Reducing work pressure
Work pressure is still high across the entire organisation. Leiden University is not unique in this respect, as all Dutch universities are facing high levels of work pressure. In an effort to reduce work pressure, we have launched a toolkit including practical measures at central, faculty, and individual level. This will hopefully make work pressure easier to address and manage.
Seven focus areas
Leiden University aims to create realistic task assignments, norms for task load, and a good balance between teaching and research tasks. The Leiden University action plan (Dutch only) defines seven focus areas:
- Focus on improving resource deployment in the primary process
- Reduce regulatory pressure (‘keep it simple’)
- Attention for staff resilience and vitality
- Organise smarter support for academic staff
- Create regulatory space for staff members
- Better harness ideas coming from the organisation
- To measure is to know: use the staff monitor
Work Balance Community of Practice
The Work Balance Community of Practice is a forum consisting of Faculty and central HR advisers, aimed at exchanging best practices for reducing work pressure. In an effort to translate policy development into practical measures, the Work Balance Community of Practice has started bundling measures into a ‘work pressure toolkit’.
Some of these measures are implemented at University level, such as the ‘Leidse kwartier’ (the practice of starting lectures 15 minutes late) at the start of a meeting, or managers acting as role models. We expect faculties, institutes, and units to use the toolkit to address local bottlenecks.
Work pressure toolkit
The toolkit lists measures that make work pressure more manageable. Faculties, institutes, and units can use the toolkit to formulate their action plans and faculty and other policy. The toolkit is in Dutch.Download
Approach and initiatives
E-mail free weeks, working hours to be used at the employee’s discretion, and protecting private time: these are some of the measures we implement to reduce work pressure. Other initiatives include
Leiden Research SupportAcademic staff is receiving better support, for example via the Leiden Research Support initiative. This programme strengthens research support in applying for, managing, and offering accountability for externally financed research projects.
Harmonisation of educational logisticsThe Harmonisation of educational logistics programme aims to reduce work pressure among lecturers by improving educational processes
P&D interviewsWork pressure has been added as an item for discussion in P&D interviews.
Training programmesStaff members can follow training programmes to help them work more efficiently: project management for PhD students, management, leadership, and coaching/career coaching options from the HRM Learning & Development department.
Healthy UniversityIn addition to the annual Healthy University Week, the Healthy University programme also offers activities, and tips & tricks to remain healthy and relaxed at work.
Confidential counsellors and university doctorsIf staff members and managers cannot reach an agreement, they can get help from confidential counsellors or university doctors.
To measure is to know
We use a number of methods to investigate the impact of our policy and initiatives:
- Staff monitor
- P&D interviews
- Risk inventory and evaluation
- Signals from HR departments and confidential counsellors
This allows us to measure whether the gap between the current and the desired work pressure level is decreasing, overtime hours are being reduced, and the general task load is manageable. We also check whether specific job groups or units are suffering from work pressure, so that we can adjust our policy aims accordingly.