Recognition & Rewards

UM wants to ensure every employee has a fulfilling career in which their capabilities are used, seen and recognised by others. By allowing diverse sets of talents to thrive, we will increase our ability to achieve our university’s objectives. We strive to be an open, inclusive and diverse community in which staff flourish through recognition of their talents and efforts, and are rewarded on the basis of their own merits. We believe this will foster a challenging work environment and increase job satisfaction.

Traditionally, not all activities and achievements of employees are recognised and rewarded equally. For academics specifically, research performance, in particular quantitative measurements such as research output, citation analyses and acquired grants, has predominantly determined their career path for many years. This has led to the undervaluing of other key domains that belong to the core tasks of academic institutions and to increased work pressure and competitiveness among academics.

In 2019, Dutch public academic institutions and funders of research (UNL, NFU, KNAW, NWO and ZonMw) launched a nationwide initiative to redefine the recognition and reward of university staff. As part of an international and national scientific community, Maastricht University wholeheartedly joins this programme and is dedicated to creating an environment that provides room for all talents and does justice – in a balanced way – to academics’ achievements in the areas of education, research, impact, leadership, and for those working in our academic hospital, patient care.

Recognition & Rewards

 Learn more and watch the Recognition & Rewards video-statements about UM's programme, vision and narratives. 

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Room for Everyone’s Talent

The nationwide position paper Room for Everyone’s Talent was published in the autumn of 2019. In early 2020, the  position paper was translated into an extensive national Recognition & Rewards programme in which all Dutch universities are participating. Our university's president Rianne Letschert is co-leading the programme for the entire university sector together with the rector of the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam.

The position paper Room for everyone’s talent, published in the autumn of 2019, describes the main goals of the initiative:  

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  • Diversification and vitalisation of career paths: enable more diversity in career paths and profiles for academics
  • Balance between individuals and the collective: assess academics based on both their individual performance and their team performance
  • Focus on quality: provide a better balance between quantitative and qualitative assessment tools
  • Stimulate Open Science: disclose research designs, make data publicly available and encourage academics to put additional effort into making their research outcomes more accessible to society
  • Encourage academic leadership: invest in good leadership at all levels, from young academics to established professors
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  The national website for Recognition & Rewards has further information on the national programme and insights into the approaches of other Dutch universities and research centres. 

  Download the nationwide position paper ‘Room for everyone's talent - towards a new balance in the recognition and rewards of academics'

UM’s vision

Based on the national position paper Room for Everyone’s Talent, Maastricht University has set out to create a vision document for the Recognition & Rewards programme. With this document, Maastricht University shares its vision on the modernisation of recognising and rewarding staff. In specifying our position, we link Room for Everyone’s Talent to the values and strategic position of Maastricht University. 


  Download the vision document: 'UM's vision on Recogniton & Rewards' 

UM's organisational culture and identity

UM's core values

Deriving from Maastricht University’s ambitions with regards to both our own organisational culture and identity as well as our mission and vision on the Recognition & Rewards programme, four UM core values have been identified. Enacting the core values may look different in various UM functions or in various roles. Moreover, generally speaking, the further you progress your career, the more opportunities you have to display proficiency in these UM core values.

For academic staff, examples of evidence demonstrating a contribution to those values are included in the R&R academic profiles. For other university staff, applying the UM core values in one’s everyday work may sometimes resemble the examples provided for academic staff, but may slightly differ as well. Additionally, not all values may be applicable to all university positions. Examples of evidence and behaviours other university staff could display when contributing to the UM core values include:

  • Academic citizenship: contribute to the wider civic mission of the university; demonstrate efforts in making the university an inclusive environment valuing diversity; set up programmes to involve the community in the university; participate in (internal or external) committees or taskforces; organise team events; etc.
  • Personal/professional leadership: demonstrate self-reflection and personal development (feedback results); regularly request feedback from students, colleagues and others; effective communication (online and offline); identify the necessary tasks and prioritise them in order to develop an individual schedule and perform the work in an autonomous way, ensuring that the requirements are met; improvement of processes and procedures; take the lead among peers in a project; provide mentorship to others; provide constructive feedback to help others learn; organise feedback sessions; take part in leadership training and put skills learned to use, demonstrate efforts in making the university an inclusive environment valuing diversity; participate in (internal or external) committees, think-tanks, coaching activities or engaging in other forms of talent development; etc.
  • Team performance: work confidently within a group with each doing their part in the service of the whole; co-creation with others; collaborate with others outside of the standard circle (outside of your team, department, or faculty/service centre); etc.
  • Impact & Open Science: make your work relevant to society; produce, store and (re)use scientific data based on FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) principles, making data as open as possible, and as closed as necessary; use open source software; use Open Access resources; set up and participate in Open Science events; educate about the application of FAIR principles; educate about the importance of Open Science; etc.

Ambitions and objectives

UM wants to ensure everyone has a fulfilling career in which their capabilities are used, seen and recognised by others – by students, peers and supervisors. By allowing diverse sets of talents to thrive, we will increase our ability to achieve excellence in the following key areas: research, education, impact, leadership and patient care. We strive to be an open, inclusive and diverse community of academic citizens who flourish through recognition of their talents and efforts, and are rewarded on the basis of their own merits. We believe this will foster a challenging work environment and increase job satisfaction.

The new approach towards Recognition & Rewards requires a culture change, a change in mindset and leadership that transcends human resource management, organisational structures and quality assurance. Such a change needs national and international efforts to ensure alignment throughout academia. We believe the new way of thinking about academic careers must be built upon:

  • Diversified career paths
    We can enable greater diversity in career paths and profiles by recognising and rewarding more diversity in competences and talents. Within a team, department or faculty, the different profiles and backgrounds should be coherently integrated. The diversification and vitalisation of careers allows us to make better use of the natural talents and intrinsic motivation of academics.
  • Personal growth
    In this new approach, personal growth is not necessarily defined as reaching a higher academic position. It is also about learning new skills, having the opportunity to excel in the things one is good at and being appreciated for one’s contributions. This type of personal growth not only increases job satisfaction but contributes to feelings of involvement and commitment.
  • Individual and organisational needs
    It is important to emphasise that having more diversified career paths does not mean anything goes. In order to ensure a healthy organisation, there must be a balance between the needs of the organisation and the ambitions of the individuals in the community. Therefore, academics should be aware that pursuing a career at UM will have its limitations, just as it does within any organisation. 

Stakeholder engagement

At Maastricht University, the institutional Recognition & Rewards committee consists of the president, the rector, the faculty deans (and/or portfolio holders R&R), the HR director and the R&R programme manager who together lead the programme’s development. The institutional committee facilitates the discussion with the academic community and ensures coherence between the internal discussions and the subsequent proposals. Realising and safeguarding alignment with national developments is also the committee’s responsibility.

Besides the UM-wide commission, also other organisations within UM are actively involved in the process of Recognition & Rewards. The Maastricht Young Academy and Female Empowerment UM (FEM) delegate members, and employees from the University Library are involved. Moreover, occasionally members of the Local Consultative Body, the University Council, the Central PhD Candidates Platform (CPCP), and the PhD Platform contribute.

The involvement of the entire Maastricht University community in the development of the Recognition & Rewards programme is key to creating a sustainable culture change. Therefore, the R&R commission always remains open to input.

UM Career policy

To facilitate the diversification of career paths and talent development, the steering committee and the HR working group have developed new academic profiles for the majority of academic positions. These profiles clarify what is expected of academic staff. Academics can use them to help shape their careers in consultation with their leadership, while assessors will be able to use them as guidelines. They are not checklists, but tools that can underpin and facilitate a continuous, wide-ranging dialogue on the employee’s development.

Naturally, differences between faculties play an important role. For this reason we organised a separate kick-off with each faculty in the autumn of 2022. In 2023, the department chairs will draw up a personalised profile for every academic. In addition, the processes around development and promotion (e.g. annual appraisals) are also aligned with the ideas of Recognition & Rewards.

Meanwhile, a subcommittee has developed a UM Career Compass: a discussion guide for development dialogue in line with the new academic profiles. Another subcommittee is investigating the horizontal development options (for both academic and professionals) in relation to its recognition and rewarding.

In March 2023, the policy memo ‘Recognition & Rewards UM Career Development Policy 2023-2028’ was released. In line with the Recognition & Rewards philosophy, we focus on continuous development and feedback for all UM employees, with no distinction between academic and support staff. A successful career-development policy asks for customisation. The policy memo sets out the framework and goals, on theme such as stimulating internal mobility, traineeships, revision of the CAO Selection Model, transparency of career paths and investment in professional development activities. It is up to the faculties and service centres to implement the policy according to their own needs and wishes. The initial step has been taken with the UM-wide Kick Off event in June 2023, after which all faculties and service centres will develop this further for all teams in Start & Go meetings in the autumn.

The UM Career Compass

In line with the academic profiles, a format has been developed for the development interviews: the UM Career Compass. The UM Career Compass replaces the existing toolkit for annual development talks. The compass was created to facilitate the dialogue on employee development and UM’s support for it. The development talk focuses on the employee's work, behaviour and performance. It is about finding a good balance between personal talents and ambitions and organisational needs and strategies.

UM Career Compass

Download the UM Career Compass here:

(download the pdf first, then fill in)

Working together

At the start of the R&R programme, UM installed four committees with representatives from each faculty for the domains of education, research, impact and leadership. These committees heve developed narratives about how to recognise and reward performance within their domain, experiment with the application of the new approach when possible and provide input for the institution-wide committee. The committees are actively involved in the faculty discussions around this theme.

  Education committee
  Research committee
  Impact committee
  Leadership committee

Each committee has developed a narrative to present a first approach on how to recognise and reward performance within each key area. The narratives should act as input to steer the discussion within the university on how to move forward in the implementation phase.

Download the narratives here:
  Education Narrative
  Research Narrative
  Impact Narrative
  Leadership Narrative 

The steering committee safeguards the cohesion between the various domains and has an important (guiding) role in the implementation of the programme at UM. The steering committee consists of (see picture, left to right): Stef Kremers (vice dean FHML), Rianne Letschert (UM President), Nieke Guillory (HR director), Christine Neuhold (dean FASoS), Jan Smits (dean LAW), Daphne Snackers (programme manager), Susan Boltong (HR) and Carolien Martijn (vice dean Recognition & Rewards).
Not in the picture: Pamela Habibovic (rector), Thomas Cleij (dean FSE) and Mariëlle Heijltjes (dean SBE).

R&R steering committee