Whether you want to enrol in the process to obtain the HR award ,or your institution has already been awarded and you need to transfer your file to the HRS4R e-tool, the HRS4R e-learning module will help you understand the process, the timelines and the forms to fill in for each and every HRS4R phase.
This e-learning module is composed of 6 chapters and 70 videos, each of them containing detailed step-by-step instructions and information to help you along the way.
Each chapter consists of one or more videos. By selecting a specific video in one of the chapters, you will navigate to a playlist, from which the rest of the videos of the same chapter will play automatically. You can return to the table of contents anytime you want to watch a different chapter, based on your interest.
Enjoy the HRS4R e-learning experience!
HRS4R e-learning module
Select one of the chapters from the menu to begin.
Following completion of this section, you will be able to
- Have a clear overview of the initial phase
- Create the endorsement letter
- Initiate the application to the HR Award on behalf of your organisation
- Fill in the three mandatory documents and submit your file for review
- Understand the assessment process and the possible outcomes
Once the access details for the HRS4R e-tool are set, the HRS4R Organisation administrator can initiate the application process for the "HR Excellence in Research Award". The whole process will be managed through MY EURAXESS dashboard, in the section called « HRS4R ». Let’s have a global overview on this process.
A first step consists in submitting your letter endorsing the Charter & Code and committing to implement the HRS4R. In a second step, the European Commission checks the endorsement letter and sends back to your organisation the confirmation within 10 working days.
Your organisation must then submit to the European Commission the Gap Analysis, the OTM-R checklist and the initial action plan. These documents have to be sent within 12 months after having received the confirmation letter. If the application passes the administrative eligibility check, the European Commission will send the file to external assessment. Based on assessors’ availability, this step may take up to two months.
The HRS4R designated admin for the organisation account on EURAXESS will access the MY EURAXESS dashboard, the HRS4R section, and by clicking on the yellow button "Create a case & apply for the HR Award" will be able to fill in the required tasks of this stage.
When your organisation is ready to get involved in the process, the first step is to send a commitment letter to the European Commission, issued from the Rector/President or other senior level position representing the legal body authorized to make a commitment on behalf of the organisation.
Be careful, your letter should clearly express that your organisation is committed to start the procedure and will undergo all subsequent cycles of the implementation phases. Your organisation can use its own text and format to draft the commitment letter, however, several elements are mandatory requirements:
- It should be written in English
- It should be signed by the current highest management representative within the organisation
- It should be recently dated (not older than 12 months before submission).
- It should clearly state both the endorsement of the 40 principles of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers, as well as the commitment to start the procedure and to undergo all subsequent cycles of the implementation of the Human Resources Strategy for Researchers.
If the letter is not compliant with either one or multiple requirements, it will be declined and your organisation will have to resubmit an updated version. You can get inspiration from examples of endorsement letters available in the last chapter of this tutorial.
The pdf version of the endorsement letter will have to be uploaded in the HRS4R e-tool.
Part of the initial application procedure is to also provide the contact details of the persons who will represent the interface with the EC in terms of the HRS4R process.
Be careful : clicking the "Save" button saves the provided information and still allows the information to be edited before it is submitted. The status of the application will be changed into "Pending ». But once the "Submit" button is clicked, the application cannot be edited any longer and the action cannot be undone. The status of the application will consequently change into "Submitted".
At this point, the application reaches the European Commission, which will check the compliance of the commitment letter. Your organisation will be informed if the application is accepted or declined. The HRS4R dashboard will highlight the phase of the application, as well as the current task and the deadline.
The approval of the endorsement letter by the European Commission will change the status of the “C&C Endorsement: Confirmation of Endorsement Letter” task from "Pending" to "Accepted". Once this stage is completed, your organisation will be able to proceed to the next task of the HRS4R process.
Once the Endorsement Letter is approved, the European Commission will allocate a case number to your application. The case number allocated to your organisation is an essential code in all future interactions with the European Commission regarding the HRS4R process. If your application is "Accepted", the HRS4R dashboard of your organisation will highlight the case number allocated and the deadline of the next task: Gap Analysis, OTM-R and Action Plan Design. This deadline is calculated at 12 months from the date the endorsement letter was confirmed.
You can also access your progress in terms of the completion of the tasks included in the Initial Phase, as marked in the top horizontal menu,
If the endorsement letter is "Declined", a notification will appear in your HRS4R dashboard. The "Show more" feature will expand the reasons for refusal. In this case, your organisation will have to resubmit the application based on the recommendations provided by the European Commission. The top horizontal menu will reflect the position of your organisation at the first task of the flow : Commitment Letter.
Be careful: you have to resubmit the reviewed version of the endorsement letter within one month.
You’ve passed the first important step and your are now ready to dive deeper into the HRS4R process. Your first duty is to run a gap analysis.
The gap analysis, together with the OTM-R checklist and the Action Plan, are the three mandatory documents required to be completed by organisations, within the 12 months' period after the confirmation of their endorsement letter.
It is important to note that the three documents, as standard templates to be completed in the HRS4R e-tool, make up together the application for the "HR Excellence in Research Award". The submission of these documents through the HRS4R e-tool is possible only as a package.
Your organisation will get indications in the HRS4R dashboard about the expected deadline by which the submission should take place. You can request an extension, before the deadline is due. Provided that sound justifications are offered, the European Commission will approve the extension and a standard period of one month will be added to the previously established deadline.
The gap analysis seeks to answer the questions "where are we?" (current state) and "where do we want to be?" (target state), as an institution, with regard to the 40 principles of the Charter and Code.
The gap analysis will provide a clear picture of the development needs, while identifying any deficiencies or shortcomings to be overcome. Once the gaps are identified, it becomes easier to prioritize and quantify them, and establish the work effort that will be required to address them.
There should be a clear connection between the gap analysis and the subsequent measures outlined in the action plan.
The gap analysis consists of two parts:
- The process : this first part has to establish how your organisation organised itself to consult and involve the required internal and external stakeholder groups for the design of the gap analysis. They will typically include all management departments directly or indirectly responsible for researchers’ HR-issues, for example the Vice-Rector for Research, the Head of Personnel, and other administrative staff members. In addition, your organisation must consult and involve a representative community of researchers ranging from R1 to R4, as well as appoint a Committee overseeing the process and a Working Group responsible for implementing the process. For a detailed description of R1-R4 researcher levels, please see the description document: https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/europe/career-development/training-researchers/researchprofiles-descriptors. Your organisation can choose its own channels and tools to consult and involve stakeholders (i.e. surveys, workshops, etc.), but they should detail these in their methodology in the "Process" section of the Gap Analysis.
- The overview: this second part has to establish how your organisation rates its performance with regard to the 40 principles of the Charter & Code, what corresponding gaps are identified, how they will be addressed and if any barriers are currently impeding implementation. The 40 principles are listed under the four thematic headings of the C&C: Ethical and professional aspects, Recruitment and selection, Working conditions and social security and Training and development
The potential options to rate the performance or the states of achievement in terms of the implementation of the 40 principles of the Charter & Code are the following:
- Fully implemented
- Almost but not fully implemented
- Partially implemented
- Insufficiently implemented
If your organisation is already fulfilling some of the principles, the rating will be "fully implemented". Nevertheless, you need to provide evidence of the specific case. If the rating is "almost but not fully implemented", "partially implemented" or "insufficiently implemented", they should be accompanied by the description of the gap, as well as by details about the measures your organisation will undertake in order to fill the gap and address it.
The template of the gap analysis can be found in the last chapter of this tutorial. We recommend working on it offline together with a wide range of internal and external stakeholders whom your organisation intends to consult and involve in the process. The Gap Analysis should not be the outcome of a unilateral approach, but of a participative, collaborative cumulated feedback, comprising the overall views and needs of the stakeholders involved in working groups and committees.
Once the preparatory phase of the template is considered completed, the HRS4R Organisation Admin can proceed with the integration of data in the HRS4R E-tool.
After filling in the gap analysis template in the HRS4R E-tool, it is essential to click the "Save" button, in order to be able to review and update data, at later stages, if needed. The "Submit" button will be enabled only after the OTM-R checklist and the Action Plan sections are completed.
The OTM-R checklist is the second document you need to fill in with a view to the initial application. A template is available in the last chapter of this tutorial. It is a specific self-assessment checklist provided to report on the status of achievement in terms of the implementation of « Open, Transparent and Merit-Based Recruitment » (OTM-R) policies and practices, which aims at making research careers more attractive, while facilitating mobility and equal opportunities for all candidates.
Coupled with the Gap Analysis, it will further provide to organisations a clearer picture of their development needs, which will be prioritized and addressed with concrete actions, part of the action plan to be implemented in the upcoming two years.
The OTM-R template consists of a list of questions covering the various steps of the recruitment process, from job advertising to the appointment phase. Each specific question mentioned in the OTM-R checklist should be considered in the self-reflection exercise of your organisation. The state of achievement in terms of each issue will be rated in the column dedicated to "Answer". For each situation, there should be details included on the indicators to measure performance, either those used or to be further used, at later stages, if applicable.
While answering the questions, it is important to keep in mind three key elements:
- First : The "Open", "Transparent" and "Merit-based" checkboxes are indicative of the type of policies and practices the questions refer to, as detailed in the Charter & Code. They are pre-set in the HRS4R e-tool and cannot be changed. No action is needed from organisations in this respect.
- Secondly : The difference between "+/- Yes substantially" and "-/+ Yes partially" ratings is that in the first case the volume of the remaining work to be done until completion is little as compared to the effort that has been put so far in that direction, whereas for "-/+ Yes partially", the remaining work is either the same in volume or more than what has been achieved.
- Thirdly : For the "Suggested indicators" column, whenever the user hovers the mouse in the row dedicated to each question, a small text box will pop up, indicating options of potential indicators to use. However, each organisation should identify own measurements of the effectiveness of its OTM-R policy which should be further reviewed and adapted.
A few last things:
As in the case of the Gap Analysis, it is highly recommended to be handled first offline, in order to collect the information needed, based on a collaborative approach, with the consultation and involvement of the stakeholder working groups. Once the final version is internally validated, the information can be uploaded in the HRS4R E-tool.
If your organisation has a recruitment strategy which implements the principles of Open, Transparent and Merit-Based Recruitment, it is mandatory to publish it on its website in a visible place. The web link will be provided as part of the action plan template.
And, last but not least, a step-by-step guide to better OTM-R practices, as well as examples of good practice, can be found in the last chapter of this tutorial.
Don’t forget : after filling in the OTM-R template in the HRS4R E-tool, it is essential to click the "Save" button, in order to be able to review and update data, if needed. The "Submit" button will be enabled only after the Gap Analysis and the Action Plan sections are completed.
The Action Plan is the third and last document you need to submit for your application for the "HR Excellence in Research Award". A template is available in the last chapter of this tutorial. The action plan is a sequence of activities that must be carried out in order to help the institution pass from the current state to the target state, with regard to the implementation of the 40 principles of the Charter & Code. They will address the improvement needs identified in the Gap Analysis and the OTM-R checklist. It presents your organisation's strategic vision in terms of the priority areas and implementation steps to be undertaken in the next two years.
The action plan establishes the foundation of an HRS4R management by objectives process inside the institution. The actions listed in the HRS4R online form should be concise, but detailed enough for the assessors to evaluate the level of ambition, engagement and the expected implementation process. The institution should strive to provide a detailed plan, not just an enumeration of actions.
The action plan template to be used for reporting in the HRS4R e-tool comprises four separate sections:
- Organisational information
- Strengths and weaknesses of the current practice
- Implementation of the HRS4R process
The first section, « Organisational information », aims at illustrate the larger context in which your organisation performs. There are two categories of data required:
- Staff indicators to be presented as full-time positions at the moment of reporting in the HRS4R e-tool
- Budget and funding, if applicable, to be expressed as amounts in euro. For countries using other currencies than euro, official currency conversion tools have to be used, such as currency conversion calculators of national banks.
The second section, « Strengths and weaknesses of the current practice », consists in an overview of its current state and practice under the four thematic headings of the C&C. It is strongly recommend to elaborate on both strengths and weaknesses, although there is only one text block provided for both headings, as they will highlight your organisation's rationale for setting actions as priorities in the action plan.
The third section - listing the actions - is the most important one. In order to help connect actions to improvement needs, all principles with their implementation ratings will be retrieved automatically from the Gap Analysis to the action plan.
- The proposed actions can address either individual or multiple Principles
- A list of Gap principles, not selected in any action, is provided
- Our proposed approach is based on SMART action planning, which incorporates five characteristics of a goal: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.
More specifically, the Action Plan should:
- Include tasks that overcome existing or emerging gaps, as identified in the Gap Analysis
- Indicate ownerships and responsibilities
- Provide a clear implementation timeframe
- And state on how the achievement will be measured by means of key performance indicators.
The timeline of actions should cover at least two years up to the first internal review. Timing should be indicated by quarters of a year. The actions should reflect a balance between short-term interventions and long-term systemic actions that bring about culture change.
Your organisation can customize the planning, based on its own priorities and creativity. There is the possibility to add as many new fields as needed in order to include the desired volume of actions.
The Action Plan also includes a dedicated section to OTM-R policy and practices.
The establishment of an Open Recruitment Policy is a key element in the HRS4R strategy. Your organisation must also indicate how it will use the Open, Transparent and Merit-Based Recruitment Toolkit and how it intends to implement it.
Although there may be some overlap with a range of the actions already planned as emerged from the Gap Analysis, your organisation must provide a short commentary demonstrating this implementation. You will have to make the link between the OTM-R checklist and the overall action plan in a free text section.
If your organisation already has a recruitment strategy which implements the principles of Open, Transparent and Merit-Based Recruitment, you must provide the web link where this strategy can be found on your organisation's website.
The last section of your Action Plan deals with the Implementation of the HRS4R process. It must include information on how the HRS4R will be coordinated and embedded inside your organisation through working groups, alignment with HR policies, etc. Therefore, there is also a mandatory checklist with questions to answer.
Your Action Plan and HRS4R strategy must be published in English in an easily accessible location of your organisation’s website. The URL to the corresponding webpage must be included in the template on the HRS4R E-Tool.
Once the three mandatory documents (Gap Analysis, OTM-R checklist and Action Plan) are duly completed and saved in the HRS4R E-tool, your application for the "HR Excellence in Research Award" can be submitted to the European Commission.
Again, be careful : once the "Submit" button is clicked, you will no longer be able to update the files, and the action cannot be undone
Congratulations, you’ve just achieved one of the most important step of the HRS4R process. You have submitted the application for the HR Excellence in Research Award.
What follows is the administrative eligibility check of the application, which is performed by the European Commission.
The administrative eligibility check is intended to validate an application in terms of its compliance with the application procedure. This check has nothing to do with the quality of the data provided, but with the quality of the application as a whole, as suitable or not for assessment. Your organisation will be informed if the application is compliant and has passed the administrative eligibility check within four weeks after submission. If your application is considered non-compliant, you will be required to update it, based on the feedback provided by the European Commission. In this case, your task is moved backwards on the process flow and the templates of your initial application can be further edited. If required to make changes in your application templates, you will have to resubmit the updated version of your application within two months, after it receives the outcome of the administrative eligibility check.
The assessment of the application is the second step of the Initial Assessment phase and can only be initiated if an application has passed the administrative eligibility check. As said, it is performed by a group of external experts, selected by the European Commission on the basis of several criteria such as their competence and experience in the HRS4R field or any similar strategy, their geographical distribution among EU member states and associated countries and their institutional spread (research institutions, universities, research funders,…)
These experts receive appropriate training on all issues and requirements and, prior to evaluation assignments, they sign a declaration of confidentiality covering issues such as performance, obligation of impartiality and of confidentiality.
Each application will be assessed by three experts who are from a different country than your organisation. The experts use standard templates and criteria for all applications in order to ensure fair treatment for all organisations.
The experts will specifically be interested to find:
- Clear information on the contextual overview in which the HR Strategy is designed
- Coherence between the Gap Analysis and the Action Plan.Concrete actions for the implementation of the principles of the C&C, with clear indicators and timelines
- Examples of how your organisation consulted and involved the required internal and external stakeholder groups in their HRS4R process
- The HRS4R strategy published on your organisation’s website in English, in a visible place.
One of the three experts will be assigned the role of lead-assessor and will prepare the commonly agreed consensus report integrating the input provided in the individual assessments. The consensus report is the official feedback that your organisation will receive in terms of your application to the "HR Excellence in Research Award". It is also based on a standard template, but it includes besides the result of the general assessment (whether your organisation should receive the award), customised recommendations in terms of your ambition and planning of the HRS4R.
Note that the template used by the experts and the one used by the lead-assessor can be found in the last chapter of this tutorial. It is strongly recommended to look into them carefully before submitting your application for the "HR Excellence in Research Award", in order to make sure every specific requirement has been considered.
The general assessment, provided as part of the consensus report you will receive, simply indicates whether your organisation is granted the ‘HR award’ according to three options : « accepted », « accepted pending minor modifications » or « declined major modifications ».
If your application is « accepted », it means that it meets the criteria and the HR award is granted by the European Commission. The experts may comment on your submission asking for future focus on a particular aspect, if appropriate.
You are then allowed to display the HR Award emblem on your website and employer branding collateral.
It means that your organisation broadly meets the criteria but the external assessors have some concerns or questions about specific areas. In this case, your organisation is moved backwards on the HRS4R process flow in order to reflect on the feedback and act upon it.
Your organisation should consider for immediate action the recommendations mentioned as mandatory in order to obtain the award. The other recommendations can be addressed during the second phase of the HRS4R process: the implementation phase.
You are required to update the documentation in the HRS4R e-tool and resubmit your application for review within two months. The assessors will review only how your organisation has followed up on their feedback, which is why it is strongly recommended to act upon the specific recommendations and clearly detail the actions in the revised application.
Be careful: special attention is needed when resubmitting the revised application as only one resubmission is allowed at this stage.
Should your organisation face difficulties in complying with the deadline, there is always the possibility to ask for a deadline extension provided that the deadline is not overdue. The extension is offered only once and it is standard for all organisations. This extension lasts one month from the previously set deadline.
Your organisation does not meet the criteria to get the HR award and it is required to make the appropriate changes taking into account the recommendations of the assessors. In this case your organisation is moved backwards on the HRS4R process flow in order to implement what is requested in the feedback.
Your organisation is required to update the documentation in the HRS4R e-tool and resubmit the revised application for review within 12 months. As in the previous case, the assessors will review only how the institution has followed up on their feedback, which is why it is strongly recommended to act upon the specific recommendations and clearly detail the actions in the revised application.
And here again, special attention is needed when resubmitting the revised application as only two resubmissions are allowed at this stage.
Should your organisation face difficulties in complying with the deadline, there is the possibility to ask for a deadline extension. This one month extension is offered only once and it is standard for all organisations.
The outcome of the assessment is officially announced via the email address provided as contact when completing the first step of the application process. The consensus report will be displayed in your HRS4R dashboard on EURAXESS. The position of the organisation on the HRS4R process flow in the e-tool will be also reflected accordingly, including the next task – The Implementation Phase, the Internal Review for Interim Assessment.
From this moment on, your organisation can use the "HR Excellence in Research" emblem associated to its name on your organisation’s website, on social media, on marketing materials, etc. in order to promote its stimulating and favourable work environment for researchers. The HR award icon will be provided in different formats together with graphic guidelines.
As a EURAXESS member organisation, the award emblem will be activated on the EURAXESS portal as well, and will increase your employer’s visibility. Every time your organisation publishes a vacancy on EURAXESS, the "HR Excellence in Research" icon will appear next to your organisation's name.
Your organisation will also be listed on the EURAXESS portal under the header of "HR Acknowledged Institutions » (https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/jobs/hrs4r) together with a link to your HR Strategy published on your website.
- General Overview of the initial Phase
- Submission of the C&C endorsement and commitment letter - 1 / 2
- Submission of the C&C endorsement and commitment letter - 2 / 2
- If the endorsement letter is "Declined"
- The Gap Analysis - 1 / 3
- The Gap Analysis - 2 / 3
- The Gap Analysis - 3 / 3
- The OTM-R checklist - 1 / 3
- The OTM-R checklist - 2 / 3
- The OTM-R checklist - 3 / 3
- The Action Plan - 1 / 4
- The Action Plan - 2 / 4
- The Action Plan - 3 / 4
- The Action Plan - 4 / 4
- Initial assessment process and outcome - 1 / 2
- Initial assessment process and outcome - 2 / 2
- The general assessment
- If the HR Award is pending or declined - 1 / 2
- If the HR Award is pending or declined - 2 / 2
- Granting of the "HR Excellence in Research Award"