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Training and education

SFS’ long-term goal is to have 5–7% of its permanent employees worldwide enrolled in vocational training and education programs. This target was once again achieved in 2020 with a 5.0% share (2019: 6.3%). Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we were unable to expand our training and education activities in 2020, and some programs even had to be put on hold, thus accounting for the decline from 2019. Performance and career development reviews were conducted with 85% of all employees during the reporting year. This represents another year-on-year increase (2019: 81%).

GRI 103: MANAGEMENT APPROACH 2016

GRI 103-1 Explanation of the material topic and its boundary
SFS strongly supports employee training and education. This material topic is embedded in SFS Group’s strategy, which underscores the high importance accorded to this topic by company management. The Group's strategy commits SFS itself to a long-term partnership between employer and employee, underpinned by a strong emotional connection and mutual trust. Employees take responsibility, they live and support SFS’ corporate culture and values, and strive for continuous improvement. SFS views its innovation capacity as a key element in ensuring its sustained success. Consequently, SFS’ Corporate Principles also state that these goals are to be achieved by, inter alia, fostering a highly skilled workforce. SFS is committed to employee empowerment and to growing and developing employees’ professional competence. Dual education is also vital to SFS’ efforts to maintain and expand its competencies in its core production technologies, as this system is an effective means of selectively building and developing an internal pool of skilled workers.

The disclosures below are based on data that covers approximately 85% (2019: 88%) of the company’s workforce. Employees whose work is supervised by SFS, but who do not have a permanent employment contract with SFS (temporary employees) are not covered in these disclosures. Data on the companies acquired in 2019 (MBE Moderne Befestigungselemente GmbH and Firma Truelove & Maclean, Inc) was not integrated into the reporting process for the year under review. Furthermore, the roll-out of uniform reporting processes to every site has not yet been completed. The survey results reported for each site are based on the applicable site-specific legal basis.

The means and methods by which SFS promotes training and development are determined locally by each site or at the respective country-level subsidiary. In Switzerland, for example, a country-wide Group document defines the scope and content of training and development policies, the financial support and paid leave provided for training purposes, and repayment obligations.

GRI 103-2 The management approach and its components
SFS offers effective training programs to enhance the specific skillsets of its employees at every level of the organization in congruence with their potential. By doing so, it builds and grows the internal pool of talent that can be tapped to fill key positions or vacancies when required. This company policy also enables far-sighted succession planning.

SFS Group supports the dual system of vocational education and training to cultivate internal talent with that same goal in mind. To this end, modern training centers have been set up at sites throughout the Group, and SFS fosters interaction with schools and parents in order to offer young members of the workforce an enriching and hands-on alternative to academic studies.

The following KPIs for training and development activities have thus been defined in the company’s strategy and are reviewed on an annual basis:

Dual vocational training: SFS’ long-term goal is to have 5–7% of its permanent employees worldwide enrolled in vocational training and education programs.

This target was once again achieved in 2020 with a 5.0% share (2019: 6.3%).

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we were unable to expand our training and education activities in 2020, and some programs even had to be put on hold, thus accounting for the decline from 2019.

The divisional managing directors are responsible for goal achievement. Together with the managers of all sites in their division, they develop programs that align well with the general local environment and country-specific education laws and practices.

A special HR peer group has been created to ensure group-wide interaction and facilitate cross-site programs, such as international exchange programs.

The Corporate HR department is responsible for evaluation of goal achievement; the Group Executive Board is informed of the level of goal achievement.

Filling of key positions (members of divisional management and site managers):
SFS aims to fill more than 70% of its management vacancies with internal candidates (2020: 92%, 2019: 80%).

Divisional management is responsible for achievement of this goal. It screens potential successor candidates and promotes the career development of high-performing employees by means of the group-wide Structured Employee Development Program (SEDP). This process is initiated and coordinated annually by the Corporate HR department.

The Corporate HR department is also responsible for evaluation of goal achievement, and it reports to the Group Executive Board on progress made.

Training and development activities are adapted to the evolving needs of the Group and the divisions. Program adaptations also reflect the increasing use of digital training methods (eLearning, webinars, etc.). In the past year, this development was accelerated and gained in significance as a result of the pandemic-related restrictions. Current training needs are ascertained through the group-wide MbO (Management by Objectives) process, which brings supervisors and employees together to set development goals.

SFS has established an internationally uniform process with the following objectives for regular employee performance reviews:

  • Achievement of the overriding objectives (company goals)
  • Appraisal of employee performance and conduct
  • Employee identification with the objectives
  • Employee motivation
  • Identification of employee development needs and evaluation of training effectiveness

In order to give greater weight to environmental and social aspects at the management level, specific ESG targets will be included in the individual objectives for the entire Group Executive Board from calendar year 2021. These will include the use of renewable energy, reduction of CO2 emissions, and issues pertaining to occupational safety, equality, and training and education.

SFS also wants to achieve greater consistency in terms of international training opportunities across SFS Group. The Leadership@SFS project was launched in the preceding year at the initiative of the Group Executive Board. Its objective is to promote the development of management talent throughout SFS Group and to identity potential candidates at the earliest opportunity. A core team has been established to coordinate this project. Together with an international project team, it is responsible for formulating the concept and ensuring a steady flow of communication between the project team and the Group Executive Board. The basic outline of the concept was presented to and approved by the Group Executive Board in summer 2020, and the core team was instructed to pursue its development in further detail. The launch of this program was pushed back to 2022 due to the pandemic.

GRI 103-3 Evaluation of the management approach
The management approach is evaluated internally by the respective divisional management and externally within the scope of audits.

The results are reported internally via divisional management and at Group-level management.

Data collection at Group level remains a challenge, as a uniform reporting process has not yet been implemented throughout the Group. SFS is pursuing this implementation and aims to have a uniform reporting process in place within the next two years.

GRI 404: TRAINING AND EDUCATION 2016

GRI 404-3 Percentage of employees receiving a regular performance and career development review
Data was collected at 45 of the 51 legal entities that belong to SFS Group. The number of employees (8,391 headcounts) covered by this data during the year under review represented approximately 85% of SFS Group’s total permanent headcount.

The figures for the previous year are given in parentheses.

The number of employees refers only to permanent employees of SFS Group and does not include employees who are not on a permanent contract but whose work and/or workplace is supervised by SFS Group (temporary hires).

Share of employees with a performance review in the reporting year
total
7,105
(6,970)
female
2,042
(1,958)
male
5,063
(5,012)
in %
85%
(81.3%)¹
in %
90%
(87%)²
in %
83%
(91.3%)³

1Employees with a performance review in relation to the total number of employees who were taken into account in the data collection.
2Female employees with a performance review in relation to all female employees who were taken into account in the data collection.
3Male employees with a performance review in relation to the total number of employees who were taken into account in the data collection.