Helen Ashley: Why you should have your say
My first experience of the University of Manchester was attending a Women into Science and Engineering weekend course in 1987 with other teenaged girls from all over Greater Manchester. If memory serves, we stayed in halls of residence, visited laboratories and tried our hands at a wide range of seemingly wild and wonderful experiments, tests and processes. I think those early experiences imprinted UoM in my mind as a haven for amazing people doing extraordinary work.
No doubt you can imagine my feelings as I walked through the archway on my first day as a member of staff back in October 2021, keen to make my own contribution and enable our great people to continue to do great things. In my role as Head of Talent and Workforce Planning, I spend a lot of my time reviewing workforce information, interpreting data sets and looking for trends and patterns – exciting stuff I’m sure you’ll agree! But what makes workforce planning particularly interesting for me is the opportunity to understand more deeply the information shared by colleagues themselves, rich in knowledge, experience and insight. For me, this insight is an essential component that will guide university decision making and shape our future.
The full picture
One of the many ways an organisation can better understand itself, measure its progress and ensure it remains true to its guiding principles and stated ambitions is to hold a survey. When each of us contributes our own personal experiences and perspectives they add up to a unique insight into our University. For me, the Staff Survey is one of our most democratic and inclusive processes – we each have an equal, fully anonymous opportunity to share our views.
Sharing your opinion can sometimes feel daunting. I think it’s important to mention that we work with an external partner, People Insight, in order to ensure the anonymity of each participant. Not even our P&OD colleagues have access to individual responses. People Insight group our responses into relevant business areas to protect your identity and allow you to share your honest views and opinions.
What happens next?
For me, and I guess for most of you too, the most important thing about a staff survey is what happens to the information once it’s received. In fact, the results are used in more ways than you might think. Obviously, staff survey data is important for workforce planning purposes, and for evaluating our progress in important programmes like Athena Swan, Race Equality and Inclusive Manchester. Staff Survey results are also important in measuring the impact of new strategies like People & Organisational Development (P&OD) and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and for focussing the delivery of direct action on emerging themes.
There is one additional area of impact our Staff Survey has for me is related to the many roles each of us play within the University. Like most of you, I have more than one role: I’m an employee, a colleague, a team member, a team leader, a project sponsor, a project team member and a stakeholder; not to mention all the roles I have when I’m not working (that I still have even when I am working!) Inevitably, the ways I act and the decisions I make contribute to the responses colleagues give in their surveys. So, I think it’s important for me to reflect on the themes and responses given in the survey because there will be insights to help me to improve my leadership, develop my interpersonal skills and become better at my job.
So please, if you haven’t yet ‘had your say’ in our Staff Survey 2022, then do it now. It takes just 15 minutes and will help us build a fuller picture of how our colleagues feel so that we can make real changes and positive improvement.
Head of Talent and Workforce Planning,
People and Organisational Development
What a nice blog Helen. Very thoughtful and just a very nice of saying to folk to take a bit of time to do the survey. As a Head of School, I take the results very seriously and do my utmost to follow through on concerns to make things better as far as I can. Thank you!