In the Trends & developments section, we explain which trends in the energy market and the labour market are affecting our company and employees. We translate these developments into the impact on our workforce, both in terms of the numbers of employees and the knowledge and skills needed. The reduction in traditional natural gas transport and the use of risk-based asset management will decrease our workload in the coming years. In 2018, we offset the decline in these activities by reducing our flexible workforce.
We see slight growth for our international and energy transition activities in 2018. The development of these activities is accompanied by more uncertainty and, in the current development phase, often requires different competencies. In fleshing this out, we give our own employees the latitude and resources to develop the necessary competencies. Overall, we expect a further decline in FTEs in the coming years, which will also affect our own employees. The starting point here is that we want to guide employees from work to work.
Taking into account the general developments and trends in the labour market and, more specifically, the developments in the energy market and the impact these have on Gasunie, we further fleshed out organisational and leadership development over the past year and continued developing our sustainable employability programme.
Sustainable HRM and employment conditions policy
In 2018, we continued the journey we started in previous years, in mutual dialogue with the Works Council and the trade unions. In collaboration, we put together a balanced and future-oriented package of employment conditions for the coming 4 years. The key starting points were room for employees to be in charge and sustainable employability. In this context, we took the aforementioned developments in our surroundings into consideration, translating them into a package of measures with respect to employment and other relationships, sustainable employability, job satisfaction, and remuneration and productivity.
Gasunie’s pension scheme expired at the end of 2017. A committee in which pension experts from the employer and the trade unions were represented prepared a new scheme. The key features of this scheme are: the current scheme will be continued for a period of 4 years because new pension legislation is expected in 2021. The standard retirement age will be increased from 67 to 68 years, with legal effect from 1 January 2018. Due to the persistently low interest rate, the premium needs to be increased significantly, despite the raising of the standard retirement age.
The employer and employees will each contribute half of the necessary premium increase from 1 January 2018 onwards.
In order to be a flexible organisation, we need employees who work in an engaged and productive way, both now and in the future, and who continue to add value to our company or for another employer, in other words: employees who are ‘sustainably employable’. Since 1 January 2017, employees have been able to make use of the new additions to our sustainable employability programme. The programme focuses on four themes: vitality, work situation, career and flexibility. These themes have been worked out in various options, such as coaching, retraining and career counselling. The options were conceived of and elaborated by employees themselves. The programme is funded partly by the employees themselves and partly by the company. This package is a starting point and will be further adjusted and expanded in line with employees’ needs over time.
Voluntary severance scheme
The sustainable employability programme and employee development did not achieve enough movement and turnover inside and outside the organisation in 2018. Given the fact that our work is declining faster than expected, we want to avoid compulsory redundancies in the future as much as possible. That is why we decided in the summer of 2018 to develop a voluntary severance scheme. Employees who had been permanently employed at the company for ten years or more could register for this scheme. Participation was capped at 15% of our workforce in the Netherlands (240 employees). A maximum outflow percentage of 15% per unit also applied for the ICT, Operations, Business Development and Participations units. The maximum number of participants - 240 - was reached at the end of January 2019. We would like to thank these colleagues for their many years of dedication and devotion to Gasunie. Many of them will be leaving us during the first quarter of 2019.
Training and development
We believe in the concept of ‘life-long learning’. We think it is important for our employees to be able to develop and pursue personal growth during their careers, as this helps to improve sustainable employability. We offer our employees the opportunity to follow specific courses and training programmes, including tailor-made programmes. These are regular training programmes, which are offered in addition to the programme for sustainable employability. At Gasunie in the Netherlands, we spent € 3.4 million on training programmes and courses in 2018.
In October 2017, we started ‘Impuls’, the development programme that supports managers in their role in achieving our strategic objectives for 2023. Every four months, a topic is highlighted in an inspiring way via ‘Impuls’, and managers and employees alike can actively get to work on the topic. Here, too, ‘personally taking charge’ is the starting point: managers are given plenty of room to make their own contribution and choose their own direction. We also approved the leadership profile in November 2017. Based on this profile, a leadership programme was developed (Gasunie Transition Expedition), which facilitates managers in shaping or implementing the changes in the organisation by means of various development paths.
In accordance with the agreements made earlier between the employer, trade unions and the Works Council, we implemented a collective labour agreement pay rise of 2.4% in 2018, which is equal to the CPI for the period August 2016 - August 2017 plus 1.0%.
2018 Employee Survey
In March 2018, we conducted our biannual Employee Survey, in which our employees rate important topics within Gasunie such as satisfaction, leadership, commitment and cooperation. The outcomes are discussed at organisational and departmental level so that we can continue to improve our business operations and working at Gasunie.
Based on the 2018 results, Gasunie was granted a ‘Best employer’ quality mark. This is a quality mark awarded by Effectory and Intermediair that demonstrates that we are an organisation where people enjoy working. With these results, Gasunie shows a level trend over the years, even during these times that are characterised by transition. The topic of Leadership even showed a clear increase, A nice boost, since we have invested a great deal in this topic over the past several years. A high score for the topic of Sustainable employability is also welcome recognition of the significant efforts in this area over the past two years. Furthermore, we distinguish ourselves with the ample development opportunities we offer our employees.
An important point for attention highlighted by the survey is that in these times of change, we must keep the ‘bigger picture’ in mind more than ever. We must look beyond the limits of individual departments and even our own organisation, promote cooperation and continue to communicate clearly about current developments and organisational goals. Various initiatives are already implementing these ambitions at this moment.
Health and well-being
We aim for the lowest possible level of absence due to sickness. We therefore devote a great deal of attention to preventing sickness. The sickness absence rate at Gasunie in the Netherlands was 4.74% in 2018 (in 2017: 4.14%), which is in line with our industry. In Germany, the sickness absence rate in 2018 was 4.03% (2017: 4.36%). If an employee must nonetheless be absent for some time, we try to facilitate the employee’s reintegration as well as possible by offering customised reintegration options in consultation with the employee involved. The national average for the Netherlands in 2017 was 4.0%. The figure for 2018 was not yet known on the date of publication of this annual report.
We offer employees aged forty and older an opportunity to undergo a periodical medical examination once every four years.
|Absence due to sickness (total)||Percentages||4.14||4.36||4.74||4.03|
|- short-term absence||Percentages||0.77||1.42||0.81||1.60|
|- medium-term absence||Percentages||0.60||1.33||0.71||1.42|
|- long-term absence||Percentages||2.77||1.61||3.22||1.01|
|Work-related absence (reported by employee)||Absence cases||23||-||29||-|
|Reported to the Netherlands Centre for Occupational Diseases (NCB)||Notifications||0||-||0||-|
Equal opportunities for people with poor job prospects
In 2015, we took the first steps in implementing the Dutch Participation Act, which aims to ensure that people with poor job prospects can find jobs with regular employers. We feel that we have a social responsibility and see implementation of the Participation Act as a way to step up our level of engagement. That is why we open our job vacancies up to people from the particular target group. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for placing people with poor job prospects in jobs. Every case is different. We do not adhere to a particular percentage of Participation Act employees, therefore, but look whether and if so, where in the organisation candidates can best come into their own, given their individual competences.
In 2018, there were 9 employees from the Participation Act target group. The group includes both physically and mentally handicapped people. We also frequently consult with the Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (UWV), the municipality and other companies in the region to share knowledge, come up with ideas and simplify implementation of the law. We join initiatives to allow more people to participate in society. We offer work experience placements and internships.
Code of Conduct
Our Code of Conduct describes what we expect of our employees in terms of acting with integrity. It includes rules for treating colleagues with respect, ethical issues, bribery and corruption, the use of alcohol and drugs, dealing with commercially sensitive information, the use of social media and making telephone calls while driving. Violations of the Code reported in 2018 were addressed, and appropriate measures were taken by the management. In 2018, we found zero incidents of bribery or corruption.
In 2018, there were no reports of ‘suspected misconduct’ by our employees. We trained a total of three of our colleagues as confidential counsellors and will expand this number to six over the course of 2019. Our employees can report to them, anonymously and in confidence, any suspicions of misconduct, such as corruption, fraud, bullying or intimidation. In a non-committal conversation, the counsellor discusses with the employee involved whether any action is desired, and if so, what kind of action.