HR heads slow to seek staff views

November 18, 2005

University personnel managers are less likely to find out how their staff are feeling than those in the private or public sectors, according to the HR Benchmarker Services, writes Phil Baty.

The report found that 61 per cent of human resources managers had carried out an employee attitude survey in the past two years. This compared with 74.1 per cent in the private sector and 72 per cent in the public sector.

Some 17 per cent had "never" carried out surveys of staff views compared with 10 per cent each in the private and public sectors.

The research also found that personnel managers were not likely to act on the results of such surveys. Asked to specify what changes to people management practices had occurred as a result of attitude surveys, per cent said they had improved communication practices, 14 per cent that they had introduced more family- friendly policies and 7 per cent that they had implemented training programmes.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said it was "damning" that "of the institutions that did survey their staff, only one in four made any kind of changes in response". She added:

"Many institutions have neither the will nor the inclination to address the problems of low pay, low morale and inequality of opportunity."

The report says research by the Institute of Education has shown workers are most satisfied when they feel "engaged". This has four key elements: being involved in decision-making; feeling they are being listened to; having opportunities to develop their jobs; and feeling the organisation is concerned about their wellbeing.

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