People teams in a changing world of work

Markos Koumaditis

In the aftermath of Covid-19, organisations are facing historic challenges with a competitive talent landscape, an exhausted workforce and added pressures to control costs. Traditional work models no longer meet the needs of the workforce and employees now require access to the relevant information for their jobs, wherever and however they choose to work.

To rise to these challenges, organisations need the information management tools and technology to create digital workplaces that contend with hybrid work, changing regulations and security incidents, whilst exploiting the ever-increasing benefits being presented by Artificial Intelligence. This also provides us with an opportunity to deliver employee experiences that empower workforces and attract and retain talent. 

Looking within, we face similar challenges and need to work in partnership with our people professionals across the University to understand the changing needs of our workforce and labour market. One of the things that struck me since I started here 8 months ago was the need for more robust data to enable us to take an evidence-based approach and external benchmarking to compare our HR experience with global professional standards.

To rectify this, one of my first actions was to partner with the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development), which sets the international standards for the People Profession, to understand how aligned our people and organisational objectives are seen to be, and to forecast how we need to grow to meet our future needs. In Hilary term we ran the CIPD’s People Impact survey, which offered a valuable opportunity to bring together the HR community, benchmark ourselves against other institutions and offer an indicative baseline to measure our progress. 

Unsurprisingly, our analysis of the responses identified a number of priority areas:

  • retaining, developing, attracting and rewarding world class talent; 
  • changing culture and working practices - being fair and more inclusive was also a key theme. This supported other organisational indicators that culture, behaviour and change are priority areas; and
  • workforce planning and wellbeing - comments tended to focus on the need to sustain motivation, work life balance and wellbeing in the face of resource challenges and continuing workload pressures.

Our ambition is clear: to maintain our position as the leading University in the world, while fostering an inclusive, diverse and values-driven culture, in partnership with the colleges. We are already making strides towards achieving this. The Vice-Chancellor’s Pay and Conditions Review is looking to ensure competitive and fair pay, reward and benefits, while the new Digital Transformation strategy will be essential in leveraging technology to achieve efficiencies in ways of working and improving our employee experience. We have also prioritised staff wellbeing (Thriving at Oxford) and flexible working (New Ways of Working) and are investing in skills development, career mobility and people development support through the Concordat for the Career Development of Researchers and Oxford-wide Careers.

So, what’s next? Well, the University’s current strategic plan runs to 2024. Planning is already underway to set out our vision beyond this, and I look forward to working together with the Vice-Chancellor, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for People and Digital, and the collegiate University on setting a new People strategy that will prepare us for the future.  

I look forward to engaging you in this process to co-create an exciting future together.