A safe working environment: collegiality, respect, and job satisfaction
Our university believes it is very important that its employees can take pleasure in going to work and can carry out their work without any hindrances. A safe working climate is a necessary condition for this. Collegiality, respect, and job satisfaction should be guaranteed and undesirable behaviour must be promptly addressed. We provide you with various types of support in this area.
A safe working climate cannot always be taken for granted. Recent research shows that even employees at universities can be subject to misconduct and intimidation by managers or colleagues. Annetje Ottow responds: ‘We think it’s important, as our Strategic Plan says, to be a learning organisation, and this also applies to providing a safe environment.’
The university stimulates a culture in which colleagues communicate with each other, call each other to account when necessary, and solve problems with each other. When problems occur in the workplace, it is important to initiate a conversation about it first. This sort of conversation can be challenging. So, to help you with this, this aspect is addressed in various courses and workshops, such as the one about how to approach P&D interviews and the 'Active Bystander' workshop. In the toolkit Let's Connect, you'll find articles, videos, training and conversation tools to communicate openly with each other.
If a problem is not solved by talking to the person directly or if bringing up the issue with a colleague is too stressful, such as due to a dependency or power relationship, you can discuss the issue with your supervisor or the confidential counsellors.
If you cannot resolve the issue yourself, your supervisor is in principle your first point of contact in the event of problems in your work. That is why our university pays a great deal of attention to leadership development: in teaching, in young talent (PhD students, post-docs), in university management, in supporting roles and fields, and in (research) projects and programmes. In this way we ensure that managers at all levels have the right skills to perform their duties. In leadership development, we focus, among other things, on 'From me to us'. Because no person is more important than any other, be they from the department, the institute or the faculty. Cooperation and support are central to this movement, and everyone's contribution to the whole is visible. Personnel policy provides the framework for this, such as for P&D.
If the problem cannot be resolved in consultation with your supervisor or if it involves the supervisor him- or herself, you can approach the confidential counsellor.
There are different types of confidential counsellors, but if necessary, any one of them can refer you to the appropriate person for your question. A confidential counsellor is someone who will listen to you, provide you with advice, and inform you about any procedures regarding reporting and complaints. It can also help to ask for support from colleagues: together you are stronger in difficult situations.
Satisfied employees are important for a successful organisation. That is why every two to three years we ask employees about their perceptions of working at the university. Sometimes we conduct additional studies, such as at institute level.
The most recent staff monitor took place in 2018. Based on the results of this monitor, faculties and units undertook discussions with employees so as to take appropriate measures together and reach agreements on issues such as reducing workloads and improving the working climate.
In addition to the initiatives at faculty level, we are working on making university-wide improvements in five areas:
• Public security and leadership
• Work load
• Development opportunities (academic and non-academic staff)
• Supervision and facilities for PhD students
• Infrastructure and working conditions: work facilities, travel expenses, and cleaning
In recent years, the staff monitor showed that employees consider the workload to range from high to very high. With its Work Load Action Plan, the university wants to reduce this problem from within.
Whether concerning research, dealing with students, procurement, or the use of buildings and grounds, everyone involved with our university should be able to be confident that all employees—temporary and permanent alike—act with integrity. That is why we continue to pay attention to academic integrity and the code of conduct on integrity.
For example, attention is paid to integrity in introductory meetings for new employees, and workshops and meetings are organised concerning academic integrity. The relationship between social safety and integrity is also discussed regularly, often between managers and administrators.
Within the university, we strive for equal opportunities for each individual, whether concerning appointment to a position, opportunities for promotion, or the ability to satisfactorily combine work and care responsibilities. This benefits both the quality of our teaching and research and the pleasure of working.
People do not always feel that it safe to ask questions about other people’s behaviour and that they can be confident that their questions will be taken seriously. We want to be a diverse university and at the same time a university where everyone can feel at home: that is, to be both diverse and inclusive. That is why our Diversity Office also supports various staff networks focusing on gender, LGBT+, ethnicity, and racism. These networks organise various kinds of activities and events, promote awareness, and offer a community where problems can be identified and opened up for discussion. As our Diversity Officer, Aya Ezawa, says, ‘If we talk about our working environment, who are “ we”? An inclusive working environment means that everyone feels they are included in this conversation.’