Following consultation with the Staff Survey Steering Group and the Joint Trade Unions, the 2019 Staff Survey introduced Professor Jonathan Weberthe question ‘I cannot meet the requirements of my job without regularly working excessive hours’ for the first time which resulted in a high number of staff strongly agreeing with the statement. It was agreed that excessive workloads would form part of the Provost’s Board action plan which I led and took forward. A cross-College Workload Concerns Working Group was set up and meetings took place with the Joint Trade Unions over the last few years. Since the coronavirus pandemic, further Wellbeing Pulse Surveys took place (termly) and indicated that workload concerns continued to be an issue.   

We listened to staff members’ concerns and through the set-up of the Working Group, I am pleased to confirm that the following was agreed at the Provost’s Board: The College’s first Workload Principles, Workload Management approach and Workload Allocation Model. Further information on these areas can be found below.  

These are our first steps and I know that workload will continue to need ongoing attention and review. The Working Together Task Group’s action plan further supports our work here. Workloads will remain high on our agenda and we welcome any feedback. 

Best wishes,

Professor Jonathan Weber
Dean of the Faculty of Medicine

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College Workload Principles

The areas below are the College-level principles for the management of workloads that each Faculty and Directorate are expected to adopt to help maintain a healthy workload amongst their staff. The principles apply to all staff across the College:

  1. Fairness, transparency, and open communication should underpin job design and work allocation across the College.
  2. Workload should be compatible with reasonable expectations of work-life balance and the principles of equality and inclusion as well as facilitating a healthy working environment. 
  3. Job descriptions and work allocation will be based upon meeting the aims and objectives of the Section/Department/Faculty/Directorate and the College and should be regularly reviewed.
  4. Members of staff will not usually be expected to work in excess of their contractual hours.
  5. Faculties/Directorates are expected to oversee the allocation of work within their Departments, whilst retaining flexibility for local variation within smaller sections/work areas, as necessary.
  6. The amount of time a member of staff spends on each aspect of their role or allocated tasks should be discussed regularly during their 1-2-1 meetings.
  7. Individual strengths and development needs identified through the PRDP process should be recognised as far as possible in allocating work. These should be balanced with the requirements of the role and the overall department aims when reviewing and setting individual objectives.
  8. Line managers will ensure that any major changes in workload distribution, including changes resulting from restructure, are discussed in advance with the staff affected and where appropriate ensure they are communicated throughout the Department.
  9. Cover for family leave, long-term sickness absence or vacant positions will be determined in relation to the capacity within the department to cover the work in question in accordance with the above principles.
  10. Work allocation should allow staff to take appropriate breaks.
  11. New College-wide processes and procedures, and organisational change managed through the Change Management Policy and Procedure, will be assessed alongside the potential impact on workload for all staff involved prior to implementation.

Local Workload Management

The following guidelines will need to be considered by departments and line managers at a local level.  These reflect current good practice and the College’s responsibilities as an employer and are in accordance with Health and Safety legislation.

  • Clear communication will take place about the duties and requirements of a role when recruiting and promoting staff.
  • Heads of Department and/or line managers will ensure that they are accessible to any member of staff who wishes to discuss concerns about their role and workload.
  • If a member of staff feels 'overloaded' or considers the quantity or content of their workload to be unreasonable, they should raise their concerns with their line manager (or nominee). The Head of Department or line manager must discuss this with the individual to better understand the situation and identify potential solutions where appropriate. If this does not address the concern, they should contact the Employee Relations team, who will discuss the opportunity to have a facilitated conversation.
  • Prolonged periods of work without an appropriate break are not recommended.  As such, where staff are required to work to a specific timetable, the development of timetables should take time for a break into account.
  • It is acknowledged that staff have differing working patterns and domestic commitments and therefore meetings should ideally be arranged within the parameters of the College’s core working hours (09.00 to 17.00) for the attendees of the meeting concerned.
  • Departments should encourage members of staff to book and take regular periods of annual leave throughout the leave year.
  • Heads of Department and line managers, with the assistance of HR, will monitor sickness absence to identify any patterns of sickness which may indicate work-related illness. If there are concerns about absence and work-related illness, managers should contact the HR Staff Hub in the first instance.
  • In the event that concerns about workload are not resolved, the individual may escalate to the Dean of the Faculty or Director of Support Services. Ultimately, the College will appoint an Ombudsman should workload allocation concerns not be resolved at Faculty level.

Workload Allocation Models (WAMs)

Workload Allocation Models (WAMs) should be developed locally (at department or faculty level) to assist with the management of academic and teaching staff workload and should be developed in line with the following College WAM principles:

  • A WAM should aid the planning and recording of roles and activities for academic and teaching staff.
  • Local WAMs must follow the College workload principles set out above.
  • Workload within a WAM should be fairly and transparently distributed among academic and teaching staff.
  • There should be a single model at an appropriate level of unit, at least that of the department level.
  • A WAM can apply to all academic staff who undertake teaching and College work in any combination.
  • Local WAMs should be based on teaching responsibilities and College work and will not include research. It is acknowledged that research is a key part of an academic’s role and it will remain important to ensure that academic staff have sufficient time for research and innovation activities and that their managers are aware of the hours they are working.
  • College work should include service and administration at departmental, faculty or College level and other activities such as societal engagement (public, patient and community engagement) and outreach.
  • Clinical academics have an annual job plan jointly agreed with the NHS detailing their clinical workload.
  • The WAM should be published locally.

Tips from ICT on how to better reduce workload

ICT have advised the following functions to help staff manager their workload better:

Microsoft Viva Insights (used to be ‘My Analytics’):

You can add this app for free to Microsoft Teams and use the following functions:

  • Through the ‘Stay Connected’ tab, you can see a list of tasks with your collaborators and tick them off as you accomplish them which helps with better workload management.
  • Through the ‘Protect Time’ tab, you can add focus time to your schedule whereby your chats are muted during this period to help you concentrate.
  • Includes the ability to send praise to your colleagues
  • You can also take a moment to ‘reflect’ through clicking on visual emotive faces. This can help you keep a pattern and better understand your emotions, strengths, weakness and driving factors. Your reflections are private.
  • Includes guided meditations and mindfulness exercises from Headspace.
  • The ‘Virtual commute’ option shows you your open tasks on the Microsoft To-Do list whereby the due date is today or that have a reminder set for today. This helps you to keep abreast of your remaining tasks whilst prepping for future ones. It shows a series of tasks you committed to do and that you can tick off in addition to showing the tasks coming up for the following working day. There is then the opportunity to have a ten minute headspace and winding down period.
  • Provides a more granular insight into your working patterns such as detecting if you are close to burnout.
  • You can still access 'My Analytics' through your Office 365 access. 'My Analytics' is a completely personal platform which nobody else can see. It looks at a 4 week period. Through this you are able to review if your time is effective, how many quiet days you have, how much time you spend collaborating, how much focus time you have etc. Through the Wellbeing tab, you can review how many quiet hours you have and check what is disturbing your quiet hours amd keeping a track of this. You can also configure your working hours. This can be empowering to help staff make a plan and make positive changes to their schdule if they are feeling overwhelmed. However, as mentioned above, 'My Analytics' is now becoming a part of Mcrosoft Viva which you can add through the Micrsofot Viva Insights app on Teams.

Other ICT recommended Office 365 features/apps include:

  • Planner allows you to create a plan, manage tasks, collaborate with colleagues easily and keep track of the progress of your projects.
  • OneDrive for Business offers 5TB of cloud-based storage and is the recommended storage solution for saving personal work files. 

You can find further guidance on Microsoft Teams here in addition to booking onto a training session with ICT for Office 365, Teams and OneNote.

There are other software options available to staff to download which are mentioned below to help you embed good organisation and timekeeping:

  • Using ‘OneNote’ to schedule meetings, deadlines, workload, reminders, and to-do lists. Staff can also collate notes, collaborate with others, Microsoft Word in addition to synchronising across other devices.
  • Strict Workflow can help increase concentration and discipline by temporarily blocking social and other time-wasting websites.
  • Notion is an all-in-one workspace that allows you to set up pages for all parts of life such as planning and tracking deadlines, storing research, taking notes, and organising general life admin. The Google chrome add-in can also be used to save useful websites to read later whilst also being collaborative for working group projects and presentations.
  • Ayoa is a digital workspace that incorporates mind maps, task boards, whiteboards. Tasks can be broken down into more manageable lists with realistic time frames in order to reduce stress. ‘My planner’ enables you to break tasks down into ‘Now’, ‘Next’ & ‘Soon’ to help prioritisation.

Further information of the above software can be found online.

Group membership

Professor Jonathan Weber

Professor Jonathan Weber

Professor Jonathan Weber
Dean of the Faculty of Medicine

Claire Puddephatt

Claire Puddephatt

Claire Puddephatt
Executive Officer to the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine

Professor Stephen Curry

S Curry

Professor Stephen Curry
Professor of Structural Biology

Anne O' Neill

A O' Neill

Anne O' Neill
Department Operations Manager, Computing

Cindy Lai

C Lai

Cindy Lai
Head of Research Support Services

Professor Alan Winston-OKeefe

A Winston-OKeefe

Professor Alan Winston-OKeefe
Professor of Genito-Urinary Medicine

Robert Chatley

R Chatley

Robert Chatley
Director of Software Engineering Practice

Dr Mark Kennedy

M Kennedy

Dr Mark Kennedy
Associate Professor, Business School

Kim Foxwell

Kim Foxwell

Kim Foxwell
Alumni Relations Executive, Business School

Support to Chair and Working Group members:

  • Audrey Fraser – Head of HR Reward, Engagement and Policy
  • Rebecca Davey- HR Policy Manager
  • Katie Poole- HR Policy Manager

If you have any further queries

If you have any further queries, you can contact workload.concerns@imperial.ac.uk