Bright ideas scheme shines

A new ideas scheme has been launched at Leeds Metropolitan University to generate creative solutions and increase staff engagement

Leeds Metropolitan University’s Bright Ideas scheme was launched earlier this year and, just a few months in, has generated almost 300 ideas from colleagues across the University, ranging from a lunch time walking club to support a wellbeing agenda and ideas to reduce the University’s carbon footprint, to discounts for staff undertaking post-graduate study and support for student enterprise.

The scheme was developed after the University’s biannual staff survey showed that staff felt two-way communication could be improved and there could be more opportunities for staff to feed their views upwards.

Vice Chancellor, Professor Susan Price, said: “This scheme is about increasing engagement among staff and recognising that they have a lot to offer. Someone may work in HR, for example, and also have interesting and creative ideas which relate to another area of our University. Through the scheme we have been able to tap into that talent and make some real improvements to a number of areas of our University. The power of the scheme has really been substantial. 

Feedback from our previous staff survey showed there was felt to be a gap in respect of colleagues’ ideas being listened to and acted upon. I tested out the appetite for an ideas scheme with members of staff through my monthly newsletter and received an overwhelmingly positive response. This is a true staff scheme in all senses of the word, generated from their feedback and developed by them from inception to launch.”

The University’s in-house team developed a bespoke ideas management system alongside a creative campaign through which to promote the scheme and encourage participation.

A web-based system was developed by a cross-university project team to create a simple and accessible way for ideas to be submitted and managed. The system allows anyone across the University to submit, search for, and collaborate on cross-organisational ideas. It was also designed to track the progression of an idea through each stage. Six themes were also developed to categorise and prompt ideas – all clearly linked to our organisational strategy: Student Experience; Customer Service; Working Here; Enterprise; Sustainability and Cost Effectiveness.

Examples of ideas implemented: 

  • Bright Ideas Guild – presentation of pin badges to colleagues whose ideas are implemented by their Director.
  • Lunchtime walking club – over 50 people are now involved in weekly campus walks which also supports the University’s Wellbeing Strategy.
  • Day in the Life – a monthly feature in the staff bulletin giving insight into colleagues’ typical days.
  • Flexible workspace –pilot of ‘standing desks’ to enhance wellbeing and reduce sickness absence.
  • Amazon/Collect Plus lockers – a simple idea to make online shopping easier.
  • Work-shadowing scheme – enhancing opportunities for cross-working and personal development. 
  • Staff discounts on courses – 25% staff discount on postgraduate courses.
  • Community Orchard – fruit trees have been planted on campus. 

The results have been overwhelming. Five months after launch, almost 300 ideas have been submitted from every area – including from staff with limited access to computers, such as maintenance. Around 40 ideas have been, or are currently being implemented, and the majority of ideas submitted involve more than one Faculty or Service, which is already enhancing collaborative working, and encouraging sharing of best practice across the institution. 

Sarah Gray, Associate Director of Human Resources, said: “So far, the Bright Ideas scheme has really captured the imagination of colleagues from all areas of our University. We’ve been really impressed with the response and seeing the ideas coming through and on to implementation is very satisfying and goes to show that everyone can make an impact on our University.”

Professor Susan Price added: “As a university, we are committed to our students, staff and all those who work with and support us; feedback and continuous improvement are part of what we do and as a testament to this we are the only university to hold both the Customer Service Excellence (CSE) accreditation and Investors in People (Gold). Our staff as internal customers are very important and certainly colleagues have shown a real appetite to be part of our continuous improvement.”

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