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Summary of the October 2020 staff survey results

Take a look at some of the key messages from the staff survey run in October 2020 and our planned next steps.


Thank you to everyone who took part in the staff survey at the beginning of October. We received 1406 responses – a 40% response rate which is slightly lower than the June survey.

The survey explored 5 areas – your wellbeing, your relationship with your manager, communications, the impact of new working arrangements and your views on returning to campus. A report with the findings and proposed next steps was presented to UEB at the end of November.

Below we share some of the key messages from the survey and planned next steps.


The Office for National Statistics undertakes weekly surveys to measure national wellbeing. We used the same 1-10 scale where 1 is low and 10 is high. 

University UK
June 2020 October 2020 June 2020 October 2020
How satisfied are you with your life?  6.6  6.5  7.1  6.8 
The things you do in your life are worthwhile?  7.2  6.8  7.5  7.4 
How happy do you feel? 6.6  6.4  7.1  7.0 
How anxious did you feel yesterday?  4.6  5.1  3.9  4.0 

The above figures show satisfaction falling slightly and anxiety increasing.  A major cause of this may be the duration of the pandemic, the ‘second wave’ and uncertainty about the future of work patterns, a trend which seems to fit with national data. The qualitative remarks made by respondees identifies a consistent theme around uncertainty, particularly from those whose work pattern has become more focussed away from campus. 

Next steps

We will work with Heads of Department and line managers to communicate planned working arrangements for the remainder of this academic year, which will balance the need for campus presence to support community and wellbeing, with the benefits for both individuals and the University of more flexible forms of working.

My Manager

Managers have been central during this period in supporting staff to adapt to new working patterns and make difficult adjustments to both their home and working life. Overall staff’s attitudes to the way their managers have supported them remain extremely positive.  

I can rely on my manager to give me the support I need Percentage
Strongly disagree 37 (2.6%)
Disagree 94 (6.7%)
Neither agree or disagree 204 (14.6%)
Agree 495 (35.4%)
Strongly agree 568 (40.6%)

manager support graph

Next steps

We will continue to look at how we can support managers in particular with how they can prepare, support and guide their teams as new ways of working evolve and as the University makes plans beyond the pandemic.


A huge amount of effort has gone into communications over the last three months and the impact of this is reflected very positively in the survey.  All three of the questions (how informed, how helpful, how accessible) show  improvement from the previous survey. While specific areas were identified for improvement, communication on the topics which really matter to people appears to be working well.

I feel well informed about the University's response Percentage
Strongly disagree 50 (3.6%)
Disagree 142 (10.2%)
Neither agree or disagree 242 (17.3%)
Agree 765 (54.8%)
Strongly agree 198 (14.2%)

university response graph

Next steps

We will continue to deliver and improve new communication channels, such as the monthly virtual town halls and weekly VC update and are exploring ways to create more of a sense of community in a hybrid working environment.

Working arrangements

Almost 70% of you are working either completely or partially from home. Reviewing the comments made, working from home has been significantly improved by the re-opening of schools. The overwhelming view seems to be that the flexibility offered by a combination of home and campus working is positive for individuals. For some, however, working fully from home can lead to feelings of isolation and have a negative impact on wellbeing.

I have access to the necessary resources (e.g. materials, equipment, technology, support services) to do my job effectively Percentage
Strongly disagree 36 (3.1%)
Disagree 138 (12%)
Neither agree or disagree 118 (10.3%)
Agree 590 (51.3%)
Strongly agree 267 (23.2%)

resource graph

Next steps

Further publicity on the existing support available will be introduced. How we spend time on campus and the experience of this will form a key part of the solution to the issue of isolation.


Some of the most frequent comments, when asked about the demands the current situation is putting on both work and home life refer to workload. Increase in work volume has impacted on working hours for some staff and In Person Teaching (IPT) and working from home are mentioned as contributory factors in a number of cases. In teams there appears to be a pattern where some are overworked and some are not fully occupied, and this is more difficult for managers to balance when working remotely.

Next steps

We will find ways to strengthen our toolkit and guidance to managers in this area, as well as specifically looking at the delivery of blended learning to alleviate workload pressures.

Returning to campus

For returning ‘some of the time’ there has been a significant increase in confidence. This is a real tribute to all of those involved in making campus COVID-Safe. The most frequent comments were that as much as could have been done has been done. 

When looking at returning to campus full time there has been a drop in confidence with the main concerns relating to infection, shared environment and transport.

Next steps

We will look at how we can rebuild the sense of community which is such an important part of working at the University to reduce the fear of return as well as manage wellbeing.

As we consider and understand the survey data in greater detail, we will keep you informed on the solutions being developed and opportunities created to respond to what the survey is telling us.

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