Occupational safety and the overall well-being of employees is a priority for Suominen. We invest in increasing employee engagement. We continue to build a high performance culture and to strengthen our safety culture.
In 2020, our operating environment was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Securing the health and safety of our nearly 700 employees was a top priority for Suominen. In our development work, we focused on understanding the level and drivers of our employee engagement and on enhancing our processes to promote a high performance culture.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected the operating environment of companies around the world in many ways. For Suominen, securing the health and safety of its employees is in all situations of the utmost importance. In 2020, we implemented various safety and other precautionary measures, and we continuously monitored the development of the pandemic.
At the beginning of the pandemic, a COVID-19 task force with participants from all our locations was established, and it held weekly – and later biweekly – meetings. To assess the impact of COVID-19 in daily work, we also conducted two pulse surveys among our employees, one in the spring and the other in December. A large majority of the respondents felt that they had been able to work effectively despite the pandemic, have confidence in the company’s response to the pandemic, and feel safe carrying out their duties during the pandemic. Thanks to our dedicated people and our proactive approach and actions, the exceptional situation had only a limited impact on our ability to serve our customers and to run our operations.
Increasing employee engagement is one of our key people-related targets in our Sustainability Agenda for 2020–2025. As an important step in this work, we conducted a global employee engagement survey in the second half of 2020. The response rate for the survey was 79%.
The survey results identified both positive areas and opportunities for improvement. With regard to the positives, our people appreciate Suominen’s commitment to safety and sustainability, know our strategy and what is expected of them, and have strong confidence in the company’s future. The opportunities to further increase the level of engagement relate to employee feedback and recognition, communication, and career development. The results have been shared with the relevant team leaders to be further discussed within their teams and to be used as the basis for creating targeted, actionable development plans. We have a follow-up procedure in place to ensure that the plans are implemented and to support the systematic development of our employee engagement and performance culture. Based on the results, our employee engagement index is 69%, which is on par with global manufacturing companies. The index is a combination of questions concerning our people’s likelihood to recommend and stay in the company, organizational pride, and commitment. The result means that 69% of the survey participants responded favorably to those questions.
Further developing our recruitment and onboarding processes and the related experiences is an important long-term target for us. We will also strengthen and communicate our employer brand more actively to increase employee commitment, retention, satisfaction, and attraction.
Building a high performance culture is an important element in Suominen’s strategy and Sustainability Agenda. We are aiming for a culture in which people are encouraged to exceed expectations – to go the extra mile – and are enabled to perform to their full potential. To support the successful implementation of our strategy and the high performance culture, we ensure that our employees’ targets and actions are aligned with the company’s strategy and objectives.
We continuously develop our processes and practices to identify, foster, and reward excellent performance and to drive a pay-for-performance compensation model. In 2020, we worked extensively on our job architecture and further developed our performance development and reward systems and processes.
Suominen’s performance development discussion process consists of regular employee – manager discussions covering topics such as success in reaching the previous year’s targets, setting targets for the ongoing year, and identifying development needs and plans. During the year, we strengthened the quality of target setting and promoted a feedback culture to further enhance the process. In 2020, the employee – manager discussions covered 75% of our employees. Our target for 2021 is to develop and harmonize the performance and development discussion process also for our blue-collar employees globally.
Suominen has nearly 700 employees, representing more than a dozen nationalities working in eight locations on three continents. We recognize the business benefits of having a diverse workforce and want to offer a fair workplace with equal opportunities for everyone. We do not tolerate any kind of discrimination, including discrimination based on age, gender, religion, or ethnic origin. When making employee-related decisions, for example when recruiting, promoting, rewarding, or developing our personnel, we pay special attention to equality.
It is crucial for our success that we identify and develop the competencies and capabilities needed to reach our strategic objectives. An important part of this is to systematically support our employees’ personal growth ambitions and continuous professional development. In 2020, health and safety issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic somewhat slowed our training activities. However, we started a global program to further develop our sales capabilities and common processes, and we also carried out a number of local training programs covering topics such as safety, quality, and best practices.
We focus on safety and accident prevention, and we have a strong safety culture. The health and safety of Suominen’s employees is our key priority.
Safety is one of our key people-related targets. Our target is to have zero lost-time accidents (LTA). In 2020, progress was positive. One LTA occurred at Suominen sites in 2020 (6 in 2019) and seven out of eight sites were able to reach the zero LTA target in 2020. In 2020, the accident frequency rate (AFR) decreased to 0.79 (4.95), and the accident severity rate (ASR) was 0.14 (0.12). We keep records of all work-related accidents and near misses and identify their causes.
The year 2020 was marked worldwide by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our primary focus during the year was to keep our employees safe and healthy. Suominen monitored the COVID-19 situation closely and implemented extensive precautions to protect our employees and to ensure a safe working environment on our sites. Global rules and recommendations were implemented, including a business travel ban, limitations on physical meetings and plant visits, and other measures. Thanks to our proactive approach, there were only limited impacts on our ability to serve our customers and run our operations during 2020.
Suominen’s safety work is based on preventive work, and Suominen has implemented Life Saving Rules and a Behavior Based Safety program covering employees working both at Suominen’s manufacturing sites and at office premises.
The Behavior Based Safety program kept rolling for the seventh year in a row in 2020. The program emphasizes the individual’s own responsibility in safety and focuses on influencing the attitude and motivation of individuals.
The program is implemented through safety walks, in which an employee walks through the premises identifying both safe and unsafe behaviors and conditions, and then engages in an open discussion with other employees.
Safety walk training is mandatory for all new employees as part of their onboarding process. In 2020, over 11,800 safety walks were performed globally. Altogether, 1,614 unsafe actions or conditions were identified that need to be rectified. However, as a precautionary measure, safety walks were suspended in early 2020 to ensure social distances in our sites due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suominen develops safety at the workplace according to the principle of continuous improvement and constantly shares the best practices at individual plants to benefit the entire plant network. In improving safety, Suominen places particular emphasis on influencing attitudes, behavior, and operating models, and on building a culture of work safety. Safety monitoring is part of the daily activities.
In 2021, we will continue on strengthening our safety culture.