Quality of the organisation
We are the number one employer in the construction industry
Heijmans’ strength is in its people. This is why being a good employer is one of our top priorities. We have an eye for our people. They must be able to do their work safely, healthily and with pleasure.
In 2021, the organisation received an Employee Net Promoter Score of +25. We are happy with this, as it is an above average score, both in the construction industry and in the Netherlands as a whole. In 2022, we devoted a lot of attention and time to following up on that employee engagement survey. We did this per business unit and under the guidance of people’s own managers and the HR department. Meanwhile, we have started pilot projects at several business units to take more frequent measurements of mood. By asking employees frequently how they feel via an online tool, managers get a better picture of the mood in their group. This is interesting, for example, in environments where change processes are underway.
The current extraordinary circumstances, such as the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis, have left many people uncertain. Some worry about whether they will be able to continue to make ends meet. To give a helping hand, Heijmans decided in June 2022 to give all employees up to a certain job level - a total of 4,100 colleagues - a one-off net payment of € 250. We repeated this in November - just before the expensive December month - and gave the same group a gross amount of € 500. This made many employees proud, even if they did not receive an extra payment. They once again recognised Heijmans as an employer with a social face. Heijmans also made adjustments for a more appropriate allowance for travel expenses, as a result of the extreme increase in fuel costs midway through last year.
Capacity and deployability
The construction and infra markets are faced with a scarcity of highly employable workers. For the time being, we are still managing to fill vacancies, but this requires a huge effort on our part. We are using the ‘Make it happen’ labour market campaign for all vacancies, and this has raised Heijmans’ profile in the market. In 2022, we hired 607 new employees. All salaried employees are covered by collective labour agreements.
Last year, the completion of the learning programme for refugees with residence permits helped us take on a group of highly motivated and driven employees. After 20 months of intensive training, all the participants in the programme have now graduated. They can now work independently as first technicians in low-voltage distribution (Infra) or electrical installations (Utility Services). For many, it was also a major step in their assimilation in the Netherlands. The practical supervisors and buddies played an important role in bridging language problems and cultural differences. The genuine interest in each other and the will to succeed together were the most important factors. We have since followed up on the programme and it is now being expanded to include other positions.
In addition, we are currently using internal training courses - including those at the Heijmans Technical Academy - to retrain many colleagues to keep them employable within their own professions. At the same time, we are feeling the effects of the scarcity in the labour market, which means that the unwanted departure of employees remains high. This increases the urgency to increase our focus on employee retention. In that context, over the past year we have started looking at and listening even more specifically to the underlying reasons employees give for leaving the company. We are analysing the information from exit interviews and holding discussions with management and employees to look for targeted solutions and work adjustments. We also investigated the market conformity of our remuneration. Based on various benchmarks, we made some adjustments for a number of specific groups.
The rise in continuing absenteeism is also a matter of concern. We have been paying generic attention to prevention and vitality for years; in the past year, we also consciously sought to increase the customisation of our approach. In-depth analyses have helped us gain insights at job and group level. Armed this information, we are now focusing more explicitly on preventing absenteeism. For instance, we focused on holding individual discussions on sustainable employability. It is particularly important to talk to employees in management jobs on construction site projects before they take sick leave. These discussions between employees, their supervisors and a HR colleague led to new insights, solutions and opportunities.
Last year, we used the PAGO Roadshow to give another interpretation to Vitality Week. PAGO stands for periodic occupational health examination and is a preventive examination to assess the individual health of our people. It identifies any health risks and lifestyle. The roadshow took the theme of Vitality to employees at project and office sites and stressed the importance of the PAGO. The Vitality working group organised the roadshows in cooperation with the Arbo Unie and Bureau LIJV. During the roadshow, everyone had the opportunity to take a Stress measurement and have their blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels tested. Results were immediately available and, where necessary, personal advice was given on the spot to help improve health and vitality. The tests are completely anonymous and every colleague at Heijmans is entitled to take them.
Developing potential is more important than ever in a tight labour market. This is why Heijmans invests year after year in attracting and guiding young talent: trainees and other starters. In addition, twice a year we launch a programme for young potentials with around three years’ work experience.
Last year, we launched a new leadership programme, ‘Leaders of tomorrow’, aimed at colleagues who have the potential to progress to management positions. Participants are carefully selected and only allowed to join once they have passed a positive development assessment and we have a concrete plan for an early, next career step. We want to prevent well-trained and motivated talent from leaving the company because they cannot move on internally quickly enough, but on the other hand we do not want to create expectations we cannot fulfil.
In the current tight labour market, it is even more important to offer the young generation prospects for advancement. This is why we simultaneously started offering specific development activities within the business areas for all the potentials of a business area. These activities are organised and supervised by management, with support from HR. For instance, they include a breakfast session for a group of potentials on a strategic theme within the business area. This enables employees to get involved in topics further from their normal duties, while management gets to know these employees better. Everything in this process is aimed at investing more in the potential within the organisation and organising the flow better. We are also targeting this with a KPI target of 60% internal appointments to key positions. Last year, we achieved 53%. Ultimately, this percentage should increase to at least 70%. We want to continue to hire people from outside the organisation for the remainder of the positions because they can add a fresh perspective and new input.
Code of conduct
In addition to physical safety, Heijmans also attaches great importance to offering its employees a safe working environment. We have therefore tightened our code of conduct and selected and trained a new, diverse group of confidential counsellors more suited to our diverse organisation. They have personally introduced themselves to colleagues to make them easier to find and make them feel accessible. In addition, the ‘Business Integrity’ programme is ongoing. This programme was supposed to be started three years ago, but was delayed due to Covid. The Business Integrity programme started with an e-learning module and followed up with interactive sessions. In the Business Integrity sessions, we delve deeper into topics such as: How do you distinguish between what you think and what we collectively find acceptable? How do you deal with issues that are not black and white? How do you prevent your own opinion from blinding you to that of others? And how do you balance these things in a way that we collectively find acceptable within Heijmans and that is in line with our code of conduct? In this way, we want to stimulate the conversation between people about what constitutes ethical behaviour. The code of conduct indicates what we consider important and what is and is not allowed. This therefore addresses numerous themes and possible dilemmas: unacceptable behaviour, dealing with suppliers, transparency towards clients, mores on social media, and so on. The workshops are led by members of senior management who are themselves specially trained for this purpose. This makes them fully aware of how they need to set an example for others (see also section 8.4).