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Rethinking performance and reward at the University of Southampton

UCU Branch Update

UCU had an initial briefing in August last year where the Director of HR (Janice Donaldson) introduced the 9 matrix model (or DAP framework) which “allows staff to be assessed on both their performance and capabilities and remunerated and developed accordingly.”

We were happy to be involved in this meeting but said that ‘the devil would be in the detail’ about how any changes were implemented. We were meant to have a series of working group meetings but these did not materialise. The proposals were put on SUSSED and Adam Wheeler and Janice Donaldson held 10 open meetings with staff. We welcome this activity, but have pointed out that consultation on all matters regarding pay, terms and conditions has to be with UCU as the legally recognised trade union.

We called for an emergency Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) with management and this was held on 26 March and was attended by Adam Wheeler, Janice Donaldson and Malcolm Ace, members of HR and your UCU representatives.
As a result of this meeting the University has agreed to consult with us in fortnightly meetings with Adam Wheeler and Janice Donaldson about the reward proposals. We received written answers to some of our questions and are pursuing answers to others. And crucially the University confirmed that they understand that they must consult with UCU on this issue.

General Meeting – 28 March
At the UCU General Meeting on 28 March we discussed the reward proposals. Members present highlighted a number of concerns about performance review, reward and promotion procedures and the prospect of undergoing another change to policy/process in the University. We asked members if they wanted the University to withdraw the DAP/Reward and Recognition Proposals and this was overwhelmingly carried by the meeting.

The views of members at the general meeting have given a helpful steer for your executive group. We have noted your comments about the proposals and these will inform our discussions with the University management.

What next?
We agreed to host five meetings open to all staff to ensure that we represent your views about performance review, reward and promotion at our upcoming meetings with the University management. The dates for these meetings are:

17 April 1-2pm Winchester (WSA) – Seminar room 6
20 April 12.30-2pm Highfield – 34/3001 (Education building)
26 April 1-2 Waterfront (NOCS) – 68/104/20
27 April 1-2 Southampton General Hospital – DCR on C level of the South Academic Block
30 April 1-2pm Avenue – 65/1173

Please attend one of these meetings and encourage your colleagues to join you. UCU is the sole recognised body for consultation on these issues and we need to hear your voice.

What are the issues raised so far?
Below are some of the issues that members have already raised with us.
• We have had too much change here already so we do not want to change PPDR.
• We need more training – especially for managers doing PPDR to ensure that they do not bully staff, that we support academic freedom and pursue equality.
• We agree that this University is not good a ‘talent management’. We lose lots of great staff because of job insecurity and casualised contracts.
• We seem to spend less on training and development than comparator institutions.
• We have a significant problem with promotion – especially on the teaching pathway, and there seems to be clear gender discrimination in promotion.
• We are concerned about ‘grade drift’ (that DAP will be used to require higher level tasks to be undertaken by lower grades/lower paid staff).
• We do not feel that the use of Associate Professor is meaningful in the UK context, and we are concerned at the loss of academic titles such as Reader.
• We might want a ‘total reward’ (e.g. exploring financial and non-financial rewards – such as more admin support, more scholarship time) as we don’t believe only pay motivates.
• Managers may need to be clearer about expectations of staff (including external pressures such as REF, income generation, etc) but should also protect academic freedom and work-life balance.
• Any system needs buy in from the majority (managers should not be allowed to opt out).
• We need transparent processes, clear records and follow up and effective monitoring of processes.
• We must have adequate safeguards against bullying and harassment.

The above summarises issues directly associated with the DAP proposals, but some members have also asked more fundamental questions like how could we improve management skills or the organisational culture of the University? Should we spend money and time on this new change project when there are other areas that would benefit from better resourcing?

Performance-related pay
UCU nationally and locally does not believe that performance-related pay is desired by, or acceptable to, our members. Members here are worried that this is the goal of the proposed ‘reward’ system.

A literature review by Metawie and Gilman (2005) found that “in practice performance measurement in the public sector has been a problematic area with PRP.” Their review concluded that “differences between the nature of the public sector and the private one, referring to the presence of multiple tasks and multiple principles as well as the lack of profit maximisation as the main differences and hence the main complexities surrounding the application of performance measurement and performance related pay systems in the public sector. However, there has been a disregard or rather a simplification of the psychological aspects inherent in the public sector namely public service ethos. Traditionally under the notion of public sector ethos employees benefited from an open-ended employment contract, which, in turn, created a psychological contract that is relational in nature where employees were motivated and committed to providing maximum effort and best quality services to the community in exchange for longterm job security…. [ ]….rewards based on performance, have affected employees’ feelings of job security, and hence, tend to reduce the peculiar commitment and motivation previously found among public sector workers”.

We believe the current DAP proposals do not understand the nature of this organisation and the work we do.

The case for Performance Related Pay (PRP) is that it:
a) Allows managers to discriminate – to reward the staff they want to reward. Helps with retention of high fliers;
b) Can be used to set targets/clear expectations (e.g. key performance indicators).
Some level 7 employees (e.g. Deans and Associate Deans) have PRP. UCU does not currently have rights to negotiate for this level.

The case against Performance Related Pay (PRP) is that it:
• Can be divisive – it’s necessarily individualistic, so cannot recognise team/collaborative work which is increasingly what we do;
• Increases potential for bullying /stress – we have already seen this with rise in UCU casework on bullying associated with PPDR and REF;
• Can be discriminatory – there is evidence that it increases the pay differences associated with diversity e.g. gender, race.

The bottom line
Southampton UCU believes that proposed changes to Reward and Performance Management will change your working lives and that the current proposals are highly problematic. The general meeting on 28 March provided us with a strong steer that we should fight these proposals on your behalf.

UCU is the recognised trades union and the University must – in law – negotiate these changes with us. UCU is your voice – please come to one of the open meetings so that we can incorporate your views into the consultation.

Catherine Pope
On behalf of Southampton UCU Executive Committee
29 March 2012

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