The annual staff survey is upon us once again, our chance to see if The Management really are “listening to what is important for staff”. Some of us wonder whether any hearing is attached to the listening. Staff have been surveyed for some years now, including under the old dispensation, when times were less stressful but nothing ever seemed to happen in response. From corridor discussions it is clear that many staff last year offered a very downbeat view of the way Kingston University is managed, but you wouldn’t have thought so from Ratty’s response. Those inconvenient respondants must have been considered atypical and dismissed.
Changes from last year? Hard to see them. Staff are still stressed, still worried about their jobs, still overworked, unsettled, suffering ill health; the demotions racket hasn’t gone away, it has just been revamped, making it more difficult to compare with the previous round in the interests of fairness. Some of the old lags on the SMT have gone, but the bullying culture has not.
What the staff survey will not tell the unwise monkeys in River House is that most academic staff genuinely like their jobs, enjoy teaching the students and, if they have enough time, ponder some research questions. They are thoughtful, reflective people who respond badly to threats and harrassment and being undervalued, a persistent feature of this vice chancellor’s tenure. And the response to staff problems that lead to student dissatisfaction are what? Yes, more implicit threats. So we fill in the survey again, and no doubt will do so next year. If we’re still here.