Organisation and people
‘The journey continues’
In line with the Accell Group strategy, we made a step change in the adaptation and adoption of the new organisation in 2019. The goal is to create a more agile, efficient and consumer-centric business with a deep commitment to sustainability and people.
In 2019, we made only minor changes to the 2018 matrix design. These were changes in reporting lines, meeting attendees and communication cascades; changes that demonstrate our pragmatic approach during the implementation. The overall structure of business regions with a strong commercial focus and a well-equipped centralised hub remains untouched and is now well established. Despite this success, we did see some signs of project overload and immediately intervened, changing the priority attached to large number of initiatives. This increased the focus on those projects with the highest consumer and commercial impact, such as innovation and marketing-related projects.
During the year, we organised numerous highly interactive workshops to optimise the finer details of how we work together, how we communicate and how we reach out to each other. This also created a much stronger networked organisation.
In 2019, the strategy roll-out had an impact on all our units, teams and people. The support for the strategic direction and our people’s passion for bicycles and brands helped to smoothen the transition process. We put leadership teams in place at every level of the organisation and strengthened cooperative links across countries. We also established more similar job and roles definitions across teams. Dedicated support was provided for specific projects and organisational changes that were more complex or had a greater impact on the transition.
We very much appreciate the continued and constructively critical support we receive from our employee representation bodies. During our regular meetings, we discussed a great many issues, leading to improved proposals and implementation processes. Examples include organisational changes, the set-up and results of the Employee Engagement Survey and the pilot for the 360-degree feedback system. The works councils in the Netherlands also interacted in various sessions with the Accell Group Supervisory Board.
Employee engagement survey
As anticipated in the outlook for 2019, it has taken some time for the dust to settle. For this reason, in March we conducted the first ever Accell Group-wide employee engagement survey (EES). More than 72% of our staff on the payroll responded to the invitation to participate in the EES. Yet again, the results show that Accell staff welcome the new strategy, organisation and spirit of cooperation. The commitment of people to their roles and the organisation remains very strong in a period of change.
It was also clear from the EES results that we still face a number of leadership challenges, in terms of the need to continuously improve communications, staff appreciation and recognition. These challenges are translated under the heading of “Vitality”; the desire to improve how Accell staff experiences pressure at work, regain energy and increase the influence on their work content and work pace.
We cascaded the EES results down through the organisation and identified specific actions for 2019 and 2020. We will repeat the EES at year-end 2020 to measure progress against targets set. We have also included these targets in the non-financial performance targets for Accell Group senior management.
We embedded a number of pilots and initiatives in our overall HR strategy of ‘Simply the best bike company to work for’. These include the introduction of a renewed 360-degree feedback system, the first steps towards defining the foundation for an integrated HR information system, our talent review and talent acquisition approach, CSR workshops and many more. We will continuously update successful programmes, such as the Accell Onboarding programme.
In particular, we would like to highlight the efficient and creative approach taken by our largest subsidiaries in Turkey, Hungary and the Netherlands in terms of new initiatives in the recruitment, training and development of a highly diverse group of new colleagues, all of whom we warmly welcome. Accell the Netherlands received special recognition for its efforts and won ‘High achiever Social Entrepreneurship’ award. This award was granted by third-party initiator TNO, on the basis of external audits and is an encouragement to continue on our road to becoming ‘Simply the best bike company to work with’. In this context, we see the growth in the group of female professionals at Accell as an encouraging sign that we are on the right track on this front.
Our continued attention to health and safety at work resulted in a number of new initiatives at our major subsidiaries. In general terms, we continue to stress the importance of basic discipline, good training and the attentiveness of all our people. We firmly believe that investments in impactful healthcare initiatives more than pay off in the long run. For instance, last year we offered our staff based in the Netherlands a personal feedback session on lifestyle and health issues, with the help of a third-party consultancy. The staff response to the invitation and session was positive. Despite this and other initiatives, we did have a number of lost-time accidents1, which we carefully scrutinised to avoid future repetition. In the course of 2019, we tightened reporting procedures and incident definitions. This resulted in a statistical increase in incidents reported. Safety teams now have more accurate data available, enabling them to focus on incident root causes and initiate new measures. The new reporting and follow-up process is anchored in the responsibilities of the Board of Management.
The absenteeism percentage increased in 2019. In the period ahead, we will be devoting our full attention to reversing this trend. Analysis shows that next to the influence of ‘standard influenza’ and improved reporting on lost time incidents on the absenteeism score there has been an increase in long-term sickness cases which have a considerable impact on the reported trend. We continue to strive for our ambition of zero accidents (compared to 144 accidents in 2019) and encourage exercise and healthy living for all our staff.
In 2019, we continued to devote attention to reducing emissions from commuting and the reduction of air travel. We encourage the use of our own bicycles for commuting to work wherever we can. We also make use of changes in local tax regulations if these make it beneficial to provide staff with bikes.
Our goal is to provide 15 hours of training per employee per year. After increasing to 13.3 hours in 2018 (2017: 12.1 hours), this increased to 13.7 hours per FTE in 2019. We will continue to invest in the training and education of our staff in the years ahead.
Over the past few years, we have seen a reversal on the labour market. From a surplus of well-trained and educated people in many functional areas, Europe has quickly developed a shortage of specialists, for instance in IT, Engineering, design, logistics and e-commerce.
One of our major advantages in the recruitment and retention of talent is the natural appeal of our products and brands, as well as our solid reputation as an employer in the regions we operate in. The fact that most of our subsidiaries are not based in European economic hotspots is occasionally a minus.
The recruitment of new colleagues from the Ukraine for our Hungarian subsidiary is one example of our creativity and pragmatism. This tactic enabled the team in Hungary to recruit new colleagues from Ukraine to tackle a local shortage of experienced mechanics for our production facilities in Hungary. This boosted productivity by more than 50% in this important production hub.
Generally, the increased availability of female professionals in all functional areas is helping us to gradually move towards achieving our ambitious gender diversity goals. We developed and broadened our Diversity and Inclusion policy and practices last year. As part of this, we set up a dedicated task force, to design and help implement a creative and relevant approach to a wide range of diversity and inclusion-related issues. As a first step, our ambition is to have female professionals account for at least 40% of our (senior) management compared to 23% now.
In Europe as a whole, total salaries are rising significantly. This rise is sometimes driven by government measures, such as inflation correction (Turkey, Hungary), or is part of a collective labour agreement (the Netherlands) on which we have limited influence. To control cost development, we have installed a new process to authorise increases in the number of FTEs. In terms of salaries, Accell Group continues to aim for the median position in any relevant peer comparison.
Priorities for 2020
We will continue with our organisational transition at a steady pace. As the motto for 2020 is ‘Getting the basics right’, we will continue to launch initiatives to increase organisational efficiency and effectiveness.
An important part of this will be our preparations for the roll-out of new business systems and our group HR information system. Also on the agenda are the modernisation of our staff benefits programme, the 2020 employee engagement survey, the Accell Purpose workshops and the activation of a large number of CSR programmes and initiatives
More specifically, we are moving forward on our multi-year programme to achieve:
- A continuous improvement of our employee engagement survey scores on participation, people satisfaction and engagement;
- A representation of 40% female professionals in (senior) management roles;
- An increased training target to an average of 24 hours/year per FTE;
- A continued rise in productivity throughout the business.