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We've taken action on...wellbeing

We are now more aware than ever of the criticality of individual and collective wellbeing. Wellbeing is in part linked to workload and in the 2019 Staff Survey you told us that you had concerns about your workload.

Many said they felt the need to put in a lot of extra time to meet the demands of their job. Some said they are not able to take regular breaks on most days, with others unable to handle all the conflicting demands on their time at work. 

Our wellbeing is vitally important and should be a fundamental feature of our thought and action.

We appreciate that workloads are probably the most significant employment issue we face and we know it is a real concern across our University and more broadly in the sector.

People have worked extremely hard, particularly through the pandemic, in ways that none of us could have predicted. We are very appreciative of the work that colleagues have put in and for some in very challenging personal circumstances.

We have listened to your feedback and here are just some of the things we’ve done to help manage workloads and improve employee wellbeing:

  • We have taken on additional staff to meet increased student numbers and we are putting in place a range of new systems that should markedly improve the efficiency of many processes.
  • We have looked at all activities, PS and academic, to see if any can be stopped, reduced or streamlined.
  • We launched Compassionate Colleague - an initiative to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of poor mental health, and guide staff on how to have a mental health conversation.  Over 900 colleagues have taken part in Compassionate Colleague since in November 2020.
  • Since March 2020, we’ve held monthly wellbeing webinars, covering a range of topics from positive psychology, resilience, understanding and managing stress, menopause, men’s health, breast cancer awareness, mindfulness, mind-set, self-care and work life balance.
  • We launched a major Wellbeing for Managers programme where managers have the opportunity to undertake several programmes on managing wellbeing and understanding mental health. 
  • Launched our Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy as part of our long-term-commitment to support the wellbeing of all staff and students.

Your wellbeing during the pandemic

The pandemic was difficult for everyone’s wellbeing. Those with caring responsibilities told us about the challenges of home schooling/caring for very young children, or looking after shielding family members and working.

You told us that the conditions which staff are working in at home vary; some of you don’t have adequate space or equipment to do your jobs effectively and that this is having an impact on your wellbeing and mental health.

We’re committed to providing a healthy working environment and improving the quality of working lives for all staff, so we listened to what you told us:

  • We offered Coronavirus Special Leave – up to 14 days a year to be taken in full or half days to help with caring responsibilities.
  • We offered the opportunity to purchase small items to help work from home – up to £50 and promoted the Furniture Store for staff who needed desks and chairs.
  • We launched the new Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in November 2021 to provide immediate support to staff for their mental health, in addition to our existing mental health support services.
  • We’ve held a range of webinars designed to help employees deal with the wellbeing implications of the pandemic and any anxieties they might have about returning to campus.
  • We’ve held a monthly book club throughout lockdown which runs every month, run by wellbeing champion Fiona Lynch.

Looking forward, we’ll focus in more detail on topics such as the launch of our new staff and student wellbeing strategy, workload management and our hybrid working pilot. The latter is part of our ethos of creating a more flexible and inclusive future for people because we know that it can benefit us in our working and personal lives. The current pilot is taking place across Professional Services and will last until August 2022.

We hope that in some way measures such as additional leave, carrying over additional leave and ‘meeting light weeks’ have helped a little, together with our wellbeing support package. We know they don’t solve the problem and we continue to welcome any suggestions or comments for reducing staff workloads.

Your thoughts make a difference – take time to fill out the Staff Survey 2022

The Staff Survey is the most effective way of measuring how you feel about working here, what you enjoy and which areas you think need improvement. 

By completing the Staff Survey, you give us a clear picture of what it’s like to work here, and where and how improvements can be made. Whether your feedback is good or bad - your answers are invaluable and helps us to make our University a better place to work.