Recognition & Rewards


The national Recognition & Rewards programme commissioned the Recognition & Rewards culture barometer survey. This survey is a tool to assess the extent to which the Recognition & Rewards programme’s ambitions, and the associated behaviour in the workplace, are recognised, perceived and shared. In addition, the culture barometer sheds light on the extent to which the intended culture change is progressing. What is the Recognition & Rewards programme and how did the cultural barometer come about?

Vision and mission

In November 2019, the Universities of the Netherlands association (UNL), the Dutch Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) published a position paper entitled Room for everyone’s talent. This position paper explains that our aim is to recognise and value the work of academics more broadly by paying more attention to the different core domains in which academics work. Many academics feel that the emphasis on quantitative research performance is too one sided, which means that work in other fields fails to get the appreciation it deserves. As knowledge institutions in the Netherlands, we believe it is important that academics can distinguish themselves within the fields of education, impact, leadership and patient care alongside research. At the same time, we value having a greater focus on the standards of academic work. This requires modernising the system of recognition and reward, in which we:

  • create greater differentiation and dynamism in career paths;
  • place the emphasis more on the quality of the work and place less emphasis on quantitative results;
  • do justice to individual academic performance and ambitions as well as contributions to the shared goals;
  • encourage high-quality leadership;
  • and encourage open science.

In 2020, the four ideology-based universities, united in the Network of Ideology-based Universities (NLU), also endorsed the position paper and programme. Together, we are working on a culture change to make more room for the diverse talents of academics.

Structure of the programme

Following the publication of the Room for everyone’s talent’ position paper, all the institutions involved appointed their own Recognition & Rewards committee. These committees are working enthusiastically on the envisaged culture change at an institutional level and have established a vision and change approach in line with their own organisation’s views and strategy. Bearing in mind that we can only shape this culture change together, a national programme was also launched in 2020. This has resulted in a national programme plan in which we explain the mission, vision and approach of the Recognition & Rewards programme. The collaborating knowledge institutes are funding half of the joint programme. Because the programme is in line with policy priorities for science, in May 2022 the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science made a grant available for the other half of the required funds during the period from 2022 to 2026.

Road map

After a period of experimentation and learning, the parties involved took a new step in spring 2023 when they published the national Room for everyone’s talents in practice roadmap. Based on the five priorities set out in the position paper, they set out what they aim to achieve in concrete terms in the coming years. With that, a new phase of the programme began. The institutions will definitively embed Recognition & Rewards in practice through new processes and instruments. By doing so, we are making culture change visible, sustainable and tangible.

Recognition & Rewards culture barometer

We believe it is important to gain insight into the extent to which the set goals are being achieved. That is why the Recognition & Rewards culture barometer was introduced in the national programme plan. The culture barometer is a survey used to assess the extent to which the Recognition & Rewards programme’s ambitions, and the associated behaviour of academics in the workplace, are recognised, perceived and shared. In addition, the aim of the culture barometer is to shed light on the extent to which the intended culture change is progressing during the course of the programme. The first culture barometer was conducted in January 2024; a follow-up measurement will take place in 2026.

A research team from consultancy firm Berenschot has conducted/will conduct both measurements based on the same questionnaire. All institutions who are part of the Recognition & Rewards programme are involved in the preparation and administering of the cultural barometer. A supervisory committee advised Berenschot on the questionnaire and presentation of the findings.

The cultural barometer consists of a questionnaire administered to over 65,000 academics working at one of the institutions involved in the programme. We deliberately chose not to include support staff in this culture barometer. This is because the crux of the Recognition & Rewards programme focuses on academic staff, as is evident in the position paper and roadmap. At this stage, little stands to be gained from asking support staff whether they recognise, perceive and share the ambitions of the Recognition & Rewards programme. In addition, we have witnessed that some of the institutions have deliberately chosen to involve other groups in the implementation of Recognition & Rewards, while other institutions are reluctant to expand the remit. However, for the purposes of comparing results, we decided not to take these other groups into account.

The culture barometer is not a scientific study. It is a reflection of the state of affairs of the Recognition & Rewards programme, providing insights for the programme and its stakeholders based on a carefully designed questionnaire.


The data collected remains in the hands of Berenschot, in accordance with the retention periods agreed with the client. With potential traceability and confidentiality of the survey in mind, Berenschot does not share information that can be linked to individuals with the institutions or the client.

Want to know more about the Recognition & Rewards programme? Read the 2023 annual report. In this, we look back on 2023: what have we achieved? Furthermore, we give an overview of the activities we organised. Finally, we also look ahead to 2024.