Workforce Culture

NINDS aspires to create and sustain a supportive work culture for the Institute’s workforce that becomes the model for biomedical research and the neuroscience community. 

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The effectiveness of the NINDS staff is crucial to the Institute’s success in advancing its mission.  For this reason, attention to the Institute’s workforce culture and its impact on staff performance is an integral part of the NINDS strategic plan.  The following goals address these issues:

Performance Management

Establish effective performance management, with clear procedures, fair policies, meaningful recognition, accountability, and transparency.

photo of the workforce culture awards ceremony

To ensure the effectiveness of the NINDS staff and the organization, NINDS must pay attention first and foremost to how the work at NINDS and the entire organization are managed.  Sound performance management, which can be achieved by clear organizational structure and procedures, fair policies, meaningful recognition, accountability, and transparency, sets a strong foundation upon which good morale and productivity can be built.  NINDS believes that enhancing employee engagement through effective performance management will increase our commitment to and advancement of the NINDS mission of reducing the burden of neurological disease.  NINDS will continue evaluation of its current organizational structure, as well as policies and processes for hiring, onboarding, accountability, and recognition.  Our goal is to create an environment in which the NINDS leaders and supervisors are able to lead most effectively and everyone at all levels of NINDS is empowered to contribute in ways that are meaningful to the organization and to the individual. 

CORE Ideals stands for Culture of Respect and Engagement: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Agency, and Leadership Support. The CORE Ideals trans-NINDS workforce committee will oversee the implementation of strategies to enhance workplace culture.

Supportive Workforce Culture

Promote a positive and productive work environment and workforce culture with a strong sense of community.

NINDS staff at a picnic

According to an NIH-wide climate survey conducted in 2019, more than one in five NIH employees said they have experienced harassment in the past year.  To address this issue, NIH and NINDS initiated several programs focused on demonstrating accountability, creating expectations to ensure a safe workplace, and providing clear channels of communication.  As an Institute that funds neuroscience research and supports training of the next generation of neuroscientists at many academic institutions across the United States, NINDS will continue to look inwardly and identify and implement strategies to create a workplace that is diverse and inclusive, free of harassment and discrimination, and will strive to be a model for the extramural neuroscience research community.  Some initial strategies include recurring bystander training required of all staff, education on anti-harassment policy and available resources, and offering peer assistance and frontline support for common workplace issues.  Ultimately, NINDS aims to foster an open and inclusive culture where everyone not only is treated in a respectful manner but also is heard and feels at ease when speaking up, which we hope will allow us to find more creative solutions together. 

Communication and Collaboration

Promote communication and collaboration within and across NINDS communities.

Effective internal communication is an essential tool in daily operations within NINDS and in accomplishing all four major goals to advance NINDS’s mission.  For effective internal communication within NINDS, clear lines of communication must be established at different levels and parts of the organization, and relevant information should be shared with appropriate personnel in a timely manner.  Silos within the organization should be identified and broken down to stimulate opportunities for enhanced collaboration and peer support.  Strategies include developing, refining, and disseminating an internal communication strategy, creating opportunities to bring people together and quickly assemble high-quality teams, and incentivizing collaboration across NINDS.  By better facilitating the way NINDS staff members work with one another, we hope to nurture a strong sense of community and work more nimbly.

Employee Work-Life Satisfaction

Foster a workforce culture that recognizes work-life needs and supports career goals and satisfaction.

To attract and maintain high caliber talent at NINDS, it is important to foster a workforce culture that not only challenges individuals to grow professionally but also understands that high quality products come from people who are satisfied at work and in life.  It is our belief that this investment in the well-being and growth of each person who works at NINDS will lead to accelerated scientific progress and reducing the impact of neurological disorders.  Employee growth and work-life satisfaction can be promoted through a wider availability of opportunities for career development, training, and mentoring, and enhanced support for work-life balance, including clear communication of existing benefits and resources and building a workplace culture that recognizes and responds to individual needs.

The “NINDS Career Conversations” roundtable brown bag career development and networking series  is a venue for NINDS staff at all career stages to have open conversations about work and life.