Our operating environment continued to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and securing the health and safety of our over 700 employees was our top priority. We continued to develop our people-related processes. In 2021, we had a special focus on three topics: career and performance development, feedback and recognition, and management skills and communication.
Safeguarding our employees
For Suominen, securing the health and safety of its employees is, in all situations, of the utmost importance. Various safety and other precautionary measures were implemented at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and remained active in 2021. We continued to monitor the development of the pandemic and adjusted our safety measures accordingly. A COVID-19 task force with participants from all our locations continued in 2021. Thanks to our dedicated people and our proactive approach and actions, the pandemic has had only a limited impact on our ability to serve our customers and to run our operations. We were also able to continue working towards achieving our sustainability targets according to plan, regardless of the pandemic.
Advancing employee engagement
Increasing employee engagement is one of our key people-related targets in our Sustainability Agenda. We conducted a global employee engagement survey for a second consecutive year in 2021. The response rate for the survey was 73%. The survey results identified both positive areas and opportunities for improvement. The results improved in all areas that were chosen as focus areas based on the results of the previous survey, confirming to us that the actions that we took were on point and effective. Confidence in the company’s future success, on the other hand, decreased from 2020, which was financially a record year for Suominen.
The global results are used as a basis for our people-related development work. Team-specific results are shared with the team leaders, and they will be reviewed and discussed within the teams. Based on the results, each site and function leader will create a targeted, actionable development plan, including follow-ups. Based on the global results, our employee engagement index is 66%, which is three percentage points lower than in the previous survey. The index is a combination of questions concerning our people’s likelihood of recommending and staying in the company, organizational pride, and commitment. The result means that 66% 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 promote our employer brand more actively to increase employee commitment, retention, satisfaction, and attraction.
In pursuit of high performance
Building a high performance culture is an important element in Suominen’s strategy and Sustainability Agenda. We strive to build 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. Feedback and recognition was identified as an area for development in our previous global employee engagement survey, and in 2021, we implemented an entirely re-designed performance development process. The process covers all our white collar employees and consists of four structured employee–manager discussions per year. In 2021, we also reviewed and created a plan to harmonize local blue collar performance management processes and short-term incentive plans. The employee–manager discussions covered 77% of our employees globally in 2021.
Promoting equal opportunities and supporting professional development
Suominen has over 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.
Career development and identifying and developing the competencies that are essential in reaching our strategic objectives were also identified as areas for improvement in our previous global employee engagement survey. In 2021, we created and launched a competency framework to systematically support our employees in their professional development. The framework also strengthens our processes for recruitment and succession planning and enables mapping of competencies.
In 2021, a mandatory training program regarding Suominen’s renewed Code of Conduct was rolled out to all employees. We also arranged trainings and other activities for supervisors, to support them in their work and improve their manager skills. In addition, various quality and process trainings and a series of agreement trainings were arranged during the year for targeted roles.