Staff Survey 2020 - publication of full results

Staff Survey 2020 - publication of full results

Further to our previous communication in December regarding the initial results of the Staff Survey 2020, we are now able to share the full results of the survey with you.

These are contained in two reports prepared for the University by Capita Surveys & Research. The first of these is the University-wide Report, which also incorporates benchmarking with other universities, and the second Report provides an overview of the survey results by School, Directorate and Job Groups.

University-Wide Report with Benchmarking

Employer of Choice Ranking

The University appointed Capita to undertake the survey in part due to their ability to benchmark our data against other UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).  Part of this process is to give the University an “Employer of Choice” rating within the benchmarking pool of 18 HEIs (ranging from large Russell Group universities to smaller more specialist providers) which have undertaken surveys in 2020 or 2019.  The Employer of Choice question score for the University of Aberdeen being a good place to work is 3.61 out of maximum score of 4. This is higher than the current median benchmark score of 3.32 for HEIs. The best HEI score is currently 3.62 and the lowest score is 2.77. The University is therefore currently ranked 2nd out of 18 HEIs surveyed by Capita in 2020 and 2019, just 0.01 below the top ranked institution.

Benchmarked Question Results

In total 18 of our questions were benchmarked against the benchmark pool of HEIs. The benchmarking shows that University staff perceptions are statistically significantly better than the benchmark for 14 of these measures; three of these are not considered statistically significantly different and one shows a result which is statistically significantly worse than the benchmark (Q3-5 Have you had an annual review in the previous 12 months).

Overall Summary of results by Capita

The following is the summary, prepared by Capita, of the key issues from the staff survey (see p. 5 of the University-Wide Report).

‘There were 65 questions in the survey included in strength analysis (excluding neutral questions, comments and questions about the profile of respondents) and analysis of these questions shows 49 questions were answered with a positive response by 75% or more respondents (these are identified as key strengths). There were two questions identified as areas needing improvement, these are where 50% or fewer of respondents provided a positive response.

‘Some of the most positive perceptions or key strengths within the University of Aberdeen include staff enjoying their work; feeling proud to work for the University and thinking it is a good place to work; staff willingness to recommend it to a friend as a place to study or work; and staff views about the Senior Management Team’s management and leadership of the University.

‘When considering the positive/negative perceptions in this report, it is important to note that those provided in this summary relate to the University of Aberdeen overall, and it is not unusual to find that specific Schools or Directorates have differing perceptions to the University as a whole, which might require a more localised approach to action planning.

It is also important to note that whilst there is a high percentage of employees who identify themselves as not being harassed, bullied or discriminated against, and this is identified as a strength in the analysis, these areas should be considered as areas for improvement as most organisations have a zero tolerance policy regarding these issues.

‘The University of Aberdeen can use the information from the staff survey to manage the University by identifying areas of good practice and building upon what is done well, as well as improving in some areas identified by the results. The survey results indicate the University of Aberdeen should focus on the following, which revealed the least positive employee perceptions from the survey for the University as a whole:

  •  Managing stress levels of staff
  • Staff working beyond their contracted hours due to workload, and staff struggling to cope with current workloads
  • The effectiveness of communication between different parts of the University
  • Improving cooperation between different Schools / Directorates
  • The provision of training, learning and development opportunities for staff

This is a helpful summary and of course harassment, bullying and discrimination is neither tolerated nor accepted within the University. The full report from Capita contains a wealth of further information on the benchmarking data and a breakdown of the results for each question.

Red, Amber, Green (RAG) Report by School, Directorate and Job Groups

The second report provides a breakdown of the results for each of the Schools and Directorates and also for each of the role types within the Academic and Professional Services categories.  These results have been colour coded to highlight the degree to which they are better or worse than the University rating.  It should be noted that the University results have been very good, so even if a score is highlighted as red in the report it does not necessarily mean that the results are poor in absolute terms, especially when considered alongside the benchmark information.

Free Text Comments

All of the comments submitted by staff have been reviewed by Capita to ensure that no staff member can be identified either in or from the comments.  In line with the commitment given in the conduct of the survey, all comments will be treated as ‘sensitive data’ and will only be released to Managers and may not be quoted or published. Each Head of School and Director will therefore receive a copy of the comments specific to their own area and these will help with the identification of issues and the development of actions. 

Next Steps

University Level

The results of the Staff Survey will be part of the focus of an upcoming Open Session with the Principal to mark Founders’ Day on 10 February. University-wide issues, including workload, stress and equality, will now be considered by relevant University Committees, working groups (such as the Workload Review Group), and the Senior Management Team as appropriate. Following full consideration of the rich data provided by the survey, action plans will be developed to ensure that the areas of strong performance are maintained and strengthened further, and issues which have been identified are progressed. Updates on University level actions developed in response to the survey will be provided in due course.

School and Directorate Level

Open sessions will be held in each School and Directorate in partnership with HR so that the results can be discussed and action plans can begin to be developed to address areas for improvement. It is the expectation that these plans will be co-created between leadership teams and staff in an inclusive way. Schools and Directorates will then be asked to bring forward the agreed comprehensive action plans as part of the annual planning round later in the spring.

Further Data Analysis

The University will have access to a Capita reporting tool called “Investigate” which will allow further detailed analysis of the results. This will, for example, allow interrogation of the results by different and combined protected characteristics thereby facilitating intersectional analysis, with built-in reporting threshold protections to prevent the possibility of identification of individuals.

The Staff Survey has provided us all with a huge amount of information that will be invaluable to us as we seek to work together to make further improvements based on the views of staff captured by the survey.  We invite everyone to consider the results of the survey and to get involved in the work that will now begin to address the findings of the Survey.


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