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Human Resources staff at all levels in MPLS Division work together collaboratively through the MPLS HR Network, established several years ago by the Divisional Office.

Today, around 45 staff are involved and meet once a term to catch up on new developments within the University, share best practice, and hear from guest speakers on topical HR issues. 

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, this network moved online and took an MS Teams channel format, allowing staff to keep in touch, ask one another questions, run ideas past colleagues and exchange information effectively. This Teams channel is still actively used by staff across the Division. 

Regular group meetings have been reinstated post-Covid and the network is now one of the key mechanisms for reinforcing and embedding Professional Services Together principles in HR practice across the Division. 

‘Opportunity to share information and learn from colleagues’ 

Head and shoulders photo of Melissa Fowler, with white shelving and ornaments in the background

Melissa Fowler, HR Administrator at the Mathematical Institute, said: ‘I’m glad the MPLS HR Network was set up as it gives me the opportunity to share information and learn from colleagues who are based in other departments. It’s provided me with valuable insight into the way other departments run processes such as onboarding and casual payroll, and given me access to useful resources which are shared in the Teams channel for the network and at our termly meetings.’



Ginger JansenGinger Jansen, HR Project Officer at the Mathematical Institute, added: ‘The network has been an excellent source of new perspectives, ideas and collaboration. As well as providing a great vehicle for learning and professional development, it’s just a lovely way to connect with like-minded colleagues across the Division.’ 



Tackling collective challenges through groupwork 

Recent initiatives have included polling all HR staff to identify pressing challenges they would like to work on together – across recruitment and retention, professional development reviews and career development, casual payroll, sickness absence management, employee relations and more – to create solutions and improve efficiencies. The priorities this identified now inform the themes of upcoming network meetings. 

Head and shoulders portrait photo of Kerry Smith, in an office environment

Kerry Smith, Head of HR in the Department of Physics, said: ‘The MPLS HR Network provides a great platform to bring together all the good ideas and best practice from across departments. We really hope it will continue to flourish and provide further opportunities for joint working. This will make a big impact with helping to solve both the day-to-day administration issues and more complex challenges, which all contributes towards the value that HR can add to the everyday working lives of staff and managers.’  

In Hilary Term 2023, a workshop meeting format was trialled, where network members were encouraged to share ideas and best practice and tackle some of the more complex processes HR are involved in, through groupwork. Speakers have also been invited to talk about issues such as Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in HR, and wellbeing in the workplace, and meetings also allow opportunities for networking to support career development and stronger connections across departments and with the Divisional Office. 

Lauren Hughes, HR Business Partner in the Divisional Office, said: ‘Collaboration is at the heart of the HR network, encouraging the sharing of best practice and bringing together HR specialisms which would otherwise have little contact. By creating a platform for working collectively to solve common problems and promote opportunities to learn, not only is the development of individuals nurtured but the quality of the HR service provision improves too.’


Last updated March 2023