Members of Birmingham UCU picketing by the East Gate of University of Birmingham

University of Birmingham Staff Satisfaction Survey: BUCU comments

How happy are employees at the University of Birmingham? With a 63% response rate to the survey, compared to 69% for this year’s NSS, the numbers in the recent staff satisfaction survey are worth taking seriously. You can find the chart of responses on the intranet here.

The survey showed that around three quarters of us are enthusiastic about our jobs, are proud to work for the university, and would like to continue working there. The same proportion say that their line manager listens to their views, and that they’ve never personally experienced bullying or harassment at the university. Just over two-thirds of us say that we’re able to deal with the pressure we face in our jobs.

When he announced the survey results, Professor Tim Jones wrote that those figures are “really encouraging.” Perhaps he should look more closely:

  • One third of staff (33%) couldn’t say they’re coping with the pressure their job puts them under. 42% say they are not given sufficient time to achieve all that is expected of them.
  • A quarter of staff (25%) couldn’t say their line manager listens to them. Less than half (48%) felt that “the reasons behind changes are usually explained to me.”
  • Only 43% of staff say their “career aspirations are being met,” and just half (50%) say their working environment enables them to undertake their work to the best of their abilities.
  • At a time when employers’ commitment to the safety of their staff is absolutely critical, well under half of UoB staff (44%) feel that “the University cares about my health and wellbeing.”

Those are shocking findings, and we don’t see Professor Jones or his colleagues in the Senior Management Team taking them very seriously. According to him, there are significant variations in the results across different parts of the university. We look forward to the “breakdown at each level” that he promises.

While we wait, let’s look one more time at the figure on bullying and harassment. 14% of respondents to the survey said that they had “personally experienced bullying/harassment at the University in the last year.” With a response rate of 63%, that adds up to more than 650 individuals. In the last year. We wouldn’t call those results encouraging.

Professor Jones tells us he has an “action plan,” but colleagues have reason to be sceptical. As the survey makes clear, trust in management is low. Barely half of us (54%) feel that “there is effective leadership from the most senior person in my part of the University.” Will managers take action as a result of the survey? Only 34% thought that was likely.

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