Professional Development/Work Environment

A major goal of the WMP is attracting, developing, and retaining world-class employees to achieve the imperatives and frontiers outlined in the NCAR Strategic Plan. This goal is consistent with two goals of the NSF Workforce Plan contained in the NSF Human Capital Strategic Plan (2008). These goals are “Effectively recruit a diverse, world-class, forward-looking and adaptable workforce” and “Build and sustain a capable, diverse, well-trained, forward-looking, and adaptable NSF workforce and enhance retention through learning and professional development opportunities.” UCAR recognizes that a healthy and vibrant organization is continually monitoring the working conditions of its staff. These conditions include equity within UCAR and with comparable organizations for salaries, benefits, promotions or reclassifications, employee recognition, office/lab space, respect in the workplace, and problem resolution processes.

An external survey of 17 successful institutions that have similarities to NCAR is revealing. Most of the institutions offer flextime to their employees. However, only two reported that they offer daycare facilities. All offer a combination of bonuses and incentive awards to recognize their employees, and all but one have formal training and development programs. NCAR offers flextime, daycare facilities, bonus/incentive programs, and training and development programs. Not surprisingly, the external survey revealed a spectrum of performance evaluation/appraisal processes that include goal setting, pay for performance, ranking of employees, self-appraisals, and a focus on deliverables.

A healthy and vibrant organization must always be alert to professional development opportunities to ensure that employees maintain world-class expertise. These include staff training, mentoring, and effective performance appraisals. It is important that employees understand how they can move up in the organization or be prepared for job opportunities outside of UCAR. Indeed, although our ultimate goal is to retain excellent employees, the institution can also feel a great sense of pride when a former staff member excels in another organization.

Conclusion: UCAR and NCAR enjoy a low attrition rate. Over the past ten years total attrition has ranged between 5 and 11% per year. For regular (without term) employees, it varies between 2 and 4% per year. The UCAR Climate Survey results indicate that 85% of employees find the climate in their workplace welcoming, 88% feel their current job provides ample professional challenge, and 91% would recommend their workplace to others. These findings suggest that our professional development and work environment are excellent. The organization must continually monitor and evaluate these areas to ensure a content, productive, and respectful workforce.