Beyond Research Human Resources

In addition to being able to hire more people, the Severo Ochoa funding has allowed us to launch a number of strategic actions in Human Resources. There was a need to establish a set of institute-wide best practices for application across all employee categories and other internal subdivisions of personnel, in part due to the institute’s fragmented past, in order to forge a unified identity and consolidate the implementation of international standards.

In alignment with European goals to make research a more sustainable career path, a series of actions also aimed at improving the attractiveness of the ICN2 as a place of work for researchers and other employees, with a focus on transparent selection and recruitment procedures, and clear opportunities for career development and training. Many also form part of the ICN2 Talent Attraction and Gender action plans.

As a result of these actions, in 2015 the ICN2 was awarded the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research logo.

The main areas developed under the Severo Ochoa programme are the following:

A new institute-wide recruitment process was introduced, based on the principles of open, transparent and merit-based recruitment (OTM-R). This process has enabled standardisation of candidate assessment criteria throughout the ICN2.

We also created a new ICN2 Jobs website which, aside from improving the visibility of job opportunities at the ICN2, is proving an extremely useful tool for the analysis of candidates in terms of their nationality, gender, institute of origin, etc. It also enables instant access to the relevant information by all parties involved in the selection process, and significantly speeds up the recruitment process from start to finish.

Work began on the ICN2 Equal Opportunities and Diversity Management Plan towards the end of 2014, with a view to bringing together and building on existing initiatives in this vein. It was published in 2015, following exhaustive data gathering and consultation with the ICN2 community. A comprehensive procedure to prevent and respond to all incidents of discrimination and harassment was also established under the umbrella of the Severo Ochoa programme.

The goal at all times is to create and maintain an environment that is free from all forms of discrimination and harassment, and enables a genuine work-life balance and acceptable working conditions for all employees. Efforts are also made to ensure that both sexes are equally represented throughout the institute, and to proactively remove all barriers to career progression imposed by language, cultural norms or physical access.

The Severo Ochoa funding allowed us to create the role of People Development Officer, a key move to strengthen career development and progression opportunities at the ICN2.

A new training programme was rolled out, consisting of an annual calendar of training sessions in scientific knowledge, job-related and other transferable skills, health and safety, and languages. Many of these sessions are organised internally, as part of the employee-led Open Knowledge Programme, developed to allow and encourage ICN2 employees to share their area(s) of experience and expertise with colleagues.

Human Resources has also established a series of programmes designed to prepare the young researcher for a long career in research:

  • PhD Summer Fellowships, which also serve as a means of identifying and recruiting talented students early.
  • The more recent ICN2 PhD Programme, designed to boost the excellence of doctoral research, represents the commitment of the institute as a whole to ensuring that PhD students get the most out of their time at the ICN2.
  • ICN2 Mobility Programme, to provide financial support for researchers looking to spend time at internationally-recognised research centres.
  • Mentoring Programme which, while linked to the PhD Programme, is open to all employees and exists to strengthen internal bonds and opportunities for learning beyond the purely scientific.