INL has embarked on the HRS4R process to improve the recruitment, working conditions and career prospects of all researchers, enhance the quality and impact of its research, and promote gender equality and diversity in the research teams while strengthening its attractiveness at the international level.
The Human Resources Strategy for Researchers (HRS4R) is the tool for the implementation of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (Charter & Code) in their policies and practices. It is a voluntary, structured and monitored auditing mechanism, centred on a continuous assessment in three-year cycles based on gap analysis and action plans for the grant of the “HR Excellence in Research Award”. The implementation of the Charter & Code principles by research institutions allows research institutions like INL to be more attractive to researchers looking for a new employer or for a host for their research project.
The European Commission recognises with the ‘HR Excellence in Research Award’ the institutions which make progress in aligning their human resources policies to the 40 principles of the Charter & Code, based on a customized action plan/HR strategy.
In this context, INL identified the need to design its own human resources strategy that includes the requirements set forth in the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers, beginning the process on December 10th 2021, by sending the endorsement letter.
Description of the HRS4R process
INL is committed to the principles of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. It has developed an HR strategy to implement these principles in its policies and practices, using a Gap Analysis and an Action Plan.
The Gap Analysis was executed in four topics, to identify areas of improvement in the research environment and developed an Action Plan to address the identified gaps. These were: (1) Ethical and Professional Aspects, (2) Recruitment & Selection, (3) Working Conditions & Social Security, and (4) Training & Development.
The Gap Analysis identified several areas where INL policies and practices need improvement, such as the transparency and fairness of recruitment, the recognition and reward of research excellence, and the support for the professional development of researchers. The Action Plan sets out a series of priority actions to address these gaps, such as the development of a career framework, the establishment of an independent recruitment panel, and the implementation of a research integrity policy.
The Action Plan includes clear timelines and indicators to monitor the progress and impact of the actions. In the coming years, the initiatives of the INL Action Plan will lead to further developments and continuous improvement of the HR policy for researchers.
Constitution of the HRS4R Commission
Further to the encouragement of the Director-General (DG) and concerning the start of the application for the ‘HRS4R’, an initial task force was created by the Chief Administration Officer (CAO) & HR Manager (HRM) to study the overall process of the HRS4R, namely the phases and steps to move forward. The Task Force was composed of the CAO & HRM, two HR Officers and the Learning Organisation Developer. After the submission of the endorsement letter of INL, dated 10 December 2021, and acceptance by the European Commission (‘EC’) on 17 December 2021, a special-purpose commission was established, and their members appointed by the Director-General to start the HRS4R application in accordance with its guidelines and best practices.
The INL-HRS4R Commission is composed of a Steering Committee and a Working Group. The Steering Committee members are the Director-General, Chief Operations Officer (CO) for RTI Operations, CAO & HRM, and three members from the Research area (level R4). The Working Group is composed of two HR Officers, the Learning Organisation Developer, the CO of the Research Core Facilities, and five members from the Research area with different levels of seniority, from R1 to R4.
A kick-off meeting was held at the beginning of the year 2022. The objective of the discussion was to share an overview of the HRS4R process, Charter & Code, responsibilities of both the Steering Committee and Working Group, work plan and timeline. During the execution of the 1st phase, several meetings were held with the Steering Committee (on a quarterly basis) to provide information about the ongoing activities and discuss the milestones, main outcomes, and next actions.
Involvement of the INL community in the HRS4R
To move forward with the initial phase of the HRS4R, namely the Gap Analysis, Action Plan and OTM-R Checklist, INL consulted different internal stakeholders and involved a representative community of researchers ranging from R1 to R4. This was done with the support of the appointed Steering Committee and respective Working group to oversee the HRS4R process and its implementation.
Activities organised to engage the INL community
An internal communication channel, accessible to the whole INL community, was created to share information about the HRS4R and good practices from similar organisations.
A quiz in a form of a “teaser”, focusing on “The researchers’ reality” in Europe and globally, was prepared and disseminated.
Presentation of the HRS4R to the INL community during our online/onsite weekly gathering. People were encouraged to take part as volunteers in the initial phase of the process. The community expressed interest in participating in the initiative, and a list of volunteers was created and submitted to the DG.
The volunteers were organised into sub-working groups – mainly responsible for performing the gap analysis. The sub-working groups included researchers from R1 to R4 and were organised under the four topics defined in the C&C.
A General Questionnaire (Survey) was disseminated to Supervisors and Supervisees to gather their input about INL.
A focus group activity was organised to address the topic “Recruitment & Selection – (R&S)” involving senior hiring managers, experienced in hiring processes inside and outside INL. The objective was to discuss the principles of the C&C related to the R&S topic.
Survey and Results
To support the execution of the Gap Analysis, it was conducted a comprehensive survey in the form of a general questionnaire. This questionnaire was distributed to supervisors and supervisees at INL to gather their input about the Organisation.
INL is committed to continually improving the HRS4R process, and we recognize the importance of regular feedback and evaluation in achieving this goal. As part of this commitment, we have developed mechanisms for monitoring, evaluating, and improving the implementation of the HRS4R process, and for receiving feedback from our researchers and other stakeholders. Our mechanisms for feedback and evaluation are designed to be transparent, fair, and responsive to the needs and concerns of our researchers and other stakeholders, and to ensure that the HRS4R process is continually improving and evolving.
This section includes open access to the documents prepared for the initial phase of the HRS4R process.
December 10th 2021
This section includes access to useful external resources on EURAXESS about the HRS4R process.
Highlights – Key Outcomes of the Initial Phase
- Submission of the Endorsement letter on December 10th 2021
- Constitution of the HRSR Commission: Steering Committee and Working Group
- Constitution of 4 sub-working groups composed of volunteers from R1 to R4 in the following topics:
- Ethical and Professional Aspects
- Recruitment & Selection
- Working Conditions & Social Security
- Training & Development
- Round of consultations with internal stakeholders
- Definition and promotion of target activities: General Questionnaire (Survey) and Focus Group
- Completion of the Gap Analysis
- Completion of the Action Plan
- Completion of the OTM-R (Open, Transparent, and Merit-Based Recruitment) checklist
- Submission on EURAXESS – December 9th 2022
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