This section of the HR toolkit informs executives about Radboud University's policy for alleviating excessive workload and provides an overview of the support available to employees.

Work pressure has been high on the agenda within Radboud University for a long time. In 2018, a university-wide working group of administrators, academics and policy staff formulated a multi-year action plan on this topic after conducting an internal analysis. Excessive workload is a complaint that our staff, mainly the academic staff, unfortunately experience to a greater or lesser extent. There are several causes for this, which are divided into demands (for example the amount of tasks and quality standards) and (inadequate) resources (for example autonomy, (social) support from colleagues and supervisors and participation opportunities).

Results from a university-wide survey show that, on average, employees experience excessive workload due to excessive task demands. This gives reason to put effort into a good discussion between supervisor, team and individual employees on the workload. If appropriate, this can be followed up by reducing the workload, unnecessary peak workload, too heavy responsibilities and competitive and/or performance pressure. At the component and unit level, other or additional issues may obviously arise, such as issues of control options, social support and personal workload.

The central HR division offers expertise on this topic. Jacqueline Heijen, policy advisor, manages the file and is always willing to help think about workload policies.


Optimise your organisation and policies through the five lines of action

The Radboud-wide workload reduction work plan recommends five action lines. These action lines serve as instruments to realise improvements in a structured way both centrally and decentrally. Below, each action line is briefly described and referred to concrete measures.

a) Less bureaucracy, fewer rules

  • Work pressure at Radboud University is partly the result of administration and bureaucracy. How can we be smarter about it and how do we guard the balance between accountability and autonomy?
  • Concrete measures: click here.


b) ) A simple, effective teaching organisation

  • More students and other forms of funding put pressure on education and our formation. Therefore, we focus on what is really needed for good education and on the quality of our offer. Ensure clear and realistic standards in allocating tasks and in assessing staff.
  • Concrete measures: click here.


c) Stability in education

  • Stability is the key to good education. That means improving, not constantly changing. Education (innovation) is often time-consuming, at the expense of research. That is why it is important to make education more effective, without compromising on quality: only innovate when necessary and, above all, avoid parallel innovation. In addition, we focus on appointing, retaining and supporting well-qualified staff. We strive for realistic task allocations and assessment standards.
  • Concrete measures: click here.


d) Appreciation for education

  • Increase job satisfaction by better matching personal interests and qualities and by rewarding excellent teaching with career advancement.
  • Concrete measures: click here.


e) Workload reduction in research

  • Workload is affected by the scanty grant environment and the amount of work it takes to win grants. Moreover, performance requirements place an emphasis on quantity rather than quality. Young university staff experience work pressure due to job insecurity and the need for profiling.
  • Concrete measures: click here.

Team and individual

Further exploration of problems, causes and solutions


a) Have a conversation with your employee about his/her work package, habits and needs

  • Openly (continuing to) discuss this issue with your employee(s) and then linking this to concrete agreements is a crucial factor in successfully managing workload.
  • Available tips: here.


b) Organise a counselling session with an in-house coach

  • Employees can sign up for an Advisory Meeting with an advisor/coach for questions relating to vitality or career or training advice. This could be a workshop, training (internal or external) or coaching. The advisor likes to think along how someone can stimulate further development in their own work context through small initiatives.
  • Target group: individual employees.
  • More info: click hier.


c) Organising meeting with Course Card Workload 

  • Using a dialogue tool to talk together at group level. The discussion card provides tools to create and tackle work pressure. Employees can discuss their issues with each other and reach agreements to relieve each other's workload. The discussion card can be used independently, both physically and online; the steps speak for themselves. For the participants, it provides insight into their bottlenecks and helps each other find solutions. In two hours, they go through several steps: from looking at triggers for workload to making agreements together to relieve workload.
  • Target group: groups of employees.
  • More info and request call card: click here.

Promote carrying capacity employee(s)


a) Participation in Vitality programme Fit@Work

  • Workshops to improve work ability, vitality and wellbeing by promoting a healthy and vital lifestyle.
  • Target group: all employees.
  • More info and registration: click hier.


b) Team coaching

  • Want to work with your team to develop together and manage workload together? You can contact the advisers/coaches of the SBO (Strategy, Policy and Training) department. They can guide you and your team or advise you on how to take up team coaching.
  • Target group: all employees.


c) Participation in specific training, e-learning or other development activity on gROW

  • Sample of offerings: time management, sleeping better, dealing with workload and stress and self-insight - key to your career.
  • Target group: all employees.
  • To be found on the Vitality/Wellbeing Channel.


d) Participation in specific activities to promote physical and mental well-being through Radboud Sports Centre

  • Besides the regular sports offer, the sports centre offers various Body & Mind activities for employees such as: mindfulness, meditation, tai chi, yoga and pilates.
  • Target group: all employees.
  • More info: click here.


e) Participation in specific activities to promote mental wellbeing through Student Church

  • Various activities such as: meditation, mindfulness, retreats, silence walks.
  • Target group: all employees.
  • More info: click here.

Targeted support to prevent bigger problems


a) Campus psychologist consultation

  • If an employee experiences a lot of stress, anxiety or gloom in relation to work, it is possible to speak to the campus psychologist. This will help with personal problems that lead to work-related complaints.
  • Target group: employees with work-related psychosocial complaints. One to ten consultations.
  • More info: click here.


b) Visiting consultation hours company doctor or company social worker

  • If you want advice on preventing health risks at work, your employee can visit the company doctor's preventive consultation hour.
  • Target group: employees with urgent, work-related health concerns.
  • More info: click here.


c) Talking with a vitality coach

  • You work with your coach on resilience, motivation and energy. Examples: how do I deal with stress, how do I get more energy, enjoyment and relaxation in my work, how do I get a better grip on my work, how do I create more focus during work?
  • target group: accessible to all employees 
  • For more info: click here.


Additional information

On RadboudNet you will find a comprehensive page on workload including concrete measures to reduce work pressure. You will also find the latest tips, advice and best practices.