what happened as a result of the staff survey?

Me presenting at our LTW staff meeting. Picture taken by Jenni in the room. No rights reserved by me.

Last year, in September, the University of Edinburgh carried out an institution-wide staff engagement survey. It was the first time this had happened in a very long time.  The results were fed back to directors and heads of units and schools, with an expectation that things would happen as a result.  Since we had our LTW all-staff meeting this week, and in the interests of transparency and open approaches to leadership it is timely to provide an update on progress, actions and next steps around the Staff Engagement Survey in LTW.

A network of University Champions has been established to communicate and share good practice across the University as well as helping to shine a light on the actions needed to improve staff engagement in each area.  Kevin has been appointed as our champion on this and is part of a wider group feeding back and co-ordinating action across the institution.  At our December 2018 Staff Meeting, we reviewed the output from the survey and worked together to identify our key strengths and challenges and to share thoughts on actions that we could take. We had positive scores we received for the majority of the questions in the survey and that our positive scores were generally higher than comparative scores for ISG as a whole and the wider University.

Our highest scores were in relation to the statements:

“I have good relationships with colleagues I work with”

“I am treated with fairness and respect by colleagues”

“I am proud to work for the University”

And our lowest scoring areas for improvement were:

“Poor performance is dealt with effectively where I work”

“My department deals effectively with bullying/harassment”

“The University manages change effectively”

It is a credit to all of you and the work we do in our teams to develop good working relationships. In LTW we have regular all-staff meetings in July and December and many opportunities to come together to meet and celebrate our work achievements. In ISG we have a programme of work specifically designed to ensure that our workplace is fair and inclusive. LTW staff are the by far the largest group of participants in these equality and diversity activities.

We also take care to ensure that achievements are recognised and celebrated beyond ISG. LTW staff have won a number of high-profile national awards in the last 6 months and these reflect the pride you can rightly have in your work. Our Wikimedian in Residence was shortlisted for a LILAC award and won a Herald HE Award for Innovation in use of Technology. Our VLE migration team won a Blackboard Catalyst Award along with Law colleagues for their work on the VLE migrations. 2 of our student interns got prizes in the Student Employee of the Year awards at university level. Dominique won Equate Student partnership of the year and the Lecture Recording team are finalists for ALT Learning Technology Team of the year.

One of the questions in the staff engagement survey was about managing change in the university. I don’t think we manage change for the whole university, but we are definitely part of bringing change in the university and I think we manage it well. Projects like lecture recording, subtitling,  DLAS, VLE foundations, digital skills framework, student helpers, student interns,  and chat bots  are actually changing the conversations we have with colleagues about use of technology and I think contributing to changing the culture in the institution.

“Good performance is recognised and appreciated at the University”

“My manager recognises and acknowledges when I do my job well”

Each year in ISG we have a round of pay rewards over and above the normal increments.  29 LTW staff were recognised and rewarded for exceptional contribution in 18/19 through the annual Contribution Reward process and a further 37 staff via the Voucher Reward Scheme. Awards were given at all grades and we ensure that we consider our grade and gender profiles as part of our nomination process.

“The training and development opportunities I receive help me to do my job more effectively”

We have approved £65k of expenditure to support LTW staff attending a vast number of training events, conferences and other development opportunities in 18/19 as we believe these activities bring real benefits to the individual and to LTW and the wider University.

LTW colleagues presented and attended in leading conferences of the field e.g.UX Scotland,  Blackboard Europe, Echo 360 Europe, Open Apereo,  Open Educational Resources 19, Drupal Dev Days, Institution Web Manager’s Workshops (IWMW), Frontend United, Digital Day of Ideas, Digifest, Dealing with Data, Jisc Events, HEIDS events, UCISA events, ALT events, LILAC, ICEPOPS, Pebblebash, University Learning and Teaching conference, Drupal camp, Jupyter Camp  etc and delivered a dozen events  for students in  our Festival of Creative Learning week. We are still, by far, the largest group of CMALT accredited learning technologists in the UK, or in the world and when the  ALT conference comes here in September we will be the largest group there from any one institution I’m sure.

“I found my last Annual Review or Probationary Meeting useful”

“I receive regular and constructive feedback on my performance”

“My role makes good use of my skills and abilities”

Colleagues across LTW are aware of the importance of the Annual Development Review (ADR) and regular 1:1 discussions between managers and staff.  ADRs support staff to realise their full potential by reviewing their progress against previously agreed objectives, discussing future plans and development needs and setting objectives for the year ahead.

LTW reviews include specific prompts to discuss digital skills development, which reflects partly the fact that we have the Digital Skills & Training team in our directorate and partly that we aim to be up to date with our skills as lifelong learners. Reviewers and reviewees are both responsible for making annual review conversations meaningful.  The Digital Skills team will collate and analyse digital skills training needs identified in this year’s ADRs to ensure that relevant training is available is to develop the skills that we need.

To support digital skills development the university’s Digital Skills Framework, based on Jisc’s Digital Capability Framework, is available to help managers and staff (and also students) to:

  • Evaluate current digital skill levels using a self-assessment questionnaire (Jisc Discovery Tool);
  • Identify and think about the digital skills required for various roles using digital role profiles;
  • Develop your digital skills by using the Resource Finder to explore hundreds of resources and development opportunities including Digital Skills Programme classroom-based training, online learning with Lynda.com, development programmes, online guides, user groups and more.

“Poor performance is dealt with effectively where I work”

This is a always a knotty challenge. Linked to the ADR update/actions above, the University is committed to a culture of high performance and to supporting employees to do their jobs well and to meet the standards expected of them.  Managers aim to support employees who are not managing to meet these standards and work together to identify and agree appropriate actions and evidence of improvements through ADRs and 1:1s. Given the sensitive nature of these discussion and actions, they will not be visible to other colleagues, but we do have  relevant policy, procedures and performance improvement plans, and we do use them.

“My department deals effectively with bullying/harassment”

The University launched the Don’t Cross the Line campaign which aims to demonstrate the University’s zero tolerance stance towards bullying and harassment; raise awareness of the support mechanisms that are in place; and promote awareness of our existing Dignity & Respect policy.  Within LTW, we organised a “Where do you draw the line?” workshop, which provided the opportunity to learn about factors that contribute to a work environment in which harassment and bullying occur, and empowers participants to work collaboratively to address concerns. Following the positive feedback from the workshop, we have encouraged other ISG Directorates to organise their own events and places have been offered to LTW colleagues who were unable to attend our event.

“I am satisfied with the support in place to help me manage my health and wellbeing at work”

“I feel comfortable with the pressure placed upon me in my role”

Linked to Mental Health Awareness Week, Digital Skills colleagues compiled a Lynda.com playlist of online videos and tips for managing stress in the workplace. These tips cover areas such as looming deadlines, unfinished tasks, dealing with interruptions, and more and would encourage all staff to make use of these resources. Our teams also worked with students and colleagues in L&UC to create a new colouring book for relaxation and mindfulness.

Because we take an intersectional approach to  thinking about our experience of the workplace, we ran an “Overheating and stressed in the workplace” Playfair Steps event focussed on recognising and understanding the causes of stress in the workplace and thinking about how we can best support our colleagues makes sense for leaders, managers, recruiters and customer facing service teams.

In LTW we are trialling a number of ‘playful approaches’ for engagement and innovation at work. One of these is the playful engagement trolleys which include all the kit and caboodle you need for making meetings more creative and fun.

“I am satisfied with my physical working environment”

The Argyle House User Group (AHUG) regularly requests input from colleagues and looks to identify actions that can be taken. One key area of concern has been the temperature/working environment in our building and  some actions around thermal blinds and A/C are being taken.  In addition the Digital Skills Training team have acquired a line of merchandising which proclaims ‘I’m a Digital Skills Programme fan’. If you would like one of these hand fans, come along to a digital skills training event and pick one up.

“I am able to strike the right balance between my work and home life”

“As long as I get the work done, I have the freedom to work in a way that suits me”

LTW managers promote achieving a healthy work/life balance and support activities coordinated by the Healthy Working Lives group. Colleagues will be aware the LTW SMT agreed to refrain from sending emails outwith core hours of 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and encouraged this approach to be cascaded within their teams. In addition, we continue to support flexible working requests in line with UoE policy and we have staff working across LTW on a variety of working hours / patterns / arrangements.

Next steps:

We now have access to the data from the survey and have produced MI/charts focussing on various demographics, which we can share with the groups and use to inform our action planning. We will continue with the work to identify opportunities to celebrate those areas where we achieved our highest scores and look for things we can learn and apply to areas where we did not score so well.

 

 

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