Low morale hits colleges

November 16, 2001

There are "disturbingly low levels of morale" among lecturers, support staff and managers in further education colleges, a national survey has found.

More than half of staff feel undervalued and two-thirds feel that communication is poor in their college, a survey by the Learning and Skills Development Agency discovered.

Two-thirds of staff also felt their college did not care for their welfare and nearly three-quarters thought staff could not afford to take risks or try new things without fear of failure.

The findings, based on a survey of nearly 10,000 staff in 80 colleges last summer, found that most staff thought the quality of management and communication in their college was almost as important to them as pay and conditions.

According to Jane Owen, LSDA development adviser and co-author of Listening to Staff , a report on the findings, the staff profile that emerged from the survey "gives considerable cause for concern".

She said: "In our experience, having carried out comparable surveys, it is uncommon for average ratings to be as negative within a single organisation and very rare for them to be so negative across a whole occupational sector.

"There is a clear message that the quality of communication and the degree to which staff are valued influences their overall attitudes to their job and employer - and that many colleges need to improve in their area."

Staff satisfaction in beacon and accredited colleges, representing 10 per cent of the survey, was higher than in other colleges.

The report says the factors that linked strongly with overall levels of satisfaction among staff were: whether they felt the "college cared about them"; whether they felt valued and secure; and how effectively they were communicated with, consulted and involved in decision-making.

The report says: "It seemed to be connected with an embedded culture of continuous improvement - rather than one of blame - which encouraged bottom-up initiatives within a clearly understood framework."

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