INRA committed to an ambitious HR strategy
As one of the leading agricultural research organisations in Europe, INRA counts the construction of the European Research Area and improving its attractiveness to young researchers among its top priorities. INRA was the first French research organisation to receive the “HR Excellence in Research” label awarded by the European Commission.
INRA adopted the European Charter for Researchers in 2006, and in autumn 2008, the Institute also committed to the “Human Resources Strategy for Researchers” process initiated by the European Commission to ensure complete transparency in setting the Institute’s goals and priorities for action. As a result, the “HR Excellence in Research” label was obtained in 2010 and confirmed in 2014 following a comprehensive evaluation.
A HR policy in line with European objectives
Enhanced international attractiveness
The HR policy is implemented in line with scientific policies, via the ongoing improvement of human resources such as motivation management and the quality of life at work. The major issues are management changes, the policy on contractual staff, how diversity in the professional community is managed and risk prevention.
A new European framework was presented in Brussels in January 2016 which promotes open and transparent recruitment practices based on meeting recruiters' needs (Report on open, transparent and merit-based recruitment, OTM-R). The goal is to better understand research professions in order to make it easier for researchers to move from one organisation to another and from one country to another during their career.
The objective is also to enable Europe to have an efficient system at the service of society which generates employment, favours innovation and supports economic activity.
These European issues are in accordance with the issues INRA is focusing on.
“Working to further the Institute’s scientific strategy”
A question for Fabrice Marty, Director of Human Resources at INRA
- What are the major focus points – or the main chapters – of the HR strategic framework document 2013–2017?
The document is divided into two main sections. The first, which came up during discussions, deals with the necessity of fostering the values shared by all members of our professional community: a sense of unity, mutual respect and listening, and collective action. This first section also outlines the principles espoused by the HR Department, which depend on HR personnel and the Institute’s leaders. The first principle is to promote strong values of equality, respect for rules and people, and empathy. The other three principles are about aiming for continual improvement, sharing a vision and priorities, and handling issues locally.
The second section details the HR Department’s three priorities: basing the HR policy on the Institute’s scientific strategy, encouraging continual improvement, and managing employee motivation and working conditions.
The action plan addresses ten major subjects, each outlined in a separate chapter.
> Read more about the HR Strategic Framework 2013–2017
What is the European Charter for Researchers?
The European Commission adopted the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. These two documents, which are aimed at researchers, their employers and research funders in both the public and private sectors, are key components of the European policy on developing the European Research Area.
They outline forty general principles that specify the roles, responsibilities and prerogatives of researchers and their employers as well as principles to follow with regards to recruitment.
Out of the 209 research institutions and universities throughout Europe which adhere to the European Charter for Researchers and which have obtained the “HR Excellence in Research” logo awarded by the European Commission, INRA is the only French institution to have obtained the label.
Adhesion to the European Charter for Researchers: the key steps
As part of the “HR Strategy for Researchers” approach initiated by the European Commission, INRA has already created documents that structure the continuous improvement processes that are part of its HR policy on researchers.
One of the first initiatives INRA took was to create a Charter for doctoral candidates and postdoctoral fellows in July 2008 that laid out their hosting and integration conditions in terms of recruitment, roles in the hosting units, training, and the publication and use of results.
Based on an in-depth analysis of the overlap and discrepancies between the expectations of the European Charter and existing internal practices, INRA created a policy framework to state its objectives and identify areas for progress. These areas were outlined in two action plans (the first for 2010–2011 and the second for 2012–2013). Each of them underwent an internal evaluation approved by the European Commission. Tracking indicators were also developed to assess the changes and effects of INRA’s HR policy on researchers on a yearly basis. Some of the chosen objectives, which have already led to profound changes, include assisting international mobility; improving recruitment capabilities and candidate skills assessment; strengthening the Institute’s attractiveness, including for temporary staff; and enhancing the policy on health, safety and working conditions.
The HR strategic framework document and related action plan established for the 2013–2017 period will anchor INRA’s HR policy and will serve as the benchmark against which future evaluations are compared.