Employees

Employees

We may have high-tech installations and smart computers, but our employees make our company what it is. They make the difference. Over the past few years, our organisation has changed from a Dutch to a European infrastructure company. We operate in a dynamic and competitive environment, in which the transition towards a sustainable energy supply plays a large role. This development requires ever new skills and knowledge; for example, in the area of mergers and acquisitions, sustainability and collaboration with new stakeholders.

We may have high-tech installations and smart computers, but our employees make our company what it is.

Developments in the labour market

The labour market is also subject to change. Here we distinguish roughly three trends that are significant for us:

  • Despite the high level of unemployment in the Netherlands, we are still seeing a shortage in the labour market for technically trained people.
  • The retirement age is moving from 60 to 67. This means our employees and our organisational structure will need to meet new requirements.
  • As an organisation, we want to be able to respond alertly and quickly to current developments in the energy sector and to interesting business opportunities.

These developments require an HR policy that focuses on the sustainable employability of employees. We will explain this in more detail in the section on Organisational development.

Profile of our employees

Compared to 2013, the size of our workforce rose from 1,731 to 1,747 employees in 2014, of whom 251 are employed by Gasunie Deutschland and 1,496 by Gasunie Nederland. The male/female ratio in the Netherlands is 85% men and 15% women. At Gasunie Deutschland, the ratio is 82% men and 18% women. The average age in our company rose slightly to 46.7 (2013: 46.5).

Age structure at Gasunie Nederland (GUN)

Age structure at Gasunie Nederland (GUN)
Age category Number of EMP % EMP  
From - to      
15 - 25 7 0%  
25 - 35 164 11%  
35 - 45 413 28%  
45 - 55 572 38%  
55 - 65 339 23%  
65 - 99 1 0%  

Highest level of education (GUN) - in %

Age structure at Gasunie Deutschland (GUD)

Age structure at Gasunie Deutschland (GUD)
Age category Number of EMP % EMP  
From - to      
15 - 25  0 0%  
25 - 35 48 19%  
35 - 45 67 27%  
45 - 55 70 28%  
55 - 65 66 26%  
65 - 99  0 0%  

Secondees (GUN)

Secondees (GUN)
  Number of FTEs (at year-end 2014)
Technical 407
IT 199
Other 56
Total 662

Gender of managers (GUN)

Gender of managers (GUN)
  Number Percentage
Men 94 86.2%
Women 15 13.8%
Total 109 100%

Recruitment and selection

In the year under review, Gasunie Nederland took on 82 employees, a significant increase compared to the 48 new employees in 2013. This is due to the fact that we were able to fill more vacancies in 2014, took on permanently a number of secondees for positions that will continue in the long term, and recruited employees for specific projects. We aim for an even spread across the age groups in our workforce. Since we have a relatively large number of older employees, our current preference is to fill external vacancies with younger employees.

We are particularly looking for people in the fields of IT and Technology. In our labour market communications, we therefore focus on graduates in these target groups, in particular those with a technical degree. Besides using our own company website and job sites, we do this in various ways. For instance, we make our building available to student associations, use social media and are present at graduate recruitment fairs. Because in some fields there is a real shortage of technicians with upper secondary vocational education, we developed a Facebook page for this target group. In addition, we give guest lectures at regional training centres. We also offer potential employees an opportunity to get to know our company as interns or trainees. In 2014, we had 64 trainee posts. Six trainees took part in our special trainee programme, which enables them to accelerate their development of knowledge and skills in two years under the guidance of a personal coach. Of the six trainees who took part in this programme in 2012/2013, five were offered a permanent contract.

Sustainable employability

In order to ensure that our employees can keep making a difference in the future, we stimulate mobility in the organisation: we want to be a flexible organisation that can adapt to quickly changing circumstances. We therefore need employees who work in an engaged and productive way, both now and in the future, and continue to add value to our company as sustainably employable individuals.

To achieve this, we asked our employees to think along with us about this issue during an interactive workshop. In October, some 100 colleagues united their thinking power and came up with numerous creative ideas, the best three of which will be worked out in practice in 2015. We also find it important that employees, together with their managers, continuously look for ways in which they can make the most of their talents. Employees are in the first instance responsible for their own careers. Our management is responsible for helping employees do this in the best possible way.

We want to be a flexible organisation that can adapt to quickly changing circumstances.

Some other initiatives in the field of sustainable employability for the coming years are the following:

  • Mobility workshops: Proactively bringing supply and demand together in the field of internal mobility
  • Career 5.0: Workshops for employees of 50 and older to help them stay mentally and physically fit and prepare them for a new phase in their career
  • Career scan: All employees can have a career scan done to gain insight into career opportunities.
     
  • 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. In 2014, we spent € 2,937,000 on courses and training programmes.
     
  • Competence management
    In our HR policy, we focus on the knowledge and skills that our organisation needs in order to achieve its objectives. We apply this competence management in the assessment of our managers and in the process of assessment and recruitment. In doing so, we increasingly use the ‘360° Feedback’ method. This means that we collect input from various people from the employee’s work environment. Furthermore, when we appoint managers, we focus more strongly on competences such as developing other people’s qualities and coaching leadership. In the past, as a mainly technical company, we traditionally placed most emphasis on technical knowledge.
     
  • Management development
    Over the past few years, we have invested a great deal in management development, partly through the internal training programmes GU 2012 and the Gasunie Leadership Programme (GLP). We are convinced that the development of an organisation starts with the development of its management. After completing the GLP, participants indicated that they felt we could manage the company more professionally and dynamically, but that this requires good organisation and constant attention. In the follow-up programme, the focus will therefore be on leadership development and relevant internal and external developments.

Performance and career development

We have an annual performance cycle, during which we monitor and assess the performance and development of our employees. The cycle starts with the drawing up of working objectives. Halfway through the cycle, a performance review takes place, in which employee and manager discuss progress and points of attention. During this meeting, the aspirations and required development of the employee will also be discussed. In the annual personnel review, these are then considered in relation to the growth opportunities that the manager sees for the employee. The annual appraisal – when the employee’s performance is assessed with particular regard to results, knowledge and skills – forms the end of the cycle.

Terms of employment

The Netherlands

Some of our employees are covered by a collective labour agreement, while others have an individual employment contract (see also: Opting out of the collective labour agreement). Both groups, however, are eligible for an annual individual pay rise of between 0 and 5%, up to the maximum pay level. In addition, a collective pay rise may be agreed on following a collective bargaining agreement.

In September 2014, in consultation with the trade unions, we agreed on a two-year collective labour agreement for the period between 1 January 2014 and 1 January 2016. As of 1 January 2014, we granted a structural collective pay rise in the Netherlands of 1.7%, and as of 1 January 2015, we granted a pay rise of 2.0%. As of 1 July 2014 and 1 July 2015 respectively, these pay rises were also granted to employees who are not covered by the collective labour agreement.

Germany

Gasunie Deutschland applies the collective labour agreement agreed on by WEG (the German Association of German Oil & Gas Producers) and IGBCE (the trade union that makes salary agreements for the gas transport sector). This agreement covers 168 employees. The 83 employees in higher positions are covered by an agreement reached by Gasunie Deutschland and the Works Council. The management team in Germany participates in the Gasunie’s company-wide target system.

In Germany, various plans relating to terms of employment were implemented in 2014 as they had been agreed with the Works Council. These included a new salary system for employees who are not covered by the collective labour agreement, the implementation of a job evaluation system, and a new system for performance ranking.

Pension

Our pension policy is in line with the market. As of 1 January 2015, the pension scheme has been adjusted, following changes in legislation. We pay a ‘defined contribution’ (i.e., a premium agreed in advance). This premium is based on a conditional average salary. As of 2015, we aim to achieve an accrual of 1.875% per year (was 2%) on a maximum pensionable salary of € 100,000. Employees with a pensionable salary above € 100,000 will be compensated for the amount above € 100,000 by a pension supplement to their salary, the amount of which will be derived from the current pension premium.

Flexible terms of employment

As one of Gasunie’s terms of employment, employees receive an annual ‘flexibility budget’. Employees can use this budget in a number of different ways, at their own discretion. For instance, they can use it to buy spare time, or receive it as a cash payment.

Opting out of the Collective Labour Agreement

Of the total workforce in the Netherlands, 1,096 (73%) are covered by a collective labour agreement. Since 2008, we have offered those of our employees with at least higher secondary vocational education an opportunity to opt out of this agreement. For this group, remuneration is based on targets, with a focus on results rather than on presence. This option also allows employees to make flexible agreements on working hours. At the end of 2014, the employees involved were given a one-off opportunity to return to the collective labour agreement as of 1 January 2015 if they wished. In total, 54 employees took advantage of this, for various reasons.

Remuneration policy

Our company’s remuneration system has been essentially the same for a long time. However, the context in which we are operating as a company is changing. We are working towards the development of a sustainable energy supply. This requires new approaches in terms of resources and people, and more entrepreneurship. These changes therefore led us to review our remuneration system and bring it in line with the market. The proposal we shared with our employees in 2014 met a great deal of resistance, and gave rise to unrest and many questions. Our employees said they did not understand why these changes were necessary, which led to a lack of trust. They announced they would take action against the proposal. We took this seriously, and entered into discussions with our employees. Together, we concluded that the topic of remuneration policy needed to be considered more broadly, and that we would need to further investigate the questions that had arisen amongst employees. These mainly concern the terms of employment and our HR policy set against the background of social-economic developments and our company’s strategy. We are doing this in dialogue with our employees and the bodies that represent them (i.e., the Works Council and trade unions) and with the help of independent external experts. In 2015, we hope to jointly arrive at a robust policy.

Equal remuneration for men and women

We remunerate men and women doing the same job equally. The average salary of women in our company is 8.1 % lower than the average gross annual salary of men: women earn on average € 54,072 in a full-time position, while men earn € 58,860. This is because relatively more men are at the end of their salary scale due to more years of service.

Performance-based pay

Our employees’ pay depends partly on whether collective and/or individual targets are met. We set targets for those activities that are crucial in helping us implement our strategy. In 2014, these were safety, finance, security of supply and corporate social responsibility. These targets were then subdivided into sub-targets, which together add up to a score of 100%. The 100% score is indicated below. The targets are described in the table below. If all targets are achieved, employees covered by the collective labour agreement are granted a bonus of € 500 gross. If they are achieved in part, a pro rata bonus is paid out.
In 2014, not all collective targets were achieved. The employees covered by the collective labour agreement and employees in a ‘young development’ scale (a wage scale for young employees that encourages their development by means of a broader remuneration range and more focus on personal development) received, on the basis of the results, a bonus of € 458.34. Part-time employees received this bonus pro rata.

Collective targets for employees covered by the collective labour agreement

Collective targets for employees covered by the collective labour agreement
  Target 2014 Achieved 2014 Target 2015
       
1. Safety      
Number of reportables <3.5 5 <3.5
Pipeline incidents < 6 3 < 6
Measures following incidents >75% 89%  
       
2. Security of supply      
Transport interruptions <=8 1  0
       
3. Corporate social responsibility      
Improving CO2 registrations >120 131  
Limiting CO2 emissions >20 kt 21.0 kt >20 kt

For employees with an individual employment contract, besides the above targets, a financial target had been agreed: a reduction of the net operating costs by at least € 5 million and a return on invested capital of at least 6.98%. Both sub-targets were fully achieved. For 2015, new targets have been set. The content of the safety target has been adjusted. The CSR target focuses on reducing CO2 emissions.

Diversity

Many studies have shown that working in teams of diverse composition leads to better results. We therefore want to further encourage diversity. For several years now, we have been working with inflow target figures in order to appoint more women. It is our aim that the inflow of new staff reflects the outflow of educational programmes in various fields of relevance to Gasunie. This is regularly established and tested. We report on this to the Talent to the Top Taskforce, which we have been affiliated with since 2009. In 2014, the inflow of female employees was 18%, while the outflow was 10%. Since 2009, the number of female employees at Gasunie has risen by 6%.

In 2009, we commissioned an investigation within our company into equal career opportunities for men and women. The analysis showed that Gasunie do not have a typically masculine culture, which means that there is a good foundation for more diversity. However, both men and women seem to have inaccurate perceptions about each other and about how you can have a successful career at our company. Creating awareness regarding diversity (and the associated perceptions) among both men and women has therefore become a point of attention within the company’s existing development programmes (e.g., the Gasunie Leadership Programme, TOP class, peer interaction programmes, MD programmes, and coaching). For our employees, we organise interactive workshops, geared to awareness and the prevention of prejudices. We believe that diversity makes a positive contribution to our business results. For this reason, when determining the composition of teams, we take diversity into account. In addition, when recruiting and selecting new staff, we take diversity into account in our labour market communications and in selection panels, we keep the importance of diversity in mind, as well as making perceptions (both conscious and unconscious) topics that are open to discussion.

In conformity with legislation, from 2016, our aim is that our management consists of at least 30% women. In that context, over the past two years, we have participated in the Professional Boards Forum, an initiative to ensure that the legal target of 30% is actually achieved.
At the end of 2014, 14.3% of our senior managers were female. In 2009, this was 6.6%. In the case of the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board, 25% of members were female, compared to 0% in 2009.

Equal opportunities

We are proactively trying to recruit employees who are ‘distanced’ from the labour market. We participate in various external initiatives that enhance awareness in the field of labour diversity, such as the new Dutch Participation Act. In addition, we participate in initiatives to reduce youth unemployment by offering work experience placements. We also look at each vacancy to see if there are opportunities for employing disabled young people. We have agreed with the trade unions that we will recruit three more disabled young people in 2015.

Health and well-being

We aim for the lowest possible level of absence due to sickness. In 2014, absence due to sickness in at Gasunie in the Netherlands was 3.1% (2013: 3.1%). In Germany, the rate was 3.3%. The Dutch national average was 3.9% in 2013. The 2014 percentage was not yet known at the moment of publication.
In 2014, 50% of our employees in the Netherlands did not report sick at all (zero absence rate). In 2013, this rate was 43%. The Dutch national average was 52% in 2013. The 2014 percentage was not yet known at the moment of publication.

Work-related sickness absence

When our employees report sick, they can state whether their absence is related to their work. In 2014, employees indicated 19 times that their sickness was related to work (in 2013: 9). In 2014, no report was made to the Netherlands Centre for Occupational Disease (NCB) (in 2013: one).

Employee Survey

Once every two years, we conduct an Employee Survey, through which we seek to gain more insight into how our employees experience pressure of work, among other things. The outcomes of this employee survey are discussed with each department, and if there is reason to do so, the employees and manager of each department jointly look for opportunities to improve the situation. Since the previous survey, we can observe a clear improvement in terms of engagement and leadership. Particularly the latter aspect has been receiving extra attention over the past few years through various leadership training courses and programmes. Despite the overall good results, there are also points for improvement. These mainly concern four themes: customer centricity, collaboration between departments, engagement and efficiency. We have linked these themes to the concept of operational excellence. We want to improve the scores as follows:

  • Customer centricity: from 7.7 to 8
  • Collaboration between departments: from 5.6 to 6.5
  • Engagement: from 6.5 to 7.5
  • Efficiency: from 6.6 to 7.0

Both within and across departments, we have identified a number of projects, processes and ways of working that we want to improve. These improvements should contribute to a higher employee satisfaction level in the next Employee Survey for the aforementioned four themes, which we believe will also contribute to achieving our strategic and other objectives.
With our Employee Survey we also participated in the Best Employer Survey in the Netherlands, in which more than 300 employers with jointly more than 200,000 employees took part. We are proud that in 2014 we reached 27th place out of the top 50 companies with more than 1,000 employees. Our employees gave a score of 7.8 (out of 10) to the question ‘How satisfied are you about your work at Gasunie?’, the same as two years ago.

Code of Conduct

We have drawn up a Code of Conduct, which describes what we expect of our employees with respect to acting with integrity. The Code includes rules for treating colleagues with respect, ethical issues, bribery and corruption, using alcohol and drugs, dealing with commercially sensitive information, the use of social media, and making calls while driving. If the Code of Conduct is violated, we take appropriate steps. In 2014, we found zero incidents of bribery or corruption. Other types of violation of the Code in 2014 were addressed and appropriate measures were taken by the management.

Employee participation

The Works Council reports as follows about 2014: ‘The year 2014 was an intensive year for the Works Council. We have ensured employee participation with regard to topics that we believe are relevant for colleagues and our company. We have not limited ourselves to our formal role in requests for advice or approval.

Our new CEO was appointed as of 1 March. We look back on a year that gave rise to a number of substantial topics, which we always discussed in open dialogues. The Works Council also held discussions with several members of the Supervisory Board. In terms of participation, it became clear that our thoughts are often very similar. That is why we aim to continue our meetings with the Supervisory Board in 2015.

The remuneration system occupied a prominent place on our agenda throughout the year. This is clearly a topic that is very close to the hearts of all our employees, as we experienced during the meetings with employees that we organised together with the trade unions. We noticed a similar engagement during the discussion and feedback sessions about the remuneration policy organised by the management. Despite the emotional atmosphere, these meetings were always very constructive. Together, we showed what we stand for. By changing its approach, the management showed that it is prepared to listen and move forward in close consultation with everyone involved. We trust that this sensitive topic will be dealt with well, going forward.

At GTS, many changes took place. After the ownership of the transport network had been transferred from Gasunie to GTS, GTS focused on obtaining certification for NTA 8120, which led to a number of organisational changes. In addition, we had to deal with a reorganisation of some of GTS’s departments. More changes and reorganisations have been announced for 2015. All these changes affect large parts of our organisation, and their final consequences are not yet clear. To complete the reorganisations in good order, good collaboration is required between employees, the management involved and the Works Council.

We were also involved in the Employee Survey that was held in the spring of 2014. We find this psychosocial ‘thermometer’ a valuable tool for gaining insight into employee engagement. The Works Council has advocated that the results be used to improve and further develop HR policy and focal areas for the coming years. We are confident that this approach will work well.

In constructive consultation with the trade unions, a solution was found to make sure our pensions comply with the new legal frameworks. Together with GasTerra’s Works Council, we nominated a candidate for the representative body of the pension fund. This means the representative body is now at sufficient strength to monitor new developments in the field of pension legislation and our own pension fund.

The year 2015 also promises to be an interesting year. The Works Council will continue to devote itself to the important dossiers we are currently dealing with, as well as the dossiers that will follow, with a relentless focus on employee participation. That is what we stand for and you can hold us to account on this.’

Louis Kavelaars

Field engineer at Gasunie

Louis Kavelaars

Field engineer at Gasunie

Good management and maintenance of our gas infrastructure is an important precondition for carrying out safe and reliable gas transport. As a field engineer in the Utrecht region, Louis Kavelaars...

Read the interview

Good management and maintenance of our gas infrastructure is an important precondition for carrying out safe and reliable gas transport. As a field engineer in the Utrecht region, Louis Kavelaars works on an uninterrupted gas supply.

‘I’ve been at Gasunie for almost thirteen years now. As a field engineer, I carry out maintenance work on metering and regulating stations, gas receiving stations and pipelines. I also undertake any repair work. Gasunie is an interesting company, and my job is very varied. No two days are alike. What I also enjoy is the fact that we as field engineers are involved in new projects, where the experience we gain is used as input for improvements. What’s more, I always find a sympathetic ear when I need one. If I encounter a problem at work, action is taken to solve it.

For the coming years, I expect that our activities will continue to shift from all-round to specialties. This is because we’re increasingly being engaged in projects, such as the multi-year replacement programme.

If we trust each other’s judgement, we’ll be able to improve the efficiency of our work – something I consider very important.

What are my wishes for the future? I’d like to keep doing this work for a long time. Last year, there was concern about our terms of employment. That was unpleasant, and I hope that the situation will remain as settled as it is now. I also hope that, despite changes, we’ll continue to make use of each other’s knowledge and expertise. If we do that, and if we trust each other’s judgement, we’ll be able to improve the efficiency of our work – something I consider very important.’