Organisation - December 15, 2011

VHL staff have their say about the future

- Staff can take part in discussions about VHL's future.
- Outcome will be taken seriously by Executive Board.

On 18 January all VHL staff will get an opportunity to have their say on their organization's strategy. This is the agreement reached by the Employees' Council and the Applied University's directors. The focus of the meeting will be a vision for VHL's future. This so-called ‘inviting prospect' will be drawn up by the VHL directors and management team next week and circulated to all members of staff before Christmas. Those attending the meeting on 18 January will be able to say what they think of it, and an opinion poll will be taken among staff either at or after the meeting.
The staff meeting is a follow-up to the first phase of the investigation into levels of support within VHL, currently being carried out by Ten Have Change Management (THCM). It was clear from this that there is a lack of trust among staff but also a lack of understanding of the strategy. The idea was to tackle the latter problem with the VHL-wide ‘awayday', during which opinions about the management team's vision will be polled.
Spokesperson for the directors Simon Vink refuses to call it a ‘referendum' but he confirms that staff opinion will definitely be taken into account when deciding on the applied sciences university's future. The outcome will also influence the setup for the second phase of the investigation into support.
Chairman of the Employees' Council Hans Bezuijen thinks considerable weight should be given to the meeting. He says it will show clearly where staff stand in this conflict, which has been going on for at least a year. He thinks the second phase should only start if the document has been approved by a majority. ‘If on the other hand the overwhelming majority don't see the point of partnership with Wageningen UR, a split should be seen as a serious option.'
Even so, the Council leader is moderately optimistic. ‘The atmosphere has improved, partly thanks to Ten Have's positive role. The directors have picked up on it. There is a glimmer of hope.' The Executive Board sees positive developments too, according to Vink. ‘It is all still very fragile, but it is pure gain to see the management team making an active effort to work out the details of a partnership with Wageningen UR.'
Linda van der Nat and Rob Goossens