University strikes: an engagement crisis?
Sixty universities across the country are currently in the midst of an eight-day strike, involving lecturers, technicians, librarians and other academic staff.
From 25th November to 4th December, thousands of University and Colleges Union (UCU) members are taking strike action, mounting picket lines across campuses and causing disruption at almost half of all UK universities. Reports claim that more than a million students could be impacted by the walkout, with lectures cancelled and countless contact hours lost.
This is not the first time the UCU has taken action over the years, but academic staff have reportedly reached “breaking point” over a number of issues including workloads, real-term cuts in pay, a 15% gender pay gap and changes to their pensions.
Is there an engagement crisis at UK universities?
Industrial action of this nature is often a last resort and an obvious sign of disengagement among employees. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Even though academic staff will return to work after the strike and resume their normal teaching duties, their unhappiness won’t disappear and the effects of their disengagement won’t subside. The quality of teaching may be affected and further strikes may happen later down the line.
While it’s uncertain whether the ongoing disputes between the UCU and universities will get resolved in the near future, it’s evidently clear how important it is for employers and employees to be aligned. A breakdown between the two can have a catastrophic effect on employee engagement, business operations and performance. This can then impact customers too, as is certainly the case at universities.
While academic staff at universities are disputing very specific topics with their employers, the strikes that are happening across the country indicate just how crucial employee engagement is across every industry in business.
In any business, it’s all about the people. Employees are just as important as customers (or students, when it comes to universities), and this is something we truly believe in. Our employee engagement solutions span across every sector and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of any business. Find out more about our products here.