How Southern New Hampshire University fosters a diverse, inclusive culture using Peakon

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How Southern New Hampshire University fosters a diverse, inclusive culture using Peakon

Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is a private, nonprofit institution located in Manchester, New Hampshire.  

When the school first opened its doors, it began as a two-room business school in downtown Manchester, and enrolled a handful of students in bookkeeping, accounting, and secretarial courses. Today, the university has grown into the nation’s largest nonprofit provider of online higher education and currently serves more than 130,000 online and campus-based learners. 

Over the past 80 years, a lot has changed. Diversity has become not only part of the fabric of modern workplaces, but a strategic priority. In order to better serve the needs of its learners, SNHU has focused on supporting a diverse, inclusive culture from within. To do that, the university transformed its strategy and focused on the differing experiences of its employees.

Dr Shanita Williams, Associate Vice President of Talent Engagement and Inclusion at SNHU, explains how the college uses Peakon to help the university foster a culture of belonging for all.

Peakon provides us with real-time optics into our employee experience, engagement and inclusion — insight we never would have had otherwise. 

Key results:

  • +33 NPS (Net Promoter Score) increase in overall engagement between 2018 and 2020
  • +62 NPS in the Freedom of Opinions driver, and +40 NPS in Growth driver
  • 185,000+ comments from employees since implementation

Building a strategy that reflects the diversity of SNHU’s learners

In 1932 when our institution was founded, our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) strategy didn’t look anything like what it does today. Back then, it meant that we offered opportunities to active-duty servicemen and served the needs of disabled veterans.

Our learners are more likely to be successful if we’re paying attention to equity, belonging and learning as an organisation, so we have a responsibility to reflect these values in our policies, practices and curriculum.

Today, that philosophy still abides — but our learners are not the same, and neither are we. Our learners represent some of the most non-traditional populations in the world: refugees, opportunity youth, single parents, people of colour, service members, and many more. 

Our learners are more likely to be successful if we’re paying attention to equity, belonging and learning as an organisation, so we have a responsibility to reflect these values in our policies, practices and curriculum.

This meant that in order to meet the needs of our learners today, we needed to transform the way we do business. From a talent perspective, we needed to understand the experiences of our employees and attract and retain a workforce that reflects the diversity of our society — and consequently, our learners.

Peakon has really helped us while we’re navigating the next steps toward a more diverse, inclusive and equitable organisation. It provides us with real-time optics into our employee experience, engagement and inclusion — insight we never would have had otherwise. 

Understanding the experiences of different identity groups through data

A key part of our DE&I strategy has revolved around understanding the differing experiences of our employees and seeing where we can offer more support. Having these data points is critical to not only identify where we’re starting from on our DE&I journey, but also so that we can continue to monitor and measure our progress.

Measuring the employee experience can feel challenging — how do you measure a feeling or a sense of belonging? We were able to dive deeper into this topic with Peakon’s segmentation.

We can slice and dice our data by various dimensions of diversity, such as gender, generation, race or by location — and see what stories our data is telling us. Peakon helps us see where we’re doing really well, but also tells us where to send our energy. 

For example, our initial data revealed that setting measurable goals for developing, retaining and advancing the growth of our underrepresented employees was of paramount importance. Understanding the reasons behind employee turnover with Peakon’s Employee Experience Cycle has also helped us focus in on the lived experiences of specific identity groups at SNHU, and what we need to keep in mind to better support them in the future.

We can slice and dice our data by various dimensions of diversity, such as gender, generation, race or by location — and see what stories our data is telling us. Peakon helps us see where we’re doing really well, but also tells us where to send our energy. 

We can view our employees’ experience from their first day until they leave — and segment this data by different demographics. This has been so powerful for us because it means we can proactively put interventions in place to not only make changes to our hiring pipeline, but retain our best and brightest talent.

Cultivating a culture of belonging where every employee can thrive

We use Peakon every day to do quick snapshots of our workforce — and find out which direction we should turn in to best support the SNHU community. Peakon has helped us further our DE&I strategic objectives at SNHU and build more conversations around it, both on and off the platform.

Using Peakon, we can foster an ongoing dialogue with our employees — and because they are anonymous, it means that they feel psychologically safe in sharing their opinions. We have a pulse on how our employees are feeling in real time and better understand the experiences of the different identity groups at SNHU.

We can see the impact of this within our data. When we look at our Freedom of Opinions driver, we can see how our actions have positively contributed to fostering an inclusive culture at SNHU, because our score has increased by +62 NPS since implementation. We’ve also seen a huge improvement in our Growth driver score with an increase of +40 NPS, showing our employees feel more supported in their individual career advancement.

We have a pulse on how our employees are feeling in real time and better understand the experiences of the different identity groups at SNHU.

Peakon is such an intuitive tool that delivers really powerful insights. It gives us the quantitative and qualitative data that allows us to paint a clearer picture of how our employees experience life at SNHU.

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