We like working at Lund University, but work too much and see no particular opportunities for professional and career development. This is a very general summary of the results of the staff survey that was sent out to all employees in the winter.
LUM was there when project manager Christer Eldh and Ingalill Rahm-Hallberg (recently retired pro vice-chancellor) presented the overall results for Lund University to the Human Resources division. The division is expected to play an important role in helping the faculties to decide and carry out the changes necessary to address the issues LU employees identified. This first presentation was a straight report without division into faculties, gender, categories of staff or age. Analysis of sub-groups is a question for later and the project group called for input into what these groups should be. Ingalill Rahm Hallberg thinks that gender is subordinate to staff category when it comes to how one is treated. “In my experience, there is a lot of tension between the administrative and academic staff”, she said. Just over half of those who received the questionnaire responded: more women than men, most of them middle-aged and most employed at LU for over 10 years. One third were technical/administrative staff and the rest were academic staff. Christer Eldh observed that, of those who had responded, 75 per cent (at some faculties 90 per cent) had not worked in many other places than Lund University. “This is not satisfactory – we are not here to provide internal training but to educate people for society”, commented Ingalill Rahm Hallberg. Other dissatisfactory results include the category of “discrimination and victimisation”. More than one in ten had witnessed discriminatory treatment in the past six months and just over seven per cent had been a victim of such treatment. “This is alarming”, said Christer Eldh.With regard to staff appraisals, 63 per cent of employees had had one and found it positive, but did not find that the focus was on them or their career prospects. Half of respondents saw no opportunities for professional development in their job and did not think their manager made clear demands or provided support and encouragement. Some people did not even know who their line manager was. Ingalill Rahm Hallberg has a particular interest in leadership issues and she said that it is important not to make managers into scapegoats. Problems are not necessarily down to the manager; they could just as easily be due to the organisational structure, with large departments which have increased the distance between the manager and the employees. “Despite being a manager, they often have no powers – neither a budget nor input to research. Academics do not want anyone meddling in their work”, she said. Director of Human Resources Ingrid Estrada Magnusson saw a connection between the frequency of appraisals and an employee’s view of career prospects and the line manager. She thinks that 63 per cent is far too low a figure. “The two go together. If you don’t have an appraisal, you get no guidance and no career opportunities. Strong measures are needed from the university management – appraisals should be compulsory”, she said. Lennart Nordberg, a member of the project group and head of the Occupational Health Service, thought that increased support for managers was very important. “This is one way to improve the situation for employees”, he said. Other topics in the survey were stress and the work–life balance. Almost one in three reported difficulty sleeping and over half feel wound up all the time. More than one in three have difficulty relaxing in their free time and often feel worried. Half are too tired when they get home to do the things they would like to. Few feel that their work suffers because of their private life, but almost 40 per cent feel that their private life suffers because of their work. “LU takes and people’s private lives give”, observed Christer Eldh. Other results that stood out were that over 60 per cent of respondents do not think that decision makers at LU listen to their ideas and suggestions or take them seriously. Over 40 per cent are not sure that they can express their opinions without this having negative consequences for them.Finally, a clear majority think it is difficult to get things done at Lund University. When the project group has presented the results for the individual faculties in comparison with the results for LU as a whole, they expect that working groups will be established to draw up proposals for improvements. The idea for the staff survey and its design came from the University of Bristol. They have carried out a survey three times and can compare how the measures that have been implemented have affected the work environment. “They have achieved results. But it is not really possible to compare conditions at English universities and here”, said Ingalill Rahm Hallberg. Lennart Nordberg was concerned about the issue of resources. “Is there money available for improvements?” he asked. In the view of Ingalill Rahm Hallberg, that was the wrong place to start. First we should find out what is needed, then what it costs and then see how we can get the money for it. LUM will be following the results of the staff survey at the faculties in coming issues. Maria LindhGood aspects of LU:• The work is meaningful (95 %)