Caring, Daring and Sharing

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HR supports the EPFL in its mission and strategy by maximizing the availability, the contribution, the development, and the well-being of employees in partnership with all stakeholders. In 2020, Human Resources partnered with the EPFL Direction, management, employees, and other stakeholders to best support all EPFL staff throughout a year decisively marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ongoing pandemic situation created an unprecedented deviation from the norm and it has accentuated the positive resilience of both HR and all EPFL staff to quickly, and creatively, adapt while upholding core values, standards, and good practices in suboptimal conditions.

The attention has been on supporting staff members and managers through different measures to improve well-being and to allow conciliation of family and professional life throughout this unchartered year and during lockdown in particular, while ensuring all operations needed to run our institution.

In parallel, focus has been on fostering a respectful, non-discriminating and supportive leadership culture within the community, and solving conflicts as early as possible.

We have also continued to implement the HR strategy including the development of leadership skills, the digitalization, and clarification of policies, processes, and practices, in order to better support managers and staff, and to further increase HR efficiency.

As of 2021, two strategic projects will be initiated in order to enhance EPFL’s readiness for the future of work. The first project will concentrate on flexible working and aims at capitalizing the experience from forced teleworking for all in 2020, while the second will focus on developing the competencies needed for the future.

We very much look forward to continuing the fruitful collaboration with all stakeholders at EPFL.

Support for EPFL employees and managers

In 2020 the focus lay in supporting employees throughout the year, not only during lockdown. In April 2020, two confidential coaching proposals were implemented: SelfCare and TeamCare. These two programs aimed to support employees and managers with concrete tools on how to improve well-being, motivation, efficiency and communication, to name a few subjects in the range of provided services.

Over fifteen percent of EPFL managers decided to benefit from TeamCare, which also created positive impact on their teams.

EPFL took other concrete measures to support specific populations; such as facilitating and taking charge of additional IT material for staff and providing supplementary daycare offerings during the summer holiday period for employees’ children.

We have continued to enhance the leadership skills of managers with a comprehensive training offered on-line notably focusing on self and people leadership.

In 2020, 44 tenure track Assistant Professors (PATTs) benefited from the tailored leadership program “Management for Leaders in Science”. The program was adapted to the requirements of the sanitary situation and it will continue in 2021.

Furthermore, significant effort and attention was given to increasing transparent communication to staff and managers with information not only linked to the COVID pandemic but also to the overall well-being at EPFL (such as development of Directives, Town Halls, Q&A, regular mails).

Close partnerships across our community

With focus on respect, safety, and well-being of all members of the EPFL, students, professors and staff alike, the HR team enhanced its partnership with the EPFL Direction, and management and worked closely with other experts from the Respect Network on zero-tolerance of any forms of harassment, conflict management, mediation of team dynamics, and continuous work climate surveys.

HR also enhanced the contacts with the social partners in order to create a constructive and regular dialogue and plan to meet with them on a regular basis.

As a result of a targeted campaign, EPFL has welcomed 5% additional new apprentices in 2020, in order to offer an apprenticeship to youngsters impacted by the pandemic in their current professional training or their perspectives.

The support for diversity and successful integration continues to be a priority in all recruitments and throughout the career at EPFL and is, therefore an integral part of leadership development.

Within the ETH Domain, EPFL successfully participated in an analysis on equal salary among genders. With a difference of only 0.29% between men and women, EPFL fulfills all criteria for equal salary equity.

Consistency and efficiency

Focus has centered on the clarification of policies, processes and practices in order to improve consistency and ensure equal treatment across EPFL. Some examples of processes are: temporary academic and non-academic staff, as well as the standard recruitment process. Several previously manual processes have now been digitalized and streamlined in 2020, such as; the extension of fixed term contracts, representing over 3’000 contracts per year, the collection of sickness certificates, and the production of standard employment confirmation documents. EPFL employees now have access to their personal information such as salary slips with the possibility to maintain their own data such as change of address etc. We herewith thank all stakeholders who contributed to this continuous effort and look forward to enhance more processes in the future.

HR Facts and Figures

2500 employees benefited from training and services offered by the EPFL Staff Training Service in 2020, and 85 followed courses offered by the Extension School.

Additionally 662 employees followed at least one on-line class or training, for a total of 2330 training hours equalling to 3.5 hours on average per employee.

More than 2400 digitised workflows related to employment contracts were completed since the new workflows were implemented in quarter 2 and 3 of 2020.

Looking ahead: Towards EPFL’s new organization 2021

In the fourth quarter of 2020, the HR team prepared internally for EPFL’s new organization of 2021. It fine-tuned and adjusted to the new perimeters to offer full support and readiness to the EPFL Direction, five new and current vice presidencies, and the associate vice presidencies as well as five faculties, and three colleges as of January 1st, 2021.

The HR team also synchronized with the needs of the School’s new organization by recruiting a head of Talent & Development and an HR digitalization specialist and by adapting the perimeters of most of the HR Team in order to ensure that each of them is in direct contact with an academic population and thus with the very heart of EPFL.

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