9-11 May 2023


Please note: The UHR 2023 Conference is now over. We will keep this page live for some more weeks as colleagues find their way to recordings of the sessions that they'd most like to catch up with. See 'Recordings' navigation to the right. 

We are delighted to announce in detail the programme for the UHR Conference 2023, 'Working Well'. For those who have attended a UHR Conference before you'll see much that you recognise, with top speakers and workshop sessions spread across all three days, the UHR Awards, chances to spend time with other delegates, social sessions and more. This programme is subject to minor change only, but we don't expect much alteration.

So now is the time to start adding favourite sessions into your diary. You can attend as much or as little of the conference as you wish. Look out for each day's plenary sessions, choose your workshops when these run concurrently, and make the most of your Team Ticket in whichever way matches your needs. We are very grateful to all of the sponsors of this event and we'd urge delegates to make full use of the business sessions and other opportunities to interact with our partners. Catch up with your key account contacts and find new services and providers for all your core HR activities.

You'd be very welcome to download the full conference brochure for full information on this year's event.

Tuesday 9 May

9:00 - 9:55
Registration - register for conference using the personalised Hopin link sent to you in the days ahead of conference.

9:55 - 10:00
Conference Welcome - join our conference host, former UHR Chair Kim Frost and our current UHR Chair Naina Patel, as we prepare to kick off #UHR23.

10:00 - 11:00

It is time to envision how human behaviour will change in the coming years now that society is hit by a so-called 'polycrisis': where several crises in a row (Covid, Ukraine, inflation, recession etc. + the long-term climate crisis) shake up society and rattle our mental wellbeing. How does this affect our behaviour? Decision-making? And leadership? Amidst this polycrisis, HR professionals have to embrace the next wave of digitalisation and try to make sense of hybrid, the Metaverse and AI - preferably today and not tomorrow. And then there is a new generation of colleagues: Generation Z. Their unique perspective on life gives us great insight into what the future will hold for all of us.

Speaker: Thimon de Jong, Founder, WHETSTON / Strategic Foresight.

11:00 - 11:30
Break & Networking

11:30 - 12:15 Workshops Block A

This session will highlight the recruitment and retention challenges higher education institutions are facing in the United States and look for commonality between our US and our UK colleagues. We will highlight what the research is telling us about our main challenges and what suggestions we have for counteracting those challenges to recruit and retain the best possible workforce.

Speakers: Jami Painter, Senior Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, University of Illinois System; Jay Stephens, Vice President for Human Capital Services, Kansas State University.

Developing YOURCareer@Staffs.
Developing people and harnessing talent is a focus for the HR&OD team at Staffs, as part of our Staff make Staffs cultural development programme. We wanted to make better use of our talent and experience across the organisation, having meaningful conversations about learning and career development. Recognising that it is our staff that make Staffs University and that we are all unique, we developed a new career development platform. YOURCareer@Staffs allows colleagues to identify and develop an approach that works for them and suits their own individual needs, whether it be online learning, mentoring, Connect sessions or masterclasses. YOURCareer@Staffs is a one stop shop for individuals to access what they need with clear links to the University’s values and behaviours. Ownership for development is placed with the individual, supported with quality coaching conversations through PDR and 1-2-1.

Speakers: Matt Coombe Boxall, Learning and Development Advisor, Staffordshire University; Natalie Taylor, OD & Engagement Manager, Staffordshire University.

Reinventing your institution for the hybrid age is full of challenges but, against a backdrop of increasing competition and talent scarcity, we must evolve our people practices or be left behind.

No matter where you are on your hybrid journey, this workshop will give you the insights you need to help your institution excel through new ways of working, elevating the employee value proposition and creating opportunities for culture and connection.

We will cover the practical implications of a hybrid HE workforce, explore the available research and consider best practice from organisations that are thriving, including examples of “what works well” in a HE context. We’ll also include a section on Virtual EI and the new social skills that are needed to manage teams, build relationships and make real connections when working virtually. You’ll takeaway a strategic blueprint for weaving hybrid work into the future of HE.

Speaker: Emma Brookes, Strategic Projects and Research Manager, UHR.

This practical and interactive session will focus on how flexible working can support universities to build inclusive, healthy workplaces and enable people to thrive in their varied roles.

It will support participants to define flexible working patterns, considering how, where and when people do their jobs. There will be a particular focus on addressing inequalities in how flex is experienced across different roles within universities, and effective approaches to ensuring flexibility for those in site-based as well as hybrid positions.

It will share learning from Timewise's work with large public sector organisations, including councils and hospital trusts, to support the implementation of flexible working arrangements across a wide range of positions. It will also cover the potential of anchor organisations, like universities, to 'lean out' and influence improved practices among employers across the local area.

The session will discuss examples of excellence and innovation, supporting participants to reflect on their organisational practice and understand how they can start to deliver change.

Speakers: Amy Butterworth, Consultancy Director, Timewise; Muriel Tersago, Principal Consultant, Timewise.

This case study of a major organisational restructure in May 2020 will outline the various organisational development techniques that were used to support the change. This included an 18-month programme of business process workshops leading to comprehensive action planning activity, management team support workshops, a coaching programme and reserving priority places on a management programme.

We will provide examples of the process maps developed using MS Visio, while discussing the lessons learnt through their development and while working largely in a virtual environment. These lessons include using the process mapping sessions as a consultancy tool for the local department management team, the importance of senior staff buy in, stakeholder analysis and engagement to bring staff with you on the change journey, and the cultural change process needed to ensure agreed actions are implemented.

The session will be of interest to those involved in change, and those wishing to find out more about process mapping.

Speaker: Naomi Mulligan, Learning & Organisational Development Business Partner, University of Hertfordshire.

The CIPD launched a new Code of Conduct and Ethics effective 1 January 2023. This session will take you through the new Code and it’s expectations and includes some practical exercises to bring the Code to life.

Speakers: Rob Curd, Project Executive, CIPD; Tina Russell, Professional Conduct and Ethics Lead, CIPD.

12:15 - 12:45
Break & Networking

12:45 - 13:30 Business Sessions Block A

Within the HE sector we have seen a fundamental shift in the role that the HR department has to play. With ‘Work Anywhere’ requirements, increased competition for recruitment and a greater requirement to manage staff wellbeing in a workforce that is often remote, the HR department has a completely new set of requirements in order to ‘Work Well’.

In this session we will be exploring how HR departments are adapting to these new challenges and how institutions are supporting HR professionals with the appropriate tools and systems.

We will be drawing on the experiences from across HE, other sectors and importantly the attending delegates.

We will also be looking at how institutions are looking at new ways to recruit and retain staff in the new world where staff recruitment and satisfaction is now as important as student recruitment and satisfaction.

Speaker: Nick Gibson, Head of Higher Education & Research, NTT DATA Business Solutions.

Julia and Sally will lift the veil on designing and delivering inclusive executive search processes that embed diversity at every level of the campaign. This will be a case study of GatenbySanderson and Sheffield Hallam University working in partnership to find, attract and assess diverse leaders to push forward the Hallam Deal (the people strategy).

We will specifically address the use of language in job descriptions and adverts, challenging the level of ‘essential criteria’ needed and being creative when building search lists. Assessment also plays a key role. How can candidates apply in a targeted way that will both level the playing field, but also provide the evidence required for selection committees. Finally, we share insights on keeping the final process focussed, inclusive and transparent to candidates and panels to give confidence in the outcome.

Speakers: Dr. Sally Jackson, Chief People Officer and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Diversity & Inclusion), Sheffield Hallam University; Julia Roberts, Partner and Practice Lead for Education, GatenbySanderson.

In a time where Universities feel the financial pressures, are dealing with sensitive industrial relations and high demands for information from regulatory bodies and the public, it is necessary to ensure that academic time can be dedicated to strategically important and/or financially viable work.

The session will explore how to effectively involve staff in conversations about workload and module/course costing in a way that embraces the potential for financial sustainability. Based on a carefully made selection of data and the right level of transparency for staff, the approach contributes to staff trust as well as the opportunity to address workload concerns in a strategic way, compliant with EDI commitments. We will show how a thorough understanding of workforce skills and workload (in a more granular way than SSR) can be combined with financial insight in activity costs and contributions, to inform strategic planning and HR workforce planning.

Speakers: Dr Tine Blomme, Academic Workload Consultant, Simitive; Natasha Bennett, Head of Client Services, Simitive

Working alongside universities to provide financial wellbeing support to staff has never been more critical given these uncertain times. This can release the pressure on HR departments in relation to staff concerns. In conjunction with University of Glasgow, we will present the key features and benefits of our longstanding partnership.

Our Financial Wellbeing service has been designed to support University staff with their key financial planning needs. We believe that the foundation of financial wellbeing is education and awareness. From an informed basis people feel more in control and are empowered to make better decisions about their finances.

We work with University HR teams to design and deliver bespoke programmes focused on financial wellbeing for all employees.

Along with tailoring specific content for the relevant groups, we optimise ways in which to engage people with our Financial Wellbeing service (webinars / one to one’s)

Speakers: Christine Barr, Executive Director of People & OD, The University of Glasgow; David A Smith, Director, Chartered Financial Planner, Evelyn Partners Financial Planning Limited (formerly Tilney Financial Services Limited); David Vallance, Director, Chartered Financial Planner, Evelyn Partners Financial Planning Limited (formerly Tilney Financial Services Limited).

13:30 - 14:30
Lunch & Networking Carousel
Grab a sandwich, grab a coffee, and join us on the Networking Carousel, where we pair delegates up for short conversations that help you identify future project partners, gain an informed second opinion on your current challenges, or maybe help you think through what we've been learning so far today.

14:30 - 15:30

Vivienne Stern MBE, Chief Executive of Universities UK, is ideally placed to update delegates on current challenges and trends in the HE Sector.  In a highly regulated HE context, her plenary session will focus on those aspects of our operating environment which we can shape and control, as well as how we might focus our efforts to influence government and others to make our working lives a bit easier! As the relatively new Chief Executive of Universities UK, Vivienne is particularly keen to have the opportunity, through the Chat and Q&A which will form part of her session, to hear from delegates about the innovative and effective work in our institutions to enhance wellbeing and to enable all our staff to flourish, and about how delegates would like to see Universities UK support them and their staff.

Speaker: Vivienne Stern, Chief Executive, Universities UK.

15:30 - 16:00
Break & Networking

16:00 - 17:00 Legal Sessions Block A

The UK higher education sector is facing tough workforce challenges from many directions. The majority of universities face a competitive environment in which to attract, retain and engage high quality staff, industrial unrest, increasing costs and the need to operate more efficiently within financial constraints.

This session will unpack key related legal challenges and offer positive, practical solutions, including in relation to:
• effective utilisation of flexible terms and different types of staff engagement
• industrial relations
• diversity and inclusion
• a practical framework for workforce restructuring

Speakers: Nick Abbott, Partner, Mills & Reeve LLP; Nicola Brown, Partner, Mills & Reeve LLP; Alex Russell, Partner, Mills & Reeve LLP.

The effective management of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct remains a key issues for Universities. Our session will focus on the management of sexual harassment within universities considering the issues arising from student/staff and staff/staff allegations. We will explore the impact of the changes to the OfS framework on the University management of these issues and the recent UUK guidance. The session will be practical and will include some interactive scenarios for delegate response and to allow sharing of experience.

Speakers: Nicola Bennison, Partner, Eversheds Sutherland; Chris Mordue, Partner, Eversheds Sutherland.

We know that employees who are not working well can cause a snowball effect in an organisation. They can negatively affect morale, other employees performance, and take an inordinate amount of management time to deal with; in the worst cases, ultimately impacting on the student experience. In this highly informative and interactive session, Shakespeare Martineau will give you and your line managers the tools to manage poor performers to enable your organisation to work well. We will equip you with the skills and knowledge to help effectively manage those employees who are not toeing the line, and give you the tools to use when it is time to cut your losses. The session will be delivered through the medium of a case study, and will highlight common pitfalls, some salutary tales from our own experience of advising clients, as well as an overview of the case law.

Speakers: Tom Long, Partner, Shakespeare Martineau LLP; Emma Glazzard, Solicitor, Shakespeare Martineau LLP; Esther Maxwell, Legal Director, Shakespeare Martineau LLP.

Wednesday 10 May

9.25 ready for a 9.30 start
We start off once more on the dot of 9.30am with a fantastic plenary session from Rene Carayol. So it's time to gather your notepads and your thoughts. Looking back to yesterday's first day of conference, what do you take away for future use?
9:30 - 10:30

Inclusion is now at the top of the agenda for many progressive businesses and their leaders. They are authentically and passionately trying to create an environment where everyone has an opportunity to flourish. From our experience, business performance enhances when all colleagues feel they belong, where every colleague can bring their full self to work and feel part of something special. Businesses who are making proactive progress on Inclusion are finding that not only is this the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do. Now is the time to capitalise on the momentum and take Inclusion from a movement to a way of life.

Speaker: René Carayol, CEO, The Everyone Group.

10:30 - 11:00
Break & Networking

11:00 - 11:45 Workshops Block B

Learning from supporting a return to campus following the pandemic, we will share how we have been looking at ways to approach work differently.

We will share support developed for hybrid working practices and application of our newly developed Principles for Working Well Together, which focus on empowering staff to change their working practices to better balance home and work.

Throughout the pandemic and since our return to campus, many colleagues report challenging workloads. We’ve established pan institution Principles of Fair workload and are now embarking on both an academic and professional service focused programme of activities transitioning towards better managed workloads and increased efficiency.

This session will provide an opportunity to learn about these linked projects, bringing academic and PS colleagues together. Hear about interventions to date and the project developing workstreams to consider academic and PS workloads, identify ‘quick wins’, create efficiencies and explore concepts of professional identity.

Speakers: Lizzie Amies, HROD Business Partner (Transformational Change), Durham University; Nic Johnston, Deputy Director of HR and Employment Lawyer, Durham University; Helen Neary, HR Business Partner (Change), Durham University.

We will share our experience of introducing menopause support in the workplace, the impact and how this has supported our Gender Equalities agenda at the University of Sheffield.

Our journey started with International Women’s Day 2019, where Deborah Garlick of Henpicked started a conversation about menopause with our staff. This sparked engagement with our staff that included focus groups and lived experience which led to the development of our Menopause Toolkit and Resources. Our partnership with Peppy developed when the co-Founder/co-CEO, Max Landry, supported us to be the first HEI to provide expert menopause support to our staff.

We have since added Fertility and Parentalhood support through the Peppy App, seeking to eliminate barriers and create an environment where all staff are able to flourish.

Speakers: Kathy Abernethy, Chief Nursing Officer, Peppy Health, University of Sheffield; Louise Blee, HR Manager, Staff Wellbeing, University of Sheffield; Deborah Garlick, CEO of Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace

The purpose of the session will be to consider what ‘working well’ means in the context of the latest labour market trends. The session will explore implications for HR practice and, in particular, how work can be made more accessible, inclusive, and meaningful. The session will draw on IES’ labour market commentary and analysis, programme of HR research, its analysis of best practice and informative case studies across sectors, and insights from working with HR teams.

Speaker: Daniel Lucy, Principal Research Fellow, Institute for Employment Studies (IES).

In order to work well, Universities must recruit well. However the recruitment environment has never been as challenging for HEIs and there is no sign of let up as we go into 2023. Alongside this, HEIs are striving to diversify their staff bodies and ensure they are representative of the student communities they serve. As large, complex organisations that employ a huge variety of staff, recruitment a key function for all HEIs. Whilst Universities may be perceived as having equitable recruitment processes, these processes are coming under more scrutiny due to analysis of who is applying, how they are doing so and what the outcomes are.

In this session we will be exploring topical issues and research in inclusive recruitment, hear from HEIs who are working hard to make changes and become more inclusive employers, and identify things that you can do to progress the conversation at your University.

Speaker: Sophie Crouchman, Strategic Projects & Research Manager, UHR, Angela Clark, Head of Recruitment, UCL, Hayley Histed, HR Recruitment Lead, University of Gloucestershire

With a new VC and Executive Leadership, a focus on growth and social purpose, we set out to further improve the Employee Experience of our staff. In this session we will explore how we made a difference to Working Well by introducing, a sector leading Equal Parental Leave policy giving all new parents of every sex and gender, six months full pay, becoming a Living Wage employer, setting a 30% B.A.M.E and working towards becoming an Anti-Racist University, supporting our LGBTQ+ and disabled colleagues, developing a first Staff and Student Well-being Strategy and launching a Menopause Support Community. We will share not only success but failures too, where we got inspired and in turn inspired others and where we lost our nerve and turned to each other, our community and our practice for help and support.

Speakers: Isabella Chan, Head of EDI, University of the Arts London; Adissa Mahamma, Head of OD, University of the Arts London; Vilma Nikolaidou, Associate Director HR (People Strategy), University of the Arts London.

The most recent New JNCHES pay round has taken place against a back-drop of high inflation and a cost of living crisis, as well as an existing dispute over the previous year's pay award. UCEA and the unions agreed an early start to the pay round, in order to try to address these issues, and also involved Acas at an earlier stage. The negotiations, which led to an offer with phased implementation for the first time in years, took place whilst UCEA was also consulting HEIs on the future of collective bargaining in HE. This session will provide reflections on the pay round, including the approaches to industrial action, as well as an update on UCEA's National Conversation on Pay Bargaining and the future of New JNCHES.

Speaker: Nicola Carter, Head of HR Advice, UCEA.

11:45 - 12:15
Break & Networking

12:15 - 13:00 Business Sessions Block B

This interactive workshop will share the secrets to the 5 ways you can design your programmes to excite and engage your academic colleagues into wanting to become beter people managers alongside their teaching and research roles.

You’ll hear a case study based on academic research that was conducted on behalf of the UK Government and evaluated by LSE, as well as insights from academics themselves on how 5 specific factors led to their engagement in the programme.

The session includes the opportunity to get involved and has a Q&A session.

In this post pandemic world we urgently need to ‘rehumaise management’ and change the way we engage with everyone at work. If you’ve ever struggled to excite your academic colleagues to want to develop their management and leadership skills this session will show you exactly how to turn this around. It’s not to be missed!

Speaker: Laura Ashley-Timms, COO, Notion-STAR®; Joanne Abraham, Lecturer in Accounting and Finance and Management, University of Exeter; Dr Caitlin Kight, Lecturer in Education Studies, University of Exeter.

The need to get HE pay and grading ‘right’ has never been greater. The cost-of-living crisis, labour market changes, and the impact of the living wage on the pay spine all bring potential pitfalls.

Speakers: Suzanne Daley, Member Engagement and Reward Consultant, ECC (Educational Competencies Consortium Ltd); Joanne Hunt, Member Engagement and Reward Consultant, ECC (Educational Competencies Consortium Ltd).

We will share our experience and expertise on how other organisations – within and outside the HE sector link their strategic employee voice piece to the practical implementation – what this looks like and how it can work well as technology evolves and capability is being developed within the sector to me more agile and outcome focused.

We are delighted to spotlight one of our Outstanding workplaces, the Francis Crick Institute. The Crick’s mission is discovery without boundaries and they have certainly been working hard to listen to their colleagues over the last few years. We would like to showcase some of their amazing work and what has been working well for them as well as areas they are focusing on in 2023 and beyond.

Speakers: Sara Brathwaite, Organisational Development & Engagement Manager, Francis Crick Institute; Lynda Burns, Head of Organisational Development, Francis Crick Institute; Lisa Hughes, Employee Experience Consultant, People Insight, Jane Tidswell, HE Sector Lead, People Insight

13:00 - 14:00
Lunch & Networking Carousel
Grab a sandwich, grab a coffee, and join us on the Networking Carousel, where we pair delegates up for short conversations that help you identify future project partners, gain an informed second opinion on your current challenges, or maybe help you think through what we've been learning so far today.

14:00 - 15:00 Legal Sessions Block B

Neurodiversity is an umbrella term covering the different ways that we think, learn and process information. Neurodivergent conditions include autism, ADHD, dyspraxia and dyslexia.

As with all D&I initiatives, doing the right thing often equates to doing the smart thing. Unintentionally excluding or discarding neurodivergent thinkers results in organisations missing out on unique talent, creativity and innovation. By contrast an organisation prepared to make (often simple, low cost) changes to their workspaces and people processes will benefit from the skills of highly creative thinkers and effective information processors.

The session will explore recent case law on the duty to make reasonable adjustments for neurodiverse conditions amounting to ""a disability"" particularly where there is an impact on an individual’s performance or behaviours. The session will also consider how creating an inclusive environment for neurodivergent individuals can enhance the productivity and comfort of all colleagues.

Speakers: Trish Embley, Head of Client Training Employment, Pinsent Masons LLP; Rebecca Stephen, Legal Director, Pinsent Masons LLP.

This session, led by lawyers Weightmans LLP in conjunction with HR professionals from the University of Leeds, intends to explore the many aspects of working relationships within the sector which can cause issues and conflicts and inevitably impact on both institutional wellness and personal wellbeing. We’ll discuss how those issues might be avoided or, if that fails, resolved. We will consider a range of scenarios, using real life examples from practice, and will offer both legal and practical guidance relating to strategic leadership, policy development, culture change and operational management- including handling fallouts, litigation and Twitter.
Aspects we’ll consider will include:

• Professional and personal relationships
• Staff/student boundaries and processes
• Abuse of power
• Conflicts between protected characteristics and competing rights
• Freedom of speech

We’ll provide opportunities for questions and comment and the sharing of experience in a safe space.

Speakers: Robert Butler, HR Case Manager, University of Leeds; Rachel Murphy, Head of HR, Case Management, University of Leeds; Melanie Steed, Lead Employment Lawyer for Education Sector, Weightmans LLP.

Occupational health reports can be invaluable in a variety of situations, including managing short term and long term absence, assessing what reasonable adjustments may assist a disabled employee and obtaining expert opinion to be used in employment tribunal litigation. However, sometimes these reports are not overly helpful and do not provide sufficient information to allow the HR team to adequately address the legal issues that need to be considered in these situations.

This session will provide some practical guidance on how to approach the process, the questions you should be asking and how to ensure that you get a helpful report that is tailored to your requirements.

The session will use real life practical examples and suggest some simple strategies to ensure you get the occupational health advice you need.

Speakers: Jane Byford, Partner & Head of Higher Education, VWV; Bob Fahy, Partner, VWV; Michael Halsey, Partner, VWV.

15:00 - 15:30
Break & Networking

15:30 - 16:30

Building on her extensive research with CEOs and senior managers in a range of organisations, Professor Veronica Hope Hailey's session will focus on the fundamental drivers of trust in the workplace. Commissioned by the CIPD Veronica has undertaken a number of major research projects in this field. Her recent examination of trust will also explore how we can build and renegotiate trust in our currently economic and psychological environment. As the Dean of the Business School and Special Advisor to the Vice-Chancellor at the University of Bristol, Veronica's session will draw on her experiences in a range of senior roles in Universities and in working with other sectors.

Speaker: Professor Veronica Hope Hailey, Dean, University of Bristol Business School.

UHR Awards
In partnership with Minerva, Notion - STAR® and NTT DATA Business Solutions
Join us for this year's UHR Awards ceremony where we'll learn the winners for 2023, including our Team of the Year, and the first winner of our new HR Star Award for an individual who really makes a difference. Has your team been shortlisted? As always there is much to learn from prize-winning projects and teams for the whole UHR community, so do join us to recognise the best in the field this year.


This will be an interactive Cocktail Masterclass, led by an expert mixologist where you will make 3 cocktails (or mocktails) and compete in teams in various fun competitions. Cocktail ingredients will be sent ahead of the class.

Partner: VWV.

'We're Not Really Strangers' is a purpose driven card game and movement all about empowering meaningful connections. Three carefully crafted levels of questions and wildcards that allow you to deepen your existing relationships and create new ones.

Let’s get connected, for real!

We've taken the much-loved card game and brought it online. Get a flavour of the game on YouTube here 👇

Join Gary from Everyday Juice Limited and Rob from Tailored Thinking for a networking experience like no other.

You may think you know someone, but do you really know what makes them tick? After playing this game, you're guaranteed to leave with at least one authentic, deep connection.

Partners: Everyday Juice and Tailored Thinking.

Thursday 11 May

9:25 - 9:30
Welcome back - join our conference host, former UHR Chair Kim Frost, to kick off the final day.

9:30 - 10:30 Special Interest Topic Discussions

We will explore why organisations spend more time investigating causes of failure, rather than learning from success, when more success is the goal, along with other contradictions within the ambitions and practices of HR and organisations.

Our research on performance outliers (exceptional performers) sees them consistently subvert organisation practices and processes to succeed. While they agree with the positive intent behind such artefacts, they intuit their inherent contradictions and create adaptations and work arounds. The findings don't call for wholesale change, but subtle changes to policy and process.

Drawing on examples, we will explore how some small subtle changes can have a large effect, along with some science to explain why and how.

Speakers: Dr Mark Houghton, Managing Director, I-PERFORMANCE LIMITED, and Visiting Research Fellow, Leeds University Business School; Lisa Hughes FCIPD, Senior Consultant, People Insight.

Making changes to anything is hard – transforming an organisation, harder still. Changing the embedded behaviours and transforming the way that our universities perform…

With no let up in the pressures facing HE in general, ensuring that every pound spent delivers an appropriate return on investment is key. With so many levers to pull though, how can you ensure that change and transformation programmes deliver their intended outcomes and sustainably?

In this facilitated workshop discussion delivered by expert change and performance consultant Dominic Ashley-Timms, you’ll discover ideas from Notion’s Mission Control playbook that you can utilise immediately and develop some next steps to ensure that, for whatever programme of change you're hoping to implement, you have put in place the low, medium and high touch approaches that will guarantee that your programmes deliver exciting and measurable benefits.

Speakers: Dominic Ashley-Timms, CEO, Notion-STAR®, Carol McLachlan, Programme Director, Brigette Evans, Transformation Manager

The academic landscape is intensively changing and workload continues to be high on the list of concerns raised by academic staff.

New pedagogic models, changes in student numbers and student expectations, systemic biases in workload recognition and uncertainty about the research funding landscape are amongst the factors raised by staff in the context workload concerns.

A transparent and structured process to allocate academic workload enables universities to identify trends and potential biases, evaluate workforce utilisation, inform costing analysis and to gauge time spent and academic outputs.

Success with addressing workload concerns is believed to be more achievable where this process is underpinned by a clear academic management structure, effective line management and qualitative performance management.

Speakers: Dr Tine Blomme, Academic Workload Consultant, Simitive; Paul Sheppard, Managing Director, Simitive.

This session is designed to promote discussion around the fears and concerns HE employees have around the cost of living crisis and its implications for their mental & financial wellbeing.

The presenters will ask questions to get delegate feedback on concerns, worries and the main issues around wellbeing and finances.

They will then start a discussion around what potential solutions are currently in use and ask if we can ascertain their effectiveness.

Speakers: David Vallance, Partner - Financial Planning, Evelyn Partners; David Smith, Director - Financial Planning, Evelyn Partners.

We’d be delighted if you’d join us for a discursive session on social mobility and what institutions are, perhaps should or could be doing to attract and retain a more diverse group of staff in relation to socio economic background, better reflective and representative of the students of today.

Whilst legislation is awaited around social mobility, there is a growing focus and importance in the sector and beyond on improving social mobility amongst the workforce (and student population).

During this discussion based session we will explore what institutions are proactively doing or might consider in this space and encourage the sharing of ideas and thoughts – looking at recruitment, retention, barriers faced, training and monitoring. Linked to that are positive action initiatives - taking targeted measures to encourage the recruitment and career progression of those from under-represented groups protected by the Equality Act 2010.

We will encourage discussion around the types of initiatives, the concept of proportionality and dealing with any ‘backlash’ from those not in the under-represented groups.

Speakers: Emma Malczewski, Senior Associate, Pinsent Masons; Laura Starrett, Associate, Pinsent Masons.

HR Departments are facing unprecedented demands in a very changing world and in this session we will explore how new technologies can be incorporated into today’s modern HR systems to automate process and free up time.

Universities are no longer destination employers that employees want to work for life. Recruitment, Retention and Motivation of staff has become as important as it is for Students. Staff are working from where they want to, and this is making management harder with Mental Wellbeing being an important factor for Staff in today’s institution. New technologies provide opportunities to use Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Chatbots and Digital Humans which if used correctly can give a host of options to improve the service provided by today’s HR department.

We will explore the options and how different intuitions are looking to incorporate new technologies as part of their wider HR Transformation initiative.
• An open and honest discussion on the challenges that institutions are facing
• The technologies that are available and how they are/can be used by institutions today
• A discussion about those that can be delivered quickly and cost effectively
• Delegates will leave this session, informed and inspired to implement the new ideas and recommendations that will take your HR Transformation initiative on a path to success.

Speaker: Nick Gibson, Head of Higher Education & Research, NTT DATA Business Solutions.

10:30 - 11:00
Break & Networking

11:00 - 11:45 Workshops Block C

The University of Stirling introduced a principles-led approach to hybrid working in August 2021. In December 2022 we launched a 10 question pulse survey to gather feedback from our staff on their lived experience of using our Agile Working Framework in practice. In this session we will discuss the value of our principles-led approach, sharing key data and insights from our staff. We will walkthrough how the use of pulse survey software enabled us to empower management teams across the University to enhance the agile working experience by taking responsibility for designing and implementing specific and relevant actions at a local level. We will also discuss how we have used this data at an institutional level to demonstrate the role of staff voice in enhancing the employee experience at Stirling in a meaningful way. Finally, we will share more on our future pulse survey approach – ‘Be Heard’.

Speakers: Deborah Hagan, Senior HR Business Partner, University of Stirling; Amanda Hopwood , Head of Employee Experience and Development, University of Stirling; Marie Murphy, Senior HR Business Partner, University of Stirling.

At Manchester Met, as common across the sector, there had been a long-standing arrangement to use teaching related hourly paid staff to provide cover for short-term unplanned absence, unplanned peaks in workload or seasonal demands, to provide specialist industry knowledge and experience, and for PhD students to gain employability skills whilst sharing their expertise and help improve graduate outcomes.

There were a range of local arrangements which had built up over the years resulting in a lack of consistency around the contractual arrangements for hourly paid staff. We therefore undertook a project aimed at providing secure employment for colleagues where appropriate, managing risk and reducing the use of teaching related hourly paid contracts. Our objective was to ensure we have a stable and engaged workforce to deliver the best possible student experience. In this, session we share details of our approach and the positive outcomes this project achieved.

Speakers: Sian Jackson, Principal Associate, Mills & Reeve; Kelly Russell, Assistant Director of HR Operations, Manchester Metropolitan University; Angela Shields, HR Business Partner, Manchester Metropolitan University.

In a world of competing priorities it’s sometimes hard to motivate yourself and those around you. Learn more about this aspect of your personality and look to learn about those around you. I will share with you tips to identify different styles and share with you what motivates different people into action. That will allow you to craft your message to those you work with, your clients, your family to communicate in a way that insights action. Come along and develop an action plan to help you craft your message to insight action. Or don’t join us, it’s up to you. Depends if you think this will be helpful to you or not!

Speaker: Hayley Watts, Coach, Trainer, Productivity Ninja, Inspireful.

Illuminate is an internal University of Salford programme for aspiring leaders who feel their opportunities to progress may be hindered by our current working environment. During the programme, we develop a community that positively influences our working environment for the benefit of everyone. We do this by imagining the future they want to see, amplifying their personal influence and helping to broaden the range of voices we all hear. There is also an opportunity for minoritized ethnic colleagues to participate in a ring fenced cohort, and we continue to explore opportunities for colleagues to participate in specialised groups to positively change the environment to the benefit of all. This workshop provides an overview of the programme, invites you to experience an exercise from Illuminate, and discuss the impact the programme has had on our community.

Speakers: Sonal Patel, Head of Learning & Organisational Development, University of Salford; Elaine Robertson, OD Specialist, University of Salford.

This interactive session will explore the impact of the system of work on employee wellbeing and experience and encourage participants to consider alternative approaches to building vibrant organisations where people can thrive.

At Semco Style, we believe the system of work is fundamentally broken. Leaders focusing on long-term strategy and direction yet feeling disconnected from where the organisation is currently. Front-line employees trying to do their best to deliver on the needs of end-users, but without the resources to deliver what is needed. Middle managers feeling stuck and squeezed. End-users feeling dissatisfied through poor experience.

All of this compounds to create huge stress and pressure. Typical approaches to address this stress and pressure aim to build greater resilience or put wellbeing programmes in place to support individuals. In this session, the SSI UK team encourage us to reconsider. Don’t try to fix the people, instead, fix the system.

Speakers: Lizzie Benton, Pathfinder, Semco Style Institute UK (SSI UK); Mark Green, Managing Partner, Semco Style Institute UK (SSI UK)

Financial wellbeing remains the last workplace taboo that needs to be overcome if employers are to ensure that employees remain financially resilient and supported in achieving short, mid and long term savings. This workshop will explore how the challenge can be approach and discuss the pioneering work the University of Lincoln has undertaken with younger workers to identify appropriate savings vehicles with supported incentivisation’s that will allow better saving habits to become embedded. This session will include commentary on the white paper produced by the University HR Team in partnership with their workplace ISA provider to influence a ministerial change in workplace savings legislation.

Speakers: Ian Hodson, Head of Reward, University of Lincoln; Claire Kennedy, Head of Payroll Services, University of Lincoln.

11:45 - 12:15
Break & Networking

12:15 - 13:00 Business Sessions Block C

This interactive session will explore the rise of international remote work and how it can be used to enhance and help differentiate an organisation's employee value proposition to attract and retain key talent. Whilst recognising the benefits of international remote work we will explore what it means for employers and employees looking to be compliant in the complex world of cross border moves sharing relevant insights from our global New Work Journey Survey. Further, we will demonstrate how organisations can harness technology to track their remote workers, to perform instant risk assessments and enhance the employee experience at the click of a button. Join us to explore how organisations may embrace the benefits that international remote work can bring with peace of mind that costs and risks are being managed.

Speakers: Gemma Buxton, Global Higher Education Director, Vialto Partners; Marie Green, Global Higher Education Leader, Vialto Partners.

Over the last few years, employee expectations have changed drastically – and changed for good. To work well, employees want to know that their voices are heard and there is a purpose to what they do and treated as an individual with unique traits and aspirations – just as we all do in our lives.

Many organisations are re-imagining and re-designing their employee experience and those that don’t – or respond too slowly – risk losing even more employee trust and may fail to retain or attract key talent and fail to enable their employees to ‘work well’.
Pivotal to achieving success for the employee is connecting their experience to that of the student for maximum impact.
This session will focus on why this is important for future success in Higher Education – what steps need to be taken to achieve success – and how this can be delivered with impact.
Thought provoking and practical – this session is designed to ignite the imagination and provide motivation for action.

Speaker: Leatham Green, Transformation Director UK&I, Oracle.

Addressing the challenge of overcoming the barriers to improved racial and gender representation in recruitment. This session will focus on how this can be achieved in line with your institution’s Athena Swan and Race Equality Charter submissions.

Speaker: Mark Holleran, Managing Director, TalentEdu.

13:00 - 14:00
Lunch & Networking Carousel
Grab a sandwich, grab a coffee, and join us on the Networking Carousel, where we pair delegates up for short conversations that help you identify future project partners, gain an informed second opinion on your current challenges, or maybe help you think through what we've been learning so far today.

14:00 - 15:00 Legal Sessions Block C

Higher education providers are increasingly being asked to make reasonable adjustments and develop inclusive teaching and learning strategies to avoid discrimination amongst their staff and be employers of choice. This session will explain the extent of the obligations for higher education employers, lessons from recent case law and what constitutes reasonable adjustments.

In particular it will cover:
• Key concepts, including what are protected characteristics and the definition of disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.
• What education specific provisions are contained in the Equality Act 2010.
• What constitutes direct and indirect discrimination.
• What is a reasonable adjustment.
• Particular issues around neurodiversity
• An overview of recent cases and practical higher education examples

Speakers: Ashley Norman, Partner, Bevan Brittan LLP; Anne Palmer, Legal Director, Bevan Brittan LLP.

It is a critical part of management and leadership to be able to have authentic and honest conversations about difficult issues. This session is aimed at HR professionals as advisers to managers, as experts advising on managing employee relations issues and as managers of their own teams. Many managers are concerned about chilling effect of performance management and take what they believe to be a “risk averse” approach to appraisals and underperformers. This session will look at how respectful honesty and authenticity are an essential part of a performance management process. We will explore the real risks of failing to act with honesty and respect, including the impact on the poor performing employee as well as those strong or average performing employees who feel they are not being supported by the lack of management engagement with others.

Speakers: Kathleen Heycock, Partner, Farrer & Co; Alice Kendle, Associate, Farrer & Co.

The higher education sector is facing a crisis in recruitment shared by employers nationally. This has been highlighted recently in the joint report of UHR and AUDE into the difficulties experienced in recruiting staff in estates and facilities management within Higher Education Institutions. In such challenging times, the conference theme of ‘working well’ takes on new importance whether that is by fostering an inclusive environment that attracts and retains staff or by a renewed focus on all aspects of the health and well-being of staff to head off long term ill health absence. In this session, we will partner with a Higher Education HR professional to explore some of the challenges and options open to employers. With the use of case studies and interactive polls, the session will be practical and thought provoking.

Speakers: Tracey Hulme, Director of HR and Organisational Development, Sheffield Hallam University; Bettina Rigg, Partner, Browne Jacobson LLP; James Tait, Partner, Browne Jacobson LLP

15:00 - 15:30
Break & Networking

15:30 - 16:30

How can we enable ourselves and one another to talk about personal and organisational challenges so they can be addressed? How can we invite ideas that help us to flourish at work? And how can we enable people with diverse backgrounds and value systems to work well together?

Simply asking people to ‘speak up’ and encouraging leaders to ‘engage in conversation’ without thoroughly appreciating the impact that power differences - and prevailing social and cultural norms - have on what can be spoken, and what is heard, is naïve at best. Professor Megan Reitz’s research examines our ‘conversational habits’ in the workplace. Our personal decisions regarding when to speak up and when to stay silent, and who to listen to and who to discount, define our lives as well as the lives of those around us. At a team and organisational level, what gets said and who gets heard direct ethics and compliance, innovation, inclusion and talent retention.

But more than that, these habits can even cost lives – for example, when safety issues aren’t raised and when mental health cannot be discussed at work.

In this session, Megan will share her key findings on her research project, ‘Speaking Truth to Power’. She will discuss how and why we develop the habits we have, and how to disrupt the ones that do not serve us. She will examine how speaking up depends on listening up and the role we all have in creating a workplace where it is safe to challenge, raise ideas and to discuss issues that help us to flourish at work.

Speaker: Professor Megan Reitz, Professor of Leadership and Dialogue, Hult International Business School.

Conference Close - join our conference host, former UHR Chair Kim Frost and our current UHR Chair Naina Patel, as we bring #UHR23 to a close and reflect on the past few days.

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