On Monday morning the 2nd October, 3-5 employees will be fired from the departments of Facility Management (FM) and Campus Development (CD). But in all, about 6 – 8 staff members will be affected.
“As a part of the process, we have investigated the possibility of replacing some staff members to available positions within CBS. This has meant that we can keep four employees, whose duties have been reduced at Campus Development. This means that the need for dismissals has been reduced from 6-8 to between 3-5 people,” writes Kirsten Winther Jørgensen, the University Director in an email from China.
Siv Britt Mansa, the employee representative for CD and FM, says that the decision to fire staff members is solely a decision made by CBS management but it didn’t have to go this far if the development and upscaling of CD had been a little slower.
“The challenge here has been communication, and as you would say in Danish, “taking the temperature” on a regular basis in order to make the necessary and timely adjustments before letting the situation evolve this far. So, factual information from the former hierarchy leading the department to ongoing adjustments may have helped to avoid drastic decisions such as this one,” she says.
Tore Klitgaard, an architect from Campus Development and member of the coordination committee between FM and CD is open about the merge but is afraid that CBS, as a result of the merging of the departments, will lose the long-term perspective in regards to the development of the campus.
The merger was announced in June but news about the job cuts was not made public until the 8th of September.
“Before the summer holidays, the Head of Campus Development, Lisbeth Røgind, decided to quit her job. This led to the fusing of the two departments.
But CBS management only decided to cut jobs after the summer holidays, as it became clear that CBS would not receive external funding for the development of the Solbjerg Campus, which was planned to be done during the early period of 2018. “It is in many ways, very unfortunate timing,” says René Steffensen, Director of Campus Service at CBS. He has been involved in the process of merging the two departments.
The merging of the two departments has been known, as employee representatives, the Campus Director, and staff, have been involved in the process through meetings. But this isn’t the case when regarding the decision about letting go of people.
“I have not been involved with any decisions leading to the dismissal since it is one that was made by senior management. I have been notified about the different phases of the progress based on the decision to merge the departments. Events have been continuously evolving since the Campus Development Director presented her resignation,” says Siv Britt Mansa, employee representative for CD and FM.
Tore Klitgaard hasn’t been a part of the decision leading to the dismissal either and points out that CD has tried to influence the vision and mission of the new department, CBS Estates.
“We have tried to influence the decision but we have been ignored in the sense that we haven’t had a manager who could lead the discussions. Now Campus Development is winding up. And to us, it seems that Campus Development is taking the biggest hit,” says Tore Klitgaard and adds that the entire process is very challenging to cope with.
“Of course the employees are feeling gloomy. Now there are 3-5 positions that are at risk. It creates a feeling of insecurity and one that this specific area is being closed down. Furthermore, the entire process has given rise to mistrust towards CBS management,” he says.
Siv Britt Mansa points out that from her experience, the management of Campus Services has handled the situation about merging the two departments in a positive manner.
“Once management made clear which direction they opted for, which includes areas to be removed or reduced, the management of Campus Services was provided with the means to find the necessary resources. Given the timeframe available, I would say that the approach for conducting individual interviews with all 25 employees was an open effort to match profiles with the main areas of focus,” she says.
There’s always a risk
News about the dismissal isn’t a surprise to Siv Britt Mansa and Tore Klitgaard. They had a feeling that changes were on the way when the previous Head of Campus Development, Lisbeth Røgind, took her leave before the summer holidays.
“I don’t think the decision comes out of thin air. Not at all. The moment the former Director for Campus Development left CBS, a radical change was to be expected. What would have been the reason for her to leave otherwise?” she asks.
René Steffensen, the Campus Director, doesn’t think the dismissals come as a surprise either. The process of developing buildings is something that is based on external funding, whereas the operation of already existing buildings is partly financed by the state.
“There is a risk when you decide to base your work on grants and most of the member staff at CD know about this risk. So, in that way it’s not a surprise being in this situation,” says René Steffensen.
“But it’s still very unfortunate,” he adds.
What’s the vision and mission of CBS Estates?
The new department, CBS Estates, is going to be effectuated on the 1st of October. But to Tore Klitgaard, it’s not quite clear what CBS Estate wants and what duties await.
“To us, it’s really difficult to get a grasp of the vision and ambitions for the new department. It’s dissatisfying not knowing what CBS Estates is and not knowing if you are going to be onboard or not. And what if you are onboard but at the same time don’t think CBS Estate is the right place for you to work?” asks Tore Klitgaard.
Furthermore, he thinks that CBS’ brand is at stake when both the departments are merged, as you don’t have staff members solely working on the development of the campus. This means that the long-term planning seems to disappear.
“We are afraid that CBS risks its brand by doing this. We still need to develop up to date learning environments and the buildings have to correspond to the needs of the users. CBS could lag behind and that can potentially weaken the brand. It is as if CBS management has cut the main thread,” says Tore Klitgaard.
René Steffensen agrees with Tore Klitgaard regarding the ambiguities of the duties that await at CBS Estates.
“It is quite challenging to design a new department and get a clear idea of the duties but that will change when we have the team set,” says René Steffensen.
Kirsten Winther Jørgensen explains which duties CBS Estate will cover.
“CBS is known for buildings with high architectural quality – and so we will be in the future. CBS Estates’ focus will be: 1) operation and development of existing buildings; 2) sustainability; 3) development of teaching and learning facilities and 4) the establishment of Student Innovation House (SIH) in collaboration with the students,” she writes in an email.
Will CBS hire again?
The dismissals have come due to missing out on grants and this is a risk that CBS management is aware of, explains René Steffensen. But why doesn’t CBS have a buffer to cover unexpected expenses? Like absent funding.
”CBS has, by virtue of its own equity, a buffer for unexpected expenses. But on the other hand, we have, as a public institution, a duty to manage our resources in the best way possible in order to fulfill our purpose. When we, as management, see a reduction in duties such as this, we have to react to it,” writes Kirsten Winther Jørgensen.
CBS will continue trying to get the funding needed for the future buildings and when they at some point get the grants, more people will be needed.
“CBS continues to work hard to get the grants needed for campus developments – and when we get to that point, we will hire again. But unfortunately, it is unlikely that it will be in the near future,” she writes.