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Update on Staff Survey University Actions: Where are we now?

A number of actions are being worked on following the results of the 2017 Staff Survey. The Survey showed that staff are committed to the University’s aims and are proud to work here, but more can be done to make the University a better place to work.

Many improvements are being made locally, as outlined in this Summary of Faculty / Departmental Action Plans.

The following provides updates on University wide actions which UEB are focusing on to have the greatest positive impact to address key issues from the Survey.

A Staff Engagement Advisory Group was also formed including representatives from faculties, professional services and trade unions to oversee the Staff Survey and support action planning for post Survey activities. 

Engagement and Building Trust 

UEB Action: Openness and transparency in explaining decision making, and involvement of staff in discussions about the future of the University were key messages highlighted in the Survey. To help build on this and encourage more open conversations and two-way dialogue, staff are playing an important part in shaping our new Strategy for 2020-25 and will ultimately help decide the future direction of the University.

Update: So far, about 800 staff have provided input to help us identify our strategic goals at events including 7 workshops, 6 focus groups, 5 informal ‘town hall’ sessions and 2 senior leadership team away days over the past few months. The quality of feedback has been great, with a strong view from staff that the University should be more ambitious and bold, setting out a distinctive vision for the future. In response a Vision for 2030 is being developed to define our long term ambitions and direction. This will be supported by a more detailed Strategy 2020-2025. An online consultation open to all staff will be held in September to help to finalise these developments.

Delegation and Empowerment

UEB Action: Trusting colleagues to take responsibility for decision making was another key message highlighted in the Survey. UEB are leading two reviews. One focuses on academic roles at grades 7, 8 and 9 to provide clarity around roles, inform career development/progression frameworks and support workload planning.

The second review focuses on simplifying and standardising delegation levels where it would add benefit in areas such as administration, finance and HR to empower more effective decision making.

Update: A Delegation and Empowerment Steering Group has been formed, chaired by Executive Director of Finance Emma Woollard, coordinating a number of working groups looking at efficiencies in research and innovation, procurement and contract management, HR and student/academic administration.  

The Governors’ Infrastructure and Finance Committee (IFC) recently approved the first phase of changes as shown in this extract of the IFC papers. Chief among these changes is the process for approving bids for research and innovation. Internal business plans for all Research and Innovation work are currently approved in the Finance Department after preparation by the Faculty Finance team, and approval by the Head of Academic Department and Dean, and review by the Finance Department pre-award team. This leads to an element of duplication in producing the financial elements of any application for funding. It is far more appropriate for most decisions to be taken locally within the agreed parameters in the Research and Innovation Matrix table. Finance Department staff will be able to spend increased amounts of time in the Faculties to train and share knowledge on the pre-award process and also to increase the resource available within Faculties to offset any increase in workload caused by the transfer, whilst reducing the duplication. Some initial changes to procurement are being implemented in Estates. Further work in all areas is ongoing.

Delivery against the University’s People Strategy

Another strong message which came out of the Survey was on work already underway around the People Strategy, including greater consistency and transparency about managing performance, and for managers to feel empowered and have the right skill set to effectively manage staff. Actions in this area include a policy review, a rollout of a new online PDR system and a new leadership and management programme.

Update: A number of HR policies are being reviewed in consultation with the trade unions UCU and UNISON including grievance, managing absence, disciplinary, and dignity and respect.

The new PDR system was launched on 1 April 2019, asking staff to complete their first PDR on the system by 30 September 2019. This launch has been supported by extensive PDR reviewer training and local briefing sessions.  

An Organisational Development Forum has been formed to provide greater visibility and alignment around all staff development activity across the University and will inform the development of a revised leadership and management programme. A review of Faculty and Departmental development plans arising from the current PDR cycle will also support this work.  

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