6.2 Human Resources

In 2021, the themes of Recognition and Appreciation, Connected Leading, Performance and Talent Development (P&TD), and employability were approached in a more integrated manner from within the overarching vision of “Use (Y)our Talents!” Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the focus was also on community building and hybrid working. Actions emerging from the employee well-being surveys held during the pandemic period (May and December 2020) were set up in 2021, particularly on the themes of workload, health/well-being, and contact. We also devoted attention to diversity, inclusion, social safety, and participation (for more information on these points, see Section 6.5 Diversity and Inclusion), as well as to encouraging sustainable behavior on the part of staff (for more information on this point, see Section 6.9 Campus Services).

Use (Y)our Talents!

We give staff members the opportunity to invest in their talents. They have the opportunity to develop their strengths further, and then to use them as individuals, as team members, and for our University as a whole. We have translated this ambition into the overarching vision “Use (Y)our Talents!”

Recognition and Appreciation

The results of the dialogue sessions on Recognition and Appreciation that were held with the Schools underscore the needs of our staff for more equal appreciation of talents in the fields of teaching, research, social impact, and leadership, with attention to cooperation in teams. To this end, and within the national framework of Recognition and Appreciation and our own Use (Y)our Talents!, we are working to achieve system and culture change that will contribute to the following:

  • Diversification of career paths

  • Recognition of both the individual talents of our staff members and cooperation in teams

  • Focus on quality in criteria for recruitment, selection, development, and promotion

  • Enabling the creation and promotion of Open Science

  • Promoting and providing opportunities for staff members to develop personal and formal leadership

In 2021, we reached consensus on our basic principles for Recognition and Appreciation. These principles provide a strong base for further implementation. We have adopted the following priority areas for 2022:

  • Elaborating job profiles and career paths (including criteria)

  • Developing and managing talent

  • Coaching of supervisors

In 2021, broad dialogue sessions between the Schools were organized around Recognition and Appreciation. During these online sessions, scholars used the ambition document entitled Room for Everyone's Talent: The Tilburg University Ambition to discuss the aspects of their work that deserve more recognition and appreciation. In short videos, several scholars also told what they hope Recognition and Appreciation will mean for their careers, for Tilburg University, and for science. The questions and concerns emerging during the dialogue sessions are addressed in a summary of frequently asked questions. In the second half of 2021, we also initiated the publication of experience stories highlighting examples, discussing dilemmas, and the words of role models.

Connected Leading

We believe it is important for our employees to take responsibility for their own work and careers, thereby strengthening their personal leadership. To support staff and supervisors, we offer training, workshops, coaching, and mentoring. In 2021, the EB, together with Deans and directors, worked hard on team development within the Connected Leading program. Last year, several teams also worked on professional support with the aim of getting to know each other better, having a good dialogue, working from strengths, and giving and receiving feedback. The need for this has been reinforced by various factors, including the need for remote working due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is particularly the case when new colleagues join the team. Working (or continuing to work) together on team development is therefore very important to proper performance.

Team development

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a large share of the time in the past year was spent working remotely. New colleagues were shown around our University through a screen and, in many cases, they had not yet met their team members in person. For many teams, this distance created a need for time for the team—time to get to know each other better personally, as well as in terms of work. In the past year, Connected Leading has supported teams in this regard by organizing team sessions and by providing a toolbox containing a variety of exercises and instructional formats.

Performance and Talent Development

We consider it very important for supervisors and staff to discuss development and careers with each other, and to continue doing so. We strive for continuous dialogue and feedback, focusing on the strengths of staff members. To assist supervisors and staff with these conversations, the new digital P&TD cycle was introduced. In 2021, we initiated pilot projects within the various Schools and divisions. In all, 387 staff members held P&TD conversations in 2021. In addition, 11 supervisors followed a training course on conducting a good conversation. This will be continued in 2022.


We value ensuring that employees are able to work (and continue to work) in a healthy and pleasant manner. To this end, we like to use job creation, which allows staff members to think about their range of tasks and make optimal use of their talents.

We also make shared agreements on promoting employability and internal mobility. In 2021, the division directors arrived at commitment to a set of common and shared principles, with an integrated approach at their core. Based on these principles, the legal frameworks and working arrangements for internal mobility will be elaborated further in 2022, and efforts will be directed toward setting up a project pool.


Our ambition is to have a healthy and meaningful working climate. Workload is and will remain an important point of attention in this regard. To achieve this ambition, we will continue to work together to find a workload approach that suits both the University as a whole and the individual Schools. The EB has asked Deans to enter into a School-wide discussion with staff about workload (and how it should be approached). These outcomes will be discussed in 2022. Sharing these returns will allow us to continue talking about workload and to work together to find solutions.

Support to help make workload manageable (or more manageable) for staff members, teams, and supervisors continued in 2021. A brochure entitled Gezond aan het Werk (Healthy at Work) has been developed to provide starting points for recognizing, discussing, and addressing workload.

We have noted that COVID-19 has added to the workload. This was indicated by surveys of employee well-being during the coronavirus pandemic (conducted in May and December). We have therefore released 15 FTE for student employees, allocated funds for the renewal of scholars’ contracts, and launched IMPULS funds to recruit additional lecturers amounting to 40/50 FTE. We aim to use the 2022 staff monitor to examine whether these measures have had the desired effect.

Community building

We provide a working climate that is characterized by attention to each other, well-being, and connection. As a University community, we have made agreements with each other that will help us persevere under the current circumstances: the Golden Rules. We also have a buddy system and vitality programs, as well as a helpline for employees who are experiencing mental health complaints. Workplaces are available on campus for vulnerable groups. For teams, we offer support through a toolbox containing instructional formats and exercises.

Tilburg Young Academy

The Tilburg Young Academy (TYA) is one of our new communities in 2021. This first year was used to become an established, self-governing body of 12 talented early-career researchers from the various Schools of Tilburg University. The TYA collaborated with Grant Support to introduce alternative ways of funding research for academics at Tilburg University. Unfortunately, in today’s competitive environment, many excellent research proposals from young academics are ultimately rejected. The TYA has worked and will continue to work with Grant Support to search for options outside of the regular funding opportunities offered by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and the European Research Council (ERC).

The first campus-wide TYA event was supposed to take place in 2021: the Prizeless Ideas event. The purpose of the event was to celebrate all aspects of being a young academic at Tilburg University and to support young academics in their daily work and lives. Due to COVID-19 restrictions in the weeks leading up to the event, however, it was decided to postpone the event until spring/summer 2022.

One concern of the TYA in 2021 was the new Collective Labor Agreement. In a statement, the TYA invited the EB and School Boards to show courage and empathy in the implementation of the new Collective Labor Agreement and to be generous in granting permanent contracts, both now and in the future. In addition to these initiatives, TYA members have also made active contributions to steering groups and consultative meetings, including in the areas of Recognition and Appreciation, Catholic Identity, Education, Ecosystems, and Digital Sciences.

Hybrid working

Working independently of location and partly independent of time: that is hybrid working. Maintaining a sense of community and strengthening and securing the quality of work is of paramount concern in this regard. As a University, we provide the basic conditions for hybrid working. Examples include ergonomic home offices, flexible workstations, and technical meeting facilities. We help teams to make agreements by providing a toolkit and dialogue starters. In addition, we support supervisors and staff in successful hybrid collaboration.

Read the story of Ajanee (photograph on the left)