Employee Review

  1. 3.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    Arbitrary sackings – be warned (and join a union)!

    Aug 4, 2021 - Research Contracts Officer 
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    Pros

    I moved to Liverpool for my job at the university; I had three other job offers, so this was a genuine choice. Liverpool as a city is great, and the university is in a good location, I liked the gym and pool and general surroundings, and there was a lively programme of activities. Connecting remotely during the COVID lockdown was relatively smooth, the computers we were issued were good spec and we could get equipment as needed. Our offices were in a magnificent old Victorian hospital building, with a massive amount of space, big desks, opening windows and controllable radiators – all of which are increasingly rare luxuries as offices these days go. My colleagues were genuinely nice, supportive people, there were no office politics in the team I worked in. I dealt with contracts from all departments, and so got to learn about a great variety of research. Some of the academics were really nice people. It felt like somewhere you can belong, and enjoy belonging.

    Cons

    There is a feudal attitude towards staff amongst the upper levels of management and the more arrogant academics. Any workplace has its share of overly-entitled senior personnel, but a decent one will have set procedures and policies to ensure that any complaints about lower-level staff are investigated and dealt with in a fair manner, and management (where appropriate) will have your back. Liverpool is not a decent one. I was happy enough working in my role for the University of Liverpool, and feedback from my development review, colleagues and metrics indicated that I was doing well. In roles previous and subsequent to Liverpool, I have been told that my work was excellent, and I progressed quickly. However, at Liverpool, out of the blue one day, I was informed by my manager, in an undocumented/unrecorded meeting (i.e. I had no chance to prepare or make a record or get a companion) that the university wanted me to ‘resign’ by the end of the week, or my employment would be terminated. Apparently a very senior academic had taken exception to having been told that he would have to wait 2 weeks for a detailed response from me (just as all other academics had to wait, as the department was short staffed), complained to very senior management, and they decided to placate him by disposing of me. As I had worked less than 2 years for Liverpool, this is (shockingly) legal in English law. There was no gross misconduct, no concerns raised about my competency, no competency review, absolutely no following of HR policies and procedures. Even worse, my union rep was told things by the university HR and management which were completely untrue about what had happened and what I had said, which was downright disturbing. My colleagues were shocked, my union rep was disbelieving and everyone I discussed it with was aghast. It turns out that three or four other people had left my department ‘suddenly’ in as many years, and I was told that several remaining team members had experienced threats and shoddy treatment of a similar nature by management. (If it could happen to them, it could happen to anyone. If this happens to you, you can feel as if you are going mad, and this is why I strongly recommend that if you take up a role at Liverpool, you join a union - the union support I received was invaluable.) Sudden departures are not normal in this field of work (I have worked for several other universities in a similar role). This strongly suggests that there are deep seated issues in the way that problems are dealt with, and that they are avoided rather than resolved, and that all levels of management tolerate this state of affairs. Conversely, I understand my predecessor had ‘given up’ working and spent several months messing up work before the substandard performance was detected and addressed and the person moved on. Further examples of poor management: - incompetence and insecurity displayed by veering wildly between micromanagement and a laissez-faire ‘sort it out yourself’ attitude. - Acceptance of minimal IT skills – when we were in the office, everything was done on paper, forms had to be printed out. My manager didn’t seem to understand how to use a basic Excel spreadsheet. - Dubious metrics – the success of the team was measured using metrics which failed to take into account the true nature of the work, and led to distortion of priorities. The tail was wagging the dog. - The system for allocating work was unbelievably backward and repetitive, it involved it filtering through the manager on a weekly basis, and often sending arbitrary emails to another department. - Excessive meetings – It was expected that several team members would attend the same meetings, often the meetings were irrelevant. There was no mechanism to let people attend relevant parts of meetings. - Chronic short staffing – job ads went out after colleagues had left, after a struggle to get them approved by senior management, rather than at the point that they handed in their notice. Surely a notice period is supposed to enable a replacement to be found in good time? - Management happy to accept half-baked ideas and proposals from senior academics/management and for staff to spend vast amounts of time and energy trying to force them into a form that would work, with minimal acknowledgement that this had knock-on effects for standard work completion. Other cons: The university took several months to pay back my relocation expenses, and then only after I got my union involved, leaving me struggling financially. No apology, no covering of the interest costs that I had accrued due to this. The structure was almost flat – one manager (although another one was clearly needed), some senior officers, and the junior ones. No real scope for progression. There seemed to be no decent provision of information to academics about the processes that my department undertook, the timescales, the information required, the limits of what we could/couldn’t do. This led to a lot of confusion and irritation amongst academics keen to get their work off the ground. In the past year, academics have been taking strike action due to redundancies and the way they have been handled, so it looks as if the contemptuous attitude of the university towards its employees straddles both the academic and professional services sections. You have been warned!

    1 person found this review helpful
  1. 5.0
    Former Employee

    Great University

    Feb 26, 2021 - PhD Student + University Teaching 
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    Pros

    Great working environment, fast paced learning, mostly great supervision.

    Cons

    Some line managers have poor communication.

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  2. 4.0
    Former Employee, more than 1 year

    Great place to work overall

    Jan 30, 2022 - Intern 
    Recommend
    CEO Approval
    Business Outlook

    Pros

    Great location Mostly great people Work mostly interesting

    Cons

    Some poor management Hard to progress

    1 person found this review helpful

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