I was not very positive about my University in my last post, but a announcement earlier this month was a pleasant surprise. I do believe that the University wants to look after staff and students and, while the large, impersonal structure of organisations like universities often means they fall short, I think this is a welcomed gesture.
The Vice-Chancellor started by saying:
As we start another working week under stay-at-home orders, juggling the many challenges that brings, I have some important updates to share with you that are focused on prioritising everyone’s mental health and wellbeing.
What followed were not empty words about looking after ourselves and how the University was concerned about our wellbeing, but some practical measures that really make a difference.
For three hours on Thursday [RU OK Day earlier this month], we would like you to take a complete break from work-related activities and spend it doing something (or nothing) to help you rest and recharge. How you choose to spend the three hours is entirely up to you, but please work with your manager to agree when you will be offline. You do NOT need to use Time in Lieu or Personal Leave to cover this period.
They are also giving staff:
- Two extra Fridays as leave (one on the last Friday in September and one on the first Friday in October which means we get a four day weekend because the following Monday is a public holiday)
- Three extra days leave over Christmas
While I do genuinely appreciate this gesture, there is still a need to look at the workload of many staff. For some staff, it will mean they can have real day off, although for other staff it might mean they have a bit of a lighter day, but they will need to work harder some other time because the actual work will not have disappeared.
But I still think it is a positive initiative and it has been appreciated by many staff.
The University is in the process of creating the enterprise agreement for the next three years or so, and I hope it, and the two unions that are the main representatives for University staff, are able to work collaboratively and really focus on the well being of staff.
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