The Open University Employee Reviews about "work life balance"

Updated 9 Feb 2020

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4.1
80%
Recommend to a Friend
100%
Approve of CEO
The Open University Vice-Chancellor Tim Blackman (no image)
Tim Blackman
3 Ratings
Pros
  • "Relaxed work culture and excellent work-life balance(in 16 reviews)

  • "Very friendly and relaxed working environment(in 16 reviews)

  • Cons
  • "Senior management are very political(in 13 reviews)

  • "Career progression not always open and fair(in 11 reviews)

  • More Pros and Cons
    Pros & Cons are excerpts from user reviews. They are not authored by Glassdoor.

    Reviews about "work life balance"

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    1. 5.0
      Current Employee, more than 1 year

      Overall positive

      9 Feb 2020 - PhD Student 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Relaxed work culture and excellent work-life balance

      Cons

      Departments are too fractured at times.

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    2. 5.0
      Current Employee, more than 1 year

      Great place to work - there are few places like it left

      22 Aug 2019 - Broadcast Project Manager in Milton Keynes, England, England
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Holiday Staff Work-life balance Facilities Staff training and development

      Cons

      The organisation is extremely slow to change/react to market to external factors

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    3. 5.0
      Former Contractor, less than 1 year

      Great company

      23 Sep 2019 - Research Assistant in Milton Keynes, England, England
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      good work environment great work/life balance good communication

      Cons

      career progression is quite slow

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    4. 5.0
      Former Employee, more than 1 year

      Solid employer. Great work/life balance doing interesting things.

      29 Sep 2017 - Anonymous Employee in Milton Keynes, England, England
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Work on the main campus with 1000s of other people means there's lots of other activities to get involved with, outside of hours and during lunch breaks and things like that. The massive campus population means you can always find someone to socialise with too, if you don't like your immediate departmental colleagues. It being a large University there are a lot of innovative projects/research taking place, so no doubt you will find yourself doing something you can get passionate about if you're working on the academic side of things. Even outside of academia, the institution is a bit of a world leader when it comes to distance learning, competition is getting stiffer now but this should only compel the OU on further. I found there was a great emphasis on work-life balance. The University-wide budget is being cut at the moment so you may find yourself laden with a little more work than before, but you should rarely be worked to the teeth. Decent opportunities for growth and development, sometimes you just gotta ask though. Lateral movement is also often available given the OU's sheer size, and with some quite kind firing policies you should find ample job protection/security. Great relationships with senior managers in my opinion who were accommodating, willing to help, approachable and supportive. Beautiful campus and surrounding greenery.

      Cons

      Little boring sometimes. It's a bureaucratic beast so change can sometimes be slow but this is a key focus for improvement at the moment. The politics can also get tiresome sometimes, especially at the managerial levels, but this can easily enough be ignored.

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    5. 3.0
      Current Contractor

      Lead Developer

      9 Apr 2019 - Anonymous Contractor 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Good work life balance and deep knowledge in software development

      Cons

      Improvisation on legacy systems. Employee benifits

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    6. 1.0
      Current Employee, more than 10 years

      Troubling times for the OU

      2 Aug 2015 - Anonymous Employee 
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      The Work life balance is good with long holidays and reasonable working hours; a good pension scheme and good pay; a nice campus; good catering facilities

      Cons

      There is little career development opportunity; no performance related pay; a heavy reliance on interim staff and contractors. (Nb some interims are very good and dedicated but many lack knowledge of higher education and look down upon existing permanent staff)

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      1 person found this review helpful
    7. 2.0
      Former Employee, more than 10 years

      Largely still very fond of the OU and its mission and values, despite a truly awful employment experience.

      25 Feb 2015 - BDU Employee in Milton Keynes, England, England
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      The OU has a vast array of comprehensive policies - managed by central HR and Finance - which are designed to give a good work-life balance, promote equality and diversity, and encourage personal development and career progression. The main campus in Milton Keynes is large and well serviced in terms of free parking, on-site shop and bank sub-branch, and eateries; there are also leisure facilities, and many social clubs and associations open to both staff and students. The overall employment package is very good, including generous annual leave entitlement and extra Christmas closure days, pension scheme, supported and sponsored OU study, salary sacrifice for reduced cost childcare and cycle scheme, and so on. The overwhelming majority of staff are proud to be employed at the university, and are strongly committed and aligned to the mission and values of the OU, and the far-reaching impact it has.

      Cons

      The reality of many of the central policies is that they are implemented at unit level, and in the case of a unit like the Business Development Unit, this is extremely ineffectual, due to the extremely poor and old fashioned approach to management and leadership. This is pretty starkly reflected in the unit's results in the staff survey, and in terms of staff turnover, with the period from mid-2014 onwards seeing a very high number of resignations at all levels of the organisational hierarchy. There is a fundamental problem with the way that the unit is managed, and there have been examples where colleagues have been publicly - in open plan offices or large team meetings - belittled and humiliated as a means of exerting power and control; a bullying culture is rife. Any degree of autonomy seems to have been removed, with previously well-respected, responsible, accountable managers being undermined on even the simplest of decisions. There is a constant undercurrent of mistrust and it is implied that management do not have faith in the abilities and competencies of their teams, a specific example being sheep-dip training and development activities, which are patronising, and well below the level of a mostly very experienced and highly skilled staff body. There have also been comments to the effect that involvement with the trade union is generally frowned upon by management. Despite what is formally communicated to the unit staff, there is a very real threat that people will lose their jobs if they fail to hit unachievable targets for exponential growth, and there are known examples of people being performance managed out of the business when they have failed to achieve, despite having flagged these measures as being too aggressive, unachievable and unsustainable, especially in a rapidly declining marketplace; individuals are all too often made into scapegoats. The party line seems to be that targets are being met and that therefore, there is no problem however, there is seemingly little consideration for the cost in terms of impact on staff morale, sickness and turnover. The BDU and therefore, the wider OU has lost some amazing and talented individuals of late; an awful lot of skill and expertise has simply walked out of the door. The university is first and foremost there to service students, and so is not operationally capable of delivering true Business to Business value, often doing so in spite of itself. The OU machine is huge and diverse, and as such, there is a constant political struggle between units in terms of budget, resources, objectives etc, often creating a conflict of interests, and in many cases, results in a blame culture with a lack of ownership or accountability. Despite repeated flagging of these business blockers and the everyday challenges faced by operational level staff, management has failed to act on their positions of responsibility and influence in terms of breaking down barriers to enable and facilitate achievement. In my personal experience, when I asked for help and support, expressing that the pressure was manifesting as stress and seriously impacting my health, and explaining that I was working an unsustainable number of hours just to scrape the bare minimum of what was required of me, my concerns were dismissed; I was reminded that "the OU is a fantastic employer, and we get a generous amount of annual leave", therefore, the view was that I am afforded plenty of time to relax and I should just get on with it. This is just one example of when I have explicitly asked for help, but have been denied help and support, because management were either unwilling, unable or perhaps even both.

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      9 people found this review helpful
    8. 4.0
      Former Employee, more than 5 years

      Brief but satisfying

      20 Aug 2014 - Tutor in Milton Keynes, England, England
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Working from home, work-life balance was good. Pay is reasonable when students are plentiful. They fund your studies too. Line manager was great.

      Cons

      Work is periodic and unpredictable. All meetings in Milton Keynes which is horrid to visit and a pain to get out of. Some years I had far too many students, others not enough to be financially viable. Work is often out of normal hours and some students can be overly personal, coming to your house (they have to have your address to post you things) with late assignments and complaints.

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    9. 3.0
      Current Employee

      Like wading through gold-plated treacle.

      8 May 2015 - Marketing Manager in Milton Keynes, England, England
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      excellent benefits, excellent work-life balance, some really nice people

      Cons

      few promotion opportunities, highly political, very challenging environment, slow and bureaucratic, bullying, undermining to employees, consistently uses consultants on hugely inflated day rates, doesn't value internal skills and expertise

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      5 people found this review helpful
    10. 5.0
      Former Employee

      Lovely organisation with some great dedicated staff

      23 Jan 2015 -  
      Recommend
      CEO Approval
      Business Outlook

      Pros

      Flexible working Good work-life balance Family orientated Good pension scheme

      Cons

      Limited progression, Poor annual reviews

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      1 person found this review helpful
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