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PEOPLE FIRST – OUR PROGRESS

Our new People First Strategy was launched at an All Staff Event on 27 March 2018. The Strategy aimed to support the strategic priorities of Queen’s Corporate Plan by putting our people at the centre of everything we do.

Under the three pillars of Employee Experience, Culture and Talent, we committed to listening to our people to ensure staff have the best possible experience working here, and that we become an Employer of Choice.  

It’s been almost ten months since the Strategy launched and we’ve been working with our people to start making some real changes to how we do things at Queen’s. Here’s an update on the progress that’s been made so far.

Employee Experience: Staff Forum

A positive Employee Experience is one of the most important elements of People First.  Happy, motivated staff who enjoy coming to work and feel valued by the University are what we should always aim for.  To achieve this, we need to engage with our people and become a true listening organisation.

In June 2018 we established a Staff Forum which represents all of our employees and provides the opportunity for our people to share their views and ideas on the various ‘touchpoints’ that matter to our staff and make a difference to their experience working at Queen’s. By listening to what our people have to say, we will co-create solutions to help shape and design a more positive Employee Experience which meets both the needs of the employees and the University.

One of the first big agenda points arising from the forum is to review our staff appraisal system. Following the meeting with the Vice Chancellor in October 2018, Staff Forum members consulted with colleagues from across all areas of the University to gather their feedback on the appraisal system.  This was shared with the Vice Chancellor and together with suggestions from senior leaders, we are now working on a review of the appraisal system.  More of this to come early in 2019.

Employee Experience: STAR Scheme

We all appreciate a little recognition when we do a great job, so our new STAR scheme has been created to recognise and reward exceptional performance and contribution to the University.

There are two elements to being one of our STARs: Performance Awards, whereby a reward someone in their team who demonstrates exceptional performance on a sustained basis throughout the year; and Recognition awards, which are available to Managers to recognise exceptional performance and contribution in line with our values, ICARE, on an ad hoc basis at any time.

Over 200 STAR Recognition Awards have been issued since the launch in September 2018 and Performance Awards delivered a well-deserved year-end boost for some outstanding staff in December’s payroll.  Well done to all and let’s keep recognising the great work of all our Queen’s STARs.

Employee Experience: HR Hub

When designing the People First, it was clear that some of the core functions of our HR service needed a fresh approach. The first step in this was the created of the new HR Hub, which we are delighted to have launched in January 2019.

We have consolidated and streamlined processes for advice and administrative support on core HR policies and procedures, bringing it all together in one central Hub.  The Hub is now the main point of contact for all staff and managers, providing first line advice and guidance on all HR matters.  By centralising expertise and resources, this new service will be quicker, smoother and unified for all staff, wherever they are and whatever their role in the University.

Our HR Business Partners will continue to provide high level and critical support to our senior management teams.

Culture: Leadership and Management

We believe that great leaders are made not born.  Excellence in leadership and management only comes through a dedicated focus on continuing professional development, not just years of experience – or doing things in a certain way. 

Organisational culture is set by the leadership within our place of work and we want to bring our ICARE Values to life through our leaders. With that in mind, we have turned the spotlight on defining what makes a great leader at Queen’s University: the responsibilities, skills, knowledge and desired behaviours required to lead and manage our people effectively.

If we are to affirm our place as a premier University, we require world-class leadership, decision-makers, innovators, motivators and managers and we must play our part in nurturing and developing their abilities.

A project group is working on a new Leadership & Management Framework, incorporating feedback from staff.  This will then integrate a new Connected Leaders programme of development to build the skills, confidence and capacity of our leadership community to provide greater impact at all levels. 

We expect to launch the Framework in 2019, after which we’ll turn our attention to reshaping the Connected Leaders programmes to ensure that our management training is truly fit for its newly defined purpose.

Talent: Academic Progression

We have listened to employees who are concerned about the opportunities and framework for academic progression. To address this, we’ve collaborated with our people and the UCU to review and update the Academic Standards. Although currently underway (and aiming to be completed within the current academic year) some revisions have already been made as a result of the review.

We have revised the eligibility criteria for promotion to allow unsuccessful applicant to reapply the following year. There are similar changes for early-career colleagues on probation, with readiness for probation no longer fixed at three years but instead varying on a case-by-case basis.

You told us that the Output and Income metrics for staff were an area of concern – particularly for those staff seeking progression via the teaching and learning route. We’ve listened to these concerns and have committed to applying the Academic Standards holistically, and also broadening the scope of Output and Income evidence to reflect the context of specific disciplines. There’ll be a further update on this once the review has been completed.

Talent: Learning & Development

Queen’s University is dedicated to delivering world class research and student education and ensuring that we attract, retain and develop the best global talent is key to achieving this. We must encourage and support a culture of lifelong learning and professional development in our own people at every level in their career.

We have a new programme of Learning and Development, Learning for All, a provision open to all staff regardless of their grade.  This will be supplemented by new online resources which employees can access at a time and place to suit their own needs and we are currently piloting LinkedIn Learning.  


Lots has happened since the launch of People First, but we still have a long way to go and plenty more to achieve. We’re committed to listening to you, our employees and the people who make Queen’s work. We’ll be continuing to engage with staff over the following year and encourage you to visit this website and follow People First on Twitter @QUBPeopleFirst for regular news and updates.

The Staff Forum is also a key means of making your voice heard and this will continue to grow and develop in the coming months. We will also be launching our Staff Survey very soon and ask that all staff take part and give your honest feedback on your experience working here at Queen’s.