“The opening of the academic year was about sustainability,” says Fred Zijlstra, professor of Work and Organisational Psychology and closely involved in the survey. “How can we live here and not deplete the earth. Our question is: how can we ensure that UM employees enjoy coming to work without becoming expended.” The focus of the existing personnel policies is not on ‘excellence’ as it was years ago, but on “sustainable employability and inclusivity,” director of Human Resources, Antoon Vugts, adds. He and Zijlstra developed the questionnaire together with diversity manager Constance Sommerey, researcher Bram Fleuren and Andries de Grip, director of the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA). It is the first time that for such a large-scale HR survey use was made of expertise that was available in-house.
The questions are about work pressure, sense of belonging (inclusivity), mobility, leadership, feeling safe, possibility of learning, career planning, vitality, how ‘family-friendly the UM is’, et cetera. “All issues that are important to sustainable employability,” says Vugts. “Continuing to learn, development and mobility are important.”
Some questions encourage participants to think about others, says diversity manager Sommerey: “What do you think, is the UM a good employer for non-Dutch people? Non-Limburg people? People with a different (other than Christian) religious background?” Other questions address the employees directly, says Vugts. “Suppose someone says that he or she has not had a performance interview in years. We then ask: what did you do yourself to make this discussible?”
At the end of the employee experience survey, “there is another door,” says Zijlstra. “Behind that door we ask very personal questions - participation is voluntary - but we urge everyone to also complete this last part. The thing is that we want to know if there is a connection between the answers and belonging to a certain minority group. Does it make a difference if you are Muslim, gay, have a certain skin colour or are a single parent? Maybe a certain group feels less safe or less accepted, then we can adapt our policies to that.” He emphasises that the answers are “absolutely anonymous and cannot be traced back to individuals”.
On the basis of the results, the researchers want to propose that faculties and service centres set up so-called focus groups. Zijlstra: “Together with them, we can see if they recognise the bottlenecks and we work with them on finding possible solutions.” Ultimately it is our aim to further develop the present general HR policies. Vugts: “We plan on offering three leadership courses at the new Staff Career Center. The survey will provide us with input for the content of this course. The same goes for the new-style annual interviews. Or the diversity agenda.”
The five hope that a PR campaign in the form of posters and e-mail messages will result in a response rate of 60 per cent. Vugts: “With pervious satisfaction surveys, which we bought from third parties, the response rate was between 20 and 30 per cent.”