2004/5 Survey

2009 Survey

You Said We Did


Message of support from the Trade Unions

Guidance Notes for Managers / Academic Leaders

Full narrative report

Executive summary


top image


What You Said.  2009

40% of staff participated in UCL's second all-staff engagement survey which was conducted in March 2009. This was a 9 percentage point improvement on the 2005 survey response rate of 31%. The sample was broadly representative of UCL's staff profile.

The key objectives of the 2009 staff survey were to:

  • Monitor progress since 2005
  • Measure findings in new areas that were expected to be of relevance to staff  working at UCL
  • Assess whether there were differential perceptions and outcomes between different groups of staff that cannot be justified
    To gauge staff perceptions of departmental workplace culture, supervision, working relationships, appraisal system and training and development

There were many positive findings and we have continued working to maintain or improve these areas.

Although you felt you received clear communication we have reviewed and overhauled our internal communications, for example, through the introduction of the Week@UCL. This has resulted in minimising ‘all staff’ emails and a clear and easy repository for messages.

We have also continued to utilise the information collected to inform our first Single Equalities and Diversity Strategy, ensuring we focus our actions where they will have maximum impact.

There were, of course, areas where improvements needed to be made. The Provost’s Senior Management Team agreed an institution wide action plan and, in addition, each Faculty was tasked with identifying 3 key local actions. These action plans are available on the staff survey website under 2009 survey link. 

In anticipation of the next UCL all-staff engagement survey, which will run from 31 October – 18 November 2011, we thought it would be helpful to remind staff of the key themes that emerged and the actions that took place in response.

What People Said – What We Did (Corporate Actions)

You said:

The grading and academic promotion processes were unfair.

We did:

Review on an annual basis the percentage of people applying for grading review and senior promotions to determine whether the processes appeared unfair or discriminatory in their application.

Evidence from the last two years is that a higher percentage of women received a grade increase than men. There is little difference between white staff and BME staff as a percentage of requests submitted from these categories overall, suggesting the process is not unfair.

To streamline and improve processes we have also introduced a new Job Evaluation Database which also stores job description outlines, which can be used for similar posts, eliminating the need for many posts to go through the full JDO process.

Senior Promotions:
Applications and promotions to senior lectureships indicate a higher proportion of female compared with male staff successfully applying to become senior lecturers from 2007 onwards.  There is a lower success rate for women compared with men
applying for promotion to Reader from 2006-2007 onwards.  On the other hand, women have seen a success rate in application to professorships which is higher than men’s and rising over the same period. The male: female gap in proportions applying to become professor has also closed.

In response to other concerns aired, and demonstrating our commitment to improving the transparency and usability of the academic promotions process, we have developed a series of audio files. The files each feature a short discussion between senior academic staff who offer advice from a personal perspective on how to approach the promotions process.

The files focus on useful pre-application strategies such as mentoring and how to identify the most appropriate sources of support as early as possible in an academic career and the individual promotions criteria of enabling, knowledge transfer, research and teaching and offer tactics for creating a balanced profile.


You said:

We don’t have the resources, structures or systems we need to complete our work effectively or without working excessive hours. There is lack of clarity on roles or alignment to UCL goals, duplication of work and we need better support during times of change.

We did:

Rex Knight, (Vice-Provost Operations) set up the Staff Survey Action Project, which has the goals of:

  • improving UCL’s ability to manage change effectively;
  • promoting the development of staff in professional services, so that development would take into account not just improved effectiveness in the current role, but the individual’s potential contribution to UCL in a variety of roles during their career; and,
  • ensuring that UCL’s complex and varied structures are properly documented so that staff can easily identify who is responsible for processes and who needs to be informed and engaged in change.

A number of workstreams were developed around Organisational Structures and Networks, People Practices, Culture and Values, Business Processes and Change Management. A one day conference was organised as part of the project. This took place in August 2010 and attracted over 70 participants from across UCL. It was the first cross-institutional event of its kind for professional services staff, and was very successful.

Progress has been made in relation to the recommendations of the Staff Survey Action Project on:

  • Triennial budgeting to enable us to offer a greater degree of predictability of funding.
  • Establishment of a Programme Board which will have oversight of all major institutional projects (IT, estates, changes to processes etc).
  • A Common Approach to Project Management supported by training and the production of a standard set of tools to be used in managing projects.
  • An Organisational Chart and new  ‘Roles’ Database which will provide access to formal and standardised organisational charts, and enable us to create a record of professional services posts across UCL with key information on the roles undertaken by the postholders.
  • Improved Career Development for Professional Services Staff through Faculty and School based conferences and events.


You said:

You were dissatisfied with physical working conditions and didn’t feel consulted about or understand the rationale behind changes to UCL’s estate

We did:

A root and branch review of space at UCL has been undertaken resulting in the UCL Bloomsbury Masterplan, designed to establish a strategic framework for the long term development of UCL’s Bloomsbury estate and the use and allocation of space within it. The project was set up with champions drawn from faculties and support facilities and subject to detailed staff consultation.

Additionally, it was agreed that capital monies already allocated for building improvements would be protected from budget savings.

Initiatives such a common timetabling have also been implemented to make best use of the constant demands on space.


You said:

Senior managers needed to be more visible and improve their communications and actions in the management of change.

We did:

Cranfield School of Management, world leaders in helping business teams transform knowledge into action, were engaged by Organisational & Staff Development to facilitate sessions with Provost’s Senior Management Team, Corporate Support Services Heads of Department  and their direct reports around leadership and change management.

In addition the highly successful Leadership and management development programmes have been refreshed. Modules focus on, amongst other topics, change management and communication.

c300 staff have completed the leadership and management programmes in the last two years.

We have redesigned the provision of support from the organisational staff development (OSD) team to be much more strongly aligned to faculties and corporate divisional teams and to provide much more bespoke development to meet local needs, including management and leadership sessions.


You said:

You were dissatisfied with the management of poor performance

We did:

In addition to the leadership and management development programmes, we have developed new programmes running from the 2010/11 academic year on:

  • Coaching and mentoring skills and conversations (111 people attended, various strands)
  • Getting the best out of people (56 people attended)
  • Breakthrough conversations (33 people attended)
  • Local sessions on managing performance

Which are all designed to promote and assist in improved performance management. 


You said:

The appraisal system did not help you develop your skills. In addition, the biennial nature of it was criticised by some staff.

We did:

We have reviewed and refreshed the appraisal training provision with a strong focus on the quality of objective setting, linking these to organisational and faculty goals and objectives. There has been a stronger focus on the development of local development and training needs to ensure that employees have the skills to develop our ambitious agenda as well as personal development. 222 appraisers have attended training over the last two years. Guidance on setting stretching objectives has also been developed.

Senior management and all Corporate Support Services staff undertake annual appraisals. These are encouraged elsewhere.

Introduce a new online system for professorial appraisal, making clear links to performance. We are reviewing and refining this system with a view to wider roll out of online performance management systems, supporting appraisal and development.


University College London - Gower Street - London - WC1E 6BT - Telephone: +44 (0)20 7679 2000 - Copyright © 1999-2005 UCL

Search by Google