Internal Communications Survey

Faculty and staff prefer emailed information, but note the volume they get can be overwhelming

Faculty and staff are most interested in employee-related and school/division/campus news, as well as updates about campus events, and they prefer to receive this information via email, according to the results of a recent survey about internal communications at Tufts.

Respondents also noted that they are sometimes inundated with emails they receive from the university and their schools and divisions, and that the most useful email communications are those that are easy to skim for importance.

The survey of faculty and staff on all three campuses was conducted in the spring by the Internal Communications Working Group, led by Michael Baenen, chief of staff in the Office of the President, and Christine Sanni, executive director of Advancement Communications and Services. The working group, which includes staff from across the university, will use the survey results to develop recommendations for the central administration and school-based communications teams about ways to improve and enhance internal communications at Tufts.

“The survey results will be extremely helpful,” Baenen says. “We want to direct our internal communications efforts toward those issues and channels that staff and faculty find most important and effective.”

More than one-fifth of faculty and staff (1,362 individuals, or 21 percent) from all three campuses and every school and division completed the survey. Staff members made up 74 percent of respondents, and faculty 26 percent.


Many respondents rated email highly as the preferred way they want to receive information. Most want weekly or monthly email updates, depending on the content. They also want to hear about time-sensitive information via email.

However, there is some confusion about the differences between many of the emails sent by the administration, suggesting an opportunity to present information more succinctly in fewer emails.

Among the specific email sources noted in the survey, Tufts Announcements, the periodic update about administrative matters such as parking decals and information from Human Resources, had the strongest following and was also rated as more useful than other options.

Tufts Now, the university news site, was also highly rated. Open rates for the Tufts Now email newsletter sent weekly to all faculty and staff are between 25 percent and 30 percent, which demonstrate high levels of interest and engagement and are comparable to those of other universities.

School and division websites are considered useful resources and reference tools for information such as policies, forms and the employee directory.

A minority of respondents report using the infoscreens located on all three campuses to learn about news and events, and those who use the screens generally work in a building that has one.

About 15 percent of respondents say they check the university-wide calendar, school and division calendars or infoscreens once a week or more frequently.

Although primarily focused on alumni and other external audiences, Tufts Magazine and the four health sciences school magazines (Tufts Medicine, Tufts Nutrition, Tufts Dental Medicine, Cummings Veterinary Medicine) were generally viewed as useful, interesting and visually appealing.

Social media scored low as a way to communicate internal news and information. More than 60 percent of respondents said they never use the two primary social media channels, Facebook and Twitter, for Tufts news.

Next Steps

Based on the survey results, the working group is recommending some immediate changes to existing communications. For example, it suggests that Tufts Now include important employee-related updates, such as the availability of parking stickers and Human Resources and policy information as needed. In addition, the Tufts Now email newsletter, currently undergoing a redesign, will include highlights of upcoming campus events and a link to the university-wide events calendar.

The working group also noted that the survey feedback will be helpful in the redesign of the homepage, a project that is underway.

The working group is grateful to all those who took the time to complete the survey. Samuel Sanker, in University Advancement, was chosen at random from among the respondents to receive a Kindle Fire for participating.

Back to Top