Business report  >  Business and financial review


More employees again

The number of employees rose once again. At the end of 2012, the Geberit Group employed 6,134 people worldwide, 130 persons or 2.2% more than in the previous year. The increase is primarily due to the – to some extent temporary – adjustment of capacities in the production plants in reaction to volume growth, focused organic growth initiatives in individual markets, and the effects of the implementation of the final steps to insource the production of the AquaClean shower toilet previously manufactured by a subcontractor.

Based on the average number of 6,150 employees, sales per employee amounted to TCHF 355.7 or 0.4% more than in the previous year.

In view of the increase in market activities, the number of employees in marketing and sales business processes rose from 28.8% to 29.1%. As a result of volume growth and the insourcing of the production of the shower toilet, the share of employees in production strengthened from 54.4% to 54.8%. In contrast, the share of employees in administration dropped from 9.4% to 8.9%. The other employee categories did not see any material changes: At the end of 2012, 3.5% worked in research and development and 3.7% were apprentices.

External strengthening of employer brand

First-rate employees are key to the sustained success of any company. Not only the best, but also the right employees are to be acquired and retained for Geberit. This requires a prominent image on the labor market. Employer branding as a component of superordinate corporate branding creates a unique employer identity. Since 2012 Geberit has marketed itself with a new concept in terms of content and visual appearance. Part of this more proactive behaviour is a stronger presence at job fairs and in online media as well as more target-goup oriented information documents. The objective is to sharpen its profile as a company that offers attractive international development opportunities at the interface between the craft, engineering and sales sectors. The company's employees and their career paths are presented in short profiles – as ambassadors for the qualities and opportunities that Geberit can offer as an employer. In addition to international development opportunities and an open corporate culture, innovation can be created that shapes the market – with the support of Geberit employees, who are the best in their class.

For internal communication with employees, there is a focus on interactive, real-time communication that is accessible to all. The intranet introduced in 2009 plays a central role here, while special newsletters and/or communal large-screens provide the production employees without access to personal computers with the information they need. The CEO, Albert M. Baehny, regularly informs the employees of the current state of the business, the economic parameters, the future prospects and general topics of interest in videos that are accessible on the intranet as well as via electronic newsletters. The employee magazine is published four times a year and contains articles on issues relevant to the world of Geberit.

The employees are regularly questioned on their identification and satisfaction with the company. The most important results of the 2011 survey show that the employees identify with the company to a high degree and are very satisfied with their employment conditions, although there seems to be room for improvement with regard to salaries and personnel development.

A Group-wide process was developed in 2012 in reaction to the results of the most recent survey, bundling the sub-processes performance assessment, development and remuneration. The objective was to come up with a standardized global core process that applies a uniform approach to performance and talent management, based on a standardized IT solution. This process should help to further develop the performance culture, increase transparency and make it easier to discover talent. Remuneration policies are based on standardized job assessments and salary levels for the relevant country. A central element of the new process is that several line managers together assess the performance, development and salary of an employee. The process is concluded with a feedback interview between the employee and the direct line manager. Also in reaction to the employee survey, implementation measures were started in some of the local companies in areas that were shown to harbor improvement potential.

Sharper international focus is needed

Geberit offers its employees attractive employment conditions. In 2012, salaries and social benefits amounted to CHF 463.5 million (previous year CHF 435.6 million), please also refer to the  Notes to the Income Statement. The employees can also participate in share participation plans at attractive conditions, see:  Financial Statements of the Geberit Group, 18. Share Purchase Plans, as well as   Corporate Governance, 5. Remuneration, Shareholdings and Loans.

Equal opportunities and equal pay for women and men are self-evident. The proportion of female employees at the end of 2012 was 31% (previous year 29%), and for upper management this figure was 7% (previous year 5%). The six-member Board of Directors consists of one woman and five men.

One specific topic is constantly gaining in importance: the internationalization of the employees. The expansion of Geberit's activities to new countries and collaboration between the individual Group units are growing ever more intense. Competition on the global market demands additional skills and work experience abroad.

For Geberit, investment in its employees, also with regard to training and further education, continues to be of central importance. In the reporting year, employees attended around 17 hours of internal and external training and further education courses on average (previous year 15 hours). In 2012, 229 apprentices (previous year 232) were employed. The transfer rate to a permanent employment relationship was 92%. The target is a transfer rate of 75%. At the apprentice camp at the headquarters in Rapperswil-Jona (CH), apprentices from all training programs playfully learn project management skills. Generally speaking, all apprentices should work at several different locations during their apprenticeship. As the company would also like to motivate them to work abroad, they are given the opportunity during or following the apprenticeship to voluntarily go abroad for a short period of a few weeks to six months. The trainers have also been made aware of this objective to promote work experience abroad for apprentices. A survey among the apprentices received positive feedback, confirming that they meet the conditions for more mobility (language skills, interest in foreign cultures, career ambitions, etc.). In October 2012, the company introduced a concept for possible trainee positions in China, the US and India.

For managerial employees, the watchword is continuous advancement. The Potential Management process supports selected internal candidates on their way to middle or upper management, or to their first management, project management or specialist functions, with individual development measures and collective modules designed to ensure that at least half of the open management positions can be filled by internal candidates. Currently, as many as 77% of all positions in Group management can be filled internally. A new international advanced training program has been developed in collaboration with the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne for 160 members of the Group and country management. Managers take part in this one-week program in groups of 40 persons. The course topics include strategic management, leadership and finance. This tailor-made training program started in autumn 2012.

Various activities to promote employee health

In 2010, an anonymous survey showed that the Geberit employees in Switzerland are generally healthy. At that time, the principal health complaints included back pain and psychosocial factors (such as stress and noise pollution). In reaction to this survey, a number of different improvement measures were implemented successfully. In 2012 the agenda was dominated by the topic of burnout. Known burnout cases show that employees at certain hierarchical levels are affected by symptoms much more often than others. This finding is being used to develop an additional package of measures.

In Austria – and in a very similar way also in Germany – the Vitality program includes, among other things, subsidized gym membership, healthy food in the staff canteen, the provision of fruit and water at work, as well as vaccination campaigns and health check-ups. This standard program is supplemented by annual focus campaigns such as non-smoking or initiatives such as eye examinations or anti-glare glasses for computer work. The employees at the biggest Geberit Group site in Pfullendorf (DE) were invited to a special health day in 2012.

Group-wide, the absenteeism rate was 3.53% for the reporting year (previous year 3.20%). Of this, 3.37% (previous year 3.04%) was due to sickness and 0.16% (previous year 0.16%) to occupational accidents. The accident frequency rate (AFR) dropped to 11.7 in 2012 (previous year 13.9), also because of the constant efforts of the production plants to ensure safer working conditions. The two Chinese production plants have been certified in accordance with OHSAS 18001 since 2009, the sales company in the UK since 2010, and the production plant in Givisiez (CH) since 2011. To meet the Group's ambitious standards, the objective is to reduce the frequency and seriousness of accidents by 5% per year or by 50% between 2010 and 2020.

Integrity line creates transparency on internal grievances

Geberit aims to be a model of ethically unimpeachable, environmentally compatible and socially responsible operations. In this regard, the Code of Conduct for Employees and the Geberit Compass – which formulates the self-image of Geberit (what we do, what motivates us, what is responsible for our success, how we work together) – serve as the applicable guidelines.

The  Code of Conduct for Employees, which will be updated in 2013, summarizes the standards of conduct that employees at all levels must meet. It applies worldwide and is available on the intranet in 14 languages. As before, new employees were again introduced to the Code of Conduct at the Welcome events in 2012. Using short animatic films, the training focuses on the gray areas of four important topics: bribery, sexual harassment, workplace bullying and IT misuse.

An important innovation in the reporting year was the introduction of an Integrity Line. All Group employees were informed of this measure in December 2012. The Integrity Line itself was launched on January 1, 2013, and allows all employees to anonymously report internal irregularities in their mother tongue (35 languages). This makes an important contribution to the maintenance of high  Compliance Standards within the Group. This patented system, which is managed by an external service provider, can be used by telephone or via a secure website. Geberit itself does not have any access. Messages are forwarded anonymously to two internal managers appointed for this task, who jointly initiate measures or, depending on the circumstances, forward the report to the Group Executive Board or the Legal department. Geberit must react to every report. Replies are given within one week and can be read online by the person who made the report. All information is subject to data protection. The exchange of information is therefore as direct as possible without jeopardizing the anonymity of the employee who reports the matter.