Action planning on University-wide themes from the Employee Engagement Survey results

In May, a special Positive Working Environment summit brought together colleagues from across the University to analyse the survey results and other data then draw up actions for the themes that have a wide impact on our working lives here.  The themes are

  • Personal Development
  • Change
  • Stress and mental health
  • Space
  • VCEG

Read on for a taste of actions that will be drawn up and shared as action plans, then taken forward. Colleges and Services have been busy looking at local results – we will update you on some of those actions agreed by the end of June. 


Personal Development

A Personal Development group will be formed to keep up the momentum, including the actions below:

  • Developing managers to talk to staff – managers should carry out mentoring and coaching so they are having the right conversations and have the skills needed.
  • Access to development: time, availability, and resources.  Examples include targeted training priorities coming out of the PDR process, transparency of Personal Development budgets and finances, and an expectation of how many courses staff should attend with an alert of no development is undertaken within two years. 
  • Career progression – managing expectation of progression and promotion of what will be available.  Ideas include developing career frameworks and Exeter academic route map, career progression for part time staff, and management roles that can be done by either academics or Professional Services staff.



A University of Exeter “Blueprint for Change” will be created that will

  • Show what change management looks like at the University, based on learned experience
  • Help create a consistency in how change is managed and create a common language
  • Set expectations around how you can expect change to be managed – a 2-way commitment to the change process
  • Create a measurable view of change (e.g. is the rationale for change clearly explained continually through the process? Are timescales clear?)
  • Include key aspects of successful change management (assessing the impact of change, defining the rationale, training, taking pause points)
  • Include good practice such as staff change agent groups, how, when and who to communicate
  • Include a commitment to listening to and supporting colleagues through change
  • Consider the wellbeing aspect of change.


Stress and mental health

Stress actions include:

  • Create examples of people carrying out workload prioritisation – how do they do it, how do they create work life balance, how do they manage their workload
  • Create Stress Mentor Role – train mentor volunteers in supporting individuals to talk about stress, draw out triggers and prepare local level actions to support their wellbeing
  • Build on the existing Mentoring network that exists in some areas, create subject matter experts to enable staff to select a mentor with appropriate experience in their area of need
  • Create an awareness of workload issues at CEG level and encourage discussions and solution finding

Actions relating to mental health include:

  • All Managers to be asked to attend managing wellbeing training to ensure they have a suitable response and provide early intervention
  • E-PDR – new system to have a section to ask about wellbeing and workload
  • Reintroduce termly wellbeing data into the Colleges  / PS (as part of the HR People Metrics or stand alone) encourage Colleges to review data and act on local level improvements.  Select areas to trial local stress management meeting and measure improvement.
  • Re-work the existing web pages and managers guides to make clear the support for both stress, mental health and wellbeing

A stress group will be developed to drive forwards the action plan, and a College will be identified to trial interventions and measure impact. 


Social and Shared Space

We aim tocreate staff only social and shared space, via the actions below:

  • Use data and information to raise awareness of the space that is available and monitor progress – eg. add social and shared space to wellbeing maps.
  • Ensure full staff representation (consider job type and location
  • Build consideration of social and networking space into processes for new building and refurbishment plans
  • Work to develop cultural change so that colleagues spend time in social and shared space



We want to explore new approaches to the relationship between colleagues and VCEG via the actions below:

  • Set up a web area for colleagues to provide feedback on decisions and policy changes.
  • Improve web information about who VCEG are, what they do, and what business it considers.
  • Put developing major initiatives or strategies out as a ‘Green Paper’ to colleagues for feedback, and offer more University-wide opportunities to be involved in consultation discussions.
  • VCEG Members to do ‘back to the floor’, to include visiting teams which are experiencing challenges or difficulties.
  • More opportunities for colleagues to meet with VCEG at discipline/service level and discuss local concerns.
  • Offer online Q&A live chat with VCEG Members once a term/a month.
  • Publish internally a diagram explaining where key decisions at the University are made.