One step closer to the world’s leading universities. Thanks to the HR Award, we’re improving our employees’ working conditions

9 Jun 2022 Jana Sosnová

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More than a hundred employees of the Faculty of Economics and Administration (FEA) have taken courses to hone soft and managerial skills over the past year, and over thirty newcomers have experienced an improved adaptation process. We are now learning about regulations using an electronic system, which allows us to better plan our working time. And we have not forgotten our foreign colleagues, for whom we prepare documents and important communications in English. Thanks to the HR Award project, which has been running at the FEA for more than a year, we are constantly improving the working conditions of our employees.

The FEA received the HR Award last spring. It is awarded to research institutions by the European Commission and obliges recipients to systematically improve the working conditions of scientists and other employees. Fulfilling the objectives of the HR Award helps both in everyday working life and in some grant competitions. “We don’t want to merely tick off the HR Award as a formality. We really do want to continuously improve the working conditions of our employees, from whom we’re already receiving positive feedback,” explains Jiří Špalek, Dean of the FEA.

Petra Ježová – HR manager and coordinator of the HR Award project

In the past year, we have been striving for improvement especially in the areas of HR, internationalisation, and digitalisation. “Through improved recruitment and adaptation processes, a more transparent evaluation system and more effective training, we’re trying to reach the level of other world universities,” says Petra Ježová, HR manager and coordinator of the HR Award project. Employees can now go online to sign contracts and learn about current regulations, which speeds up administrative processes and also saves them time. We are also currently introducing specific procedures to address and prevent sexual harassment. English versions of policy documents in turn facilitate orientation for foreign colleagues, like the Ukrainian female academics who recently joined the faculty.

The HR Award includes, among other things, support for parents returning from maternity or parental leave. Teachers can apply for the Career Restart programme, which facilitates the path back to a scientific career. We are also currently collaborating on the creation of Elanek – a new children's group for children of Masaryk University employees. Nor have we ignored our PhD students: besides organising a Welcome Day for them, they also have specialised workshops focused on, for example, science communication or academic writing.

In April this year we held a Scientific Writing workshop, which was very much appreciated by participants from among our doctoral students. “The lecturer gave us a lot of practical advice that will help us write better scientific articles,” said Renata Kosíková, a first-year PhD student. Radim Procházka, another doctoral student, highlighted the workshop’s benefit in improving his understanding of the acceptance process for publications in peer-reviewed journals. “I’d never considered the importance given by scientific journals to the title, abstract, and overall structure of an article. How many people are involved in the acceptance process and what they focus on. The workshop helped me realise who to target for given parts of the paper, and how to engage the reader,” he enthused.

One focus for next year will be equal opportunities. According to Petra Ježová, this is a much-discussed topic across the university. “We always consult all changes with the faculty and the target group. It’s important to us that new procedures, not only in the area of equality, work to everyone’s satisfaction,” she explains. We will also be focusing on reconciling family and professional life.

According to Petra Ježová, it is essential to strive for changes that make sense in the long term. “People are noticing that changes have happened in connection with our activities, and that makes us very happy,” she says. For example, head of the External Relations Department, Marie Krulová, who experienced the original adaptation process when she joined the faculty and is now going through it a second time with new colleagues in the department, has noticed a positive difference. “I particularly appreciate the guidance materials, which remind me to do even the seemingly obvious things, like taking a newcomer to lunch or setting goals for the probationary period and their first year of work,” she reveals.

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