UHR Awards 2020 Winners

Category: Business Effectiveness and Organisational Performance


WINNERS: Nottingham Trent University

We have introduced a performance related pay progression structure for our lecturers and senior lecturers, aligned to clear developmental and performance milestones. Both frameworks allow for faster progression to the top of grade, and movement is dependent on achieving a ‘good’ performance rating. We are proud to have done this with the support and engagement of our academic community and UCU. Feedback tells us it is popular with both individuals and managers and is widely understood. Alongside the changes above, we have also fundamentally transformed our appraisal system to enable better differentiation in performance and we now consistently recognise all strong and exceptional performance with an annual bonus. We have championed and influenced change across the entire University and these practices have been embedded across policies, training and reporting ensuring that they are being consistently lived. Not everything has been universally popular, and to this end, we know that we are on a journey. We recognise that some areas are still finding quality appraisal conversations hard, however our focus and resolve that this is the right thing to do has been steadfast and throughout we have benefited from visible support from our most senior leaders. We believe our approach breaks the mould in the sector – introducing a true performance culture that is bold, distinctive and dynamic.

RUNNERS UP: Lancaster University

The Lancaster University (LU) Human Resources (HR) Team enhances the University’s global vision by supporting the Strategic International Partnerships. LU aims to be a globally significant leader in Higher Education. The HR Team has been actively involved in the development planning and operationalisation of our 4 campuses in Ghana, China, Malaysia and Germany. This involves providing HR support in a variety of areas including resourcing, policy development, global mobility, immigration and payroll and tax.  


Shortlisted Nominee: Bristol University

The project aim was to improve gender equality at the University of Bristol, with a specific focus on two key objectives: 

18 months on, the project has successfully ensured that we are on track to meet or exceed these challenging targets. The resulting UCU Collective Agreement is also proving to be a model of good practice based on feedback from across the sector and positive news stories. It is also at a pivotal point in UCU/UCEA negotiations. The agreement and follow-on programme of work to tackle academic careers more generally will ensure that we address the broader systemic challenges that must also now be met if we are to fully eradicate the gender pay gap, achieve a gender-balanced professoriate, and foster gender equality more widely. We will continue to make the most of the four key ingredients that distinguish this project: having clear and unambiguous objectives, receiving support from senior management backed up by funding, sharing our data as widely as possible for critical evaluation, and working constructively and in partnership with others such as UCU colleagues to settle their formal GPG claim. 


Shortlisted Nominee: Edinburgh Napier University

Social networking is how people communicate more and more frequently in their private lives. The ability to foster a social and collaborative work environment through an enterprise social network is key to engagement in the workplace. Edinburgh Napier became the first UK university to launch Workplace by Facebook in May 2019. Workplace has built a community where it’s easy to have multi-way conversations and interact and engage with people across all levels of the organisation – using a platform colleagues were already familiar with, meaning training wasn’t required. Colleagues stay connected with what’s going on at the University in real time. Workplace gives them a voice, allowing them to make meaningful contributions and adapt quickly to change through the opportunity to ask questions. They share successes, resolve issues faster, suggest ideas to make the University an even better place to work, and gain expertise – with support from colleagues they’ve never met, at every level, in any school, business unit or campus. Our people also use Workplace to see visible leadership providing a strong strategic narrative, especially about where we’re headed – and what they should focus on to get us there. Workplace brings focus to what’s important at the institution and allows everyone to participate in the conversation, making colleagues feel engaged and empowered within their working community and in tune with our strategy. Several universities have noted the success of Workplace at Edinburgh Napier and now want to launch the platform – asking us, as trailblazers, to support them in doing so. 


Shortlisted Nominee: University of Huddersfield

Our University has undertaken an innovative and transformational leadership and management development exercise, that has led to our institution being the first organisation (not just University) in the world where all its managers hold (or are on route to hold) Chartered Manager (CMgr) status. CMgr sets out the key behaviours we want to develop, and helps build a positive, healthy and productive working environment to sustain our long-term aims and objectives. We are seeing stronger, more inspiring leadership which ultimately means our people work more efficiently together. We believe our approach puts effective management and leadership at the heart of our University’s commitment to delivering our new 2025 Strategy Map, and has helped embed the key behaviours which to we want to develop, and helps build a positive, healthy and productive working environment required to sustain our long-term University aims and objectives.  The initiative is something we are tremendously proud of and has significantly enhanced the leadership and management ability within our University. 



Read about all the shortlisted nominees for the UHR Awards 2020 in other categories:

Business Effectiveness and Organisational Performance

Organisational Development and Culture Change

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Exceptional HR: our ‘Team of the Year’ category