All posts by rld45

Update on Stronger UC Suggestions

Once again thank you to the staff who took the time to send through suggestions for cost savings/revenue generation to the StrongerUC mailbox. Here’s a quick update on some of the actions that have taken place to date.

Student Recruitment 

There have been great ideas and suggestions to attract students to study at UC which are feeding into recruitment planning. One example to share is UC is engaging regularly with year 12 & 13 international students in NZ and has offered a transition programme for international students in NZ.  We have also evaluated the options for scholarships and will be offering Deans awards for selected students.

We continue to look at various options for multiple intakes of students for both online and face to face learning in response to the current border closures.

Streamlining/simplification of systems & processes 

Many areas are seeking to adopt a single consistent process across UC for admin processes and there were a number of suggestions to cut down administrative process and adopt digital forms and workflows. This aligns with the Strategy (organisational efficacy) and will be a key focus for 2021.

We are actively working to streamline processes and alignment of services to support ongoing efficiencies across UC. You will also have seen the VC is calling for discussion about the shape and structure of UC. Please ensure you take the time to share your ideas.


We have been able to make some long term salary savings through the call for expressions of interest for voluntary redundancies and early retirements.  Areas continue to respond to immediate staffing needs and are looking at the skills they need for the future.

Although there were many suggestions and offers of personal financial sacrifice we have been able to ensure that all contractual increases will be honoured for all of our staff which is great news.

Staff Professional Development 

If you are contemplating studying something new, UC will pay 100% of fees for UC courses that staff would normally only receive 50% payment of fees (ie courses that are non-work-related).

Professional development options are being looked at and expanded into online offerings such as LinkedIn Learning.

Marketing Efficiencies 

An Image library has been introduced to reduce the need for photography costs.

The Crusaders partnership has provided opportunities for existing students, alumni, stakeholders as well as substantial brand awareness through signage.  From 2021 we have an opportunity to review the future partnership along with the goals for UC.  Research and internships are a key part of that, as is the engagement and networking with the local community. For alumni and donors it has been beneficial, and has contributed to at least $1.5m of support for UC.

UC currently has Masters Scholarships from donors and there is definitely opportunity to raise more funds in this space.  Anyone interested in knowing more about raising funds for Scholarships should contact Jo Dowling.

Utilise students & existing staff skills 

UC supports internships and employs some students for project work and this can work very well for both parties, so please be on the lookout for opportunities where internships be utilised.

There were suggestions that we should make more effort to prioritise utilisation of our own staff expertise instead of using of external consultants – this is a great idea, while we are conscious of overloading staff, please offer up your skills!

Use of campus 

Staff made the suggestion of turning the halls of residence into quarantine facilities. Whilst there are pros and cons for this the Government will not accept student accommodation as a location for mandatory isolation.

The suggestions relating to general cost savings are being investigated (eg power savings).

Other actions/areas of interest

The new Joint Postgraduate School Food Transitions 2050 is a joint initiative with Lincoln, AgResearch, Manaaki Whenua and Plant & Food Research.

In June, UC launched Knowledge Commons which supports multidisciplinary think tanks centred around wellbeing and impact in our community.

This is an ongoing process and we will continue keep you updated on progress as we move on new initiatives based on the ideas provided by staff.

Rachel Dillon

Organisational Development Consultant

Staff Wellbeing Pulse Survey Results

Thank you to the 474 staff who responded to the recent Staff Wellbeing Pulse Survey which was released on 25 September, during Mental Health Awareness week. This data is critical for UC to identify, monitor and adapt to the fluctuations in staff wellbeing.

This survey used the World Health Organisation Wellbeing Index (WHO-5) to measure wellbeing. This is a validated scale that measures subjective wellbeing out of 25. From the data we received the WHO-5 score has risen slightly from 12.2 in 2019 to 12.46 in 2020, which is still below the 2019 Greater Christchurch average of 15.3. However, staff rated their present overall wellbeing at 72%, which is 20% lower than in June.

Managing workload has come through as a key theme throughout the survey with the majority of staff sharing strategies for maintaining and enhancing their own mental health. The top strategies are:

  • take regular breaks,
  • discuss workload management and
  • undertake physical activity.

It is clear from the survey that staff perceive UC to have a good suite of wellbeing offerings and benefits, although there is room to improve on how this is communicated and presented to staff.

A summary of the survey results showing trends from 2019 through to 2020 have been posted on the Intranet.

The SLT received these results last week and are working through the data relevant to their portfolios to help inform any decisions they need to make in response to the survey.

In the meantime if you do feel you are struggling with your workload, or any other areas of wellbeing it is important that you raise this with your manager. The Colleges of Science and Engineering also have Kaihāpai Oranga|Wellbeing Supporters available. Your HR Advisor is also available to support you.

Pulse Survey: Ask/Listen/Act

The 3rd iteration of the Pulse Survey is currently open.


Why are we continuing to survey?

Our environment is changing and we want to capture what’s going on for our staff as we experience change. Since the closing of survey 2, NZ has moved from alert level 3 to 2. This translates into UC staff making the transition from home back onto campus. This also coincides with schools opening. Such changes result in a shift in support needs to ensure an optimal level of staff wellbeing.


Results to date

I invite you to look at the Pulse Survey results gathered so far. As time has progressed some staff found the lack of resources and having dependents at home have negatively impacted their perception of their own productivity. We can get by for a certain amount of time without our usual office setup but there comes a point where it impacts our ability to do our role. Primary/Intermediate/Secondary schools brought forward the term 1 holidays, and when school holidays finished the challenges of balancing schooling from home with working from home became a reality.

The satisfaction with onsite safety has dropped by 10 points. Onsite safety of staff and students is something we are working hard to maintain and improve, so this is an area we are very keen to explore and in the current survey we are calling for more information to capture specific areas of concern.

Please take the time to share your thoughts so we can continue to gather information on how best to support our staff and ensure we create an environment of optimal wellbeing.

The call for clarity

We aren’t hardwired for uncertainty and this can be seen in the large numbers of staff calling for more certainty and clarity in relation to:

  1. Forecasted student numbers
  2. Financial impacts
  3. Future focus and planning
  4. Job security
  5. Recognition of our varying ability to produce research outputs and how this impacts our internal recognition processes
  6. Expectations of the teaching and learning environment going forward, eg online vs face to face or a “hybrid model” and how that impacts workload.


As the VC mentioned in her address last week it is still too early to provide answers to all questions, however she has gone through the findings of the Pulse Survey and is working with the SLT in a focused way.

A Post Covid-19 Core Group has been created with the purpose to create a vision and plan to respond to the rapidly changing and uncertain post COVID-19 world. The group will have four key pillars: finance; strategy; the academic delivery model; and general operations. They are currently working to fully analyse the impact on UC and are looking at response options. The SLT and Council workshops, to discuss some of those options, will be completed by the end of next week.

Key indicators such as student numbers and potential financial implications are still only emerging, and change from week to week. These will be shared once there is more stability and certainty in the reporting.

Job losses will be our absolute last resort, and the SLT are looking at all other options before that, on both the revenue and cost sides. Our VC spoke about some new revenue ideas last week (FutureU and the new Fast track pathway in Engineering)

Academic concerns have been heard and these will be raised with the Academic Board such as the academic promotions criteria being able to reflect a hybrid model teaching and learning environment. The research inequity concerns raised by staff due to the current situation will also be examined and worked through.

The teaching mix under the hybrid model will require further analysis and assessment to ensure workloads are manageable and equitable.

The Answers to staff questions from the VC address last week is a helpful resource in providing further clarity.

Covid-19 has not caused us to deviate from the strategic plan agreed to at the end of 2019. This is important for us to understand as we look for something to align to which gives a sense of purpose and meaning to our work.

Ngā mihi

Rachel Dillon

Organisational Development Consultant

UC Pulse Survey Results

The pulse survey was jointly created between People and Culture, Department of Management, Marketing & Entrepreneurship, School of Psychology, Speech and Hearing, Academic Services Group and Wellness Services. The survey was put together at pace and it was a fantastic example of cross unit collaboration in action.

1182 of our staff completed the first wave of the survey. This allowed for a rich gathering of data and analysis.

There were 47 staff, responding to the first pulse survey, who requested contact be made with them. Each of these staff members have been contacted directly by a member of the People and Culture team.

Each SLT member has access to their results and is working their way through the data and, in the first instance, implementing changes and providing clarity where immediate action can be taken.

Here are the results to the first survey.

It is vitally important that we continue to gather data on how our staff are doing in the current climate. This will tell us, as time progresses, where we need to focus our efforts and to see if our interventions to address issues are having a positive impact on our staff. We will be asking staff to complete the survey every fortnight.

If you haven’t already done so I invite you to respond to the second wave survey which closes this Friday 8 May.  

Ngā mihi

Rachel Dillon – Organisational Development Consultant

Current culture; new strategy – Weaving the Rope #3 on 12 Feb

Kia ora koutou

Happy New Year! You will recall as part of Whiria te taura tangata we ran two Weaving the Rope sessions last year. In September Karen Mather (Organisational Development Manager) and Pam Wilson (Senior Consultant from Human Synergistics) facilitated a session on “How Culture Works”. In November Professor Michael Leiter from Deakin University ran a session on workplace civility and respect.

We are kick-starting 2020 with the third Weaving the Rope session on Wednesday 12 February. We are fortunate to have Shaun McCarthy (Managing Director of Human Synergistics Australia and New Zealand) and Pam Wilson on campus. Shaun will talk about the role Organisational Culture plays when implementing a new organisational strategy. We will then look at how continuing to focus on building a constructive culture will support implementation of the strategy and contribute to the likelihood of success.

During the session we will take a look at UC’s culture results and help make the links between our results and our new strategy. We’ll look at what our results are telling us in terms of what will help us and also what may need some focus to set us up for success.

For those who have not heard Shaun speak before, he is a wealth of knowledge and always attracts a large crowd! Numbers are limited to 125 per session, to secure your seat please register for one of the two events below via Eventbrite. The session will go for one hour with the option to stay for a further 30 minutes for questions and further discussion.

Eventbrite Registration for 12 Feb 10:30am-11:30am

Eventbrite Registration for 12 Feb 1:00pm-2:00pm

Technical session

I would also like to hear if there is interest in Shaun McCarthy running a more technical session on Thurs 13 Feb 1pm-2pm. In the past there have been questions about the research, statistics and norms. This will go ahead if we have sufficient registrations. This would be suitable for those who would like to delve more deeply into the workings of Human Synergistics tools. It would be very helpful to send through questions you have – this will help to shape the session. Numbers are limited to 50 for this session. Please email if you are interested in attending this technical session.

Helpful links

Want to know more about how the “Weaving the Rope” name evolved?

Find out more about UC’s organisational development

For further Information on Weaving the Rope

Ngā mihi

Rachel Dillon

Organisational Development Consultant