Creating a Positive Working Environment
Welcome to the Positive Working Environment initiative!
Message from Professor Terry Threadgold, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Staff and Diversity
Professor Terry Threadgold, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Staff and Diversity, leads on the Positive Working Environment initiative at Cardiff University, and chairs several of the groups associated with the programme of work.
“I am delighted to be so actively involved with the Positive Working Environment initiative, which aims to ensure that everybody has good experiences of working at Cardiff University. The working environment has a huge impact on staff, and PWE is all about making Cardiff University the kind of workplace that staff are happy to come to.
We have over 6,000 members of staff at Cardiff University, all with very diverse backgrounds, experiences and skills. There are a huge variety of roles at the University, each one contributing towards our success as a University, and working with the University to achieve its vision of being world-leading. Without our staff we could not have accomplished any of our great achievements.
Work of the Positive Working Environment initiative takes place within six key themes, which were developed in consultation with members of staff: Communication, Equality and Diversity, Building Management Capacity, Health and Well Being, Positive Relationships and Valuing People and Physical and Virtual Environments and Access. It is important for work to take place in all of these areas in order for a positive working environment to become a reality.
One of the key aims of the whole Positive Working Environment initiative is to ensure that the University and its staff communicate effectively and transparently with one another. Feedback from the first Staff Attitude Survey in 2008 told us that improvements in relation to communication with and between staff were needed, and a significant project commenced with a view to improving communication. The Communication Strategy Staff Group is one of the meetings that I chair, and as part of its work, a series of focus groups in relation to communication for staff took place across the University. The feedback received from staff during the Staff Communication Focus Groups was vital for making tangible improvements. In addition, the launch of ‘Blas’ the new online newsletter for staff, now helps everybody to keep informed about important things happening at the University, and provides a mechanism for sharing information with others.
The Staff Reference Group and a series of Staff Networks including the Disabled Staff Network, the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Staff Network, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Network (Enfys), the Women Professor’s Group, the Welsh Language Network and the Carers’ Network are all open to all staff and are extremely important in taking our communication agendas forward.
Equality and Diversity
Equality and Diversity is a key theme of the Positive Working Environment initiative not because it is legally required of us (although of course we must comply with our legal obligations), not because it is the politically correct thing to do, but because a workplace where difference is recognised and valued, where people feel comfortable with themselves, and where treatment is fair and equal, is a better and more productive workplace for everyone concerned. Learning from the different perspectives and approaches of others enhances our potential to succeed as individuals and as an organisation. In many ways if we get equality and diversity right, if we manage to embed the principles of the legislation in our daily working lives, all of our other key themes will become much easier to accomplish.
Building Management Capacity
Building Management Capacity is a key theme in itself but also crucial to the success of other key themes: e.g., Health and Well-being, Positive Relationships and Valuing People. Good management is in no way contradictory to all the things staff in universities hold dear: freedom of speech, independence and excellence in research, excellence in teaching and learning as well as socially engaged innovation and engagement. In fact good, reflective, management is what facilitates all of these things and makes them possible. Moreover, in the current industrial, legislative and policy context, effective management requires training to produce outcomes which are transparent, fair and equal: but management is a two way process, and those who are managed need also to be prepared to take up opportunities when they are offered, to behave appropriately and to treat others with dignity and courtesy, to be clear about their aims and objectives and to perform well. Our provision of Leadership and Management Development training opportunities has increased considerably in recent years and will continue to be a major focus. Support for all parts of the University in maintaining Investor’s in People Status will be a major part of taking this forward.
Health and Wellbeing
Ensuring that the Health and Well Being of staff is supported is extremely important if we are to ensure that we have a happy, healthy and productive workforce. There are already many things in place to support the Health and Wellbeing of staff including the Staff Counselling Service, the Dignity at Work and Study policy and associated Dignity advisors, the Occupational Health and Safety Unit, the University Chaplaincy, our Sport facilities, the Bike Users’ Group, Childcare facilities, the Eye Clinic and our work life balance policies. A Health and Well Being Working Group, bringing together people working in this area from all over the university, has been set up to ensure that work is coordinated. The University’s Positive Health and Environment Weeks (PHEW), which have taken place annually since June 2009, are part of the ongoing work in relation to health and wellbeing.
Physical and Virtual Environments and Access
Physical and Virtual Environments and Access is where we link in with the Estates Strategy work and the work of the Information Services, in particular in relation to the Modern IT Working Environment (MWE). Disabled access issues are dealt with here, along with things like a transport strategy for staff, an eco-friendly workplace, and simply a workplace where the space is pleasant and comfortable to work in.
Positive Relationships and Valuing People
Positive Relationships and Valuing People actually follow from all of the above. This means that we have to have a zero tolerance approach to bullying, harassment and discrimination in the workplace, that our appraisal and probation/mentoring processes must accomplish something for all staff, and that both management and staff have a clear understanding of their responsibilities to one another and of how to communicate those responsibilities.
The combination of the work in all of these key areas will help to produce a more Positive Working Environment for everybody at the University. Every single person has a role to play in helping to create the Positive Working Environment. It is up to all of us, wherever we work in the organisation, to take up the opportunities available to us, to ask the questions that will help us to understand our roles, to communicate openly and effectively, to understand what is needed for the University to succeed, and to do what we can to help achieve that vision. At Cardiff University, we have come a long way as a result of all of the hard work of our staff.
The Positive Working Environment initiative will allow us to focus on our staff as the key to our future success and to move forward together in new, and more focussed, coordinated, and exciting ways. I hope you will join in and help us to make a difference for ourselves and the University.”
What has been happening as part of the Positive Working Environment (PWE) initiative:
- We have conducted two Staff Surveys, the first in 2008 and then again in 2011, and have addressed and will continue to address the issues raised by staff;
- We have achieved the Athena Swan Bronze Award as a University, with some schools having gone on to achieve the Silver Award;
- We have conducted three Recognition of Service events for staff who have achieved 25 and 40 years' continuous service at the University;
- We have established an annual Positive Health and Environment Week (PHEW) for staff;
- We have maintained our staff networks, and launched others including the newest Carers’ and Welsh Speakers’ Networks;
- In February 2011 we achieved Investors in People status;
- We have launched a number of equality and diversity policies and schemes;
- We have continued to develop and run Leadership and Management Development Programmes for all levels of staff and launched a new Leadership and Management Development Programme for Heads of School;
- We have heard what you told us in the Staff Survey about communication and set up a communication strategy group to explore your issues and find ways forward;
- We have implemented new Equality and Diversity Training and support for all staff;
- The Counselling Service has received Service Accreditation status from BACP, the largest counselling and psychotherapy body in the UK and Europe.
- In November 2011 the Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Unit achieved both the International Occupational Health and Safety Standard BS OHSAS 18001:2007 and the Environment Management System Standard ISO 14001:2004.
What’s yet to come as part of the Positive Working Environment Initiative (PWE):
- The fourth Positive Health and Environment Week (PHEW 4) for staff;
- Actions resulting from the 2011 Staff Survey, at University-wide and School/Directorate levels;
- Achievement of the Corporate Health Standard;
- Continuing Recognition of Service events on an annual basis;
- Introduction of the Celebrating Excellence Awards for Staff in 2012;
- Maintenance of the Investors in People Standard;
- Ongoing development of Leadership and Management programmes;
- Recruitment of a new network of Dignity Advisors;
- Resubmission at a Unviersity-wide level against the Athena Swan Award;
- Working with a number of academic schools to achieve the Athena Swan Award.