Sharing results from the 2020 Wellness Check Surveys

Creating Positive Impact Through Wellbeing Assessments

In creating a new approach to wellbeing assessment at TU Delft, we didn’t just want to measure needs, we wanted to help the university do something about those needs. So, what kind of real-world changes have now taken place?  After presenting to the university board of directors, we are happy to share several top-down policy changes. There have also been many smaller-scale community initiatives; for instance, this instagram campaign for supporting student home environments.

For both students and staff, new wellbeing resources have been created or revised. Student counselling services have now developed better guidance on how to seek mental care help on campus. The gym center developed an initiative to help students to have a collective physical start to the day. As our qualitative results revealed the special challenges for graduating students, a new pilot is helping support a weekly student wellbeing check-in for these students. And, on the staff side, resources have been provided to improve the home office. Finally, the university now has a policy to gather wellbeing data from students and staff on a quarterly schedule.

We will continue to listen — and do our best to translate wellbeing needs into community action.


December 2020 Wellbeing Results

We’ve now completed our December 2020 assessment of students and staff wellbeing. Although the student and staff survey included different items, there were aligned enough to make concrete comparisons. The following chart shows some of the differences in response between students and staff. In a future post, we will show how some of these items compared to results in June, 2020.

Selection of Questions 

December, 2020 





English Staff Dutch Staff
Number of Respondents 776 2351 425 1183
LIFE SATISFACTION 5.5 6.1 6.0 6.6
I am happy with how I am performing in my studies 26% 58%
I often feel disconnected from my family 39% 14% 37% 15%
I’m part of a student association 18% 43%
I feel like I belong at TU Delft 23% 47% 29% 48%
I often feel like I don’t have anyone to talk to 36% 13% 23% 12%
I often feel lonely 56% 34% 39% 21%
Overall, I felt good about my exercise levels 28% 49% 38% 50%
I feel like my stress levels are unsustainable 43% 24% 41% 10%
I am satisfied with my work / life balance 21% 34% 27% 49%
Overall, I felt good about my sleep quality 41% 54% 45% 54%
It often feels like no one at TU Delft cares about me 31% 18%
I feel part of a community at TU Delft 19% 31% 23% 35%
I am generally optimistic about the future 48% 58% 42% 55%
My home working environment is not ergonomic and I can feel the negative effects on my body 48% 44% 50% 36%
I have rearranged my room during corona 30% 25% 39% 61%

September 2020: Wellbeing Design Workshop

Assessing Wellbeing

The Coronacrisis is a major disruption to normal university life. Many staff and students face unusual challenges that can feel especially frustrating when socially isolated.  To learn more about these challenges, we sent out a “Wellness Check” to all staff and students to assess wellbeing and allow them to share their own situation.

After collecting thousands of responses, the typical next step would be to conduct some statistical analyses and write a report. But that didn’t seem sufficient. It wasn’t just that we wanted to assess needs — we wanted to do something about it. But how?

Wellbeing Design Workshop

As a first step, we decided to take a page from the Human-Centered Design playbook and conduct a Wellbeing Design Workshop.  So, with support from across the university,  we assembled a diverse and engaged group of staff that included department heads, PhDs, Tenure trackers and other scientific staff. Each member of this group manually read over ALL of the responses submitted by scientific staff, taking note of individual needs and documenting suggestions. 

Then, we all got together on September 10, 2020 to discuss and build out ideas. After a brief presentation on the statistical findings, we broke into small groups to share and synthesize our individual reviews. Then, as a full group, we used an online whiteboard and post-it tool (Miro.com) to share our favorite ideas and place them on an axis of “Doability” and “Urgency”. We put together several dozen ideas, grouped them together, and considered which groups in the university would be positioned to actually take action. In the end, everyone had a chance to make advocacy for their own opinions — and were encouraged  to stay involved and recruit more participants. 

oh, look, if we zoom out, the Miro ideas started looking like a heart, that was unexpected 🙂


So, if that was our method, what did we actually produce with it? We found ideas in some 16 different categories, from social-life to work culture to physical fitness. We considered ideas for how to let people more easily socialize online and offline, how to facilitate peer coaching, improved supervision, home ergonomics and more. We put our synthesized list of ideas into this document. 

What’s Next?

We still need to build upon these ideas, validate them and consider how well they can meet the main needs that people expressed. Separately, we will be preparing for the next wellbeing assessment. We want to make sure that Delft is listening to what people have to say and responding to the needs in our community. If you know others who are interested in helping contribute to our continuing wellbeing design work, for students and staff, please ask them to email j.d.lomas@tudelft.nl. 

Take care and thank you for your contributions!



Quantitative Results from Staff Wellbeing Survey


The Coronacrisis continues to create a massive impact on global physical and mental health. Our research team in Industrial Design, based at the Delft Institute of Positive Design, aims to make it easier to understand wellbeing needs during this time. Therefore, over the past few months, our team has helped TU Delft gather anonymous wellbeing information from thousands of socially isolated students and employees. With more insight into self-reported health and wellbeing, we want to empower the administration to take smart actions to help struggling students and employees.

This post will focus on our findings from the TU Delft Staff Wellbeing Survey. Using a participatory design process, we iteratively designed 24 survey items to assess the needs of TU Delft Staff members. In June 2020, this survey was sent to over 6,500 TU Delft staff members. Of those who opened the survey, over 85% completed it. This gave us responses from over 2,700 staff members, which include support staff, scientific staff, PhDs and others. This brief report aims to share some of the key highlights of our quantitative findings; a separate report will cover our key highlights from the qualitative free response data.

What’s the effect on workload?

How has the Coronacrisis affected workload? 30% said that their workload has increased a little, 18% said their work increased by a lot, 40% said it had no change and only 12% said their workload had decreased.

How are people doing?

A central measure in our survey is the measure of overall “Life Satisfaction”. This item is used in a variety of surveys around the world as a measure of subjective wellbeing. Below, we show the scaled response questions that asked people to choose a number from 0-10, along with the average response. The graphs show the normal distribution of responses across all of the scales. This shows that most staff at Delft are generally satisfied: the average score was 6.8 out of 10 and only 17% of staff members gave a score of 5 or lower. 

Beyond life satisfaction, we also investigated satisfaction with working at TU Delft, physical health, working from home, etc. Staff generally rate working at TU Delft very highly: there was an average score of 7.8 and only 5% gave a score of 5 or lower. Physical Health is also strong, with an average score of 7.4. However, 10% of staff rated their physical health as 5 or lower, which shows a population of people who are struggling with their health. Working from home, however, stands out for its wide spread. Some people love it and some people hate it. This had an average score of 6.2 out of 10 and over 30% gave working from home a score of 5 or lower. 

How does language and function affect wellbeing?

One way to break this down further is to look at the effect of job function and language. Across the groups, average life satisfaction varies from 5.9 (for non-dutch PhD students) to 7.0. Most notably, PhD students are struggling much more by the working from home situation.

N Rate TU Delft Life Satisfaction Health Working from Home
PhD (en) 268 7.9 5.9 7.1 5.3
Scientific Staff (en) 226 7.8 6.7 7.3 6.1
PhD (nl) 182 7.4 6.5 7.3 5.5
Scientific Staff (nl) 355 7.6 7.0 7.5 6.5
Support Staff (nl) 969 7.8 7.0 7.3 6.7
Teaching Staff (nl) 111 7.5 6.5 7.3 6.0

Which other factors most affect wellbeing?

We asked a number of questions in the survey about people’s individual situation. Which of these additional factors best predicts their subjective wellbeing? We created a regression model using all of the other items in the survey to predict “life satisfaction” (our measure of subjective wellbeing). 

Our model showed that the most predictive factor was the person’s rating of working from home, followed by their physical health and then their rating of working at TU Delft. Other factors that were highly predictive of life satisfaction were items related to stress, loneliness, fatigue, balance, engagement, optimism, personal autonomy and a person’s home situation (e.g., are they living alone or with partners, children, etc). One thing that wasn’t predictive in this model was the particular faculty where people work. 

For the statisticians out there, p<.0001, RMSE=1.228, RSquared=0.51. In the figure above, only the most predictive factors are shown. LogWorth can be intuitively understood as how much a particular item contributed to the prediction in the context of the other items. So, even though a factor might not be predictive in this particular model doesn’t mean it isn’t important or insignificant. 


We are all affected by the ongoing Coronacrisis. Our statistical analyses show how different circumstances are affecting different groups of staff at TU Delft. These results can help the administration gain a broad and diverse perspective.

However, our goal is not just to create perspective — it is to catalyze useful actions that help improve wellbeing in our community. How do we plan to transform our survey data into this action? We have recently brought together diverse staff to participate in “wellbeing design workshops.” These workshops are based on each participant’s qualitative analysis of the thousands of written responses in the survey. By having a broad group of people read the anonymous responses, we can ensure that we are truly listening to the voices in the community.  Statistics can reveal much — but so can reading about personal stories, which bring color, detail and ideas of how to help. In a separate post, we will share the organization of these workshops and our findings. 

Stay tuned — and know that we continue to recruit staff members who would like to volunteer to help support the analysis and design. Do you have ideas and suggestions for how Delft can respond? What would you like to be asked in the next survey? Let us know.

You can email me personally at j.d.lomas@tudelft.nl. Put “Wellbeing Survey” in the subject line. Thank you!


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