Organisation - November 18, 2010

Rikilt employees contented in many ways

The canteen could be warmer and the labs bigger. But other than these, there are very few rumbles of dissatisfaction in the corridors of Rikilt. How come its employees are so contented?

Rikilt employees are content
The Employee Survey 2010 - results of which were published earlier this month - shows that out of all employees of Wageningen UR, those in Rikilt, the food safety institute, have the highest number of categories where they are pleased with, concerning their work, colleagues, bosses and prospects.
A morning of wandering in its building has not produced any other impression. 'I have good colleagues and I get the facilities I need', says Stephan Stappers. 'If you have a problem, something will be done about it', adds Els te Brinke. 'And our new director talks to us regularly.'
One reason for this collegial atmosphere is the nature of the work here. 'No one is an island here', says Michel Buijsman. 'We all have our own tasks but we always need to work together in one way or another.' For example, if someone screens the samples another has to check the conclusions. 'Therefore, we have to get to know one another. And since we are dependent on one another, we care more for one another. For example, if a food crisis breaks out, everyone comes to help. If you have no work for a few days, you go up to a few people and then you have your hands full again.'
Little rivalry
One possible reason for the high satisfaction score is that Rikilt has very few financial woes and reorganizations. The redistribution of tasks between Rikilt and RIVM last year did cause some distress but the atmosphere and cooperation have remained good, says an employee. 'We don't have enough lab space; that's all. We don't have fixed places and we never know if we have access to equipment, and we sometimes have difficulty concentrating because it's so busy here.' The young researcher Guillaume also feels that the labs can be improved, but what bothers him most are breakdowns such as a broken suction system. 'Other than that, the atmosphere is relaxed and my supervisor stimulates me to do new things.'
However, a trainee or temporary worker can feel somewhat lost in the organization, says Grishja van der Veer. 'But I don't see much rivalry.' Foreign employees too don't have it always easy at Rikilt. 'The people here are not used to the fact that not everyone speaks Dutch. This situation has improved in the last few months, but it's much better at PRI', says an employee who does not want to be named.
The growth in the number of temporary workers in the last few years has resulted in less continuity in the area of professional knowhow, feels Dini Venema. She also laments that communication is often restricted to within each business unit. 'When we should be together as one institute.' However, she is pleased with the possibility to further herself in the last few years. 'We have changed from being a somewhat routine research institute into one which leads in more ways; this is great.'
More than half of the Rikilt employees (59 percent) have filled in the survey form. The director Robert van Gorcom will therefore treat everyone to a piece of cake on Thursday 18 November. He will also tell the employees more about the outcome of the survey. They have given him a 'pleasant surprise' with the results, but he also sees areas which need attention. 'The work pressure seems to have gone up somewhat, while the number of job evaluation interviews have gone down.'

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