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Our Employment Policy upholds our principles of non-discrimination and fair employment. The Senior Vice President Corporate Human Resources is responsible for the development and delivery of the HR strategy. The strategy aims to reduce natural turnover by attracting the right people to SGS, rewarding them appropriately and helping them to achieve their career goals. HR professionals across the business work in partnership with business managers and operations to support business priorities.

Our HR Principles support the HR strategy by ensuring a consistent approach to the way we acquire, manage, develop and retain talent across the business.

 

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  • Attracting the Right People

    Talent acquisition

    We seek talented, professional and creative people. We select people based on a combination of skills, competencies, experience and motivation using a systematic approach to short-listing candidates and conducting competency-based interviews. In 2013, over 2,700 people joined the Group. We also collaborate with universities, participate in on-campus job fairs and invite graduates and undergraduates to visit our facilities. Find out more about the work we are doing with universities in our 2013 Sustainability Highlights.

    One tool we are developing to attract the right people to our company and retain them is the SGS employer brand. Employer branding helps companies to communicate to internal and external audiences what distinguishes them as employers. During 2013, we defined our employer brand using a survey of 4,000 employees in 72 countries and eight languages, and work streams involving Corporate Communications and HR recruitment professionals.
     
    Building a talent pipeline

    We offer opportunities for graduates and undergraduates to work alongside professionals on challenging client-based projects across a range of industries. We also provide targeted, regional training programs in key disciplines. For example:

    • During 2013, through a partnership with Jinwen University, SGS Taiwan offered five top students a five month internship, working alongside our engineers in technical projects under the guidance of a mentor. The interns also received scholarships to support their studies. We plan to expand this program to other universities in the future
    • Our two-year chemist training program in Australia teaches all aspects of general laboratory techniques to trainees from South-East Asia. At the end of the program, participants return to their home countries to work for SGS locally

    Find out more about our programs involving graduates and undergraduates in our 2013 Sustainability Highlights.

  • Developing Talent

    Employee onboarding

    SHINE is our onboarding program for new recruits. It takes a structured, disciplined approach to make a significant, positive impact within the first six months of an employee’s journey at SGS. The program, supported by managing directors, HR, line managers and peer advisors, aims to make every new employee feel supported in their role and is engaged in the company’s principles, values and business aims. Welcoming employees to our company in this way helps them settle in more quickly and enables them to fulfill their objectives. 

    Following a global roll-out from October 2012, SHINE is now implemented in all affiliates. By the end of 2013, 474 new employees had completed the full onboarding program. Based on feedback from employees in China, the Philippines and Canada at the end of the SHINE program, 86% were satisfied or very satisfied with their onboarding experience.

    Learning and development

    Our learning and development (L&D) strategy aligns with business needs and priorities. Our programs are designed to equip employees to meet customer requirements and our own standards. We conduct vocational, technical and compliance training to ensure that our employees retain necessary certifications and qualifications as part of their continuing professional development. A combination of corporate-led and locally-developed programs are used to develop employee, manager and leadership competencies.

    During 2013 we invested CHF 16.0 million on learning and development. Our L&D approach is changing, given advances in technology-based learning platforms and the spread of our employees, a number of whom work in remote locations. We are transitioning away from classroom learning for many programs to virtual learning delivered through e-learning modules and cloud-based applications. This approach is more cost effective, reduces the need for employee travel to training courses and promotes a better work-life balance. Given this, a more meaningful measure of our investment in training than spend per FTE is the hours spent on training per FTE. During 2013, 30 hours were spent on average by each employee on training and development.

    See our 2013 Sustainability Highlights report for more on our Leadership Development and our Managing People and Performance programs.

    Annual performance reviews

    Managers and supervisors are expected to conduct a formal dialogue with employees every year to review performance in relation to their job description, expectations and goals. Training, guidance and on-line tools are provided to managers and supervisors to ensure that employee performance is fairly assessed and to ensure a consistent approach. In 2013, 64.6% of employees received regular performance reviews. This shows that we need to further develop our approach to meet our target of 100% by 2014. We know, for example, a number of structured discussions take place between managers and employees that are not captured as part of our formal reporting mechanisms. Notwithstanding this, feedback from employees through our CATALYST survey indicates there is more to be done to provide employees with feedback to help them improve their performance.  

    HR Discovery Pass

    Launched in 2012, HR Discovery Pass aims to build a talent pipeline in HR management. High-potential HR professionals are recruited to complete six-month work assignments in three company locations around the world. The aim is to develop their skills and enhance their knowledge of diverse cultures and businesses within SGS in order to actively contribute to the company’s ongoing success.

  • Remuneration and Reward

    Remuneration

    In 2013, SGS paid CHF 2.9 billion in salaries and wages. SGS offers competitive remuneration and benefits to employees. Our standard entry-level salary rates are set by business lines and regions, and are equal for men and women. Thereafter, salaries are influenced by various factors including relevant experience and performance, the local labor market, and local regulations.

    Remuneration is benchmarked across industries and geographies to ensure internal consistency and external competitiveness. While we do not use external consultants to give their advice on specific cases, remuneration is determined by factors such as external remuneration benchmarks and cost of living indices at country level. 

    Benefits

    We provide competitive and industry-appropriate benefits to all part-time and full-time employees on permanent contracts. These are largely determined at affiliate level. In Geneva and other locations worldwide (such as Australia, USA, France, Taiwan, Canada, South Africa, Ghana and Brazil), benefits including retirement plans, healthcare benefits and disability and life plans, as well as emergency evacuation on medical and security grounds while travelling on business, are provided to full- and part-time employees on permanent contracts.

    Rewards

    The financial contribution of our sustainability performance, as measured through our Green Book, directly impacts our operational efficiency which is linked to the bottom line. Bonuses are paid based on the profitability of the business, as measured at local level. Employees are rewarded for their contribution through performance-related pay and variable remuneration such as incentive plans. Executive remuneration is awarded in line with long-term company and shareholder interests and is approved by the Nomination and Remuneration Committee. In addition to an annual performance-related bonus, the Board of Directors and the Committee may grant discretionary cash bonuses to reward exceptional personal achievements.

  • Engaging Employees

    CATALYST

    As a performance led organization, we value feedback from employees. CATALYST, our employee engagement program introduced in 2012, operates in 21 countries and is being further expanded in 2014. Through the annual survey, employees are encouraged to share confidential feedback on our strengths and the areas for improvement at organization, team and leadership levels. The findings help us to gauge the level of employee engagement over time, celebrate success, prioritize issues, allocate resources and drive business performance. Our leadership and management teams are committed to reviewing feedback within a month, sharing findings with their direct reports and teams within 10 weeks and submitting action plans within three months of the survey’s completion. The survey uses two defining indices: an Employee Engagement Index (EEI) – which measures the extent to which employees are motivated to contribute to organizational success – and a Performance Excellence Index (PEI) – which measures the extent to which employees believe the company is committed to excellent customer service and organizational excellence. By ranking both indices against global norms, our 2013 findings show that our EEI and PEI are similar to our 2012 findings, despite a larger population being surveyed, and are broadly in line with the external norm. Our Sustainability Engagement Index (which is unique to SGS) continues to show a high level of employee engagement in our sustainability program, with 75% of employees recognizing the role that sustainability plays in supporting our business aims and a similar proportion understand what sustainability means to their role and how they can actively contribute to our sustainability performance.

    See our 2013 Sustainability Highlights report for more information on CATALYST.

    Employee representation and consultation

    Collective bargaining agreements exist in most of the countries we operate in. We strictly adhere to tariff structures and collective bargaining agreements negotiated with trade unions. In countries where freedom of association or collective bargaining is restricted by law, we facilitate parallel means of independent and free association and bargaining. In 2013, 22.4% of our employees were covered by collective bargaining agreements. We recognize the need to inform and consult employees on relevant business activities. Our affiliates operate communications and consultation processes tailored to local needs. Within the European Union, the SGS Euroforum ensures constructive dialogue with elected employee representatives on relevant transnational issues. 

    We respect statutory minimum notice periods and give reasonable notice of any significant operational changes in line with local practices and labor markets. Minimum notice periods are specified in collective bargaining agreements between SGS and trade unions or employee works councils.

    Wellbeing

    During 2013, teams across SGS participated in the Global Corporate Challenge (GCC). Aimed at reducing stress, encouraging team spirit and improving the health and wellbeing of employees, the Challenge was an opportunity to help address the upward trend in sickness absence in certain areas. Over 1,700 employees formed 245 teams across 31 countries and stepped their way to improved physical and mental shape over 16 weeks. With a daily average of 14,894 steps, employees reported a more positive attitude to exercise, 65% stated they had lost weight; and 73% felt that increased activity levels had become habitual. 85% would now rate their overall health as good, very good, or excellent (compared to only 50% pre-GCC) and 62% felt that taking part in the GCC had improved their energy levels and reduced stress.