Fit and healthy employees
It is important to Alliander that our employees can remain sufficiently fit, motivated and skilled for their work, both now and in the future. In addition to a dialogue between managers and employees, Alliander promotes the long-term employability of its people through a special budget and a vitality programme. These investments serve to keep our people in good shape and ready for the work of the future.
We constantly assess whether our employees have the knowledge and competencies that are needed today and in the years to come. We are working on creating a culture in which it is normal to continue to invest in yourself, irrespective of your age, work experience or training. Every employee makes his or her own decisions in this regard. To raise awareness in this area, we organised a long-term employability event in September, where employees could take workshops with career counsellors, for instance, and take a fitness test. Moreover, employees at various business units were offered the opportunity of using the so called "Koersplan" career path planning tool to work out which investments need to be made to ensure they remain highly employable, both today and in the future. The employees were guided in the use of the tool during a special workshop.
We also take measures to increase long-term employability, for instance by offering training, internships and other learning experiences, and by getting employees and managers to discuss what the employee can do to remain employable in the future too. To resource this, since mid-2019 we have had a Long-term Employability portal, which is available to all employees, and we offer tips to managers on how to talk to employees about long-term employability. To help guide such a conversation – which involves discussing the skills the employee will need to continue working in the future – a ‘work landscape’ has been developed, which provides insight into jobs that are likely to become obsolete (very soon or in the future) and the opportunities for work in our own company and beyond. We are seeing that employees think about what is expected of them and what they need to achieve their ambitions. With these resources and measures, we are working together to ensure career continuity and the continuation of Alliander as a going concern.
In 2019, the sickness absence rate was 4.2% (2018: 4.7%). The average for our sector in the Netherlands is 4.8%. The rate of long-term sickness absence in particular has fallen in recent years. Together with our occupational health and safety service, we made plans to improve the prevention and reduction of sickness absence. We also looked at best practices within Alliander. We will continue to invest heavily in reducing sickness absence in the years ahead.
Over the last few years, we have conducted our annual Great Place to Work employee survey to measure how our employees rate our culture and how satisfied they are with aspects of their work and working environment. We did not conduct such a survey in 2019 however. The reason for this is that we carried out a strategy alignment survey and did not want to ask our employees to complete two surveys so close to each other. The aim of the strategy alignment survey was to assess whether all employees have the same goal in mind for Alliander. After all, if you want to really achieve something it is important to have a shared goal. Based on the findings, we discussed Alliander’s strategy and objectives with the employees. The various departments also had the opportunity to conduct a team barometer survey.
Training and development
Alliander has a training centre to help employees develop their skills in key areas such as technology, safety and leadership. We ensure that, as far as possible, all employees are (and will be) equipped to rise to the challenges that the energy transition brings, which is why we want to invest in our employees and work together on further developing their vitally important trade professionalism. To this end, we offered training and other learning experiences in 2019. Supporting the development of our employees and finding high-quality staff also poses a challenge from a risk management perspective. Alliander therefore actively develops competencies through trainee and talent management programmes.
In order to enable everyone to learn at any time, regardless of their age, Alliander Opleidingen, the company’s training department, has established two training programmes. Alliander College offers various non-technical courses as well as advice in the area of training. And through the company’s own technical college (Alliander Technische Bedrijfsschool), which offers a wide range of skills-oriented work-study programmes at all levels of education, Alliander Opleidingen makes a sizeable dent in the shortage of technicians. We trained a total of 1,500 people at our technical college during the year under review. In 2019, Alliander invested 2.7% of its wage bill in employee training (2018: 3.4%).
Collective labour agreement for network companies
A new collective labour agreement for network companies came into effect from 1 January 2019. Significant changes are the introduction of an à la carte budget scheme, which allows employees to choose to receive the budget in cash and/or in time off as they see fit, and a vitality scheme for employees aged 62 and older, enabling these employees to work fewer hours before retiring while keeping their original level of pension accrual.
The career centre supports all Alliander employees who are reviewing their employment options, either to make the next step in their career or because their work has been, or may be, redefined or terminated. During the year under review, 290 employees requested support from the career centre (2018: 308). A total of 75 colleagues became redundant in 2019 (2018: 67), and 295 (2018: 241) people to whom redundancy did not apply (or not immediately) also made use of our career centre. Thanks to this assistance, 107 employees managed to find a new job or an appropriate alternative (2018: 94).
Career counsellors help employees to discover their talents and find the most suitable role for them, either inside or outside Alliander. We believe that everyone is worth investing in, and we do this by offering internships, secondments, and training. We talk to employees about their future development in their current role or elsewhere. By making timely investments in our employees, we try to avoid redundancies wherever possible.
The Alliander Foundation encourages and helps our employees to engage in volunteering. In 2019, 862 volunteers took part in activities organised by or in cooperation with the Foundation, and the Foundation gave financial support to 82 employee-supported projects. A total of €194,000 was spent on these projects and activities. Alliander employees can request support for their own volunteer work or organise, on their own or with assistance, a team activity that benefits society. Examples of such activities include teams who accompany elderly wheelchair users for a day, or fix up the garden in a residential group for people with disabilities.
To raise money for charities, employees can request an amount of up to €500 (an ‘Event Budget’), which can be used to organise an event for a charity, like a sponsored run or a benefit dinner for example. And under the ‘Reach out to another’ initiative, employees can request a small amount to treat someone in their local community, like someone who is lonely or who for some other reason could use a little extra attention. Alliander is proud that the Foundation supports employee volunteering. In turn, the employees experience benefits such as an opportunity to broaden their horizons. The emphasis in the voluntary work is on independent organisation and on involving other colleagues in the initiative.
Internal compensation ratio
The transparency of compensation ratios within organisations is the subject of global debate. Alliander aims to report openly on this issue. The total income of the CEO is 3.6 times the median salary of all Alliander employees in the Netherlands.
Our plans for 2020
The number of FTEs in 2020 is expected to remain virtually the same, though, in view of the changing work package, the percentage of technical positions is expected to increase.