The prize assets of human resources

The best in their field have been recognised at the 2018 Universities Human Resources Awards for Excellence in HR

Initiatives promoting diversity, development and skills were celebrated at the 2018 Universities Human Resources (UHR) Awards for Excellence in HR.

Every year, exceptional initiatives by universities in the UK and Ireland are recognised by UHR, the organisation representing HR professionals in the sector. This year’s winners were announced at a gala dinner at the annual UHR conference in Bristol:

 – Northumbria University Business Effectiveness and Organisational Performance

 – Imperial College London Organisational Development and Culture Change

 – University of Edinburgh Equality and Diversity

 – University of Liverpool Exceptional HR

Winners were selected by a panel of judges with experience of people management in higher education and beyond.

Speaking on behalf of UHR, Executive Director Helen Scott said: “We’ve been so impressed by the standard of entries to the UHR Awards this year – full of commitment and energy to the institutions represented and to professionalism and new ideas within the field too.

“An overarching theme is the role of HR teams in supporting institutions to think about wellbeing of staff and students, not only in terms of gender fairness but also working environments; and to help HEIs embed themselves even more firmly as responsible members of their local communities. So many of the ideas we saw are replicable across the sector and we look forward to seeing that happen.”

Northumbria University (main pic, above) received the Business Effectiveness and Organisational Performance award for its work on the Academic Career Framework, a programme designed to help it attract and retain quality research talent. The framework helped the University to introduce new leadership structures and support the career progression of talented academics. It has also encouraged academics to join the University, raising the number of doctoral-qualified staff from 90 to 702 since 2013/14.

The runner-up was Liverpool John Moores University, with SOAS and Staffordshire University shortlisted.

Imperial College London (above) was selected in the Organisational Development and Culture Change category for its Active Bystander training. The training was developed to help staff understand their responsibility to speak out and address issues around bullying, harassment and micro-aggressions; all things that can create an inhospitable working environment. So far, more than 1,500 staff have received training. The University is hoping to roll out the initiative to more than twice that number, and expand its reach to students in a pilot project.

The runner-up was the University of Birmingham, with the University of Huddersfield and Leeds Beckett University also shortlisted.

The Playfair Steps initiative from the University of Edinburgh (above) was recognised by judges in the Equality and Diversity category. The University established the initiative to improve equality and diversity in its central IT and library departments. The programme has resulted in a 300% increase in women at directorship level, and more than 30% at Grade 9 level.

The runner-up was Glasgow Caledonian University, with Aberystwyth University also shortlisted.

The University of Liverpool (above) won the Exceptional HR category for its participation in the GiveGetGo programme. The institution partnered with local social enterprise, Transform Lives Company, to offer volunteering and mentorship opportunities to long-term unemployed people. Since the launch of GiveGetGo in 2016, the project has supported 75 participants across the city, 39 of them at the University. As a result, 32 have found employment at organisations such as the NHS, Wirral Met College and the University itself.

The runner-up was Canterbury Christ Church University, with the University of Exeter and Leeds Trinity University also shortlisted.

The 2018 awards were announced at the end of UHR’s annual conference, which featured speakers such as CEO and author Margaret Heffernan, Henley Business School’s Professor of Strategic Marketing, Moira Clark, and author and journalist, Matthew Syed.

For a full list of shortlisted projects in all four categories, go to