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To be known as a welcoming, learning, connected and engaged environment: that is how the VUB wants to distinguish itself from other employers. A few months ago, we conducted a survey to find out how you feel about working at the VUB. The outcome indicated some points for improvement, resulting in a more in-depth well-being survey running from mid-August. Well-being expert and colleague, Elke Van Hoof, tells you all about it.

 

“With an average score of 7.2 out of 10, VUB is clearly doing well,” quipped Elke. “But, the survey also showed that only three out of ten colleagues would recommend our university to their own children. We should not beat about the bush: we have our work cut out, especially regarding work pressure, development possibilities and bureaucracy. Therefore, over the next few months, we are going find ways to help our colleagues with these issues.”

 

Help us by voicing your concerns

On 20 August 2018, we will launch an in-depth well-being survey, running until mid-September.

 “It will only take 30 minutes of your time to share your thoughts”, Elke added. “It may seem long, but we want to be as thorough as possible in assessing risk groups. This survey focuses on three themes: general well-being at work and home, physical health and diversity. We really want to know how you are and why. Based on your specific experiences, we would be able to identify issues that we need to address.”

 

In order to help colleagues complete the survey, we will organise events in the computer rooms. More information to follow in August. “The aim of this well-being survey is to reach and engage as many employees as possible. Every single person should get the chance to contribute to an optimally functioning work place at the VUB,” Elke concluded.

 

What happens after the survey?

External statisticians will process the results anonomously. Followed by lengthy discussions with the Committee for Prevention and Safety at Work (CPBW) as well as the Academic Council and Board of Directors. The aim? To develop practical actions to improve the well-being of all VUB employees.

 

“Based on this exercise, we will develop a global well-being plan for all functions by the end of this year,” Elke said. “This includes an action plan for 2019, which we will evaluate and amend every year thereafter. At the New Year’s meeting on 7 January 2019, we will introduce the well-being plan, action plan for the year and results of the survey. We want to be open and transparent.”

 

More relevant in the academic context

As a university and research institution, the VUB faces specific challenges, which makes this survey even more relevant. “We all know that the academic world is extremely competitive,” according to Elke. “You have the ‘publish or perish’ phenomenon, and competition is not only an internal but also an external problem. Whilst VUB colleagues compete with each other for promotion, they do not want to portray themselves as being ‘better than someone else’. Moreover, the career path of a researcher at a university offers fewer opportunities than the public or private sector. So, as internal mobility is limited, people tend to feel frustrated.”

 

“On top of that, the media landscape is constantly changing,” Elke added. “Our colleagues spend a lot of time and energy on their research, which then sometimes appears in the media in a superficial or inaccurate way. Consequently, it has an impact on their mental well-being which should not be underestimated. Lest we forget our technical and administrative staff. They too are under enormous pressure: they have to work more efficiently with fewer means.”

 

“In short,” Elke concluded, “as employees of an academic institution, everyone will benefit if we  address well-being at work in a comprehensive and transparent manner. So, this detailed well-being survey gives you the perfect opportunity to do just that!”

 

To be continued …

Shortly, you will receive more practical information about the well-being survey. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact Elke Van Hoof: elke.van.hoof@vub.be.