2018 UHR Awards Shortlist Business Effectiveness and Organisational Performance



Northumbria University: Academic Career Framework

Winner in the Business Effectiveness and Organisational Performance category




Northumbria University’s vision is to be known as “a research-rich, business-focused, professional university with a global reputation for academic excellence”. To achieve this, it needed a clear plan to support its academic staff and encourage them to greater heights.

The University established an Academic Career Framework that would help it attract and retain “inspiring, research-excellent and entrepreneurial” academics. The framework helped it establish clear pathways for career development, introduce new leadership structures, and support academics on their path to doctoral qualification. It also facilitated a generous financial support package to encourage global academics to join Northumbria.

Since 2013/14, just over 600 new academics have joined, while the number of doctorally-qualified staff has jumped by 90 to 702. The University leaped from 80th to 50th in the Research Excellence Framework 2014, the biggest rise in research power of any university. Academics have also secured twice as much research grant money over the last four years.

The framework is part of a range of initiatives in its Vision 2025 plan, which aims to make Northumbria one of the Top 30 universities in the UK.


Liverpool John Moores University: Leadership and Development Foundation

Runner Up in the Business Effectiveness and Organisational Performance category

In 2015, Liverpool John Moores University set up the Leadership and Development Foundation (LDF). The LDF was designed to send a signal that the University was committed to supporting and developing its staff.

This commitment took various forms. The LDF quickly introduced the Professional Services Conference and the Professional Services Excellence awards, recognising exceptional staff. The conference now attracts more than 300 delegates, and staff have stated that it makes them “feel proud to work at LJMU”.

The University also became the first post-92 institution to receive the Mark of Excellence from the Association of University Administrators. 100 AUA memberships were purchased by the LDF, giving participants a chance to develop their knowledge and professional network. LJMU now has 39 fellows and five accredited members, with 11 submissions being processed. The LDF also encouraged all faculties and divisions to assess themselves against criteria for the Customer Service Excellence awards, which promotes customer insight, quality and culture. The University is the first in the North West to have achieved full institutional recognition by CSE, and have gained 40 "compliance plus" ratings.

These initiatives support the University’s strategic objectives, such as ensuring that staff “feel valued and supported”. The latest staff survey indicates that 97% of People and Organisational Development staff said they really cared about doing well in their job, while 75% said the organisation inspired them to do their very best.


SOAS: Improving satisfaction for part-time teaching staff

Shortlisted in the Business Effectiveness and Organisational Performance category

A third of SOAS’ headcount is made up of part-time, hourly-paid teachers. This is why the institution was keen to improve their experience, and the processes it used to pay and employ them.

Complex contracts and processes had resulted in errors and omissions in contracts and payments, as well as a lack of transparency. SOAS embarked on a “transformational project”, overhauling its payment and contract processes, and identifying a suitable replacement IT solution. The new approach has reduced queries to HR by over 50% and reduced the average time to resolve queries from 40 days to 13.

Staff say the system is now easier to use, with “significantly reduced errors” and easy-to-understand processes. This academic year, 746 contracts and variations have been automatically generated. Previously, the manual system took around 30 minutes per contract.

SOAS is now exploring extending the system to irregular employees such as student ambassadors and invigilators.


Staffordshire University: Performance and Development Review scheme

Shortlisted in the Business Effectiveness and Organisational Performance category

Driving up the performance of the University is a key strategic focus for Staffordshire University, as well as boosting student satisfaction levels and improving student experience. As a result, the HR and Corporate Information teams collaborated on the development of the Performance and Development Review scheme last year.

The PDR scheme is a performance-based appraisal scheme which combines several data sources to give staff insight into factors including:

-        Grades and pass rates in their modules

-        Research outputs and external income secured

-        Training and development undertaken

Staff review the data on a dashboard ahead of their discussion with an appraiser and reflect on their own view of their performance. This provokes a more focused conversation about achievements, as well as aims for the future.

Employees then receive an annual end-of-year performance rating, and the University holds quarterly business reviews where Deans communicate the performance of their schools to executive members.

These rating scales have enabled the University to identify rising stars, potential skills gaps, and staff that have specific needs. It has also been able to assign funding for staff development more confidently.


For information on our other awards categories visit:

Organisation Development and Culture Change

Equality and Diversity

HR Excellence

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