University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources

Employee Engagement at the University of Minnesota 

Employee Engagement (E2) supports the University's commitment to meet its academic and research mission by creating workplaces that energize, empower, and enhance faculty and staff.

Engagement profoundly shapes both the quality of the faculty and staff experience, as well as workplace outcomes. It impacts recruiting, retaining, and developing top talent, as well as collaboration and innovation. For individuals, it affects both resilience and well being.

Employee engagement simplified model

Process and Timeline

The first survey, administered in 2013, was the starting point for a larger process that involves leaders, managers, supervisors, faculty, and staff working together to identify, create, and act on plans to make their workplace support their work needs.

Employee Engagement Process & Timeline 2.1

Research Behind Employee Engagement 

Over the past decade, researchers have identified key drivers of engagement which help create motivation and enable success for individuals and teams. The University of Minnesota has developed a model of the engagement process based on both research and practice. 

University of Minnesota Researchers Carole Bland, Anne Marie Weber-Main, Sharon Marie Lund, and Deborah Finstad published The Research-Productive Department: Strategies from Departments That Excel. They identified institutional features that facilitate research productivity and many of these features are also engagement drivers. These include clear goals, culture, positive group climate, mentoring, resources, rewards, and governance structures that provide for assertive and participative leadership.

Employee Engagement Faculty Advisory Committee

  • Carrie Earthman, Ph.D., R.D., L.D., Department of Food Science and Nutrition, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
  • Dennis Falk, Ph.D., Department of Social Work, Graduate School, and Special Project Associate for Strategic Planning in the Chancellor's Office, University of Minnesota Duluth
  • Rhonda Franklin, Ph.D., Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Science and Engineering
  • Erin Kelly, Ph.D., Department of Sociology, College of Liberal Arts
  • Colleen Manchester, Ph.D., Department of Work and Organizations, Carlson School of Management
  • Wendy Rahn, Ph.D., Department of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts
  • John Romano, Ph.D., LP, Department of Educational Psychology, College of Education and Human Development
  • David Rothenberger, MD, Department of Surgery, Medical School
  • Anne Marie Weber-Main, Ph.D., Department of Medicine, Medical School


Award-Winning Program

The University's employee engagement program received the Midwest Region Excellence in Human Resource Practices Award from the College and University Professionals Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) in 2014.

The engagement program was specifically recognized for improving the quality of programs through effective human resource administrative practices, creative application of human resource principles, and strong leadership.


Learn more about employee engagement at LeadingTogether, a blog by Brandon Sullivan, Ph.D., who leads the system-wide engagement strategy at the University of Minnesota. The blog focuses on engagement within higher education institutions and creating a culture that supports engagement.