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Survey shows good progress on PWE

Nick Smith

2 May 2007

A sneak preview from the Vice-Chancellor of the results of the latest staff survey .

I have been given a sneak preview of the results of the comprehensive staff survey that was conducted at the end of 2006. Once the analysis has been completed, the report with the University-wide results will be posted on the web for all staff to see, but I cannot resist sharing one or two of the headlines with you now.

The most striking thing is that in almost every area where comparison is possible – from your overall rating of the University as a place to work to your assessment of the quality of communication and line management – the results are markedly better than they were in 2003 when the first Positive Working Environment (PWE) survey was conducted. 

Obviously one must interpret statistics with care, and the fact that there has been an across-the-board improvement does not mean there are no longer problems that need to be addressed. But it is very clear that over the past three or four years there has been a distinct, positive shift in the culture of our organisation. Two examples: the view from staff that the University values the diversity of the workforce is much stronger than it was; and a far higher proportion of staff feel they are consulted before decisions are made about issues that will affect them. 

I find this hugely encouraging. We embarked on the PWE process because we wanted the University to be an outstanding place to work. Led by Professor Patricia Broadfoot and subsequently by Professor David Clarke, a group of academics and support staff has steered the PWE initiative and instigated an impressive range of actions. But its efforts would not have counted for much if it had not been for the interest and support shown by colleagues across the University.

We will avoid complacency and self-congratulation; nobody doubts there will always be plenty more to do. However, it would be perverse not to acknowledge the very significant progress that has been made so far. Higher education has never been an easy option and a university as ambitious and competitive as this will inevitably be a challenging workplace. But it can also be a deeply satisfying one. That is what we all wish it to be, and the survey results constitute strong evidence that we are doing well and getting better.

You can read about PWE at When the results of the survey are available on the site (probably early July), we will be sure to let you know.

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