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Head of People, Engagement & Development

Salary: From £38,592 - £46,047 dependant on experience Deadline: Midnight 31st March 2023

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The Students’ Union at Essex is on a mission…

We’re on an adventure to become the world’s most student-centred organisation.

It sounds bold, and it is. But we believe that every single one of our 17,000+ members is amazing and that they deserve nothing less.

Over the course of this journey we regularly review the needs of our members and act on them through the Annual Big Plan, information on this can be found here.

Every single ounce of our energy and every job in the Union (including the Head of People Engagement & Development) is dedicated to achieving the Big Plan.  We promise not to let up until we’ve have achieved this.


If the SU was a person, these are the things that we’d believe in so much that we’d have tattooed on our body:

  • Powered by students – everything we do comes from our members
  • Shoulder to shoulder – 17,000+ students and 350 staff, standing together
  • No bullshit – we promise to tell it like it is, no spin and no red tape
  • Work hard, play hard – because life’s about both
  • Always challenge – the Essex spirit is in our DNA and we’ll fight to uphold it

You’ll become part of an unconventional family who will support you through every stage of your journey.


The People, Engagement & Development (PED) Department is an Enabling Department.  They are there to provide proactive support to other departments and to ensure organisational compliance in all relevant areas relating HR and staff wellbeing.  Their role is to be the unsung heroes of the SU, ensuring policies, procedures and information is readily available; as well as providing training, support and advice.


Reporting to the Director of Finance & HR you will be supporting the Union to set and deliver on its People Strategy.  You will be responsible for delivering on internal satisfaction and performance targets for the HR service.  In addition, you will be responsible for all aspects of recruitment and selection, learning and development, and performance management on behalf of the organisation.


  • To work collaboratively with the Directors and the Senior Leadership team in leading the Students’ Union towards our vision of becoming the World’s Most Student-centred organisation
  • Develop budgets to support delivery of the SU’s strategic aims and to manage those budgets ensuring best value for money in all areas work your work.
  • Set, monitor and deliver measurable KPIs, in line with SU’s mission that demonstrate the departments’ impact and justify any significant deviations from those KPI’s
  • Be an effective leadership role model within the organisation and provide support, appraisal, and development opportunities for all direct reports
  • Ensure effective communication between directors, managers, staff and volunteers and to cascade information as required
  • Maintain all policies and procedures that relate to your area(s) of responsibility ensuring they are regularly reviewed and updated as required.
  • Responsible for ensuring GDPR compliance within the department, including the maintenance of an up to date Data Map, the routine deletion of personal data in line with the department’s data retention schedule and to adhere to all GDPR related policies & procedures
  • Responsible for the maintenance of an up to date departmental Risk Register and operational Business Continuity Plan
  • Run allocated projects in accordance with the Union’s procedures
  • Undertake regular and appropriate CPD activities
  • Ensure that all casual staff in their department are fully trained and supported
  • All staff are expected to display a ‘can do, hands on attitude’ and participate in SU wide projects such as Elections, Events & Campaigns throughout the year to support the achievement of organisational targets


  • Ensure the Students’ Union is fully compliant with current employment legislation and best practice and to keep up to date with developments
  • Develop and support a generalist PED team including a complete HR, Learning & Development (L&D) and well-being to support all career and casual (student) staff members, officers, trustees and volunteers
  • Act as coach and mentor to all managers in developing skills to effectively manage staff teams
  • Lead HR staff to provide an effective support service to all SU departments
  • Lead and advise on all employee relations matters as they arise, including disciplinary investigations and sickness absence issues
  • Work closely with the Director team to develop and deliver on strategic and operational plans for the Union, advising on HR and L&D matters as appropriate
  • Promote excellence in customer service throughout the organisation, leading with the HR service provision
  • Develop and deliver full induction and training programme for annually elected Student Trustees and Sabbatical Officers
  • Develop and deliver a full induction and training programme for our casual Student Staff workforce and that their roles are valued across the wider organisation
  • Ensure that all staff across the organisation understand the need to comply with all SU regulations, policies & procedures.





Strong management experience in a relevant field at a middle or senior level



Holds a professional or management qualification or degree in a related area, or willing to undertake



Experience of leading and inspiring others in achieving organisational objectives



Experience of all aspects of Line Management, including recruitment, development, team motivation, performance management and appraisal



Previous experience of project management and evaluation



Previous experience of setting and managing budgets and producing financial and statistical reports



Evidence of successfully achieving against organisational targets



Operational knowledge of risk assessments, health and safety and safeguarding considerations in relation to relevant activities



Ability to ensure departmental compliance with all relevant legislation and internal policies & procedures



Excellent written, oral communication and presentation skills



Excellent problem solving, negotiating and influencing skills



Ability to build and maintain effective networks internally and externally



Evidence of continuing professional development at a senior level



Good IT skills i.e. word, access, excel







Hold, or able to obtain a CIPD Diploma or able to demonstrate equivalent experience



Significant generalist HR experience including recruitment and selection; employee relations; performance management; disciplinary and grievance matters



Demonstrable experience of providing a proactive HR service to a wide variety of business or charitable areas



Significant relevant experience, including design, delivery and evaluation of training events including management development programmes and trustee training



Able to supply evidence of continuous professional development





You’ll get to be part of a vibrant and exciting organisation that thinks the place you work should be amazing. 

You’ll be joining an unconventional family where everyone is passionate about doing the best for our members and achieving our ambitious vision of becoming the world’s most student-centred organisation. 

We believe in creating a workplace where you can be the very best, and if you‘re the sort of person who wants to get stuck in to everything they do, then you’re really going to shine here.

You’ll get a competitive salary starting between £38,592 - £46,047, depending on experience, in return for working an average 35 hours per week, and generous opportunities to take time off.  We are looking for someone who is able to work flexibly as hours will fluctuate based on the time of year.

We’re a very social organisation, running everything from staff sports teams to regular fun activities focusing on staff well-being.

With a generous pension scheme, we’ll invest in your future as well as your present. We offer a comprehensive range of family friendly policies so that you can get that all important work/life balance right.  Don’t forget one of our Tattoo’s in Work Hard, Play Hard and we mean it!  We’ll even give you your birthday off, for free.

If all this sounds like the sort of the place you want to be a part of then we’re really excited to hear from you. 

You find loads more information about who we are and what we do on our website www.essexstudent.com so have a good look, or feel free to give the HR team a call for an informal chat on 01206 863211 before you apply. 


To apply for this role please email your CV along with a covering letter to suhr@essex.ac.uk. 

Please note we reserve the right to close applications early if we recieve sufficent applications. 


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