Project Description

University of Surrey

The University of Surrey is home to just over 16,000 students and was recently awarded University of the Year for Graduate Employment by the Good University Guide 2022.

Located within the town of Guildford, South-East England, it is a global community of ideas and people, dedicated to life-changing education and research.

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) at Surrey has the largest student population, welcoming roughly 5,000 students per year. The pandemic caused increasing workloads and challenges. There was increasing pressure to maintain an optimum student experience whilst switching quickly to online learning. Unfortunately, this came at the detriment of staff’s own work-life balance, and their ability to manage and prioritise work.

A 2021 staff survey found that 35% of faculty staff strongly disagreed that they were able to strike the right balance between work and home life. As a result, the HR Business Partner for FASS, reached out to People Business for advice and support on helping the Dean of the Faculty and senior leadership take time out to reflect on their roles through a lens of work-life balance.

University of Surrey logo

How People Business assisted the client

During the discovery phase, members of the senior leadership team, including the Dean, Heads of School and Department, Associate Deans and senior professional services staff were interviewed using a set of questions relevant to work-life balance. The responses shaped the look and feel of the programme, helping People Business to design a truly bespoke response for FASS. What we quickly learned was that the leadership team were already very competent at working together and there was a strong sense of teamwork and collaboration.

Therefore, the focus of the programme was to engage the team in leading initiatives for better work-life balance. We used a blended learning approach; designing pre-work to encourage the participants to engage with topics before each module. Each module was designed to give them the opportunity to discuss how concepts would positively impact work-life balance and provide an opportunity to develop practical action plans that could be implemented straight away. The programme was delivered within a six-week timeframe and consisted of three three-hour face-to-face modules.

The team wanted some practical tools to use with their people and People Business designed a toolkit with a range of relevant resources and activities that focused on improving work-life balance of employees within the Faculty.

What the client said

“I’ve valued being in a small group to talk about this subject so early in my new role. Apart from anything else, it shows me that the university is taking work-life balance seriously. I do too, but having been part of these workshops almost as soon as I walked in the door is a very positive thing. I can let my staff know about that fact, and about the ways we are thinking as a faculty”

“This was a very useful set of workshops, not only the aspect of socialising with colleagues but also the fact that we discussed different perspectives and perceptions of work-life balance, trying to demystify the concept and how each one absorbs that, modify working practices and propose some specific small actions that can potentially have quick wins and high impact”

“Thank you for all the work you’ve done. From the start of the process you’ve been a pleasure to work with and particularly good at understanding and adapting to the target audience.”

Feedback from programme participants, University of Surrey