Workload Task Force submits proposed action plan

14 December 2017

Recognising and acknowledging work pressure, identifying its causes, creating balance at work and reducing administrative complexity in internal processes: these are a few of the points included in the Action Plan by the Workload Task Force.

The proposed plan was submitted in consultation with the University Local Consultative Committee (UCLO) on 8 December.

Lines of action

At the request of the Executive Borad, the Workload Task Force has in recent months been focusing on the issue of work pressure among academic and support staff.

The working group consisted of representatives from the unions (UCLO), the representative advisory bodies (Central Works Council and Joint Works Council), P&O departments at the faculties and the central HR policy department, and was chaired by Han van Dissel, Dean of the Faculty of Economics & Business.

In the document, the working group’s key recommendations are clustered into four lines of action that are applicable across all the UvA's organisational units:

  • Identifying causes of work pressure
    On average, employees with teaching duties experience higher workloads than employees without such tasks. A better overview is needed of the standards, ambitions and job requirements in the different organisational units in relation to the available resources.
     
  • Balance between work activities
    Combining tasks (e.g. teaching, research and/or management duties) is one of the most frequently cited causes of work pressure. A good balance needs to be struck between tasks. Individual control and autonomy over one’s own work are also crucial sources of energy.
     
  • The power of simplicity
    The 2017 UvA Employee Monitor reveals that specific administrative burdens are perceived as an exacerbating factor of work pressure for academic staff. The complexity of internal processes should be reduced where possible.
     
  • Recognising and acknowledging the problem
    To deal with workload issues, discussing and clarifying the problem within teams in the workplace is a must.
     

Task Force chair Han van Dissel: ‘We have investigated the causes of work pressure which can be mitigated. This confirmed the notion that work pressure is a complex problem that doesn't have a one-size-fits-all solution. The lines of action we describe in the plan must be further elaborated and specified in concrete terms, and we propose doing this in close consultation with the faculties and service units. It is also important to focus on existing projects in the area of work pressure.’

Pragmatic approach

This pragmatic approach is indicative of the way in which the task force has developed its plans. The proposal has a long-term perspective, but emphasises measures which can be implemented in 2018. Some ‘quick-win’ measures can already be put into effect in the short term. The approach additionally focuses on causes of work pressure which can be directly mitigated. Aspects which are largely determined by external factors – such as the declining government grant for education and research – have been identified, but have not been included in the proposed solutions.

Negotiation agreement

With the task force's delivery of the Action Plan, the UvA has met the deadline for fulfilling its commitment as defined in the CAO negotiation agreement. This stipulated that all universities must, in consultation with its University Local Consultative Committee (UCLO), submit a working plan regarding work pressure and long-term employability by the end of 2017.

Published by  University of Amsterdam