Universiteit Leiden

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Personnel monitor Light 2021

The University believes it is important to provide you with a satisfying work environment. How do you feel about your career opportunities, the interaction with your colleagues and supervisors, and the work facilities at your disposal? We ask for your opinion via the personnel monitor. This survey guarantees your anonymity. We use the survey results to take action and improve your job satisfaction.

Leiden University wants to create a positive working environment for all of its staff, an environment in which staff development and enjoyment are at the forefront and work pressure among staff is manageable. To find out to what extent we have succeeded in this, we asked all of our staff in May 2021 to complete the Personnel Monitor Light 2021. The aim was, in the run-up to the full Personnel Monitor 2022, to keep tabs work pressure among staff and on social safety. What is more, a year and a half was spent working in difficult circumstances as a result of Covid restrictions. This made it all the more necessary to conduct this survey. We also used the Personnel Monitor Light to find out about our staff’s needs and wishes once the Covid restrictions are behind us.

Problem areas confirmed

Social safety and work pressure are, like at other Dutch universities, points of concern in our organisation. The results of the Personnel Monitor 2018 confirmed this. These points are regularly raised by our network of confidential counsellors and welfare officers, and are a theme of our constant engagement and collaboration stakeholders. Reports made by university staff to WOinActie on these topics have reinforced this picture. Despite efforts in recent years to improve the work environment and to alleviate work pressure, the results of the Personnel Monitor Light 2021 show that improvements have not been made. This must change.

Improve the social safety framework

The University is therefore intensifying its policy aimed at creating a safer environment and has recently improved its social safety policy framework. Our network of confidential counsellors has been expanded and the role of ombudsperson for a safe working environment is being created. Better communication and information has made it more likely that students and staff report issues they face. A streamlined point of contact has been set up whereby staff can contact a confidential counsellor, anonymously if need be. These are important initiatives, but they focus on how to deal with an environment that is not safe (and are therefore remedial). From now on, prevention will receive more attention.

Invest in leadership development and reflection

An important new step is the plan to ensure we have more good leaders in our organisation. Alongside a required financial injection from government, leadership is a crucial mechanism in preventing problems with social safety and unmanageable work pressure. Good leaders create clarity, bring teams together and effectively lead them, promote wellbeing and solve problems. Better recruitment, clearer competency frameworks, leadership screening, an adequate training programme with compulsory training and the opportunity for reflection, 360-degree feedback and peer feedback on acceptable behaviour, are just some of the building blocks needed for this change in our working culture.

Open conversation

Staff must also feel able to speak out, raise issues with one another and stand up for themselves. This begins with better staff onboarding, improving personal leadership skills and creating clarity about what constitutes acceptable behaviour (in codes of conduct and core values, for instance). This will enable staff to talk to one another about their behaviours and will also mean that social safety is no longer a taboo but is something that can be openly discussed. Workplace conduct must be aligned with the core values of our organisation.

Reduce work pressure

The University is also channelling its efforts into reducing work pressure among our staff. It began implementing its central Work Pressure Action Plan in 2018, and reports periodically to the Local Consultative Body (consultation with the unions). The Action Plan focuses primarily on changes to the University infrastructure and rules for staff, but also creates room for custom solutions at the faculty and institute level to address any issues that may arise there.

Confidence in improvement

The results of the Personnel Monitor Light 2021 show that we face a considerable challenge and have no time to lose. We are confident that if we all work together, we will be able to make significant improvements in creating a safe working environment and reducing work pressure. The Executive Board sees this as its responsibility. It therefore welcomes feedback and is happy to be held accountable by the organisation for the results. Martijn Ridderbos, Vice-Chairman of the Executive Board, and Helen Pluut, an Associate Professor of Business Studies who specialises in organisational psychology, will discuss the results of the Personnel Monitor Light 2021, the experiences in the organisation and the importance of a firm and satisfactory approach to the problems.

Consolidating plans

The new Strategic Plan will be presented at the next Dies Natalis, in February 2022. Ahead of this, we will be devoting our attention to developing our organisational culture. The following actions are on the agenda in the short term:

  • Encouraging and facilitating discussions whereby people can talk openly about social safety and their work pressures.
  • Translating our core values into visible behaviours.
  • Consolidating the expectations, competences and skills for good leadership at Leiden University.
  • Devising and providing an adequate range of training and coaching for all teams in order to foster open communication and a safe work environment.


Read the interview with Martijn Ridderbos, member of the Executive Board and Helen Pluut: 'Taboo on raising social safety issues must go because we really need to do better'.

To the interview
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