In 2019, ULiège committed itself to an institutional policy of improving well-being. Various measures have been taken in this direction.

In accordance with the legislation, the University already had various mechanisms in place for the prevention and management of work-related psychosocial risks, such as the Psycho-Social Risk Unit (Cellule Risques Psychosociaux), “people of trust”, the return-to-work procedure and the reintegration pathway. However, the feeling of malaise and conflict situations were increasing within the Institution. 

Well-being and health at work are no longer conceived simply as the absence of illness or psychological or social tensions, but as the quality of the interactions between an individual and their environment.  Organisational management policy therefore plays a central role in maintaining and improving well-being at work. Strategic choices, and the way problems are tackled, largely determine the state of well-being at work.

In this respect, the management of universities with a fixed budget has increased evaluation: evaluation of research, teaching, quality, skills, etc. This, with the corollary of a massive increase in the rules of action and control. The result has been an increase in stress and competition, and a feeling of mistrust within and between administrations and faculties. Although evaluation is useful for assessing one's own performance, it must not become an end in itself; it must be a lever for action and must be accompanied by training and support for progress.

The analysis carried out in recent years on the basis of the rate of absenteeism, complaints and requests for help has highlighted: 

  • the difficulty of balancing the expectations and priorities of individuals, administrative departments and faculties
  • the lack of clarity regarding evolving roles and functions 
  • the lack of collaboration and consultation in resolving problem situations that affect workers' health
  • long response times in the face of accelerating research
  • the lack of coordination regarding decisions.

Reducing Competition and Promoting Solidarity 

In order to correct this trajectory, the authorities have chosen, on the one hand, to reduce competition by introducing a new organisation at the level of resource distribution, and, on the other hand, to increase the means available for both research and teaching in order to promote solidarity. 

Many measures have been taken in response to the problems identified.  These include:

  • the authorities taking charge of latent situations of hyper-conflict
  • strengthening of the Psycho-Social Risk Unit for better internal handling of problematic situations 
  • strengthening the HR department to clarify roles and functions 
  • the development of flexible consultation mechanisms between the authorities, the services and the users 
  • adapting training courses 
  • promoting awareness campaigns: #RESPECT, Gardons le contact !
  • adopting an addiction regulation 
  • setting up projects to promote cooperation and mutual aid
  • institutionalising teleworking 
  • the development of management charts to adjust action priorities over time.

Beyond a legal obligation, the institutional policy statement on well-being is much more than a simple statement.  It is intended to be a guide that evolves as progress is made and moves towards greater organisational justice.  The process must be iterative and aim to improve the organisation, in its broadest sense, in agreement with the people who contribute to it and in favour of their development in their work and life context.    

 

Prof. Anne-Sophie NYSSEN

Vice-Rector in charge of Education and Welfare

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