Plan for work related issues

Reducing bureaucracy, increasing mutual feedback and focusing on the phenomenon of ‘dual roles’. These are just some of the issues raised in the University Action Plan, which were prompted by the results of the 2017 TU Delft Employee Survey.

(Photo: Thomas Zwart)

Nederlandse versie

The Employee Survey (in Dutch) revealed that staff are experiencing more work-related stress and that there have been numerous instances of undesirable behaviour. A plan was therefore devised by the steering committee, which is chaired by the dean of Applied Sciences, Prof. Lucas van Vliet.

  • Code of behaviour, team spirit and culture

Trust is a requirement for a pleasant and safe working environment, for which everybody is responsible. TU Delft should modify its Code of Ethics, in which the Executive Board, the deans and the directors act as role models. Each person has their own personal idea of what ‘desirable behaviour’ should be and regular discussions about people’s expectations and the code of behaviour should therefore be held.

Feedback, support and advice can all help in preventing work-related stress. Colleagues can gain a better understanding of each other when there is a mutual exchange of opinions and ideas. Staff dare to act more assertively and confront each other directly about mistakes, undesirable behaviour and non-compliance with work agreements. For this purpose, the university will bear the expense for the necessary guidance.

In the event of undesirable behaviour, managers and staff are required to act in an appropriate manner. This can be achieved by discussing the undesirable behaviour during staff meetings and one-on-one discussions, or by specifying what is meant by undesirable behaviour.

Furthermore, it is also important to refer to the university social services, university health services doctors and confidential advisers. The steering committee proposes that the group of confidential advisers is reduced in size, professionalised and professionally managed by an external party.

The steering committee calls for an office where staff can enquire about either their own or another’s well-being. In addition, the committee wishes to call attention to the phenomenon of ‘dual roles’, incompatible functions and staff who exert influence on too many staff positions. This may consequently lead to a sense of favouritism and the abuse of power. Open and transparent recruitment, selection and promotion is therefore essential.

Another piece of advice for the board is: either abolish the scores gained in the R&D Cycle (the Result and Development Cycle, Ed.) or make sure that less importance is attached to them.

  • Leadership

Managers must behave in such a way that they set a good example. They need to possess skills that can be developed so that they are able to manage, motivate and inspire their teams. The Human Resources (HR) division will be investing in leadership development, and particularly in the process of providing feedback and dealing with diversity, change and work-related stress among staff. Beyond this, managers will also be giving staff the opportunity to educate themselves sufficiently. Both parties will consequently need to comply with the agreements that are made during the R&D meeting.

  • Communication

According to the Employee Survey, staff have indicated that they would like to be notified about any decisions that pertain to their work. Managers will therefore need to ‘translate’ and share information about policies and developments. Not only should there be a greater focus on informal discussions such as those involving mutual feedback, but also on the more formal types of communication such as team and departmental meetings, faculty meetings and employee participation.

The Executive Board needs to professionalise information systems management at TU Delft, with the objective of increasing the accessibility of all of the board’s administrative documents as well as the documents from its support services. The steering committee is in favour of an open and transparent culture. Documents will only be deemed confidential where necessary.

  • Education and career prospects

Staff should look into talent development, career development and possible courses. Managers can provide them with the necessary assistance and coaching and will subsequently discuss their training preferences. Both the HR division and management will be making staff more aware of the fact that they are free to consider other jobs within TU Delft and they will also be organising an employability week, which will include lectures. Staff need to be given a clear explanation of what is needed for their self-development and which alternative career paths exist (outside of the scientific community).

  • Assistance

The steering committee has concluded that some issues, such as the quality of the teaching rooms, have already been addressed. Brightspace has been implemented and subsequently improved and there is also the Teaching Lab, which provides assistance for teachers. Timetabling could be improved on the basis of the ‘Educational Methods’ project. However, there were complaints in the Employee Survey about the lack of adequate and hygienic lactation rooms for women.

Assistance could be improved by coordinating the support services and getting them to become more customer-oriented. They should be encouraging job rotation among their staff. The systems that are used by these services should be both functional and integrated.

The steering committee recommends that any new housing plans should take optimal working conditions into account where possible. The committee also called for addressing the problem of unpleasant climates in buildings, as well as annually reviewing and, if applicable, revising the security protocol. TU Delft should invest in both security protocols and the buildings themselves so that these can be easily evacuated in the event of an emergency. According to the steering committee, outdated and unsafe buildings should either be disposed of or modified.

  • Employee participation at TU Delft

The Works Council should have scored better in the Employee Survey. The Council should be informing people about the tasks and goals of employee participation at TU Delft. The recommendations include the promotion of diversity and the counteracting of discrimination.

On 8 May, the Labour Inspectorate will be visiting TU Delft in order to research psychosocial workload, i.e. work-related stress.

News editor Connie van Uffelen

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