University of Wisconsin–Madison

Working at UW to address employee communications

UW-Madison is constantly communicating. Whether through the use of news releases, videos, tweets, or even my speeches and blog posts, we are telling our story to a multitude of audiences every day.

Over the decades, we often have been more effective connecting with media or alumni outside the campus than with our own employees here on campus.

Supporting an effective outlet for employee communication is both difficult and vital to our success.

When done well, such an outlet can help people get information they need to do their job well.  But it can also be a place in which employees exchange ideas and help shape a vision of our shared future. We also encourage employees to participate in shared governance groups to bring forward initiatives and offer feedback.

For years, our 22,000 employees were served by a print newspaper that not everyone was able to find and read. Access to information has improved with the launch of Inside UW, but we continued to have gaps in the number of people who access its information.

The web site Working at UW is aimed at closing those gaps. For the first time, we have a dedicated employee news site, located at working.wisc.edu, which provides employee-focused news and useful content.

One group that has not traditionally had as much opportunity to consume news from the web is our service workers and English language learners. Many work away from computers and need a portable news solution. Others need help in receiving news translated to their native languages.

We will address these issues by sending the Working at UW email digest to employees and their supervisors so it might be hung in break-rooms and common spaces. We are also translating top news into the languages of our workforce by use of phone-based language lines. 

Until now, we’ve never defined goals and values around employee communication. I believe a commitment to communicating yields tangible benefits, including:

  • A more pervasive culture of collegiality and collaboration;
  • A stronger sense of equity, inclusivity, and respect;
  • More employees who have information they need about how the university operates at their fingertips, without spending time searching;
  • The proliferation of more brand ambassadors and advocates;
  • Higher motivation and morale;
  • Improved retention and recruitment;
  • Greater productivity, efficiency, and innovation.

This project has been led by and for our employees and I want to thank all of those who participated in the work of this effort.

I look forward to seeing this website grow in the years to come. If you have questions about it or reactions to it, please send your comments to working@uc.wisc.edu.