Employees are happy with the uni, but work satisfaction is down

UG employees experience approximately the same level of satisfaction working at the university as they did four years ago. However, work stress has not decreased, while employees’ enjoyment of and pride in their work has gone down.

These are the results of an employee survey which were published on Tuesday. Interestingly, employees give the UG an overal grade of 7.5, but they’re less happy with the university as an employer, giving it a 7.1.

In that category, PhD candidates and post-doctoral researchers are happier with the universities than lecturers, assistant professors, and associate professors.

The survey also includes comparisons to eight other Dutch universities. While the results are quite close (people scored working at the various universities between a 7.3 and a 7.8 and rated the university as an employer with grades ranging from 7.1 to 7.8), the UG stands out as having one of the lower overall scores.

Vitality, pride, and enjoyment are down

Employees’ vitality and pride in and enjoyment of their work are down compared to the previous survey from 2019. In 2019, employees graded the statement ‘I can mentally handle my workload’ with an average of 4 out of 5; this year, they gave it a 3.8.

The statement ‘I am proud of the work that I do’ received a 3.8, down from 4.1, and the statement ‘I enjoy my work’ went from 4.1 to 3.7.

Social safety

In this particular employee survey, the UG put some extra focus on social safety, asking about people’s personal experiences with inappropriate behaviour, as well as any behaviour they’d observed.

The survey shows that 19 percent of employees have personally experienced inappropriate behaviour. That’s a slight increase from 2019, when it was 16 percent.

Taking action

Of the people experiencing inappropriate behaviour, 64 percent took action. Only 15 percent answered ‘yes’ to the question of whether their complaint was handled to their satisfaction. 24 percent said ‘sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn’t, 28 percent said ‘no’, 13 percent said their complaint was still being processed, and 20 percent preferred not to answer.

Of the 36 percent of people who didn’t take action, most of them said it was because they didn’t trust there would be any follow-up, they didn’t know where to turn or how to lodge a complaint, or that they didn’t want to damage their working relationship.

Active bystander

The survey also expressly asked about Active Bystander Training. This training course teaches people what they can do if they see inappropriate behaviour taking place.

While the UG has been putting a lot of focus on this the past few years, 47 percent of employees were unfamiliar with the training course. Of the 53 people who did know about it, 36 percent actually participated in it.

Work stress

Concerning work stress, another oft-discussed topic at the university, nothing much has changed compared to the previous survey. Especially academic staff still experience too much work stress (42 percent) or even extreme stress (19 percent).

Compared to four years ago, the total work stress experienced has increased slightly. In both surveys, 35 percent of staff said the work stress they experienced was high. In 2019, 7 percent said it was extremely high; this year, that’s increased to 13 percent.

A total of 59 percent of people say their worked more hours than they’re contracted. Among academic staff, this percentage is 76, while 42 percent of support staff regularly works more hours. On top of that, 55 percent of all employees say they spend an average of 22 percent of their time on work that isn’t officially part of their job.

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