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Reviewing workforce requirements - a guidance note for managers
Managing staff and other running costs is demanding of managers who are tasked with maintaining and developing core provision, sustaining the department's strategic direction and supporting staff morale. The purpose of this note is to provide guidance to managers on options they should explore fully before making plans for more significant organisational change.
The HR Consultancy team is available to advise managers on the range of policies and issues outlined below and must be consulted about all organisational change proposals.
2.1 In considering staffing requirements, especially in time of budgetary constraint, it is important that whenever a vacancy is on the horizon (resignation, retirement etc.) serious consideration is given to whether:
- the work still needs doing?
- the tasks can be distributed (in whole or part) to colleagues who have scope to take them on?
- The work of others could be re-organised to allow them to take on some of the key duties of the vacant post?
- some of the tasks could be streamlined or re-engineered to allow completion in a different way in less time or by another team
- re-organising the work could lead to needing only a part-time post or a post at a lower grade?
- a temporary filling of the post would allow time for reviewing and changing the processes and procedures in order that the post can be deleted
It is obviously important that the deletion of any post or a redistribution of duties does not result in overloading other staff. Realignment of duties must be the subject of consultation with the staff affected and posts can only be advertised at a lower grade if duties have been reduced in complexity and job evaluation has confirmed the grade. If reducing staff numbers or making changes to working methods it is important to ensure that the health and safety of staff is not compromised in any way.
Where it is considered necessary to fill a post the recruitment must be approved through your Dean or Vice-Provost (Operations) and Finance Director with final approval from UCL Director of Finance.
Managers must advertise vacancies on UCL’s online redeployment site and consider expressions of interest by any redeployee, before advertising a vacancy externally in line with UCL's redeployment policy. HR will also review suitable matches to ensure that UCL meets its commitment to attempt to redeploy all staff facing redundancy and to consider redeployees quickly for vacancies in which they express interest.
Effective redeployment retains valuable knowledge and skills within UCL and ensures that it reaps the benefits of its investment in training and development.
Any potentially suitable redeployee they must be given a priority interview. If there is no suitable redeployee then low cost advertising options, e.g. online rather than hard copy publications or newspapers, must be used as far as possible to reduce costs. Where hard copy publications are used advert size must be kept to a minimum with referral of applicants to UCL's website for the details of the post and the HR Process team will assist with this. Jobs advertised on the UCL website and through JobCentre Plus are free. Websites such as jobs.ac.uk have modest costs. Agencies should not be used to assist in recruitment or to hire agency workers, other than in exceptional circumstances.
3. Working hours and patterns
3.1 In some areas where the workload allows it, it may be possible to consider flexible working patterns which are less than full time. Changes to working patterns for existing staff can only be effected with their consent but full time posts can be made part-time, job-share or term-time only if a review of workload confirms that the workload is manageable within those hours/patterns. Flexible working methods can reduce costs as well as improving the work-life balance of the staff involved.
The last Staff Survey highlighted concerns of some staff experiencing difficulties in completing their work without working excess hours and therefore changes to working patterns may require a review of how work is traditionally undertaken, e.g. you might review whether you need as many meetings and whether decisions can be achieved through conference calls so participants can be involved remotely? Many processes could also be made less time consuming by using electronic methodology. This can free up time, including travel time between sites that can make working more efficient.
Information on a range of flexible working options can be found on the HR Website
Changes can be agreed for a fixed or trial period and reviewed to allow an assessment of their workability in practice.
3.2 Unpaid leave
In addition to flexible working arrangements it may exceptionally be possible in some areas, to offer staff periods of unpaid leave in order to reduce staffing budgets if the skills and experience of the individuals will be valuable to UCL in the long term but the department can operate without them for a fixed period. Such arrangements would need to be clearly confirmed in writing and advice is available from the HR Consultancy team if this is an area that you wish to explore.
Flexible working and options for time off are positive tools to help retain and support different groups of staff, especially those trying to balance family and work. In considering any request, consideration should always be given to any knock on effect on other staff. This includes ensuring all staff have an opportunity to make requests, even if it is not possible to approve all requests.
4. Pay and Reward
4.1 Managing pay and subsistence costs
Managers must periodically review additional payroll costs to ascertain whether savings can be made from stopping or reducing:
- use of casual 'as and when' staff
- use of agency staff
There are times when the above are the most efficient use of resources, or the only viable means of covering a short term need to maintain minimum staffing levels and deliver a service or meet health and safety requirements. However such use should not be regular and if it is, alternative options should be considered. See contract options or seek advice from the HR consultancy team.
It is important to maintain staff morale and productivity during periods of pay restraint.
National pay negotiations have, of necessity, limited cost of living increases over the last couple of years. Restraint is likely to continue in the future, if we are to manage restricted income streams with minimal job losses.
Where staff demonstrate outstanding performance and exceed a set of stretching objectives in the course of a year they may, in exceptional circumstances, be awarded an additional increment or a lump sum payment. The latter is preferable to an accelerated increment or contribution point, which should only be used where outstanding performance has been sustained over a significant period. See accelerated increment and contribution points policy for criteria. Lump sum payments may be more appropriate for exceptional work on one off projects, for example.
4.3 Full costing
In costing applications for grants it is important to remember that all employees have equal rights to benefits such as pensions, sick pay and redundancy pay, including fixed-term and part-time workers and those on open ended contracts with fixed funding.
In addition UCL gives researchers an entitlement to regrading from Grade 6 to Grade 7 on completion of a PhD. It is really important, therefore that all aspects of future pay and benefits are fully costed in any research or other grant bid.
There is a commitment to partnership working within UCL and there may be opportunities to promote or sell services to other organisations. Advice should be sought from your Finance Director if you are discussing such an enterprise with a partner organisation to ensure that all costs, including overheads, are fully accounted for.
Non-compliance with UCL policies in relation to fixed term or part time staff would leave UCL vulnerable to claims, including potential claims of indirect sex discrimination.
Equal pay issues must also be given express consideration when rewarding staff. This includes supplementary payments (e.g. market supplements) as well as base pay.
5. Reducing Running Costs
There are significant savings to be made through more efficient use of resources. These could include:
- Green initiatives for carbon management, waste management, recycling and energy saving ideas and activities.
- smarter procurement. UCL's procurement team ensures that through consortia and finding partners to maximise buying power, costs are driven down and contracts renegotiated.
- re-engineering of business processes to streamline and increase efficiency thus making it possible to review staffing levels. Malcolm Bailey (Malcolm.Bailey@ucl.ac.uk) of the IS division is available to assist in review and re-engineering of business processes through facilitating workshops, documenting the results and working with staff to develop and implement new ways of working. Malcolm promotes good practice and advises on optimisation of processes based on extensive experience.
- hot desking - where staff are job sharing, working part-time or working at home for part of the week
- working towards a paper free office - minimising stationery costs and space costs
- limiting unnecessary hospitality or refreshment costs
- reviewing subscriptions
- achieving best value on conferences, training, accommodation, flights & rail travel - again through the procurement team
Clear leadership and effective communication are critical in maintaining employee engagement, when difficult or tough decisions need to be made and communicated.
In response to the Staff Survey, improved leadership training is available for UCL's senior academic and administrative managers, including improving communications and the effective management of change. This includes training for managers at all levels regarding the management of performance to support them in maximising the performance of their team. For Faculty or Divisional based development needs contact the OSD team .
6.1 Managing performance
Managers have a responsibility for setting and agreeing standards of performance and stretching objectives, for explaining these standards to members of staff and for supporting staff to achieve them.
Any problems should be addressed swiftly and consistently. See UCL's guide to managing under performance for guidance. The HR Consultancy team is available to give advice and support in its implementation.
6.2 Managing sickness absence
Staff absence can be a significant cost to UCL when deadlines are missed because of absence or where work needs to be covered. Currently not all absence is accurately or consistently recorded across UCL and it is important that this happens to ensure equality of treatment and that sick pay (including statutory entitlements) and holiday pay is accurately calculated and paid. In addition to the financial costs, sickness absence can affect team performance and morale and can lead to undue loading on other staff, affecting their health and well being.
Managers must ensure that:
- there are clear systems for all staff to report sickness and other absence
- sickness absences are recorded
- sickness rates are regularly reviewed (your DA can download sickness absence reports through MyView)
- return to work interviews are held - this may identify any recurring themes or emerging problems, or a disability on which occupational health advice can be sought
- referrals are made to Occupational Health, where appropriate and follow up action taken.
In order to avoid claims of discrimination or unfair practice it is important to ensure that procedures are carried out fairly and consistently in all departments and that UCL can demonstrate that this is the case.
Ensure full consideration is given to any disability issues where these impact on someone's performance or attendance. Ensure any reasonable adaptations are made promptly to professional services staff in being able to deliver effectively. The Equalities and Diversity website has more information on disability issues, including the Access to Work scheme which can provide financial support for adjustments.
7. Organisational Change
All the above measures should be considered by HoDs looking to reduce costs and improve organisational effectiveness. However, budget restrictions may mean that HoDs will also need to consider changes to specific jobs or organisational structures.
7.1 Reducing staff numbers
Where a manager identifies that a department could reduce the number of post holders undertaking a particular type of work and there are a number of staff undertaking the same or similar work volunteers may be sought for voluntary severance or early retirement in the first instance. In the event that volunteers are not forthcoming, compulsory redundancy processes will then be followed. Any proposal for post reductions other than by natural wastage must be subject to a business case, the template for which can be found at Appendix A to this note. In drafting a business case, managers must consult their Senior HR Consultant.
Good practice guidance on managing organisational change can be found at Appendix B. In addition please see the separate Guidance notes on selecting the 'pool' of staff who are at risk of redundancy. The HR Consultancy team will further advise on the mechanisms and processes for this, including the selection of redundancy pools from which volunteers would be selected and the packages available to facilitate severance or retirement. The HR Consultancy team would also assist with communication and consultation over this process.
HR Policy and Planning
Business Case for a change involving re-structuring of posts
1. The Unit in which this proposed change will take place (i.e. department/faculty/division)
2. Objective of the proposed change
This section should summarise the objective of the change and make reference to the corporate or local strategic priorities that it supports
3. Rationale for the proposed change
This section should include
- relevant background to the change, including financial information
- whether the proposal improves services to students, staff or visitors; changes the nature of the services or maintains the status quo
- reference to data or information used to inform decision making on the proposal and any other options that have been considered and discounted
4. Details of the proposed change
Please find attached an organisation chart showing the current structure (Appendix x) and one showing the proposed structure (Appendix y).
This section should also list (detailing post titles, grades and numbers)
- Posts which will change
- Posts that will be unaffected
- Posts that will be deleted
- Any new posts that will be added to the structure
- Any vacant posts that are available for redeployment within the Division/Faculty regardless of grade
This section should also note any duties or tasks which will cease to be undertaken, any reallocation of duties required by the proposal, any new duties and how any new or significantly changed posts will be filled. Any new job descriptions should be circulated at the earliest possible stage.
It should also reflect the consideration that has been given to judging the manageability of workloads of the posts in the new structure.
This section should also include details of the pool of posts from which individual post holders will be selected for redundancy (if applicable) and the logic for the construction of that pool. The proposed method and criteria for selection for redundancy should also be detailed as should consideration of how the redundancy may be achieved voluntarily.
5. Timeframe for implementing the change
This section should make clear any interdependencies in terms of timing
6. Savings to be delivered by the proposals
This section should set out the total savings per annum, which will be made as a result of implementing the proposals. Finance Directors will have an input here.
7. Evaluation of any risks involved in the proposed change and the equality impact assessment
This section should address any risks in implementing the proposal and how they will be mitigated and managed.
The equality impact assessment must examine whether the proposals are likely to impact (positively or negatively) on the progress of any of UCL's equality policies or workforce equality targets 1. If the proposal is objectively justifiable in terms of meeting UCL's strategic objective and every aspect of the proposal is within UCL policy, but the outcome may act against UCL meeting an agreed target or may disproportionately impact on a minority group, this section should outline what the department/faculty will do to reduce or mitigate that impact as far as possible - i.e. what initiatives will support the staff in facing possible redundancy and assist them in their job search and what is ongoing in the department/faculty in support of UCL meeting its equality targets.
Where the proposed change helps to promote diversity and inclusivity, this should be highlighted.
8. Consultation Timetable
- When consultation will commence.
- The activities that will take place within the consultation period - including team meetings, one to one meetings and discussions with Trade Unions.
- When the consultation will end
- When the outcome will be communicated to staff and their representatives
It must be stressed that this document sets out proposals only.
By means of extensive consultation, alternative ways of achieving the stated objectives may emerge, including ways in which to minimise hardship if a compulsory redundancy proves necessary.
If any affected individual would like to discuss their ideas with the Head of Department outside of the consultation meetings scheduled, they are invited to contact [insert] to make an appointment.
Alternatively, or in addition, staff may put their comments in writing as part of this consultation process and submit them to the [Head of Department].
10. Guiding Principles
All employees will be treated fairly and consistently in accordance with all relevant UCL employment and equality policies and consistent with all legal requirements. This document includes an equality risk/impact assessment of this proposal. It is the intention of UCL to avoid redundancy wherever possible. Where redeployment is possible specified support will be offered to staff through any transition period.
There will be meaningful consultation with affected employees and recognised Trade Union representatives. [Insert union/s] will be provided with a copy of this proposal and invited to meet with the [Head of Department] if they wish to discuss the proposal. Feedback on the proposals will inform the final plan.
11. Next Steps
1. Equality targets: 1) increase the employment of black and minority ethnic (BME) professional services staff in grades 1-8 to 31% by 2015. 2) increase the representation of women in grades 9 and 10 by 1% per annum, with the ultimate aim of a 50:50 split of women and men at this level at UCL.
Good practice guidance on managing organisational change
UCL's organisational change procedure provides the framework for effecting organisational change which ensures that the process is fair, open and consistent and accords with UCL's responsibilities and obligations regarding consultation and involvement of the staff concerned and their trade unions.
Detailed advice on following this procedure is available from HR Consultancy. This note provides supplementary good practice guidance when undertaking organisational change.
Putting Together the Business Case
A template for business cases involving restructuring of posts is provided in appendix A.
Think laterally about the different alternatives open and seek early views from staff and stakeholders involved in the current delivery of services, etc. to inform your thinking. Where ideas have been considered but discounted state why, so that input feels valued at all stages.
Let people know how to access any source documents that have informed your thinking.
Ensure your proposals are as clear as possible before formal consultation starts, in particular which posts are affected and how. Remember posts can be affected by changes to another post, even if they are not directly 'at risk' of redundancy. There is, of course, a balance as to how wide the knock on effect is and who is significantly affected.
Wherever possible, commence consultation with face to face meetings, with written information to take away and consider. A summary of key messages in a handout can be helpful to focus the issues and supplement the more detailed business case.
Ensure that all staff who are away from the workplace when announcements are made are informed as soon as possible. This includes people on leave for maternity, paternity, etc., sickness and sabbatical.
Keep a rolling Q&A log, with an issue date, for the most up to date response.
Answer questions for those at risk and their TU reps in writing. Where you are unable to provide an immediate answer, let people know when you will be able to do this.
Make decisions when information is available and communicate the decisions promptly.
HR Consultancy will give advice on the support available to staff affected. This includes, careers advice, formulating a CV and interview skills as well as financial advice. Staff will also be advised how they can access figures if they wish to consider applying for voluntary severance or early retirement.
Offer a pre meeting with trade union representatives and ensure they have advance sight of the proposals. Documents, including proposed organisational charts and job descriptions (see guidance), should be sent with sufficient notice prior to any meeting for these to be able to be read and properly considered. This may vary dependent on the size and complexity of the proposal but should always be sufficient to ensure proper and meaningful consultation.
Consider what needs to be communicated in meetings to the wider group of people affected, more detailed information on specific or complex matters to smaller groups and matters to discuss at one to one meetings.
Be clear about the proposed timetable for meetings at the start of the consultation, to damp down speculation. Be prepared to be flexible about these and have additional meetings to address any unforeseen matters or concerns within the consultation period.
Ensure the meetings focus on the issues around organisational change and do not stray into other matters, e.g. performance issues or sickness absence.
When the consultation is ended the outcome must be communicated to affected staff, including responses to alternative proposals or any suggestions made during the consultation period.
Be clear on the mechanisms for how staff will be slotted into posts, or how they must apply for posts in the new structure.