Employee development and well-being
Our industry is capital- and knowledge-intensive and requires well-qualified and experienced professionals. They are essential to performing our work effectively and help us to maintain our leading market position. Boskalis is permanently in motion. We are not just growing in size but in breadth as well, expanding our range of services all the time. Given this, investing in the development and skills of our employees is one of the cornerstones of our CSR strategy.
We also strive actively to create an organizational culture that promotes motivation, job satisfaction and involvement. A good CSR reputation also has a positive effect on our ability to recruit and retain staff.
Human Resources (HR) is directly accountable to the chairman of the Board of Management, who delegates policy-based and operational duties to the HR Director.
Introduction of a new organization model
In line with the 2014-2016 Corporate Business Plan, preparations were made for the introduction of the new divisional structure during the year under review. The expansion of our portfolio as a result of the acquisition of SMIT, MNO Vervat, Dockwise and Fairmount requires a more focused approach to directing our strategic activities. The dynamics in the different markets where we are active can vary and we want to respond in an effective and professional way. The new Dredging & Inland Infra, Offshore Energy, and Towage & Salvage divisions can therefore all supply the operational support required to prepare and execute projects. Not only do they have the expertise in terms of, for example, design, tendering and engineering, but also the fleet management facilities. In addition, the divisions will be responsible for their own fleet and crew, and operational pools.
At the group level, the corporate staff departments will be maintained, alongside the business support departments such as HR, Procurement & Logistics and ICT, who will provide their services for all the divisions.
The roll-out of the new organization model will begin on 1 January 2015. One result will be a change of location for many departments and business units in the Netherlands, with the Dredging & Inland Infra and Offshore Energy divisions located in stand alone offices. Employee representatives were, at all times, closely involved with the establishment of the new organization model and gave their approval.
As soon as the Dockwise colleagues have moved to the Boskalis campus in Papendrecht (Netherlands) in the first quarter of 2015, the actual integration of Dockwise and the Boskalis organization can start. We have compared the Dockwise and Boskalis terms of employment and, after receiving the approval of the Works Councils, agreed on a plan to harmonize them.
We took the opportunity afforded by the changes in our organization to revise our competence management framework in line with the core business. Job profiles have been defined with a set of required competencies, behaviors and possible performance levels so that we can make the most of them in our performance and development interviews. In the course of 2015, we will be introducing an HR information system to ensure the optimal monitoring and use of HR information from all the divisions. The system also allows us to monitor our staff’s skills profile and whether it is aligned with our strategy. Where areas for development are identified, these are communicated to the employees during competency appraisals or performance reviews and logged in the system. 66% of staff have annual or six-monthly appraisal reviews. Reviews for other staff are less frequent.
Our HR conditions and working conditions policy comfortably meet the guidelines of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention for international shipping companies. The same applies to the Dockwise fleet. 43% of our employees are covered by a CLA, including most of our maritime and project workers. Corporate and operational staff are covered by separate agreements reached in consultation with the Works Council.
We operate various pension plans. Detailed information can be found in the list of ‘Defined benefit pension schemes’ in our 2014 Annual Report. In 2014, we decided to switch to the services of a larger, multi-sectoral pension fund and we therefore terminated the activity of the Boskalis Pension Fund. The thinking behind this change was that it was no longer viable to maintain the independent position of a fund of the size of the Boskalis Pension Fund given the changes in pension legislation and supervisory arrangements for pension funds. We decided to draw on the services of the Pensioenfonds Grafische Bedrijven. Important conditions associated with our favorable HR conditions, such as a defined benefit pension plan for which the premium is paid by the company and an unconditional compensation for inflation, will be maintained.
The issue of sustainable employability was discussed during two rounds of CLA negotiations: the TAK CLA and the Hydraulic Engineering CLA. We had discussions with the unions about how our employees can stay healthy, safe and motivated until they retire. In our role as employer, we include the Fit for Duty module in every training program. That involves informing employees clearly about healthy lifestyles and their own role in that respect. In addition, we give our employees ample opportunities to shape their own careers. That is a recurring item in the performance appraisals, in which people can say whether they wish to re-train, for example with a view to switching to a different, less physical position. We are open to this approach and we give our employees ample development opportunities. The full program can be found in the special Boskalis training guide, which is available globally. We also attempt to accommodate them as much as possible during the different life phases. For example, it is possible to work on projects in the Netherlands for a number of years if that is more appropriate to the current life phase.
After the Rotterdam Havenziekenhuis in the Netherlands had been giving Boskalis and other companies with international operations medical advice for decades, it was decided in the 1990s to establish a specialist and well-equipped Travel Clinic. A lot of people going abroad on a temporary basis turn to the Travel Clinic, particularly if they are going to work in high-risk areas. Employees who return from the tropics with a disease go to the Travel Clinic to receive care. The Travel Clinic is also active outside the Netherlands, for example on preparations for Boskalis projects in high-risk areas such as Angola or India. If necessary, Travel Clinic staff go to the area to investigate the local health conditions and medical risks, to make arrangements with local hospitals and doctors, and to make an assessment of whether people can comply with the requirements drawn up by the Travel Clinic. If not, the Travel Clinic ensures that there is a doctor or other medical expert available on the spot to coordinate medical care. In that way, the Travel Clinic has already helped Boskalis in numerous locations to set up and staff clinics. Travel Clinic employees are also on the ERT and they advise Boskalis about numerous medical issues.
Preventing illness and occupational disease
Since as far back as 2003, we have had an Emergency Response Team (ERT) so that we can respond quickly to a health crisis. In addition to colleagues from our SHE-Q and HR departments, the team includes doctors from the Travel Clinic of the Rotterdam Havenziekenhuis in the Netherlands. There is a risk of illnesses such as malaria and HIV in some parts of the world where we work. To mitigate that risk, we have already been offering, for many years, vaccinations and regular medicals, and we also have an anti-malaria policy and an AIDS prevention program. In 2014, the Ebola outbreak was a major concern. Boskalis is active in the Niger delta, where we have hundreds of local employees as well as several dozen expats. Although the country was declared Ebola-free in October 2014, we continue to be alert and to keep a close eye on developments. The ERT is ready for action and has regular discussions with local management about the current situation. We organize toolbox meetings in which we tell local employees what they should do to prevent infection. We found that people at home were very concerned about Ebola. In response, we arranged a family day to pass on information about the disease, the risks faced by our employees and the steps we are taking to prevent infection. In addition, an emergency plan has been developed in case a colleague needs to be repatriated.
Education and training
Strengthening the Offshore profile
Our training portfolio is constantly developing so that we can continue to respond to the demand for specific expertise and skills from the divisions. The strengthening of our offshore profile is an important motivator in this respect. Our clients in the offshore industry expect us to be able to demonstrate that we manage our operations in a controlled way. This requires specific competencies in the field of planning, calculations, risk management, and contract management. To extend our expertise and skills, we recruit experienced offshore professionals and provide our own employees with additional training in this discipline. In 2014, once again, we selected young professionals for participation in the modular Boskalis Offshore Professionals Program that was developed in collaboration with an external training institute. The modules are based on real-life cases and they include everything required to prepare and execute an offshore project. In addition, a group of cost engineers are following a two-year postgraduate course in this discipline. During the course, which includes both theory and practice, they receive expert supervision from a senior mentor.
Management development programs
Knowledge management and knowledge sharing are important priorities in our management development programs. In the Boskalis Operational Development Program, which targets superintendents and project managers from all divisions, the focus in 2014 was on internal knowledge sharing. That has led to a range of initiatives such as the Boskalis Knowledge Festival, which brings together the various knowledge initiatives in the company. One of the activities developed by the Boskalis Leadership Development Program, which focuses on senior managers, was the Boskalis Innovation Challenge, a program that challenges our employees to submit innovative ideas that can be implemented in our work.
Ongoing innovation is crucial to our future. We wish to draw on our strong knowledge resources and transform them into innovative initiatives. We provide our employees with every opportunity in that respect, a good example being the Boskalis Innovation Challenge that was organized in 2014. Individual employees or teams were challenged to submit their ideas. With success. The outcome consisted of seventy ideas, six of which were nominated. The jury, with Theo Baartmans (board member) as the chairman, also included Frank Verhoeven (board member), Peter van der Linden (group director), Sander Steenbrink (R&D manager) and Paul Iske, Professor of Open Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Maastricht. The nominated ideas came from different corners of the organization. The finalists were given the opportunity to pitch their ideas to an audience that picked their own winner. The seven ideas were so good that the Board of Management decided to proceed to the development stage with them all. The first prize went to an innovative concept for the development of man-made 3D reefs that fit in with the local ecosystem but also fulfill other functions such as slope protection. Given the success of the first edition, the Boskalis Innovation Challenge will be organized again in 2015.
Staff development program
A new initiative is the management development program for senior employees from operational staff departments in which the central emphasis is on the development of the business-partner role so that they can respond optimally to the needs of the organization.
Marine Environmental Awareness training
In 2014, in collaboration with the Pro Sea NGO, there was a Marine Environmental Awareness course again for our fleet employees. The course looked at marine ecology, sound waste management, ballast-water treatment, and emissions. The program was adapted in line with Boskalis activities.
Our new employees are given an extensive induction program that also covers our business principles.
Boskalis has positions for trainees that involves in-house training with supervision from a mentor. Boskalis has shown that it is an attractive employer. We have no difficulty in recruiting young technical talent. In addition, we were also able to considerably enlarge the group of recently-graduated trainees: in 2014, we employed 24 young talents.
Dialogue and Cooperation in the Chain
- Boskalis engages in constructive and structured consultations with employee representatives about current issues affecting our workforce in accordance with the legislation in countries where we are located. These consultations proceeded once again in 2014 in an open and constructive atmosphere. The Works Council was well informed about the establishment of the divisional structure and gave its approval. In the fourth quarter, preparations were made for an integrated Works Council that includes representatives from Dockwise. The integrated Works Council will take shape in 2015 once the Dockwise employees have moved to Papendrecht. Two Dockwise representatives will take up posts on the Boskalis Works Council at that time. The Dockwise Works Council will then be dissolved.
- In the context of the implementation of its strategy, Boskalis also acquires other companies. In 2014, Boskalis acquired Fairmount Marine B.V. In order to realize the expected results, we consider meticulous integration to be very important. Creating value for our employees and retaining important employees are important in this approach.
- Boskalis believes that an open and constructive dialogue with the relevant unions around the world is important. Our HR conditions are good at the global level and better than the standards of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, which also represents the international unions for seafarers.
- We have long-term and sound relationships with staffing management organizations or agencies that represent Boskalis on the international labor markets. We see these agencies as extensions of our organization and we had regular consultations with them once again in 2014.
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