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Executive Board column: How can we act on the results of the Personnel Monitor?

The results of the Personnel Monitor 2022 are out. Now the ball is in all of our courts. What does the Monitor tell us and how can we act on it? I hope that as an organisation we can get a good dialogue going as the first step towards improvement.

In this column Annetje Ottow, Hester Bijl and Martijn Ridderbos give a peek behind the scenes at the Executive Board of Leiden University. What does their work involve? What makes them enthusiastic? What challenges do they face? Building a healthy and engaged learning community begins with sharing what you are up to. This time it’s Martijn Ridderbos’s turn.

Let me start by saying how pleased we as the Executive Board are with the higher response rate to the Personnel Monitor. It’s great to see how more and more of our colleagues are taking the time and effort to complete it, from across the entire University: from the faculties to the expertise centres. A big thank you to you all!

Best possible work and study environment

In terms of the responses, there are also some points to be positive about. It is good to see that our staff value their immediate working environment and managers, and feel accepted for who they are. And if that is not the case, they also know in general where to turn. The latter is an important point which we have put a lot of energy into in recent years. But things don’t always go well and this is something we also have to learn lessons from. We will have to intensify our efforts to create the best possible work and study environment, one where everyone feels valued and appreciated.

It is dismaying to see that pride in our organisation has decreased and our staff feel less committed to the University. Why is this? What could be the cause? For me personally pride comes about when you enjoy your work and are inspired by colleagues to create something exceptional together. And when you feel you have been able to contribute to this and thus to our fantastic university. It is a feeling that I myself experience in my work – and a feeling that I very much wish for all of my colleagues.

Talk about the ‘nots’

The high workload of our staff and managers continues to be a complicated issue that is high on our and everyone’s agenda. We will continue our discussions with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science about extra funding that we can use to resolve this. The new starter and incentive grants are good examples of this. But it continues to be an enormous puzzle. I myself think that at our university we should talk more often about the ‘nots’: instead of all the extra things we could do, we should talk about all the things we should not do anymore. But that is easier said than done, particularly in an academic community full of curious, enthusiastic people who want to support one another as well as possible.

And there are many other concerns. I really do see strengthening the connection between academic and supporting staff as being one of our tasks, for example. And it is worrying that our international colleagues feel less at home at the University.

Doing this differently this time

How will we follow up on these results? In the past we mainly focused on making an action plan but things like that take a lot of time and end up being little else than words on paper. With this Monitor we are therefore doing things differently. We will obviously set to work with the faculties and expertise centres. But by sharing the results online right away, we are hoping to get the conversation going as soon as possible.

I realise this asks something from all of us. We ask our managers to create a safe environment in which such a dialogue can take place. But we are aware that we already ask a lot of them and will therefore look for ways to actively support them next year. One such way is by holding webinars in the second week of January that will help them get the dialogue going about the Monitor.

We ask our staff to take a good look at the results and have the courage to ask critical questions. This can be daunting, but I would like to ask you to do so anyway. Don’t keep your opinion to yourself, but discuss it with a colleague, manager, HR or a confidential counsellor: whoever you feel most comfortable with.


As the Board we care about the results of the Monitor. I would therefore like to see them being discussed in every team meeting, throughout the entire organisation, in the coming months. What do we think? What is going well and what could be improved? I am convinced that we can move forward together. Change comes when you and I decide it is necessary, when we want and dare to talk about it, and when we are willing to take action to change something, however small. I look forward to being part of this!

Share your thoughts on this column by sending an email to nieuws@leidenuniv.nl.

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