External advisor investigates culture at HR department
MAASTRICHT. There have been rumblings within Maastricht University’s HR department for some time. Employees apparently do not feel safe, there is supposed to be dissatisfaction about those in charge. An external advisor is now investigating the culture within HR, at the request of the HR management team and the Executive Board.
When Antoon Vugts started as HR director in June 2017, he had great plans. In his own words, he found a department that had “been neglected for ten years,” he told Observant, as a result of which the sixty employees did not work according to “modern standards” and often were “the management’s accomplices”. Together with UMIO (post-graduate education), he set up a two-year course for HR advisors and stated: “This will not be a voluntary route; it will have to be visible in practice. It is also possible that not everyone will succeed.” He also wanted to tackle the digitalisation of the HRM processes, set up leadership courses and change the set-up of the performance and assessment interviews. HR advisors would have to start thinking ‘in a more policy-based way’.
All those plans seem to be taking their toll. A lot has happened within the department in the last three years, conclude Vugts and his MT now in an e-mail to all employees, many “great steps have been taken”, but here and there change has “stagnated”. That is the reason why, in consultation with the Executive Board, it has been decided to carry out a culture scan, carried out by external advisor Dick de Bruijn – a relationship and family therapist from Amsterdam, also a mediator. He will speak with a cross section of the employees.
Important questions that will be dealt with include: How did all those changes feel? But also, as is explained in the e-mail: “How is the role of the leadership experienced within the HR department? Where are the persisting feelings of ‘insecurity’ coming from that can be heard in the department? What is working well and what should we definitely not change at the moment?”
It is tremendously important that employees feel safe, De Bruijn states in an accompanying letter to the employees. Prior to all this, he spoke with rector Rianne Letschert, HR director Antoon Vugts, and others. The outcome of the “culture scan will be processed anonymously; it will not be possible to link statements to specific individuals”.
The results are expected in November and will be discussed with the Executive Board and the HR department.