DSU staff rated all eight categories lower this year than over the past eight years, which is as far back as survey results released Thursday included.

Just three out of 40 staff comments are positive and some of the non-positives include claims of bullying, scare tactics, hostility, discrimination and paranoia used by leadership. In some cases, these terms are used by more than one respondent.

The State Board of Higher Education can not take these results lightly. Management needs to get to the root of the problems.

One comment says that a vocal minority is doing everything it can to spread unwarranted criticism. If that is the case, it appears they are doing a pretty good job.

Employee retention is hard in all sectors of the workforce in western North Dakota with white and blue collar employees heading to the oil fields. There are a number of fine professors and staff members at DSU and it's important to keep them. Since January 2009, 59 staff members have left DSU, according to information provided by university relations Friday.

The State Board of Higher Education will review the results in the spring. The results can not be taken lightly, not only for the sake of employees.

What does such a negative survey say to students contemplating applying here and what will it do to the employee candidate pool for future staff openings?

Do unsatisfied employees keep up to par with satisfied employees when it comes to job performance? And maybe even more importantly, how does that impact the quality of education? The beauty of surveys like this is organizations can gauge satisfaction. It's no secret, if people are happier they will be more productive.

DSU is such an asset to southwest North Dakota, providing education, employment, culture and artistic outlets not only to students, but the entire community.

Though the State Board will not review the surveys for months to come, we urge local educators to start analyzing the problems now. Take the input and figure out what can be done to improve relations.

Those who oversee the institution must ensure Dickinson will continue to provide a quality educations and remain an inspirational pillar in the community.

The Dickinson Press Editorial Board meets weekly to discuss issues of importance to the community.

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