Benchmarking work practices and outcomes in Australian universities using an employee survey

Peter H. Langford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of the current study was to benchmark a broad range of work practices and outcomes in Australian universities against other industries. Past research suggests occupational stress experienced by academic staff is worse than experienced by employees in other industries. However, no other practices or outcomes can be compared confidently. Using a well-validated and normed employee survey, responses were collected from 26 226 academic and general staff from 17 Australian universities. Results were compared against normative data from over 2000 organisations from other industries. Of the 31 practices and outcomes measured, 17 were significantly worse in universities and eight were significantly better. Fewer differences were observed, however, when university results were compared against a subset of benchmarks from large public sector organisations. Universities performed most poorly in areas such as cross-unit cooperation, processes, facilities, wellness and work-life balance. Conversely, higher scores were observed in role clarity, belief in mission and values, confidence and relationships with co-workers, and employee engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-53
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Higher Education Policy and Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


  • Benchmarking
  • Climate
  • Culture
  • Employee engagement
  • Employee opinion survey
  • Human resources
  • Job satisfaction
  • Organisational commitment
  • Organisational performance
  • Stress
  • University
  • Work practices


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