Actions following our 2018 survey

The most positive score in the 2018 Employee Engagement Survey was about good working relationships within our colleagues (90% positive). This is clearly evident in the commitment teams, departments, colleges and services have made to take action following feedback from the survey in their areas.

Colleagues are working together to find solutions that boost our working environment and personal development, improve communication, and support each other.

Here are some of the initial actions, from a variety of areas of the University. To share your local examples please contact Abigail Dixon.


As workload and effective use of SWARM across the College is a key issue, by June a College Workload Planning Group will be established to include HoD and UCU representation.

A working group has been set up to make recommendations to CEG and Department management teams on how communications, academic voice and engagement can be improved within the College and individual Departments.

Alongside the academic "deep dive" exercises undertaken by the incoming CSSIS PVC, the College will also conduct a similar exercise with all PS staff supporting the College. The purpose will be to foster a greater sense of College community, and alignment between College strategy and PS delivery.

A Law Wellbeing group is being set up with to examine and make recommendations on issues affecting staff wellbeing, ensuring academic involvement. A network is also being set up for early career research staff across the College, to include a cross-disciplinary mentoring brief.

Following the release of the EES results, the College of Medicine and Health held two all staff meetings to set out the data and ask colleagues to vote on what actions the College should take forward for improvement.

This has led to 5 task and finish working groups being set up to take forward key issues raised. These groups are led by non-CEG members and are made up of a wide range of College staff, including PS. There are groups looking at bullying and harassment; career development and PDRs; workload and work-life balance; leadership, management and communication; and issues with professional services and support to the college.  These groups met for the first time in April.

  1. In response to specific concerns raised in the survey to ask the College Inclusivity Group to develop a set of specific recommendations for implementation in the College to ensure a culture of openness, respect, honesty and dignity at work for all members of the College community with zero-tolerance for bullying and harassment. To ensure that these recommendations are supported and resourced within the College.
  2. To develop a tailored guide to the Professional Services staffing supporting each Department, to include photos, names, location, contact details and roles based on the new CLES pages. This should then be further developed to include a ‘road map’ of contacts which embraces both Professional Services and College support.
  3. With support from CAMs undertake a review of the Humanities internal communication processes across the College and Departments, and to produce a refreshed model for delivering effective and timely two-way communication across the College.
  4. To encourage an ongoing dialogue about mental health across the College, recognising that we need to take care of mental health as we do of physical health. Specifically, to ensure that the new University Staff Wellbeing Strategy is implemented in the College (e.g. introduction of Staff Mental Health First Aiders, engagement with the MIND Workplace Wellbeing Index).
  5. To recommend that the implementation team for the SWARM review consider comments relating to workload and SWARM within the employee engagement survey, and to ensure that implementation of the review is cognisant of the wider issues around staff workload raised in the survey.


Professional Services


The CIOSS team’s actions include areas of senior team communication, learning and development including line managers, reviewing Above & Beyond use, consistency in grades, and nurturing and sharing ideas through forums. 

Event Exeter

After the results for the Employee Engagement Survey were released, the Event Exeter team ran an anonymous survey for staff to identify what the team perceive the root causes and issues of change to be at department level. This is now informing how the management team manage change. 

A broad overview organisational structure of the University from VCEG down is being produced for the team and a more detailed structure of Professional Services and CIOSS will be provided to help colleagues understand where they fit into the wider University structure.

Colleagues are discussing how they contribute to research excellence and global rankings through hosting/supporting research conference events.  The team is looking to reinstate its team newsletter. 

Built Estate

A BE all staff meeting was held to celebrate results and discuss themes for improvement and actions.  Key themes were determined with input from line managers, SMT and a detailed ‘Red/Amber/Green’ analysis.

Engineering and Direct works

A working group has been put together representing all the Engineering and Direct works team to develop an action plan in response to the Employee Engagement Survey feedback. 

A short survey about training and career development for the team is due shortly. Based on its outcomes, the Management Team will work with both the Service HRBP and the Staff Training & Development Team, to improve training delivery and career progression pathways.

The EDW Management Team will work with the Equality & Diversity Team to deliver a clear message to colleagues regarding Dignity & Respect, including the support networks available.


The Management Team held 1:1s with all staff in February 2019 to discuss the survey and obtain personal feedback to help establish common trends and root causes.

40 actions have now been identified under the themes of communication; my role; training; and resources.  A Grounds Team staff temperature check to see how the actions are having an effect will be repeated in Jan/Feb 2020. 

Residential Services

The Residential Services team are developing a professional framework to identify training/development opportunities supporting staff career progression. Opportunities for staff to work outside their normal environment will be identified and discussed as part of the PDR process. Work is also underway to identify and promote areas that staff can use for breaks and rest across campus.

Any potential change will be discussed at team meetings, including being clear about the end goal, key focus and risks. 

Work is underway to establish a clear CAMS Vision / Strategy through completion of the Line of Sight project.

The Director’s regular Open Door timeslot has been reinstated.  Senior leadership team and all staff meetings will be reviewed.

The training budget will be clarified, and all staff encouraged to attend at least one training opportunity annually.

The team is looking to determine a consistency of approach in relation to use of Above and Beyond.

The team will establish regular volunteering activities (in line with Community Strategy).

The Senior Management Team will outline the vision for Finance Services. 

The Finance Services team are improving communications, including regular email of changes and hot issues, follow up on Director's Briefing to explain relevant sections in depth, and updates to the Finance Website.  A direct message from Deputy Director of Finance Replace will replace the existing 'cascade' distribution system. They will hold fortnightly 20 minute stand up sessions to Finance Operations and Proc. Ops teams to feedback progress/decisions/outcomes from VCEG and PSLT.

Outside of the offices, the staff BBQ and other team events will be reinstated – these were deferred during T1 go live year.  A feedback session in October will check to see if these changes are working.

We need to be clear about what our priorities are going forward, ensuring managers support staff to effectively manage these priorities and providing regular updates against these in the new monthly People Services newsletter.  We are also committed to keeping an up to date People Services structure chart on the intranet.

It is important to ensure that colleagues feel sufficiently challenged, have access to career development opportunities and understand the value of their contribution.  We aim to introduce more interactive all People Services meetings to help continuously improve collaboration between teams, so that everyone understands how different roles work best together

In PPBI the team held a team workshop to review their data and identify areas of good practice to maintain and areas for development. The team have identified three priorities for the coming year: first are working to improve understanding of how roles in PPBI fit into contribute to wider institutional objectives; second, work is underway to improve the way change is communicated in terms of what the benefits are, and making sure that they are delivered; and third, the team want to ensure the team has that they have the right resources (e.g. IT, desks, office space) to do their jobs to the best of their ability. 

Communication is a key issue for IIB.  They aim to celebrate success and recognise the contributions from all parts of the team; and also encourage better communication from other teams by being better at announcing their own changes of staff and activities. College briefings were seen as a good mechanism but patchily applied. A group is looking at the optimum type and frequency of communications.

Suggestions for a more positive name for the Senior Team Operations group (STOPS) are being encouraged and the team hopes to make people more aware of what happens at SMT and STOPS. 

An internal working group led by Neil Hayes is looking at flexible working. The team are investigating common spaces where people can come together to collaborate and to be social, and will try to bring as many people as possible into combined office locations.  They will hold celebratory/ communal events at least twice a year (May and July 2019 have been arranged).

The IIB team will report to the PWE group that they feel there is a risk that PS staff could be seen as ‘professional servants’ rather than trusted advisers and co-creators of opportunities with academics. The SMT will develop a statement for PWE that explains this including examples of communication from the University that de-prioritise PS vs academic staff.  Some colleagues felt that there was one rule for senior University managers (eg Business class travel, expenses, holidays etc) and different rules for everyone else.

Research Services will agree a ‘good practice guide’ for team meetings that all managers will follow with meetings attended by a member of the Director’s Group at least once a year. A new ‘Line Managers Forum’ will discuss and agree expectations of a manager in Research Services (including training and development). In addition to this there will be a document of expectations outlining the expected culture from line managers and those being managed within RS. Once agreed all RS managers will be required to fulfil these expectations.

They aim to ensure that conversations regarding health and wellbeing (both physical and mental) can take place promptly, easily and confidently between an individual and their line manager. This will include seeking ways to reduce any stigma associated with episodes of poor mental health and ensure individuals receive the support they need.

The team will look at ways in which more proactive encouragement of cross team working can take place to enable the better management of workload and consistency of approach.  They will also work with Colleges to identify any appropriate hot desk space for RS use that allows greater visibility and enables better interaction with academics. Other actions include auditing equipment to maximise use of what’s available, establishing useful email signatures and looking into training and development courses including boosting technical skills and using new systems.