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Quality of Working Life Staff Survey - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Quality of Working Life (QoWL) Survey?

The quality of working life survey was distributed to all staff at the University during March and April 2009. It is a comprehensive list of questions run by an independent company (Quality of Working Life Limited) which meets the professional ethical values of the British Psychological Society and policies of the Market Research Society.

We included questions from the Health and Safety Executive work related stress survey, QoWL standard questions and specific questions determined by the University of Bradford.

QoWL have conducted similar surveys in a number of other universities meaning we could compare our results against their benchmarks.

What were the overall findings?

The survey highlighted a number of areas where you have indicated that improvements can be made which will enhance your Quality of Working Life.

These are :

  • Management of Stress.
  • Use of Email.
  • Working Conditions.
  • Organisational Culture.
  • Perceived Bullying.
  • Management Style.
  • Communications.

University of Bradford staff were less satisfied than the university benchmark. What is being done to tackle this and improve satisfaction as a whole?

Across the University, activities and events have begun in response to the issues raised. These will continue to be developed during 2010.

For example last year, as part of the consultations on the Corporate Strategy, the University was able to agree a set of organisational values to provide the basis for how we all behave as individuals.

Some further examples of the ongoing work are detailed below.

Management Competencies - how well you work with your manager can be a key factor in your job satisfaction and happiness at work. Therefore a framework is being put in to place to set out what we can expect of our managers and how they can demonstrate that they are upholding the values in the Corporate Strategy.

Managing Change - Times of change can be a source of stress. To combat this a comprehensive change toolkit has been developed and will be available on the web to assist managers who are managing change. Training is also being provided for areas undergoing change management processes and support is available from the business partners situated within Human Resources.

Training and Development Programmes - A number of staff are participating or have participated in a post graduate certificate in leadership and management. In addition a new programme has been introduced to accommodate succession planning - Talent for Leadership.

Are there plans to improve organisational communications with employees?

The survey highlighted a desire for more frequent and higher quality communications throughout the University. This has actually been a focus for a number of years through the creation of a trial role of Internal Communications Officer (ICO). This position has now been established with a new ICO taking up his appointment in October 2009.

The ICO will work with all key communications within the organisation to improve the flow and quality of information and importantly the collection and interpretation of feedback received.

How is 'stress at work' being tackled?

Stress at work is being tackled at a variety of levels. Health and Safety Committee have taken a lead on the issue and established a Stress Steering Group to actively work on the project. This work includes a further review and re-launch of the Occupational Stress Management Policy and implementation of associated training for all managers as part of the 2010/11 staff development programme.

How will our working environment at the University be improved?

A huge programme of estate improvement is already underway encompassing many teaching areas throughout the campus and upgrading of facilities in central services, the benefits of which will be felt by a large number of staff. Specific projects for key areas such as laboratories and IT systems are also well under development.

What will be done to improve staff moral and pride about where we work?

Now that we have established our values, underpinning the corporate strategy, we will now be able to promote these further and highlight how all members of staff can embed them into their appoach to work.

A video, using interviews with a wide variety of staff from across the University has been created to highlight the 6 values and how we are already living delivering on them as an organisation.

At the same time a 'Wellbeing Task Group' has also been set up, chaired by one of the University senior managers, which brings together a range of service providers across the University to set up wellbeing initiatives.

Is there an issue of bullying at the University? If so, what will be done about it?

The importance of this issue means that we are looking at it through a more in-depth investigation and we intend to use focus groups to uncover the nature of any bullying experienced.

Meanwhile, a new policy and procedure on Dignity and Respect has been developed and launched. This promotes the way in which we expect all those who work, study or are associated with the University to respect one another. It defines bullying and harassment and sets out the way in which complaints will be dealt with.

How are we tackling Email related stress?

An email protocol to assist staff in managing the email system is now being developed. The internal communications officer is looking at the current volume of emails within the University and how messages could be delivered in alternative ways.

How will managerial support be improved given that it is below benchmark?

A series of events for managers have been organised and are being delivered under a University wide communications initiative called 'Managers Engage'. These include briefings, interactive events, training and development for managers.

In addition a compulsory training programme for all managers is underway to ensure that they are equipped with the skills they need to manage staff during the challenges ahead. This includes:

  • Recruitment and Selection training.
  • Equality e-learning module.
  • Dignity and Respect training.
  • Managers' briefing for new managers.
  • Managing Performance; Workload management and monitoring.
  • Managing Work Related Stress training.

What can I do to alleviate stress in the workplace for me and my colleagues?

Everyone can play their part in reducing stress in the workplace by identifying early signs of stress in yourself and others and taking action to eliminate or minimise it. This may involve supporting others through stressful times at work or home life and discussing work related stress with managers to find ways of reducing stress.

Managers will be invited to attend a managing work related stress course to identify stressors in the workplace and methods by which stressors may be minimised through risk assessment.

If a personal situation at home is causing an impact on your working life it may be of benefit to discuss this with your manager to ensure that you are supported whilst at work. Alternatively, personal situations may be discussed in confidence with the Counselling Service.

What's next after the Quality of Working Life Survey?

A series of focus groups were held with staff and facilitated by Stress In Perspective to explore the issues raised in the survey in more depth so that appropriate measures can be put into place to improve the quality of working life for staff at the University.

An action Plan containing all the initiatives concerning the Quality of Working Life at the University has been developed and will be continually monitored and updated. Progress made on ideas and actions that emerge from the focus groups will be included on the Action Plan. Where required, line managers will be trained to facilitate the communication and implementation of the Action Plan.

Further evaluation / surveys are planned after an appropriate time period and any improvements arising from the process will be used to engender further improvements.

Where can I find more details about the results?

The survey findings may be downloaded using the following links:

Got a query?

Contact: Steve Wiggins, Head of Health, Safety & Wellbeing

Tel: 01274 235764