Chair Martine Gulden on the challenges a Representative Council faces

Martine Gulden
We want to make a real difference for our colleagues
Martine Gulden
Current role
Radboud Services OC chair

As an employee at Radboud Services, you want to feel represented. This is where the Radboud Services Representative Council (OC) comes in. The committee consists of a team of passionate employees who are committed to improving the work environment, the working conditions and more. In this article, Radboud Services OC chair Martine Gulden discusses the challenges facing the committee and how it deals with them.

The challenge of a highly diverse workforce

One of the biggest challenges the OC faces is representing the interests of the 1,300 people employed by Radboud Services. This is no easy task, as the committee has to deal with a wide variety of employees across six departments and multiple buildings on campus. Nevertheless, the OC aims to be of value for all employees.

The multi-faceted themes of the Radboud Services Representative Council

The Representative Council covers a wide range of themes. In recent years, for instance, the committee has focused on issues such as reorganisations and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. When doing so, they were mindful of employees who worked on campus and those active in the hospitality sector who suddenly found themselves without work.

At the moment, the work environment is the main focus of the OC. The committee is closely following projects that are investigating how the work environment can be adapted to accommodate the growing number of employees who work from home or work in a hybrid set-up.

There are also standard themes that recur annually, such as the annual plan and budget and the annual report. Risk assessment and evaluation play an important role in this, with the committee focusing on health and safety issues such as workload and safety. The OC, as an employee participation body, has right of assent with regard to the plan of action, which allows them to steer aspects such as workload.

Exercise influence

Each term, the OC sets its priorities and focus points. A key advantage of the OC is that they are able to add topics to the management agenda. To make a real difference, it is crucial to clearly define within the OC what the ultimate goal is and which processes can be influenced. The focus tends to be on process issues, such as improving communication.

For example, Radboud Services OC aims to promote clear communication, regardless of the employee's job level. Sometimes it’s necessary to adjust communication in different ways. By paying constant attention to these issues and by sharing input with management, the OC makes a real difference and ultimately improves communication.

Diversity within the OC

To properly represent the interests of all employees, it is important for the OC to be as diverse as possible. This also ensures a balanced representation of the different job levels, which in turn guarantees that the OC has broad support and can best represent the interests of all employees.

Participation expands your perspective

As an employee, why should you get involved in the participatory bodies? For the chair of the Radboud Services OC, that motivation is twofold. On the one hand, she wants to contribute to the decision-making process, and on the other, she sees it as an opportunity for personal development. Participating teaches you a lot about political decision-making and expands your field of vision, especially within a broad field like Radboud Services.

Time and support

A common question is how much time council membership takes up. As a regular member, you have two hours per week to spend on council duties and as a member of the executive board, (chairman, vice-chairman, secretary) you have four hours per week to spend on your duties. In practice, you won’t always spend exactly this much time on council tasks every week due to peak work times. Fortunately, the RU management team strongly supports the participation process and, as an OC member, you’ll be given the time you need.

In short, employee participation offers an opportunity to exercise your influence within an organisation and contribute to development and communication. It is also a great opportunity to acquire new knowledge and learn new skills. For candidates who are hesitant to run for election, Martine recommends going for it anyway or stopping by to see how the process works. It’s not a lifelong commitment and can be a valuable experience.