Our People Strategy

The purpose

As defined by our 2020-25 Strategic Plan, the University’s purpose is three-fold:

  1. To offer transformational opportunities to everyone who has the ability to benefit from Abertay’s approach to university education. 
  2. To inspire and enable our students, staff and graduates to achieve their full potential and to have a positive impact on the world around us.
  3. To prepare students for the world of work and a life of learning.

The aim of the People Strategy is to set out what is important to us in relation to the University's staff.

This articulates the core University values for staff and the priorities for people and organisational development for the University, to support the achievement of the Strategic Plan.

This strategy informs practices, policies and operational plans for all Schools and Services and for the University as a whole. It is intended to be an enabling strategy, to support and guide all University employees, including all those with responsibility for staff across all Schools and Services and the Senior Management Team (SMT). This is to help achieve the University’s goals set out in our Strategic Plan and in the other supporting strategies.

The core aim is to deliver the 2020-25 Strategic Plan aims for Supporting Staff:

  • We want to be recognised by our staff as being an excellent employer and known for this both locally and in the higher education sector - attracting, developing and retaining the best staff, recognising and rewarding them for the contribution they make to the University community.
  • We will aim to create a culture which promotes and supports physical and mental health and wellbeing for staff and students.
  • We will continue to welcome and support staff from a wide range of backgrounds and personal characteristics in sustaining a fair and inclusive working environment. We will provide flexible working opportunities.
  • We will support and encourage all staff to develop the digital skills needed to take advantage of the opportunities offered by technological innovation and to meet changing expectations from students.

The context

In this context, 'people' refers to Abertay University employees and workers. It also includes, where appropriate, associates who contribute to the work of the University on a voluntary basis or as part of their professional development, such as Court members, visiting and emeritus academics, postgraduate students and students undertaking work experience.

Abertay's people are the University. Our 2022 staff survey shows that our employees are enthusiastic about their jobs and care passionately about the University. We particularly value our committed and supportive colleagues, the friendly atmosphere, flexible working conditions and supportive line management. Our passion and commitment are demonstrated in the success of our students, our achievements in research and knowledge exchange and external awards and recognition, ranging from success in teaching quality and the Research Excellence Framework to our Race Equality, Athena Swan and Healthy Working Lives awards.

Through our People Strategy we aim to foster the best possible conditions for Abertay staff to develop and thrive and to address the key strategic challenges and opportunities for our people.

Unsurprisingly, given the University's overarching purpose and as a people-oriented organisation, people commitments are woven into our Strategic Plan and other strategies and plans. These include:

This strategy articulates these commitments alongside other objectives, so that the full extent of the People Strategy is visible and integrated.

All the strategies supporting the University’s Strategic Plan - including the Estates, International and Partnerships and Sustainable Development strategies - are interdependent and likely to evolve through experience.

Our values

The following statement of our values is based on the extensive feedback from, and discussion with, our staff, managers and governors. It is felt to encapsulate the values that most clearly reflect our culture and aspirations.

We are an inclusive and welcoming professional community. We are caring, innovative and strive for excellence, providing a high-quality environment for our students, our staff and our partners, where collaboration and respect are key, and people are our focus.

We aim to be:

  • Inclusive and people centred. Equality of opportunity and inclusion are embedded in our ethos. We welcome staff and students from diverse communities and aim to put people at the heart of all we do.
  • Excellent and Innovative. We strive for excellence in all we do, aiming to provide a high-quality environment for our staff and students to flourish, where innovation is encouraged and improvement is enabled.
  • Professional and Collaborative. We collaborate with others, both internally across our teams and externally with partners in order to support our professional practice and our community to thrive. Customer service is key in all of our interactions.
  • Caring and Respectful. It is important to us that we treat everyone with kindness and mutual respect.

Our leadership and culture

We aim to embed our values in our culture, policies and practices and to develop an ethos of ownership across all staff, Schools and Services.

All staff have a responsibility to uphold our values individually and as part of the wider University community; and a right to expect to work in an environment where colleagues espouse our values.

Managers at all levels have a core responsibility to lead by example, embodying and upholding our values in their day to day working. We will strive to ensure excellence in our leadership and management of people.

Our staff, students and partners should recognise our values in their interactions with colleagues and the University.

We also aim to develop a culture of good practice and ownership in relation to:

  • Health and Safety.
  • Wellbeing.
  • Dignity and respect.
  • Cybersecurity, data protection and information management.
  • Environmental sustainability.
  • All our core values.

This is so that all staff feel empowered to address issues where they see them and contribute to continuous improvement, to the benefit of the whole University community.

Our strategic objectives

Given the context and feedback, and our values and aspirations for leadership and culture in the University, we have identified five strategic priority themes:

  1. Recruitment, Resourcing and Recognition.
  2. Staff Learning and Development (L&D).
  3. Management, Leadership and the Working Environment.
  4. Health, Safety and Wellbeing.
  5. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

1. Recruitment, Resourcing and Recognition

'Change the way we do things to make sure we remain sustainable and that we use our funding to deliver maximum impact.' Abertay University Strategic Plan 2020-25

Recruitment, retention and recognition of talented colleagues to deliver the University’s purpose is seen as an ongoing priority and challenge. This is underpinned by the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and of transparency to ensure fair and inclusive recruitment, resourcing, pay and reward.

We will:

  1. Review and enhance our recruitment policy and practice to enable timely recruitment of high-quality staff - promoting the tangible and intangible benefits of working at Abertay, including flexible ways of working, offering interesting jobs with training and development opportunities and prioritising opportunities to our own students.
  2. Explore cost-effective ways to improve and promote the benefits available to staff including ways for staff to save money and reduce environmental impact.
  3. Ensure inclusive recruitment practices with the aim of improving diversity/balance, where any protected groups are under-represented.
  4. Keep the staff profile under review to make the best use of our staff resources and promote organisational resilience and high performance, developing analytics to support resource and succession planning. This will include ensuring that all staff are performing well and are fairly graded, and supporting staff development and redeployment where role requirements change.
  5. Review our career development policy and approach for both academic and professional services staff. 
    1. For academic staff, review the role profiles to ensure that the diversity of academic expertise and roles is recognised in recruitment, performance, development and promotion processes.
    2. For professional services staff, review the regrading process and ensure promotion of opportunities for personal, professional and career development and recognition.
    3. For both staff groups, further develop experience and skills to ensure organisational resilience and enable succession.
  6. Ensure that the University brand is supporting the People Strategy and vice versa, promoting Abertay’s Values and the benefits of working for Abertay.

This priority area is also addressed in the RKE Strategy.

2. Staff Learning and Development (L&D)

'Support our staff to develop as individuals and to have satisfying careers.' Abertay University Strategic Plan 2020-25

L&D is a key theme across all the existing strategies and plans, including in relation to digital, teaching and research skills. We aspire to be known for offering strong support for our employees’ development, including qualifications, work experience, mentoring and leadership.

We will:

  1. Develop a holistic approach to staff development, ensuring that individual employees, line managers, Schools and Services understand their roles in supporting staff’s personal and professional development and career aspirations. We will recognise that L&D encompasses a wide range of work, experience, self-learning and support (including mentoring and coaching) as well as workshops, courses and conferences, and aim to obtain best value from investment of resources (both time and money) in L&D.
  2. Review and enhance our practices to ensure comprehensive, high-quality induction and probation processes at individual, local and University level, addressing both practical and cultural aspects, to make sure that new staff are welcomed into the Abertay community and supported to reach their full potential in their work and career.
  3. Ensure that effective systems and support are in place to enable high performance and accountability. This includes reviewing performance management arrangements to ensure that development discussions and plans are integrated with work plans and objectives to enable effective, supportive performance management and promote long-term career development.
  4. Promote excellence in leadership and management of people, providing development and support to address the priority needs of new and existing Abertay managers.
  5. Further develop and integrate digital training and support to equip staff with the knowledge, skills and confidence to make best use of existing systems and adopt new technology effectively to enhance delivery in all areas of academic and professional services work.
  6. Develop mentoring provision for professional services staff, ensuring awareness and support for the needs of staff from diverse backgrounds, and communicate this alongside mentoring opportunities for academic staff.
  7. Develop an integrated system for managing and recording L&D, to support line managers and staff with professional/career development and performance management, and support efficient L&D management processes.
  8. Embed effective processes for ensuring timely completion of core compulsory training, including new requirements such as on environmental sustainability.  

This priority area is also addressed throughout the Learning Enhancement Strategy, and in the RKE and Digital strategies.

3. Management, Leadership and the Working Environment

'We will clearly articulate our expectations and standards to staff...(and) Provide an environment that inspires our staff to be creative and work to their full potential.' Abertay University Strategic Plan 2020-25

Line managers and leaders at all levels have a pivotal role in developing the culture of the University and upholding the University Values. Line managers – particularly Head of Division and professional services managers – are also critical to supporting staff’s professional development, managing workload, ensuring effective business processes and enabling and ensuring high performance by individuals and teams. So, development of professional management and leadership capability and support for managers is a priority.

We will:

  1. Continue to ensure effective resource management and prioritisation, including fair and effective workload distribution and performance management. In addition, we will address workload through: 
    1. Improving business processes, reducing unnecessary bureaucracy and supporting and empowering staff to work differently through a range of approaches relevant to the circumstances to manage workload and minimise stress
    2. Recruiting to vacancies promptly (see 1a)
    3. Deans/Directors, Heads of Division and Professional Services managers keeping the workload and priorities for their teams under review, and adjusting these, as appropriate, to meet work demands. SMT will take account of workload in operational planning and implementation processes: agreeing priorities for the year, taking current resource into account and amending when required.
    4. Continuing to review and enhance the Academic Workload Allocation Model and introducing a workload management system which is integrated with other IT systems to provide good quality management information and enable better informed workload allocation.
    5. Implementation of the Digital strategy, which aims to enable more efficient and effective working from staff, through removing barriers and providing accurate and timely information.
  2. Further develop leadership and people management skills and processes to support operational excellence, high performance, accountability and staff engagement, including ensuring that staff are clear about their roles and objectives, people are supported to develop their performance and careers, and performance is managed effectively.
  3. Promote effective consultation and involvement in decision-making and collaboration across teams. Engage with, and listen to, staff impacted by change to improve change management while enabling a culture of learning and continuous improvement, including effective processes for learning lessons when issues are identified.
  4. Maintain and evolve effective staff engagement structures in all Schools and Services, via staff engagement action teams (or equivalent) integrated with local Health & Safety committees, to ensure that the staff voice is heard and action is taken.

Leadership is also addressed in  the RKE Strategy.


4. Wellbeing, Health and Safety

'We will aim to create a culture which promotes and supports physical and mental health and wellbeing.' Abertay University Strategic Plan 2020-25

Wellbeing, health and safety are a continuing priority in relation to both the University’s corporate responsibility (legal, social and moral) and risk management. They are key to being an excellent employer, underpinning and contributing to employee engagement, performance and organisational resilience – with a positive effect on recruitment, retention, absence-levels and service to students, stakeholders and colleagues.

We will:

  1. Develop an integrated approach to wellbeing within a supportive and open workplace culture that normalises conversations, consideration, support, and management of health and wellbeing in the workplace. Key to this wellbeing culture is leadership and support at all levels and embedding consideration of staff wellbeing into decision-making.
  2. Continue to develop our hybrid and flexible working policy and guidance, learning from experience as practice evolves, ensuring that we retain the benefits and value this has brought for staff and the University.
  3. Build on the improved awareness of H&S and understanding of risk assessment developed during the pandemic, and work with staff, to sustain and further develop H&S and Occupational Health practices that support a H&S culture in the University and promote employee wellbeing.
  4. Continue to develop and improve our H&S culture and practices through annual review and ongoing implementation of the H&S strategy and plan, and the development and implementation of a Fire Strategy and Plan.
  5. Ensure that people are prioritised in the Estate and Digital strategies and in investment in equipment and facilities, to provide staff with an excellent working environment, tools and skills.
  6. Engage staff fully in the development and implementation of our strategy on sustainable development, ensuring that staff are provided with the knowledge and tools to make a difference within the University and in the wider community.
  7. Review and enhance the support for staff working internationally.

Health, safety and wellbeing are also addressed in the Digital strategy.

5. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

'We will continue to welcome and support staff from a wide range of backgrounds and personal characteristics in sustaining a fair and inclusive working environment.' Abertay University Strategic Plan 2020-25

EDI is embedded across all the Universities strategies and seen as part of who we are as an organisation. It is a key component of being an excellent employer, providing principles for inclusion and equity in recruitment and the treatment of staff, underpinning employee engagement.

We will:

  1. Continue to embed equality, diversity and inclusion in School and Service operational plans.
  2. Sustain and develop our Lead Voices scheme, to promote a supportive and inclusive working environment for staff in relation to all protected characteristics (age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation) and help attract and retain staff from under-represented groups.
  3. Maintain the University Athena Swan award, promoting Athena Swan principles and practice across the University and working towards a Silver award.
  4. Implement the Race Equality Charter award 2021 action plan.
  5. Ensure staff, and particularly managers, are trained in EDI relevant to their roles, keeping training under review in line with evolving needs and good practice, and to embed our value of Inclusion.
  6. Enhance and promote reporting mechanisms and support for staff to raise discrimination and harassment issues, including developing EDI points of contact arrangements.
  7. Undertake a comprehensive disability self-assessment, working with disabled staff to identify challenges and priorities for action.
  8. Create a barrier-free campus for disabled people.

EDI also features in the Learning Enhancement Strategy, and in the RKE Strategy. 

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