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Majority of staff is satisfied; assistant professors experience most work pressure

Majority of staff is satisfied; assistant professors experience most work pressure

Results UM Sustainable Availability Monitor

MAASTRICHT. Most employees of Maastricht University are satisfied about their work and feel they have the qualities required to perform in their jobs properly. This is one of the outcomes of the Sustainable Availability Monitor that more than 2,800 employees completed last autumn.

Good scores, according to the Maastricht researchers (in-house expertise was used for this large-scale HR survey), but the differences between individuals are great. Work pressure, age and the balance between work and private life play a great role in the degree of satisfaction. The feeling of being included also has an influence, as does a safe atmosphere at work.

The turnout of 63 per cent (2,839) is approximately what the initiators - including professor of Work & Organisational Psychology Fred Zijlstra and HR director Antoon Vugts - had hoped beforehand. Moreover, many participants (2,097) also answered the personal questions (which were voluntary) about aspects such as inclination, religion, health or home situation.   

One of the important points in the survey is whether people feel included.  When it comes to ‘inclusivity’ the average score was good again. Nevertheless, a small group (3.2 per cent, “a small percentage, but this is about a hundred people,” Vugts emphasises) indicates not to feel at home (at all), while more than 10 per cent feels that the UM as an organisation is not inclusive.

Undesirable behaviour occurs in various degrees and shapes (moderate to serious): it ranges from pestering (7.1 per cent), emotional pressure (14.1 per cent), discrimination (6.3 per cent), physical intimidation (1.7 per cent) to sexual harassment (1.3 per cent).

Needless to say, the issue of work pressure is present too. Complaints on this subject have been present at the UM for years and despite action to reduce this, it continues to be a problem. Thirty-seven per cent of the employees experience this to be high or very high. Strikingly, assistant professors suffer most, followed by PhD students.

A clear connection has been found between age and work pressure. The group in their forties – in the peak of their lives, with a career as well as (relatively) small children - find it tougher than their younger or older colleagues. Other predictors of higher work pressure are a competitive culture, or trouble organising and planning.

At the initiative of the Taskforce Workload & Career - which already looked into work pressure in 2017 and concluded that the assistant professors and associate professors suffer most - so-called ‘action-oriented reflection groups’ (of eight to ten people) will be set up for the service centres and faculties. These groups will reflect on the advises of the Taskforce, as well as think about possible solutions. The ultimate goal is to further develop the present general HR policy.  






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