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The results of the 2014-15 Staff Survey revealed some slightly concerning results, including the figure that 46% of people surveyed do not feel valued by the University. Some other interesting figures included:
• 42% of people do not feel that the University is interested in their well-being.
• 32% of people do not think their HoD/manager helps to motivate them to give their best.
• 36% of people do not think their HoD/manager deals with poor performance effectively.
• 45% of people do not feel there are opportunities to feed their views upwards in the University.
• 44% of people do not where to find information about important decisions made at the University
• 46% of people think that recent changes have not been explained well.
• 59% of people in the staff survey stated that the process of change causes them concern and worry.
Speaking in particular about these more negative results from the survey, the University told SCAN: “As with all surveys, there are areas to celebrate and other areas for improvement. Clearly where we need to improve, we’d like the figures to be 0% and it’s a key priority to address these, however independent agency and survey experts Capita (who ran the survey on our behalf) told us the things we do well, far outweigh the areas to improve. They didn’t highlight a feeling of wide discontent amongst staff.”
They also said “Overall, the staff survey shows a positive picture, however, we are not complacent and making improvements is a key priority for us. The main areas to improve have been identified as: Management of change, bureaucracy, communication, the performance and development review and worklife balance. Capita will say that other HEIs are tackling the same issues – they are not unique to Lancaster.”
Commenting on the results, VP (Education) Joe O’Neill told SCAN: “I think what these results feed back is that, with the continuing erosion of any pretence of the University operating in an open and democratic way, staff are beginning to feel that this isn’t a place run for them but rather just another place of work. The continued process of alienating various constituencies of our campus community past and present will only see the trend for a sense of disenfranchisement to grow. You might be able to lead a business from UMAG, but you can’t lead a community from it. Of course, it’s not just a Lancaster problem – across the entire sector the democratic foundations of universities are being chipped away in the chase for profits over people.
And whilst all of that sounds like a highly academic argument, it has knock-on effects for students. If Lancaster aims to follow through with its strategic aim of hiring from Top 100 Universities (itself a strange benchmark to aspire to, given that it doesn’t to me directly follow that having worked or researched at a Top 100 means a candidate is intrinsically better than another by academic osmosis…), then they’re going to struggle if they can’t keep the lowly proles they’ve been unfortunate enough to have acquired, before we aspired out of such childish, un-Russell-Group-esqe expectations, from sub-100 universities contented.”
The University also emphasised: “We are committed to acting on the results and have recently held a series of focus groups with over 100 members of staff where they have been able to talk freely to an independent facilitator on the categories highlighted above. The focus groups have been great to directly engage with staff from across the University and hear their ideas for improvement. The next step is for a University wide action plan to be agreed at UMAG by July.”
In response to SCAN, the University strongly highlighted “what [they] do well” as shown by the survey results. These categories included University goals, Roles and responsibilities, Working environment, Job satisfaction, Equality and diversity, Senior management and leadership, My manager, Information, and Learning and development.”