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Implementing Consistent Role Profiles and Job Families with the University of Nottingham


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The pace of change within higher education means universities must be able to lead and enact change quickly. Organisations with clearly defined job roles and job families are better placed to ensure they have the right people, doing the right things, at the right time. This also helps employees have a better understanding of their responsibilities and how their work supports the wider objectives of the organisation. 


The brief:


The University of Nottingham (UoN) had launched a portfolio of strategic change initiatives, including a substantial digital transformation programme, which had the potential to reshape team collaboration, individual roles, and team structures. In support of this programme of work, the institution was keen to gain better insights into the workforce profile, aiming to foster a more streamlined and consistent method of role management across the organisation.


Historically, role profiles at UoN had been created by line managers and written specifically for each individual role recruited. Whilst benchmark role profile templates were used as a basis for these, they did not include content related to the responsibilities of the role, nor the skills, knowledge and expertise required. This meant that every role profile was individually created, with skill requirements across similar roles not necessarily captured in a similar way.  


UoN recognised they would benefit from repeatable, reliable tools with which to develop job descriptions and person specifications in ways that increasingly align to the wider needs of the university, now and in the future. Strive Higher was invited to help develop a methodology for creating and managing role profiles across the University and to identify the necessary changes and skills needed to support model role profiling. 


Our approach:


We recognised that this project underpinned a wider opportunity for a gradual, iterative change approach to role profiling in general with the potential for long-term transformative impact on the structure, culture and performance of the institution. 


We began by identifying the data requirements and appraising the options for implementation of consistent role profiles. We set about conducting an analysis of current HR information, defining the current and future models, identifying target benefits and conducting interviews with key stakeholders. The analysis was comprehensive and involved a review of over 8,000 UoN positions from which we rationalised and proposed a series of role typologies and organisational functions. 


To demonstrate the full potential of consistent role profiles and bring the concept to life, we also developed fictional personas representing key members of the HR function responsible for implementing role profiles across the University. The personas evidenced how role profiles could enhance talent management, drive strategic workforce planning, support fair compensation and foster a culture of learning and development. Our work also included developing a target benefits overview to support the HR team to communicate the project benefits to the wider University audience.


Outcomes:


  • Rationalised role profiling framework, including recommended role typologies

  • Creation of over 200 role profiles for the University

  • Increased consistency across functions and services when drafting job descriptions for new roles

  • Development of a medium-term (3-5 year) roadmap for the evolution of the approach 

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