The ambitions and challenges of HR

Heavy workloads, social safety, recognition and rewards: the HR landscape is more extensive and challenging than ever. How does Radboud University deal with today’s HR issues? Eveline (left), HR Manager Operations, and Elian (right), HR Manager of the Faculty of Science, talk about the ambitions and challenges of HR within Radboud University.

How is HR organised within Radboud University?

Eveline en Elian in conversation with each other

Eveline: "Within Radboud University, we have a single, unified HR division. This division includes experts who develop HR policies for the entire university, set up development opportunities for all employees, handle payroll processing, and manage HR processes. Additionally, our faculties, units, and central departments each have their HR advisory teams that address HR issues at the faculty or unit level. Together, we form the HR column within Radboud University, serving our more than six thousand employees."

The different characters of the faculties and the interplay with the central departments makes the work environment at Radboud University extra interesting.

What are the advantages of this type of organisation? 

Elian: “From a faculty perspective, it’s great to be so close to the organisation, which means that supervisors and staff members can always drop in if they have a question or a problem. We advise as best we can on the entire scope of HR, but it’s a real luxury to be able to call in an expert on a certain topic from within the division. This helps us to learn from one another and work together to develop even better HR services.

Eveline: "To provide even better HR services, we work closely together as an HR column. There are discussions at operational, tactical, and strategic levels about the challenges we face. Each year, we select the most important strategic themes on which we make joint progress. It is important to consider the unique identity and issues of each faculty. Customisation is necessary to focus on the right matters. This means that an HR expert from the division can write a policy document, while still allowing for faculty-specific emphases."

Elian: “At the Faculty of Science, for example, internationalisation is a big part of our identity, while the Faculty of Law has a more national focus. Our differences make the work environment at Radboud University extra interesting. And we all have different work environments, so we can look at an issue from different angles when doing joint HR projects.”

The university carries out important research, and you contribute indirectly to that as an HR professional.

What is HR’s ambition at Radboud University?

Eveline: "The HR strategy is: the best place for you to work. That you feel at home in the work you do and on the campus. That your talents are fully utilised and you have control over your employability and career. And that the university, in its role as employer, is attentive to your vitality and well-being. This ambition is reflected in themes across the entire university, such as recognition and rewards, social safety, personal leadership, and diversity, equality, and inclusion. HR is involved in all these issues."

Elian: “We also try to be the best employer for everyone, including people with a disability or those at a greater distance from the labour market. Within my team, for example, there’s a staff member who has a severe hearing impairment. Together we look at what work suits him best. We try to do this for everyone in a similar fashion."

What are the major HR challenges we’ll address in the next few years?

A portrait photo of Eveline Huis in 't Veld

Eveline: "Social safety is an important issue that is also very prominent in society. This theme is on our agenda for the next two years and has been shaped into an action plan. At Radboud University, we will be working on the culture of interaction, the organisational structure, and the support system. As a university, we have an important role in this area. We are preparing 25,000 students for their societal roles, and we want to equip them for the world beyond the campus in other ways as well."

Elian: “At the Faculty of Science, we organised a successful afternoon for the management which focused on social safety and involved the help of a theatre group. The scenarios they portrayed were so convincing that it felt like you were experiencing them yourself. Everyone got involved straight away and continued to talk about it afterwards. It shows that policy documents aren’t always the solution, but that seeing and feeling something has a much greater impact.” 

Eveline: "In addition to social safety, we are working on talent development, reducing workload, and making career paths clearer for both academic and non-academic staff. Our HR services are also important, and my team is looking at how we can make our processes more efficient and improve the employee experience."

As an HR professional, I never have to be afraid that I, or my people, will have to give counterintuitive advice.

Why do you like working at Radboud University?

Een foto van Elian in gesprek

Elian: “I enjoy working at an organisation with a connection to science. The university carries out important research, and you contribute indirectly to that as an HR professional. Working in a scientific organisation means you’re surrounded by smart people, which challenges you to make a compelling argument. There’s also a great atmosphere throughout the organisation and I feel our HR policy is quite humane. If a poor performance or dismissal case unexpectedly arises, there is scope to take the time necessary to resolve the matter respectfully. As an HR professional, I never have to be afraid that I, or my people, will have to give counterintuitive advice. That’s very important to me as an HR manager, but it’s especially important to me as someone who works in HR.”

Eveline: "Two years ago, I transitioned to the university from the commercial sector because I wanted to work for an organisation with a greater societal impact. As HR, we indirectly support the important research conducted here and the education of thousands of students. In this way, we all contribute to the university's mission: a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. Having studied at Radboud University, I find it a great international work environment where autonomy, collaboration, and work-life balance are key principles. I enjoy working at Radboud University because of the challenging HR issues we face and how we, as the HR column, collectively shape our approach to addressing these issues."

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