Students Staff
University of Essex

April 12, 2016

You said, we listened update

Filed under: Advice & Support,Networking & Collaboration — Tags: , , , — Karen Bush @ 9:15 am

The Staff Survey question of the month in December and January asked for any recommendations from you – and we received over 100 ideas! We wanted to share with you some of the work we have been doing as a result of your comments and suggestions.

We have updates covering:WE ARE ESSEX

  • Improving communication during change
  • Escape from your desk
  • Getting the work-life balance right
  • Improve your IT efficiency
  • Food outlets across campus
  • Syncing calendars with teaching hours and HR Organiser
  • Toilets at Colchester campus
  • Chairing meetings course

If you have any questions or ideas please keep them coming via the Staff Survey email address. You will be seeing more of the Staff Survey Action Planning Group over the coming months, to gain your thoughts and feedback in person. Our question of the month for April is now live and we want to know how you’d prefer to find out about developments in your work area.

Improving communication during change

Following on from November’s question of the month about change management (more examples and tips coming soon), we would recommend the following playlists on* for anyone wishing to learn more about change/project management:

*As you may have read in Essex Weekly, we have free and unlimited access to for six months as part of a trial starting March 2016. is a leading provider of online video training.

Don’t forget the Strategic Projects Office is here to support you too. Please make contact if you have any questions, or suggestions. There are a number of resources available to support you in your role including the Project Status Check, and the Projects SharePoint site has lots more information available to you.

Do you need support during a time of change?

The University has arrangements in place to provide a free and confidential counselling and support service for staff through our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) with Validium. Have you read the EAP guidance for managers? Validium also provides us with monthly information sheets. Have you read the information regarding taking responsibilityconfidence building and emotional intelligence?

Escape from your desk

Regular breaks away from your workstation and throughout your working day are good for you. They say a change is as good as a rest! Also, taking regular breaks could also improve your health and well-being. Read our previous blog giving you tips on making sure you take regular breaks.

Our Colchester Campus has a common room for staff which you can use by becoming a member of the Staff Common Room Association (SCRA) for £3.00 per month. Members enjoy the following facilities:

  • free coffee, tea and hot chocolate in the common room
  • a comprehensive range of newspapers and magazines which you can read in the common room
  • use of a microwave and toaster

The common room is at the front of the first floor of the Albert Sloman Library. To find out more contact the SRCA Secretary or complete the membership form and start using the facilities today.

Getting the work life balance right

People Supporting Strategy

People Supporting Strategy

Following your responses to last August’s question of the month, and to support the delivery of the People Supporting Strategy, HR have been developing a new work life balance policy.

USG approved a new policy document which recognises that addressing work life balance must take place in a context in which we are clear about work/personal life boundaries in order to avoid continual working, rather than flexible working. The revised policy recognises that staff may wish to work flexibly and acknowledges that a work-life balance has social, personal and workplace benefits for members of staff, the University and the community. The proposals cover: part-time working, compressed hours; term-time working, annualised hours; job sharing, and homeworking.

Watch this space for the launch of the new policy, guidance on how to apply the policy to your work area and training for managers.

Improve your IT efficiency

We received a suggestion in January 2016, to configure all PCs to default to the branding house-style. IT Services have confirmed that this should be case for everyone already. If you find that your PC is not defaulting to Arial 10 across applications (for example Microsoft Word), please log this issue with the IT Helpdesk and they will correct it for you.

Did you read our blog What does your Outlook say about you? Find out about Outlook ‘tricks’ to help organise your emails, calendar and tasks.

Food outlets across campuses

We have received a few comments and suggestions regarding the food outlets on campus and we have passed these on to Campus Services. A few highlights include:

  • Did you know that the Costa Coffee machines on square 2 at our Colchester campus are in operation before 09.00am, before the cafe outlets open, for anyone needing that caffeine fix earlier in the day?
  • Did you know that gluten-free and dairy-free dishes are available in all outlets at our Colchester campus, with clearer signage with regards to any food allergies? Read our food allergy policy (.pdf)
  • Did you know from 18 April 2016 Canteen at our Colchester campus will be open from 07.30am serving breakfast through to 11.30am? Have you sampled the Asian Buffet available between 4.00pm and 8.00pm?
  • Did you know you can get a discount card for Nosh within The Forum, Southend?
  • Don’t forget our Student Union bars at Colchester and Southend serve hot and cold drinks, snacks, sandwiches for both staff as well as students.
  • Particularly, for staff based at our Southend campus, don’t forget your NUS card means you can get discounts at local restaurants.
  • Have you visited the Corbett Theatre Cafe Bar at our Loughton campus? It is operated by our Student Union, and offers hot and cold snacks.

Syncing calendars with teaching hours and HR Organiser

Newly introduced in December 2015, the automatic calendar service automatically puts your timetabled events in your Outlook calendar.

The synchronisation of data from the central timetable database to your calendar is not real-time. Data is exported overnight from the central timetable database to your calendar. This means that any changes to timetabled events made during the day won’t appear in your calendar until the following day. The same applies to students. Have a read of the FAQs on the IT Services webpage to find out more.

Most colleagues will already be familiar with the HR Organiser system as the place to access payslips. And now Professional Services staff can also use the system to book annual leave, which once approved, will be added to your calendar in Outlook.

Learning events are now also available to book onto in HR Organiser, again sending you an Outlook invitation to ensure you don’t miss your event. Viewing a list of all courses is easy. Click the Professional Development navigation tab, then click the magnifying glass icon, you’ll see some drop down boxes, leave them empty but make sure the only show courses with availability box is ticked. Now click search and the full list of courses will appear.

Toilets at Colchester campus


We have received many comments about finding the nearest toilet on campus, as well as accessible and unisex toilets. Did you know about that the FindYourWay@Essex is a campus navigator for students, staff and visitors? The app provides indoor and outdoor, building-to-building, multi-floor navigation and includes provisions for accessible routes. You can use this interactive map to find the nearest toilet facilities.

To report any facilities that are broken, offensive waste or substandard conditions simply email or telephone the Estate Management Helpdesk. Signage will soon be displayed in toilet facilities to remind people about how to log a complaint.

Chairing meetings course

Following on from our question of the month last summer, and the subsequent blog post regarding using technology to improve efficiency of meetings, we have found a Leading Productive Meetings course on which any member of staff has free access to view. The six key principles to an effective meeting highlighted by this course are:spaces-meeting-space-colchester

  1. Purpose – Each meeting should have a clear purpose. Unfortunately, many of you have experienced meetings that were held simply because someone felt it was a good idea to have a meeting. The Principle of Purpose suggests that every meeting should have an objective, a reason why you’re having the meeting.
  2. Time – In other words, how long should the meeting be? There is no hard-and-fast rule about how long a meeting should be. However, there is a general principle that applies to nearly every meeting, and that principle is: the shorter, the better.
  3. Agenda – This principle goes hand in hand with the Principle of Time. An agenda is simply a step-by-step outline for participants to follow in the meeting.
  4. Preparation –  Preparation is vital to effective meetings. Prior to attending the meeting every participant should take a few moments to prepare their questions and consider how they can serve others.
  5. Focus – Focused meetings stay true to the stated purpose. Focused meeting participants stay engaged in the meeting.
  6. Leadership – Who is in charge of the meeting? Regardless of who that person is or what position they hold, every meeting can benefit from having a leader.

Comment below to share your ideas.

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