Staff survey activity update: July 2019

  • An update on 2018 Staff Survey activity from President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Koen Lamberts

  • A summary of progress in the three priority areas for development at University level

Update from Professor Koen Lamberts:

Dear colleague

On 4 June 2019, the University Executive Board (UEB) met to discuss progress with work related to the 2018 Staff Survey.

You may remember I previously shared with you three priority areas for development that we had identified from the results – leadership and strategic direction; communications; and addressing the differences between responses from academic and professional colleagues.

Below is a summary of what we have been doing to address your feedback in these areas, as well as suggestions for future activity.

Faculty vice-presidents have also provided information about actions in their faculties and departments, and we will share best practice examples in future updates. I hope that you will have seen your own department’s results and had an opportunity to reflect on what they mean to you, and where you would like to see change.

Thank you once again for your useful and honest feedback. I will continue to keep you updated on activities and progress.

With kind regards,

Koen Lamberts
President and Vice-Chancellor

Progress in the three priority areas for development:

Leadership and strategic direction

Key survey questions:

  • The University leadership is sufficiently visible in the University
  • The University leadership sets out a clear vision of where the University is heading
  • I could explain to someone who doesn’t work here what the University is trying to achieve

It is important that our leadership team is visible and that colleagues understand what the University is trying to achieve and the role they have to play. Over the past six months, the Vice-Chancellor has met with all departments across the University. Plans are in place to make sure that there is an ongoing programme of department visits and opportunities to meet with senior leadership.

To support this face-to-face visibility, we regularly feature strategic updates and messages from UEB in the now weekly staff update. We have also developed a UEB information cascade outlining the key points discussed and agreed at UEB each month. We send this to faculty directors of operation, heads of department and department managers for onward cascade to their teams.

As outlined in the 20 June 2019 staff update, we will be holding a University-wide discussion in the autumn on the proposed new vision for the University. Our new vision will clearly set out our strategic direction, our values, our key priorities and the role you have in making them a reality.

In the new academic year, we will be introducing a number of other activities, including a programme of open door sessions with senior leaders and Q&A panel events.


Key survey questions:

  • There are opportunities for me to contribute to the direction of the University
  • The University leadership listens to and responds to the views of staff
  • The University leadership is open and honest in their communications with staff

It is vitally important that we all have opportunities to contribute to the direction of our university. There will be a number of ways that you can get involved in the development of our new vision and give your feedback, ideas and suggestions. Throughout the process we will provide honest feedback as we seek to reach collective agreement on our future direction.

Professor Craig Watkins and the Sheffield Methods Institute are analysing the free text comments from the staff survey, which will provide us with further insight into your views. As well as the bi-annual staff survey, we continue to provide regular opportunities to have your voice heard, including in the current SRDS review. Thank you to everyone who completed the survey for the launch of our race equality strategy. We are now looking at how your suggestions can help develop the strategy. We are also looking at plans for regular pulse surveying which would allow for more immediate insight and improved employee voice.

You can email our University Executive Board at with suggestions, comments and questions about any aspect of working at the University.

Addressing the differences between responses from academic and professional colleagues

Key survey questions:

  • I feel the level of pressure in my job is reasonable
  • The University leadership listens and responds to the views of staff
  • I believe the University is heading in the right direction

We identified a number of differences in responses from academic and professional staff, particularly in relation to the questions above. One key outcome of this is a newly formed Academic Workload Working Group which aims to establish how the University can better support academic staff to deliver excellent research, teaching and leadership without a detrimental impact on their wellbeing due to workloads. Our Stress Risk Management Working Group is also looking at relevant staff survey questions and is working with heads of department and department executive teams.

Other work that will support this area includes leadership training with Sheffield Leader, the implementation of Academic Career Pathways and the current SRDS review. The activity outlined above in leadership and communications will also support improvements in this area.