Science - December 9, 2004

Widespread discontent with management

Wageningen UR employees are satisfied with their own work and colleagues, but dissatisfied with the management and the representative bodies at central level. This emerges from a survey on satisfaction at work that was completed by 38 percent of the employees.

According to many employees, the executive board has little idea of what is going on on the work floor. The directors of the Sciences Groups are better informed, but the majority of respondents are not happy with them either. Employees of smaller departments are most content, such as at the statutory research bodies Rikilt and CIDC. The top bosses at Facilities Management and the IAC just get a pass, and the managers at the Animal and Environmental Sciences groups score worst.
Most employees are happy with their immediate boss, who generally speaking is well informed about what the employee is doing, keeps to agreements made and shows appreciation of the employee’s work. There are few complaints about the working atmosphere; most respondents were enthusiastic about their other colleagues, are not afraid to voice their opinions and feel that they are listened to within the department. The only negative comments in the section on ‘culture and atmosphere’ were in response to the question about cooperation with other parts of Wageningen UR.
More noticeable was that 70 percent indicated that they had problems with too much bureaucracy. Two-thirds say there are too many administrative procedures and a third complain of too many meetings. Most complaints came again from the Animal and Environmental Sciences groups.
Chairman of the Executive Board, Dr Aalt Dijkhuizen, says he is affected by the employees’ opinions about the executive board and the accusation that they do not know what is going on on the work floor. He hopes that the changes in the management model used by Wageningen UR and the recently announced plans to reduce overheads will give employees more confidence in the top managers at Wageningen UR.
It is not only the top management that scores badly, employees are not happy either with their own central representative body. Only fifteen percent of the respondents feel adequately represented by this organ. The chairman of the employees’ representative council (OR), Dr Gerrit Bruin, says he will look for new ways to get employees more involved. / KV

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