Training and education

SFS’s long-term goal is for 5–7% of permanent employees worldwide to participate in training programs. SFS was able to reaffirm its stated target of 5.1% in 2021 (2020: 5.0%). The revision of the employee development process (SEDP) and the basic idea for the Advanced Leadership Development Program represent vital advances made in the area of employee development. Figures related to performance reviews remained stable. Progress was also documented by the feedback received through the employee survey that awarded second place to SFS in Switzerland, putting it once again among the top-ranked locations.


GRI 103-1 Explanation of the material topic and its boundary
SFS is heavily involved in training and further education. The enormous importance that corporate management attaches to this topic is clearly reflected in the fact that the topic is firmly incorporated into the SFS Group strategy. In this strategy, SFS promises to work toward a long-term partnership with its employees based on strong emotional ties and mutual trust. They assume responsibility, nurture the culture and values of SFS and strive for continuous improvement. Since innovation is a key element toward ensuring SFS’s long-term success, the SFS Corporate Principles stipulate that these goals are to be achieved, among other things, by providing employees with an above-average amount of training. Accordingly, SFS promises to foster its employees and to build and develop their skills. To maintain and further expand SFS’s expertise in its core technologies, the Group also attaches great importance to the dual education system, which can be used to provide targeted, in-house training to young talent.

The collection of HR-related data was aligned with the financial reporting structure – as was also done in the other sustainability-related areas. This has also helped expand the reach. As can be seen in Table 102-8, data collection now shares the same scope as financial reporting. This expansion of data collection activities, coupled with a switch to FTE values instead of headcounts, makes it difficult to compare the data with that of last year’s report. That does not apply to data collected for the dual education system metric, which was still done in line with the previous data collection method.

The approaches used by SFS to promote training and further education are determined locally at the sites and within the international subsidiaries. In Switzerland, for example, there are regulations that define the content of the promotional measures, the financial support and time provided as well as repayment obligations.

GRI 103-2 The management approach and its components
SFS implements suitable further training measures to achieve its goal of providing employees at all levels with targeted support that is commensurate with their potential. That will further expand the pool of talented individuals that can be tapped to fill key positions or find replacements internally when the need arises. This approach enables the company to perform long-term succession planning that lends stability and allows the culture to be nurtured and further developed.

With the same goal in mind, the SFS Group uses dual basic training programs to promote young professionals from within its own ranks. SFS offers attractive dual education opportunities in various countries and promotes cooperation with schools and parents in order to offer young professionals a valuable and hands-on alternative to studying.

To that end, the following KPIs for education and training are defined in the corporate strategy and reviewed on an annual basis:

Dual education system
SFS’s long-term goal is for 5–7% of permanent employees worldwide to participate in training programs.

SFS was able to reaffirm its stated target of 5.1% in 2021 (2020: 5.0%). The report relates to approximately 90% of the entire workforce.

Unfortunately, these education programs could not be expanded due to the pandemic. Efforts are underway at various locations, however, to further develop the offerings and boost their appeal. The Group-wide exchange on dual education activities, including the implementation of international exchange programs, took place through the HR peer group.

The respective division manager is responsible for implementation; working together with the corresponding site manager and in cooperation with the HR team, they devise programs that fit into the local environment and comply with the regulations of the country-specific educational landscape.

Corporate HR is responsible for reviewing target achievement, informing the Group Executive Board of the degree of target achievement and drawing up proposals for measures.

Filling key positions (members of divisional management and site managers)
SFS aims to fill more than 70% of management positions with internal candidates. This is done in a conscious attempt to both create employee development opportunities and enable the organization to benefit from a high level of continuity. 100% of the key positions (members of divisional management and site managers) were filled by internal candidates during the period under review (PY 92%).

Divisional management is responsible for filling these key positions together with the HR team. Potential candidates are identified and the talents are promoted through the Group-wide Structured Employee Development Program (SEDP). The SEDP was underwent a major overhaul in the period under review, during which the assessment method was refined and transparency in terms of the succession planning and talent pool was improved across the entire organization. Further improvements, especially related to digital support for the process, are planned for the next reporting periods. The process is initiated and coordinated by HR once a year.

Corporate HR is also responsible for reviewing target achievement and informing the Executive Board of the degree of target achievement.

Generally speaking, the range of training and development opportunities is adapted to the needs of the Group and the division on an ongoing basis. That also applies to the possibilities opened up by more intense use of digital training methods (e-learning courses, webinars, etc.). This trend was accelerated even further last year and has gained importance due to pandemic-related restrictions. The specific training requirements are determined using the Group-wide MbO process (Management by Objectives), whereby the manager works together with the employee to agree which training measures are to be implemented.

Leadership@SFS was launched in 2020 with the aim of promoting leadership skills across the various leadership levels. The initiative comprises three levels of leadership training:

  • Junior Leadership Development Program: Team and project managers form the target group. The training is carried out in the respective countries and in accordance with local requirements.
  • Advanced Leadership Development Program: The target group is made up of teams and project managers who have already gained several years of management experience and whose managerial responsibility has grown. The training takes place at the regional level (Asia, Europe, America) and is intended as a way of promoting the creation of an international peer network and international exchange.
  • International Leadership Development Program: This program is aimed at managers with several years of management experience and a great deal of responsibility. The training is international and consists of three modules, each in a different region (Asia, Europe, America).

The greatest need for action was identified in the area of the Advanced Leadership Development Program, which is why activities in 2022 will focus on implementation at this level.

For this regular employee performance review, SFS has set up a globally valid MbO process (Management by Objectives) with the following objectives:

  • Implementation of overarching objectives (corporate targets)
  • Review of the employee’s performance and conduct
  • Employee’s degree of identification with the objectives
  • Employee motivation
  • Identification of training needs and verification of the training program’s effectiveness

To attach greater weight to environmental and social aspects within the corporate governance framework, specific ESG targets will be incorporated into the individual target agreements for the entire Group Executive Board from 2021 onwards. Depending on the specific area of responsibility, these targets will also be factored into the targets in the leadership cascade. Among other things, these include the use of renewable energies, CO2 reductions and topics related to occupational safety, equal treatment and training and development. Targets in the area of cyber security are also partly incorporated into the MbO objectives.

GRI 103-3 Evaluation of the management approach
The management approach is monitored both internally by the respective divisional management, the HR team, the Group Executive Board and externally as part of audits.

The results are then communicated internally via the division heads and at Group Executive Board level.

The regular employee surveys, which are typically conducted every two years, also deliver important information for assessing the management approach. An employee survey was also carried out in the period under review using the same system as in previous years. With the exception of the Electronics division, which will conduct its survey in 2022, all divisions took part in the initiative. Of the approximately 6,700 employees surveyed, almost 80% took part in the survey. As in previous surveys, the feedback was very positive. In Switzerland, SFS came in second in the Large Companies category, once again scoring among the top three companies for the fourth time in a row. Not only the above-average response rate but also the frequent use of the comment function at the end of the survey were testimony to the fact that the Group embraces a culture of feedback and has highly engaged employees. The more than 1,200 suggestions help boost SFS’s attractiveness as an employer even further.

The questions also covered training and further education as well as the prospects for internal development. Employees rated both topics more positively than in the previous survey. The figures were also higher than the results of comparable companies.


GRI 404-3 Percentage of employees receiving regular performance and career development reviews
Data collection this year used the same scope as for the financial reporting (see above). Due to the expanded scope, which involved more temporary workers, in particular, as well as the switch to FTE-based values instead of the previously applied headcount numbers, the comparability of the data is very limited. In the interests of better comparability, the figures for the previous year (in brackets) were also calculated using the new collection method, which is why they differ from the figures published in Sustainability Report 2020. Taking these aspects into account, the percentage of colleagues who received regular performance and career development reviews has remained stable. Approaches to further increase this rate will be discussed with the HR team in 2022.

Total share of employees with a performance review in reporting year Female Male Total
Share of employees with a performance review
(Previous year's value)
Employees with a performance review in FTE
(Previous year's value)

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.