By now you’ve all seen the results of the Staff Engagement Survey, and are discussing them in your Schools and Faculties. We should point out that these results come as no surprise to us, as these issues are familiar from discussions we’ve had with colleagues in our capacity as reps and which we’ve raised with HR.
We feel the changes from the previous 2012 survey are particularly revealing, as the comparison between 2012 and 2015 figures show below. They reflect an organisation where people have good relationships with their colleagues in their immediate teams and work areas (where 75% of staff had a positive response) but where decisions made at the top seem top-down, and handed down on high as a fait accompli rather than meaningfully listening to staff and responding to concerns. This is reflected in the fact that 10% fewer staff say that the University Executive Group (UEG) manages and leads the university well compared to last year, and that 7% fewer staff say that the UEG listens and responds to staff views.
The survey results also reflect the degree of change which has taken place (such as Project Sapphire, the Faculty merger and other restructures), in which decisions which often have serious implications for staff livelihoods and careers are made in a top-down manner and are often communicated poorly (such as through emails at 5PM on a Friday) – reflected in the fact that 33% believe change is managed well (down from 48%) and that 7% fewer communication is effective than in 2012.
14% fewer staff than in 2012 feel that BCU is committed to equality of opportunity of all staff, which raises questions about the fairness and transparency of decision-making, and how much equal work for equal pay at equal value is taken into consideration.
7% fewer staff than in 2012 feel that BCU supports them in balancing work and personal commitments, which we feel reflects the issues we have flagged up around reluctance to agree flexible working arrangements for staff with caring responsibilities, young children, etc.
Finally, the survey results also reflect concerns about the university’s commitment to developing staff careers – as many people feel they are “stuck” in their current roles, and do not have enough support to develop their careers or improve their job prospects (reflected in the drops of 4-5% in staff feeling valued, that the University is acting fairly in relation to career progression, as well as that 12% fewer staff than in 2012 have had a performance review in the past year).
In response, we feel that it is important that strategic decisions – especially those around organisational change – be made in a way that is genuinely consultative, fair and transparent, and that staff views are meaningfully taken into consideration, and that the wellbeing and careers of BCU staff are supported, and that there be a meaningful commitment to equality/diversity. These are crucial if the University is to take the survey results seriously – and we also note that BCU ranked 43rd out of 45 Higher Education Institutions in relation to being a good place to work – so there is much work to be done. However, it is also important that we have a stronger collective voice, which is why we encourage you to ask your colleagues to join the union if they are not already members, as well as to get actively involved.