The consultation process resulting in the decision to close for one or two extra days around the Christmas period was very much a divide-and-conquer exercise: members of staff were unable to see the comments made by colleagues, which meant that individuals did not know if they were expressing a minority view or a majority view.
To make this process more transparent, will Executive now publish the comments made during the consultation period?
Thank you for your question regarding the consultation process for the changes to the Christmas closure arrangements. Consultation commenced on 22 May 2014 with UNISON, UCU and with all staff.
UNISON balloted members on the proposal and received a 65% vote in favour of the changes. UCU reported that they had received feedback from approximately 30 members, 21 of whom were against the proposal and 9 were in agreement.
The general feedback received during the consultation period from staff effectively mirrored the union feedback with professional support staff generally supportive of the proposed change and academic staff less so. We then weighed up the feedback received with the original proposal. Whilst a number of concerns were noted, it was felt that this did not go to the heart of why the proposal had been made and as a consequence, following discussions with the Unions we recommended to Executive that the proposal proceed. Executive as part of their decision making were informed of the feedback from staff and unions and following discussions there, the proposal was approved.
Can you explain why consultation on an import and major change such as the proposal to consolidate administrative support into three hubs was not undertaken anonymously?
Personally, I was very happy to be associated with my responses. However, these are very substantial changes being proposed, and they are open to considerable criticism. By forcing people to identify themselves, you risk stifling debate and using tacit fear to cow people into accepting your proposition. This is particularly true for the very Admin staff who are most affected.
I note that the survey questions themselves were hardly exemplars of survey design, with loaded questions throughout. Combined, this suggests very strongly a desire to consult only as a box-ticking exercise, rather than to properly inform major organisational change.
We have recently held a number of all staff roadshows about changing our adminstrative structures and outlining the different options that are available to us. This has included the ‘hubs’ model, which we shared as the model that looked to have the most advantages for us, from this very early stage.
As part of these roadshows we made it clear that this was an engagement opportunity prior to any business case being worked up and prior to any consultation. This was a chance for staff to genuinely share their thoughts on this – about whether it would work or not, whether there were other options that would be better and the chance to feed in very detailed information about specific matters that we would need to take account of for any future design of any future structure. The most important part of the survey was about gaining a detailed understanding from staff about their roles and things we would need to take into account. We made it clear in the presentation that this was a chance for staff to share their own specialist knowledge with us, so that we could reflect on this as part of the development of the business plan proposal.
Given that this was the purpose it would be pointless for this to be anonymous – because the specific detail that staff shared we would want the opportunity to go back to and understand more – which we would not be able to do without a name. This was an information gathering exercise – not a voting process on a concept. I would also like to confirm that the thought that peoples comments if negative, were some how going to then impact upon whether they gained a role in the new structures is not logical. This is about designing the structure for our future based on business needs – not about engineering the removal of people based on whether someone was in favour of the proposed approach. This latter concern would somewhat defeat the object of this whole programme of work!
With the final point of the survey design, it is important to understand that this is not some abstract research piece. This was a practical information gathering exercise which was done with the best of intentions to ensure we had as much feedback as possible before designing the business case and before moving to consultation. It is unfortunate that genuine aims and a genuine chance to engage staff in a mature way has not been picked up by some.
Hello can I ask if the results are known yet regarding the outcome of the staff/student survey regarding any possible campus moves?
The survey received an incredible number of responses including a significant number of free text comments. All the responses are being analysed and the comments will be taken into account in developing the next stages of the consultation. We have already identified areas for further research/evaluation and will be engaging further with staff, students and other partners over the next few months.