UCL Supports: A message from Pro-vice Provost (Equality and Inclusion)
1 February 2021
Professor Sasha Roseneil has recorded a compelling message to staff highlighting how the latest lockdown is breaking down the boundaries between work and life, public and private, professional and personal
As part of the launch of the UCL Supports initiative, Professor Sasha Roseneil, Pro-vice Provost (Equity and Inclusion) and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences discusses how the latest lockdown in the Covid-19 crisis is breaking down the boundaries between work and life, public and private, professional and personal. The pandemic is affecting everyone, and simultaneously testing our ability to maintain a healthy work-life blend.
The message for us as individuals, as people managers and together as an organisation is to scale-back our expectations of what can be achieved during this period, we need to recognise that we can’t do everything that we would normally do and that we can’t do things as quickly. We need to ask what we can pause for the time being, what can wait until we’re through to the other side.
In March 2020, UCL identified three principles to guide us through the crisis: safety, humanity and student experience. Having a heart and putting people first became our mantra. Putting the people closest to you first, and putting your caring responsibilities first is the right thing to do. And we shouldn’t forget that this includes self-care.
Professor Roseneil concludes,
"UCL is full of passionate, hard-working, high-achieving staff who are used to going above what is expected of them, people who are responsible, driven perfectionists. But perfection can wait for another day, right now, the pursuit of it is cancelled."
Executive Director of Human Resources Matthew Blain says,
“UCL’s people first approach has set us apart from other universities and organisations and is something our whole community should be proud of. However, to truly live this, we all need to be conscious of the difficult circumstances within which many of us are living and working. I encourage all staff to consider carefully the expectations that we are placing on ourselves and others, and to test their reasonableness. I echo Sasha’s message that good enough, is good enough, at this time: if you are struggling with balancing caring responsibilities and work, do what you can, whatever that looks like for you. My team in HR are committed to supporting colleagues through this difficult time. We are asking all line managers to be supportive of colleagues working to 'best endeavours'. Please take some time to familiarise yourself with the support and resources available and let us know how you are doing by completing the weekly staff wellbeing survey or reach out to your HR business partner. We are listening and are here to help.”
Our request to line managers: Engage, listen, respond
Engage with the resources and guidance available on the newly updated Remote, not distant hub. Be proactive and don’t wait for a crisis before searching for guidance, and making sure you know what is available.
Listen to your colleagues and make yourself available to listen (through scheduling ‘one-to-ones’ or ‘open-door’ sessions). Start every interaction by asking how people are.
Respond to your team’s concerns through making adjustments and offering support. Find ways to make 'best endeavours' working a reality where your team have competing priorities, for example caring responsibilities.
We are here to support you in supporting your teams. Find out how we can support you via Remote, not Distant hub. Find out more about how UCL is working to support the psychological health and wellbeing of staff on the Being Well at UCL webpage.
Our request to all staff: Speak up
The Covid-19 crisis is impacting us all, albeit in different ways and to varying degrees. If you feel that you aren’t getting the support you need, speak up!
In the first instance, your line manager is normally the best person to go to, since they are best placed to understand your unique situation.
If, for whatever reason, you don’t feel that you are able to talk to your line manager about your circumstances, you can talk to their manager, or your local HR lead or your HR Business Partner to help you access the support you need. Find out who your HR Business Partner is on the HR website.
You can also explore the wealth of support resources available to staff on the refreshed Remote, not Distant hub. Find out more about how UCL is working to support the psychological health and wellbeing of staff on the Being Well at UCL webpage.