1. Context. 1.1 Foreword

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2 1. Context 1.1 Foreword UCC s vision is to be a world-class university connecting our region to the globe. The Department of Human Resources contributes to this vision by delivering an excellent and timely service to prospective, current past and former employees of the University. The Department offers an array of supports and services through dedicated teams in HR Strategy and Organisational Development, HR Business, Employee Relations, Central Services and Staff Welfare and Development. The supports and services of the Department are identified on the HR website ( and regular updates will soon be published in a new on-line Staff Bulletin Board. The Department attempts to incorporate best practice in programmes and services with feedback from staff and other stakeholders a vital element of this response. This document has been prepared to identify strategic priorities for the Department of Human Resources for the coming years and to outline the contribution of the Department to the achievement of the five strategic objectives [in particular (d)] identified in UCC s Strategic Plan i.e.: a) Delivering research-inspired learning and teaching with a world class student experience; b) Being a premier European university for research, discovery, innovation and commercialisation; c) Being pre-eminent in internationalisation, external engagement and contribution to society; d) Applying best international practice to attract, develop and retain staff of the highest quality and to enable all staff to reach their full potential and; e) Strengthening our infrastructure and resource base. This plan is derived from a full PESTLE and SWOT analysis involving all staff members in the Department and priorities have been identified through internal consultation and documented in a project prioritisation matrix. The projects that have been selected are based on analysis of the current situation, key assumptions regarding the University s finances and staffing and the leading actions required to ensure a positive staff experience in the University. Michael Farrell Corporate Secretary Page

3 1.2 Introduction University College Cork employs approximately 2700 staff across a range of functional groups academic, research, teaching, management, administrative, technical and services. Our reputation for research and teaching depends on our academic leaders while the overall success of our institution relies on the contribution of the entire staff. University College Cork s Human Resources Strategy relates, except where otherwise stated, to all those employed by the University and is designed to support the University s mission to inspire creativity and independent thinking in a research-led learning environment (where) our students are our highest priority (and) we create and communicate knowledge to enhance the intellectual, cultural, social and economic life of Ireland, Europe and the world. It reflects the University s key values of integrity, accountability and collaboration, as set out in the University s Strategic Plan. The new HR Strategic Plan is designed to deliver the Human Resource aspects of the University s Strategic Plan. The HR Strategic Plan aims to support the development of a people-centred culture that provides the conditions necessary for staff development and the achievement of the Plan. 1.3 Purpose of Plan The HR Strategy supports our vision to be a trusted and respected HR Department capable of responsive delivery at an optimal level to support staff and the University s strategic ambitions which is underpinned by the priorities set out in UCC s Strategy Plan. Therefore this document provides a framework for action for the next two years to ensure insofar as possible that the strategic objectives of the Department are aligned with those of the University and that the energy and focus of the Department is on projects and targets which will enhance UCC as a place to work and reinforces UCC as an employer of choice. Our work will at all times be informed by best practice and relevant legislative frameworks. Protecting and enhancing the University s reputation will continue to be a major objective in delivering on the commitments as set out in our Strategic Plan through an effective range of policies and practices Page

4 2. Background to the Plan 2.1 Evolving University Context This HR Strategic Plan was written following examination of the context within which the University currently operates and is predicted to operate for the foreseeable future or at least for the duration of this Plan. Understanding the evolving University context is important to allow informed interpretation of the plan and its impact. At the time of developing this Strategy there have been emerging across the wider HE Sector which provide a specific context requiring a focus on enhancing our organisation s agility, developing effective leadership and engaging staff. The University has been part of a turbulent and difficult period experienced across Ireland over recent years and has seen its budget and staffing reduced significantly while student numbers have risen. This trend looks set to continue and will place onerous demands on the management and staff of the University at all levels to maintain standards and to deliver a high-quality student and staff experience. Staffing in the University has fallen by c. 12% since 2008 and is set to fall by a further 4% by As payroll constitutes 76% of University budget some of the greatest impacts of the recession and its consequences for UCC have fallen on staff. The HR Department has a key role to play in ensuring that staff are supported to the greatest extent possible through this period and that fairness and equity pervades every aspect of support for the University s work. Although the national monitory and societal landscape, and specifically the HE context, is a changing entity there are strong indicators of the future environment UCC will operate within. It is upon these indicators we can make certain assumptions about the demands, limits and opportunities we will encounter over the next few years. The Key Assumptions bearing on the strategy are as follows: 1. The governance framework within which the University works will be changed through a revised Universities Act, Code of Governance for Third Level and further legislation; 2. The HEA Landscape Document and the Hunt Report may have a profound bearing on the shape of Third-level education over the period of this Plan; 3. The requirements for accountability, openness and transparency will increase; 4. There will be a heightened emphasis on risk management as the Irish government examines the causes of the crisis and plans for the future; 5. The finances of the University are unlikely to improve over the period of the Plan and may significantly dis-improve; 6. Non-exchequer income generation will become a major focus with implications for University activity and staffing; 7. Sustainability (i.e. that the University will remain in existence and functional) will be a key strategic goal for the University; 8. University autonomy will continue to be at issue particularly in relation to the University s right/ ability to hire staff; 9. Student numbers will continue to rise due to demographic changes however, competition with other universities will increase; 10. Staff/student ratios are likely to dis-improve given 1 and 2 above; 11. Staffing across the University will reduce and a key role for HR will be to support University management in the reassignment of staff in a fair and equitable manner. Salaries will remain frozen and the ability of the University to reward staff for increased responsibility will continue to be restricted; 12. UCC will continue its commitment to Academic Promotion and Administrative Job Grading which is envisaged within the current context to operate on a diminished basis; Page

5 13. The management of research will continue to be challenging in an uncertain funding environment; 14. The will be an increased emphasis on performance management with the likelihood of greater emphasis on appraisal; 15. The University s internationalisation agenda will generate new challenges along with the possible privatisation of some University services; 16. The drive to shared services among the Universities / IOT s will continue and some shared services will likely impact on the HR Department and its role; 17. Greater effort will be required by staff at all levels but particularly at management level to ensure that morale is maintained and improved and that trust is enhanced across the organisation through even-handed practices and transparency in the implementation of policy. Whilst faced with this complex array of challenges the reaction of the University community has been one of dedication and hard work. Although the above assumptions upon which this strategy has been developed indicate that these challenges will continue, and even further escalate in terms of impact in the foreseeable future, we acknowledge that our strength lies in our community of staff who continue to be central to our reputation and ability to overcome these challenges. 2.2 HR Transformation The HR Department has undergone a number of transformations in recent years the most notable of which took place c. 2 years ago when the structure of the Department was revised significantly to take account of devolved structures within the University and local HR support was formally put in place for each of the Colleges and Central Administration. These changes arose from the Senior Management Review of 2007 following which the University reviewed the HR Department to ensure that it had the appropriate structures, systems and processes to serve and support the University. Consideration of changes implemented in the past two years and their benefits has been on-going over the past 6 months with a view to refining the internal organisation to provide an improved service to the University Community and to restore some areas such as Staff Welfare. Arising from consideration of the service provided to the University community the key elements of the changes being implemented in the HR Department are as follows: 1. Continuation of the devolved HR Services through HR Managers for the Colleges and Central Administrative areas; 2. Support for the Local HR Managers with responsibility for Colleges provided by staff within the HR Department based on expertise and on the key areas of research, employee relations and contract and recruitment management; 3. Re-establishment of the Staff Welfare function as part of Staff Welfare and Development Section; 4. Re-establishment of Employee Relations as a Section within the Department; 5. Continuation of the important role of the Sections of the HR Department dealing with Staff Development and Organisational Development; 6. The improvement of communication with University Staff which will commence with the launch of an on-line Staff Bulletin. 2.3 An Evolving Role for HR Page

6 The delivery of a high quality, professional and customer focused HR Department requires a collaborative approach where HR staff, managers and senior management of the University work together to provide practical, accessible and appropriate solutions to people management matters. Therefore over the period of this Strategy there will be a focus on enabling all those with people management responsibility to apply University HR policies and procedures consistently and with confidence. We are also focused on maximising the use of our HR information system through self-service and an improved access to strategic management information to support university decision making. Responsibility for people management continues to rest with line managers at all levels of the University as they are the first point of call in managing the staff of the Institution. The role of the HR Department is to enable and support effective people management and lead, as appropriate, on development of strategy. It is our intent to deliver increased value to the University by further development of sound and coherent HR policies, communication and engagement processes that ensure that the University is compliant with legislation, attracts and retains high quality talent and supports the development of the University s culture in line with the University s Strategic Plan Page

7 2.4 Development of the Strategy In developing the strategy a broad perspective was taken involving consultation, self-assessment of progress so far, University, and National strategic requirements, to ensure that all aspects of HR management which are essential to the achievement of the University s Strategic Plan were covered. The HR Strategy is therefore a comprehensive strategy designed to cover all key areas of activity. Particular importance was attached to ensuring that the Department s Plan responds to the requirements of the University Community, the University s Strategic Plan and to enhancing the staff experience. Significant contribution was made by staff in the Department to respond to the diverse sources of information to produce a coherent strategic statement of planned activity for the coming two years. Apart from the aforementioned inputs, the Department s Strategic Plan underwent four phases of development as follows: Phase Scope Time Period Focus Phase 1 Pestle analysis and SWOT analysis March 2012 Facilitated session and University stakeholder engagement Phase 2 HR staff strategy session Identification of HR priorities and key deliverables May 2012 Translating the University strategy to the HR strategy Phase 3 Internal consideration of project prioritisation May 2012 Identification of the operational delivery of the strategy Phase 4 HR staff strategy session Reviewing the Draft Plan July 2012 Reviewing the draft Plan and consideration of dissemination to the University community Phase 5 Presentation of draft plan to UMTS August 2012 Communication of HR strategy and HR infrastructure to support the plan Table 1: Phases involved in the development and approval of the new HR Strategic Plan Page

8 3. Values, Principles, Vision and Mission of the Department 3.1 Values and Key Principles of the Department Values The Department will operate under the values of: Integrity Trust Accessibility Respect The key principles of the Department in delivering its service are: Proactive support and service Communication and information sharing Promoting staff well being Promoting integrity and respect Taking and promoting ownership and accountability Supporting professional and personal development Supporting organisation development Relationship building Enabling flexibility and adaptability Implementing leaner and more efficient HR processes Page

9 3.2 Vision and Mission In defining our vision and mission we have been guided and will continue to be influenced by the internal and external environment in which the University operates and the University s core mission with regard to its staff, organisational ambitions and its culture. Vision To be a trusted and respected HR function capable of responsive delivery at an optimal level to support staff and the University s strategic ambitions. Mission To support the University s strategic direction by: a) Developing and applying an appropriate policy and regulatory framework b) Supporting the development of university staff c) Providing clear information, leadership and direction d) Enabling adaptability and flexibility across the university To deliver a service that is: a) Optimal b) Consistent in approach and equitable in application c) Timely in response d) Transparent & confidential Page

10 4. HR Structure Overview Delivering the Vision The HR structure, outlined in the chart below, will enable the vision of the Function over the coming years. Corporate Secretary HR Directorate Central Services HR Business Employee Relations Staff Welfare & Development HR Strategy & Organisational Development Recruitment HR Manager SEFS Industrial Relations Staff Development HR Strategy Contract Management HR Manager M&H Equality Staff Welfare Performance Management Leave Management HR Manager B&L + ACSSS Compliance Leadership & Management Development Promotion & Establishment Pensions Research Advisor Dispute Resolution Orientation Succession Planning Research Contract Mg Contracts & Recruit Advisor Job Evaluation / Grading Staff Recognition Organisational /Job Structural design Employee Information System Employee Relations Advisor Coaching Academic Workload Page

11 5. Targets and Operational Plan This HR strategy identifies seven leading areas of activity in which an extensive array of work will be undertaken. Although the core themes are dealt with individually, it is recognised that multiple interdependencies exist. Consequentially we will adopt an integrated approach to achieving the strategy s main goals. Equality and diversity principles are not separately identified but integrated throughout the new strategy with the aim of embedding equal opportunities monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment in all aspects of policy development and practice across the University. 5.1 Summary of Project Programmes in Operational Plan Our commitment to delivering a leading HR function will be achieved through the best practice execution of our everyday tasks as well as the delivery of the following list of project programmes: Area Summary of Project Programmes Number of Programmes Director Projects Communication 5 Quality Review External Benchmarks Role and Responsibility of Heads Hourly/ Casual Pay HR Strategy & OD Organisational Resourcing 4 Organisational Structures Performance Management Promotion HR Central Services HR Processes 3 IT Researchers Employee Relations Equality 3 Public Service Agreements Grading Staff Welfare and Development Leadership and Management Development 3 Staff Welfare and Well Being Heads and Managers Forum HR Business Communication Skill Development for Line Managers Team Development Page

12 Cross Functional Records Management 5 Streamlining HR Processes Contract Documentation Qualifications HR Working Total Key Project Programmes 26 The portfolio of projects being delivered as part of this Strategic Plan can be categorised as delivering: Delivering Code Number of Project Contributions Enhanced HR service provision and efficiency 1 6 Organisation development 2 5 Compliance and external reporting 3 2 Enhancement of the staff experience 4 5 Development of staff 5 8 Improved communication 6 4 Review and Clarification 7 6 Resourcing Page

13 5.2 Detailed Operational Plan This section provides a detailed outline of the projects under each project programme being initiated across the HR Function. Key: N = New; UW = Underway; OG = On-going HR Director s Projects AREAS UNIVERSITY PROJECTS AIM OF PROJECT PROPOSED/OWNER COLLABORATORS STATUS Due Q1 Q4/ Year Communication Develop & Implement Staff Communication Plan Internal Staff Communication Website (6.7 University Op.Plan) Agree overall responsibility for internal communications among stakeholders & draft strategy Ml Farrell VP for External Relations Computer Centre Category UW Q Quality Review Quality Review & related actions Plan and conduct a Quality Review in the Department External Benchmarks Role and Responsibility of Heads Implement the Great Places to Work programme To ensure that the recruitment, responsibilities and statutory position of academic heads is clarified and promulgated to all relevant staff To increase the emphasis on Trust across the organisation thereby improving staff morale and contributing to the University s Strategy To enhance the management of academic units through increased clarity on the role of the Head Ml Farrell HR Managers N Q Anne Gannon HR Managers Q Michael Farrell HR Managers N Q Hourly / Casual Pay To examine controls and policy with regard to Hourly/Casual pay, to make recommendations for University Policy in that regard and to oversee implementation of the revised controls and policy To ensure appropriate controls are in place within the University regarding Hourly/Casual pay thus ensuring that the necessary budgetary Project Leader: Helen O Donoghue Project Manager: Maeve Doyle Central services Payroll UW Q Page

14 parameters are applied to this expenditure. HR Strategy & OD AREAS UNIVERSITY PROJECTS AIM OF PROJECT PROPOSED/OWNER COLLABORATORS STATUS Due Q1 Q4/ Year Organisational Resourcing Organisational Structures Implement Scheme for re distribution of Support Staff Template for Organisational Structure (6.5 University Op.Plan) Map organisational Structures & Establishment Support the development of School structures To implement Policy on Reassignment across the University in order to achieve maximum efficiencies in support staff across the University To identify and map the staffing of the University To support schoolification within academic units Angela O Donovan Employee Relations & HR Managers N Q Angela O Donovan HR Business UW Q Angela O Donovan HR Business/ UMT UW Q Category Performance Management Promotions Consult and Implement Capability policy and procedure Enhanced Performance Management & Development System (6.3 University Op.Plan) to include Implementation of e performance Platform Complete Review of Academic Promotions and Introduce Promotion to Full Professor To provide a framework to define & address underperformance To develop an enhanced performance management process in the University and to implement e performance Review and update the Academic promotion schemes Angela O Donovan ER & HR Managers UW Q Angela O Donovan ER and HR Managers N Q Angela O Donovan & Anne Gannon HR Managers N Q , 5 2, 5 7, Page

15 HR Central Services AREAS UNIVERSITY PROJECTS AIM OF PROJECT PROPOSED/OWNER COLLABORATORS STATUS Due Q1 Q4/ Year HR Processes Implement Core Employee Self Service Complete IT Implementation of HR Model & EIS (6.2 University Op.Plan) The use of Employee Self Service (ESS) to enable the delivery of payslips online, personal details online and long term aim of moving to online approvals IT Pensionmaster Upgrade Enable staff to avail of the on line facility to do additional calculations and queries Improve Staff Recruitment Processes (6.1 University Op.Plan) Consult with parties and update regulations accordingly To attract the best possible staff to UCC and enable the identification of the best candidate for each position Researchers Implement Research Career Structure* To enable the University to attract the best possible researchers and to help those researchers to develop their careers Susan O Callaghan Project Leader: Susan O Callaghan Project Manager: Sinead Hackett Susan O Callaghan Alison O Connell Payroll Computer Centre HR Business Managers Staff Welfare & Development Payroll Research Accounts VP Research UW Project plan currentl y being drafted Category N Q OG/ new focus UW Review of regulatio ns end Q Initial alignment of all researche rs to be complete d by end Q1/2013. On going implemen tation and review of policy thereafter *This project is being delivered in the context of an Institutional HR Strategy for Researchers which is currently in development in collaboration with the Research Office. 1 1, 2 4, Page

16 Employee Relations Equality AREAS UNIVERSITY PROJECTS AIM OF PROJECT PROPOSED/OWNER COLLABORATORS STATUS Due Q1 Q4/ Year Public Service Agreements Implement the LEAD (Living Equality & Diversity) Project Public Service (Croke Park) Agreement related projects Raise awareness of equality and diversity issues To implement UCC Plan under the CPA Kieran Creedon Paul Ryan and Kieran Creedon Staff Welfare & Development /HR Business ER and HR Managers Category UW Q UW Grading Complete Review Grading Schemes (6.4 University Op.Plan) To enhance job evaluation scheme Paul Ryan ER N Q , 5 Staff Welfare & Development AREAS UNIVERSITY PROJECTS AIM OF PROJECT PROPOSED/ OWNER Leadership and Management Development Enhance leadership and management development via a number of dedicated programmes. Leadership Development in Schools & Admin Units (1.10 University Op.Plan) Enhance leadership & management development. Mandatory for Heads of Schools & Departments. New Leadership Development Programmes for: 1. PIs 2. Senior Staff not currently in leadership positions 3. Technical Professionals 4. Senior Administrativ e Heads Maeve Lankford COLLABORATORS STATUS Due Q1 Q4/ Year HR Business Managers & OD & Strategy UW Ongoing through out Category Page

17 Staff Welfare and well being Development of the staff welfare agenda & related Plan Improved Scheme of Staff Welfare & Well Being Catherine Maguire OD & Strategy & HR Business Managers N Q Heads and Managers Forum To create a Heads and Managers Forum which will meet at least three times annually to be briefed on developments and be consulted on proposed initiatives University wide in accordance with UMTS decision To bring together the senior managers of the University academic, research and administrative to ensure that they have appropriate and accurate information and have an opportunity to provide an input to significant University initiatives Maeve Lankford HR managers UW Q Page

18 HR Business AREAS UNIVERSITY PROJECTS AIM OF PROJECT PROPOSED/OWNER COLLABORATORS STATUS Due Q1 Q4/ Year Communication Establish a communications programme covering HR for Schools, units etc. To inform, influence and engage locally to encourage clear understanding of current HR matters in furtherance of HR goals and objectives Helen O Donoghue/HR Business Managers Category HR Operations N Q Communication Creation of a School/Dept Managers Coaching and Development forum Skills Development for Line Management Participate in the development of key people management initiatives to support implementation of strategy and plans locally. To provide guidance to and coach managers to ensure that they are equipped to effectively communicate and implement University HR policies and procedure To engage with line management throughout the University to enable networking opportunities, sharing of experiences and development of action based learning in relation to HR Mary Ward/HR Business Managers Anne Gannon/HR Business Managers Staff Welfare and Development N Q ,6 UW Page

19 Cross Functional Projects AREAS DEPARTMENTAL PROJECTS AIM OF PROJECT PROPOSED/OWNER COLLABORATORS STA TUS Records Management Record Management Thoroughly analyse Records Management processes within the Department and design / redesign the system. Consider the possibility of an Electronic Filing System Analyse existing records management system and modify in light of best practice. Research electronic filing systems Grace Conway/Sylvia Curran Category DUE Q1 Q4/ Year All HR N Q Streamlining HR processes Investigate lean technologies for the purposes of streamlining HR processes To examine opportunities for implementing system improvements in relation to the execution of HR processes. Grace Conway/Sylvia Curran HR Central Services N Q Contract Documentation A review of all contracts issued to all new university employees To ensure that the University meets all legislative requirements and is reflective of best practice in the area Susan O Callaghan N Q Qualifications Generate the capacity to report on all PhD and level 10 qualifications for academic staff Development of capacity system capacity in HRIS Grania O Brien/Marion O Donovan N Q HR Working An overview of Team working within the HR Department To review and enhance team working within the HR Department Maeve Doyle Staff Welfare & Development UW Q Q , Page

20 6. Risk Assessment All the above projects have been assessed for the risk of non-delivery. The overall risks in the non- delivery of this HR Strategy can be summarised as leading to: A deficit in service provision Conflicting application of HR policies and practices Inaccurate representation of the organisation An impact on delivery to staff and students A lack of coherence and accountability Lack of compliance under Croke Park Lack of management of the full spectrum of staff performance UCC falling behind other Universities Increased administrative burden UCC losing the best possible candidates for positions A failure to attract best possible researchers Lack of competitiveness as a university Delays in recruitment and other processes which may result in a failure to attract best people Lack of compliance with legislation and requirements of best practice Inability to report accurately A negative impact on staff morale Legal exposure due to lack of awareness of policy and procedure A compromising of the University s ability to live within staff numbers and budgetary restrictions A reduced ability to report progress to the ESIG and relevant government department Reinstatement of a grading scheme that is deemed as not fit for purpose Page

21 7. Implementing Our Strategy/ Measuring Progress: It is recognised that to ensure the on-going effectiveness of this two year plan that periodic reviews will be required. Stakeholders including UMTS, Heads of College, Governing Body Committee on Staff and other interested parties will be consulted and involved as each major element of the Strategy is being initiated and implemented. Each of the HR strands is supported by key performance indicators which define how we can assess out progress and the on-going impact of our HR practices. We are committed to monitoring our progress against the Plan and will provide clear, measurable indicators of progress against HR targets. Progress will be measured using relevant institutional key performance indicators (KPIs) and defined human resource KPIs both internal and external. As a Department we will continue to audit ourselves against best practice models and relevant external benchmarks when developing strategy and policy. We will simultaneously seek to improve our internal business processes, to redefine our professional focus and to develop a rigorous project management methodology. We are committed to developing further the Human Resources Department through fostering appropriate structures, capabilities, skills and resources to support the successful implementation of the HR Strategy. 6.1 Key Performance Indicators: The following indicators will be used to measure our performance in delivering the Operational Plan as articulated in this Strategy: No. Indicator Owner Not Started / Behind Schedule 1 Staff Bulletin in place and regularly updated 2 Quality Review Completed in line with timetable 3 Great Places to Work implemented with improving annual scores 4 Policy Revised and Controls in Place for Hourly casual pay 5 Effective measures to ensure resource and budgetary compliance for Hourly Casual Pay in place and operational 6 Policies and procedures that are fit for purpose and legally compliant in place 7 Clarity in relation to administrative support and necessary re assignments completed 8 Job Grading Scheme revised 9 Employee Information System fully operational 10 Pension Master Upgrade completed 11 Staff recruitment process revised and changes to Regulations completed 12 Clarified role and responsibilities of Heads 13 Career Structure for researchers in place 14 LEAD implemented 15 Staff re assignment policy embedded 16 Leadership Development Scheme in place and valued [Survey Data] 17 Staff Welfare and Well being Plan in place and valued [Survey Data] 18 Heads and Managers Forum in place and values [Survey Data] 19 Skills Development for Line Managers in place and Started and In line with Schedule Completed Page

22 valued [Survey Data] 20 School Team Development in place and valued [Survey Data] 21 Department Records management in line with best practice 22 LEAN analysis and process re engineering completed 23 Review of all contract documents completed 24 All qualification records reviewed and regularly updated for academic staff 25 Enhanced Team Behaviours within the HR Department [Survey Data] 26 Improved staff satisfaction with our HR service year on year from commencement of this Plan (2012) 27 Reported increased awareness/ engagement of staff due to implementation of communication initiatives 28 At least 10% increase in number of staff rating trust in UCC and reporting an enhanced morale from baseline measurement 29 Robust framework for managing and developing performance initiated 30 Achievement of appropriate staffing distribution levels Page

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