Addressing Workload Pressures

Message to staff issued 28 January 2022

Dear Colleagues 

This time last year we launched a Workload Reduction Toolkit in response to the widespread concern regarding workload pressures expressed in the Staff Survey conducted in November 2020. One year on, and at the start of a busy new half session, we thought it was timely to call to mind what we have done and are continuing to do to address workload pressures. 

We have been investing in academic staff to address student staff ratios, with over 50 posts approved for recruitment in summer 2021 as a key outcome from the 2021 planning and budgeting round. A number of roles across our Directorates were also approved at that time to address areas of particular pressure. We have also moved quickly to authorise the filling of staff vacancies as they have arisen during the year. 

Now in light of the strong student recruitment last September and this January, we have been able to go further and release another tranche of 36 posts across Directorates. For example, we have been able to approve for recruitment a number of posts in student support to ensure that our investment in support for students keeps pace with rising student numbers and the ever-growing complexities of the issues that our students experience and need help with. Other areas of investment include staff to support our efforts to improve the sustainability of the University as we seek to make progress towards our commitment to achieve net zero carbon emission before 2040, as well as support for student enquiries, online studies, asset management, fire-safety, business development and our planning work. We are committed to making further appointments across our Schools and Directorates as our revenue continues to grow year by year, since growing our staffing base is ultimately the most effective way to address workload pressures. 

Line managers across the University are encouraged to continue to check in with staff regarding workload pressures, and line managers in discussion with their teams should keep under review whether resources are adequate to deliver the work required. As we move into the 2022 planning and budgeting round we will consider where further investment is needed to address the workload pressures as we continue to expand our activities as a University as we emerge from the pandemic. 

We have also reviewed the Workload Reduction Toolkit. As we emerge from the pandemic and seek to expand our activities our focus switches from emergency measures aimed at reducing workload to an ongoing determination to address workload pressures, by continuing to identify pressure points for individuals and teams and taking action to address them. The updated Workload Toolkit is available here and we are encouraging Schools, Directorates and teams locally to discuss its contents as we seek to embed a culture which systematically addresses workload pressures. 

We would just like to remind everyone of a few elements of it that many staff have indicated to us have made a real difference to them individually over the last year. We continue to encourage everyone to avoid sending emails out of hours or at weekends if at all possible. You can use the delay send functionality in Outlook (details in the Toolkit) or just save any messages you write as a draft and send during normal working hours. We also continue to encourage everyone to try to keep down the number of formal meetings, with core meeting hours between 9:30 and 4:30, with a break at lunchtime between 12:30 and 13:30. In addition, Fridays should be kept clear of internal meetings if possible.  

We hope this update is helpful and urge anyone experiencing workload pressures to discuss this with your line manager. The pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for all of us, but by working together and looking out for each other we have supported each other and our students through the difficulties of the last two years. We need to continue to do so as we move into a new phase, not least as we embark on another half session and a more widespread return to working on campus in the coming weeks. 

Best wishes 

Karl and Tracey 

  

Karl Leydecker 

Senior Vice-Principal 

Tracey Slaven  

University Secretary and Chief Operating Officer 

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