8.1 Employees

Geberit’s most important ambassadors are its employees. They represent Geberit in their day-to-day contact with customers and many other stakeholders. To do so, they need to be aware of what their company stands for and what its objectives are. Geberit’s central corporate and brand values are defined in the Geberit Compass. Geberit aims to act as a role model for ethically unimpeachable, environmentally friendly and socially responsible operations. The Geberit Code of Conduct fills this objective with tangible content and offers an authoritative source of guidance.

The responsibility for all material aspects of the GRI Standards with respect to labour practices at the Geberit Group lies with the Head Corporate Human Resources, who reports directly to the CEO.

Committed, well-trained employees with comprehensive know-how are decisive to the company’s future success. With this in mind, efforts continued in 2019 to position Geberit on the job market as a progressive employer with an open corporate culture and international development opportunities at the interface between craft, engineering and sales. Potential employees are increasingly being addressed via digital channels. Whilst classic job advertisements are still used, employee portraits and success stories are also utilised. Here, employees detail their everyday tasks and explain why they consider Geberit to be a good employer. This is increasingly taking place via short films. In addition, campus recruitment activities were continued in 2019 with appearances at trade fairs and an increased digital presence. There was a special focus here on universities of applied sciences who offer education and further training in the field of ceramics manufacturing.

Employment (GRI 401)

Management approach employment

Geberit’s prime objective is to acquire and retain the right employees for the company. Geberit sees itself as an attractive employer with an open corporate culture that offers international development opportunities at the interface between the craft, engineering and sales sectors, see www.geberit.com > Career > What we offer.

Employees enjoy attractive employment conditions. In 2019, salaries and social benefits amounted to CHF 752 million (previous year CHF 744 million). The employees can also participate in share participation plans at attractive conditions, see Financials > Consolidated financial statements Geberit Group > Notes > Note 17 and Remuneration report.

Employee fluctuation (GRI 401-1)

The average fluctuation rate (in terms of employees with permanent contracts, without natural departures and long-term leaves of absence) was 6.5% (previous year 9.0%). Including natural departures, it was 8.4% (previous year 10.6%). For key figures on fluctuation by age group, gender and region, see Key figures sustainability > Employees and society.

Benefits provided to full-time employees (GRI 401-2)

Geberit essentially grants the same benefits to full-time and part-time employees. However, employees with temporary contracts are not always entitled to the same benefits as permanent employees. For example, employees in Switzerland with temporary employment contracts of less than three months are not insured in the pension fund. Geberit bases its employee benefits on country-specific standards.

Parental leave (GRI 401-3)

Geberit implements the currently applicable legal framework conditions. It also attempts in individual cases to find solutions that are as suitable as possible for the affected person and their team.

100% of all permanently employed women are entitled to paid maternity leave, and 5.2% or 116 women made use of this in 2019. 66 women or around 57% returned to Geberit following their maternity leave.

99% of all permanently employed men are entitled to paid paternity leave, and 3.5% or 255 men made use of this in 2019. 249 men or around 98% returned to Geberit following their paternity leave.

In the reporting year, the Geberit production plant in Ruše (Sl) received an award for its efforts and achievements in terms of being a family-friendly company.

Occupational health and safety (GRI 403)

Management approach occupational health and safety

The occupational health and safety of employees are of major importance. Geberit wants to gradually get nearer to the target of having healthy employees within an accident-free company and has therefore established a high level of health and safety for its employees. These efforts were rewarded in Switzerland in 2019: Geberit Fabrication SA in Givisiez (CH) took home the prize for health and occupational safety awarded by SUVA (the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund). The company went up against around 100 other companies who were selected beforehand because of their good accident statistics.

Geberit cooperates with authorities, trade unions and employers’ liability insurance associations on a country-specific basis. Most companies have written agreements with the trade unions. These normally cover topics such as personal protective equipment, complaints procedures, regular inspections, education and further training and the right to refuse unsafe work.

Using 2015 as the reference year, the aim is to halve the number and severity of accidents by 2025. In terms of the AFR (Accident Frequency Rate) the target is 5.5 (number of accidents per million working hours), and in terms of the ASR (Accident Severity Rate) the target is 90 (number of days lost per million working hours). These key figures are reviewed regularly at the plant cockpits and are part of the annual appraisal of plant managers. The Group Executive Board is also provided with a compact report on a quarterly basis and a comprehensive report is created for the management at the end of the year.

For objectives and measures concerning occupational health and safety, see also Sustainability strategy.

Occupational health and safety management system (GRI 403-1) and its degree of coverage (GRI 403-8)

All production plants and central logistics have a trained safety manager. The sites Rapperswil-Jona (CH) and Pfullendorf (DE) also have an appointed health manager. Since the beginning of 2017, the Geberit Safety Team – a team of experts from all production areas – has also been playing an active role in systematically developing occupational health and safety by defining key topics and highlighting examples of best practices, among others.

The Geberit Safety System (GSS) – which is valid in all production plants, in central logistics as well as in the management company incorporating all Group functions at headquarters in Rapperswil-Jona (CH) – defines processes that are applicable throughout the Group for promoting the continuous improvement of work processes and workplaces. Special attention is also paid to elements of changes in behaviour, as the majority of occupational accidents and time lost are still attributable to carelessness. Generally valid principles on health, occupational safety and prevention are part of the Geberit Code of Conduct and apply to all employees.

28 of the 29 production plants or around 95% of the production employees (employees with temporary and permanent contracts), central logistics, and the Geberit management company incorporating all Group functions at headquarters in Rapperswil-Jona (CH) are certified in accordance with the standard for occupational health and safety ISO 45001, or OHSAS 18001 respectively. By the end of 2020, all production plants and thus 100% of the production employees will be covered.

Risk assessment and investigation of accidents (GRI 403-2)

The risk assessment of workplaces and the systematic investigation of accidents are a central part of the Geberit Safety System and are standardised across the Group. The execution of the risk assessment takes place systematically for all relevant workplaces and is based on a standard method and evaluation matrix.

Every accident is reported, regardless of the employment relationship and severity. A standardised accident investigation also takes place for all accidents which result in the employee being absent for one working day and more. Based on these reports, active measures are derived to eliminate deficits permanently and to avoid similar accidents happening again within the company. Where appropriate, the insights gained will be shared with other companies to avoid similar accidents in the Group. Launched in 2017, the software-based solution for capturing and systematically analysing accident data has been rolled out at 16 production plants to date. The aim is to create a sound, comprehensive process that can be integrated in the SAP environment.

Occupational health services (GRI 403-3)

Geberit takes various steps in order to avoid health risks at the workplace. At several production sites, legal requirements require a company physician to be on hand. Depending on the risk classification of the particular activity, various measures are implemented for health provision. For example, occupational medical examinations (including auscultation of the lung, lung checks and X-rays) are regularly carried out in the ceramics plants due to the presence of quartz dust. Noise pollution and ergonomics are further focal points of the company physicians and external specialists.

Employee participation and communication on occupational health and safety (GRI 403-4)

88.5% of all employees worldwide are represented through an occupational health and safety panel or safety committee at their site, in which employer and employee representatives can discuss occupational health and safety issues. The occupational health and safety panels are created on behalf of the management and involve all levels of the organisation as well as various specialist roles and areas (including company physicians, works council, occupational safety specialists, representatives of occupational health and safety unions). In addition, employees are involved in relevant processes of the Geberit Safety System, such as the risk assessment of workplaces or accident investigation. Since the beginning of 2017, the Geberit Safety Team – a team of experts from all production areas – has also been playing an active role in systematically developing occupational health and safety by defining key topics and highlighting examples of best practices, among others.

Training on occupational health and safety (GRI 403-5)

Training sessions on occupational health and safety take place regularly in most Geberit companies. At Welcome events, new employees are given information about the valid, local health and safety regulations and internal directives. At production and logistics sites, supervisors also hold job-specific training sessions on work-related hazards.

A campaign on occupational health and safety was started in 2019 focusing on training and raising awareness on this topic. An eLearning programme aimed at employees in production and logistics should, among other things, help to correctly identify danger areas in the workplace and rectify them consistently.

Promotion of employee health (GRI 403-6)

Across the Group, Geberit carries out a wide range of activities and sets up programmes to support employees’ health and well-being, and also offers its employees precautionary healthcare opportunities through various offers and activities. These include, for example, sports facilities, anti-smoking seminars, health check-ups, massage services, dietary and health tips, presentations on health-related issues and workshops on targeted and correct relaxation. With this in mind, a diverse vitality programme is offered at 17 production and sales sites in the fields of exercise, mental fitness, nutrition and the working environment. The most comprehensive programme “Geberit Vital” can be accessed at six sites by around 40% of the Geberit workforce.

Further focal points are the ergonomic organisation of the workplace, training courses for managerial staff in health-conscious management and reintegration counselling, with the aim of getting people back to work as soon as possible after a long-term absence due to illness. Examples of individual support include counselling in Rapperswil-Jona (CH) to assist with problems ranging from on-the-job pressure, partnership and family problems to debt issues, and the telephone helpline created in the USA to discuss problems at work in complete confidentiality. Geberit also promotes fitness in the community with its support of the Geberit sports club, for example. This club features eleven different sports sections and has around 620 members in Rapperswil-Jona (CH) who regularly meet up and exercise together.

Avoiding and minimising danger for business partners (GRI 403-7)

Geberit also sets great store by the occupational health and safety of business partners. For example, contractors who carry out work on the factory premises receive a safety briefing and are obliged to observe these rules. In the corresponding Code of Conduct, suppliers also undertake to ensure occupational safety and health-promoting working conditions in their company and supply chain. This is systematically examined as part of supplier audits, see also the chapter Suppliers.

In terms of customers, Geberit takes great care – including as part of the eco-design workshop – to ensure that all products are ergonomic and safe during installation and their final use. The assembly of Geberit products is easy and often tool-free. If special tools are needed, these have been optimised in terms of their ergonomics and safety, and their correct handling is trained accordingly.

Accidents and days lost ( GRI 403-9)

The manufacture of sanitary products can generally be said to have a low level of risks at the workplace. Nevertheless, there are still some individual activities which entail an increased risk of accidents. Typical workplace risks are the lifting and carrying of heavy loads, working at heights and in noisy environments, as well as handling hot media and hazardous substances. As part of the Geberit Safety System, the workplace risks are assessed systematically and appropriate measures implemented to protect the employees.

In the reporting year, a total of 193 accidents were recorded (previous year 191 accidents), equivalent to 3,688 lost working days due to occupational accidents (previous year 3,584 lost working days). The statistics show only those occupational accidents that occur during working hours or business travel and lead to lost working time of one working day or more. The most frequent injuries are cuts and stab wounds on hands and bruising to the body. There were no severe or fatal accidents. In 2019, the Accident Frequency Rate AFR (number of accidents per million working hours) increased slightly by 1.0% to 9.8 (previous year 9.7) and the Accident Severity Rate ASR (number of days lost per million working hours) by 3.4% to 187.6 (previous year 181.5). In terms of the Group-wide absenteeism rate, work-related accidents account for just 2.6% of all absenteeism at 0.12% (previous year 0.12%).

In the reporting year, the Group-wide absenteeism rate due to accidents and absences due to illness based on regular working hours was 4.64% (previous year 4.89%). Illness-related absences accounted for 4.52% of this rate.

Further key figures can be found under Key figures sustainability > Employees and society.

Work-related illness (GRI 403-10)

There are certain operational activities at Geberit, particularly in ceramic production, involving an increased risk of work-related illness (silicosis/dust disease). The risks lie primarily in slip and glaze preparation, casting and glazing as well as in the processing of unfired and fired ceramic parts. Around 50% of employees in ceramic production are regularly exposed to increased levels of quartz dust. Technical, organisational and personal protection measures are implemented for the protection of these employees. The employees also regularly undergo occupational medical examinations (including auscultation of the lung, lung checks and X-rays). Geberit makes substantial efforts towards either avoiding the exposure of employees to these risks (e.g. through the installation of glazing robots) or minimising this exposure (e.g. through the use of special extraction devices, dust masks or the provision of training in correct behaviour at the workplace). The topic is also systematically addressed as part of the Geberit Safety System and certification according to ISO 45001.

In the reporting year, the subject of quartz dust was addressed in detail as part of a project where a standard threshold for dust was also specified. At various sites, this threshold is lower than the legally prescribed levels. Furthermore, a uniform measurement and evaluation procedure was developed to allow for comparisons to be made between the plants and form the basis for further measures. In the area of personal protective equipment, as well as in hygiene and cleaning, minimum standards were defined and implemented at the sites. As part of this project, comprehensive dust measurements were taken in all ceramics plants based on standard measuring methods. On the basis of these consolidated results, further focal points were defined for the reduction of dust pollution. Furthermore, Geberit participates in the NEPSI programme (The European Network on Silica) as a member of FECS, a sub-organisation of Cerame-Unie (European Ceramic Industry Association). This includes monitoring the exposure of employees to quartz dust and the implementation of best practices.

Further key figures can be found under Key figures sustainability > Employees and society.

Training and education (GRI 404)

Management approach training and education

Qualified and committed employees are essential for the future success of Geberit. The company therefore sets particular store on the solid education and further training of all employees and on equal opportunities.

New employees are introduced to the company and its products through various job orientation programmes on joining the company. These range from individually designed introduction talks in various departments to the one-week basic course that provides practical knowledge about Geberit in small groups.

A standard Performance assessment, Development and Compensation (PDC) process has been in place since 2012. Except for the employees who work directly in production at the plants, all employees have been incorporated into the PDC process. valYOU – a new Performance assessment, Development and Compensation process – was developed in the reporting year. A new, key element of valYOU is succession planning for each individual position. Furthermore, the further development of individual employees is also actively supported through systematic feedback discussions. At the end of 2019, management personnel from the participating pilot companies visited a two-day workshop and became familiar with the new processes, the associated managerial tasks and the new IT tool.

Training apprentices is of great significance at Geberit. According to an apprentice ranking carried out in 2019, Geberit is one of the leading companies for apprentices in Switzerland and makes an important contribution to vocational training and to maintaining Switzerland’s reputation as a centre for training and education. Since 1963, Geberit has trained in excess of 500 apprentices in Switzerland and now trains apprentices in over eleven different skilled trades. Some 10% of the company’s employees currently working in Switzerland completed their apprenticeship at Geberit. Young people can start their careers at Geberit with a commercial, industrial or technical apprenticeship. The aim is to impart all the skills that are required for apprentices to pursue their chosen careers in a professional, independent and responsible manner. For example, in Rapperswil-Jona (CH) there are currently in excess of 70 apprentices being trained in eleven trades. State-of-the-art and in particular digital learning methods are used here. Since 2018, Geberit’s leading position in this area has also been used in corresponding image films for apprentice recruitment.

All apprentices are essentially required to work at several sites during their training. As a global company, Geberit promotes the internationalisation of employees. Experience abroad and the transfer of know-how are an advantage for both employees and the company. Therefore, apprentices have the option of working abroad for a period of six months on completion of their apprenticeship. Geberit continues to offer its support in completing internships, plus Bachelor and Master theses.

For further information, see Business Report > Business and financial review > Financial Year 2019 > Employees.

Scope of training and education (GRI 404-1)

In the reporting year, employees across the Group attended on average 13.8 hours of internal and external education and further training (previous year 13.7 hours). For key figures by gender and employee category, see Key figures sustainability > Employees and society.

Programmes for skills management and lifelong learning (GRI 404-2)

A two-stage Potentials Management Programme aims to identify talents throughout the company and support them along their path to middle or senior management. The programme includes topics such as strategy, digitalisation and the management of change processes. Furthermore, the issues investigated as part of project work are geared towards strategic tasks of relevance to Geberit and provide the decision-makers involved with concrete bases for action. Part of the programme was carried out for the second time in collaboration with the University of St. Gallen (CH). The Potentials Management Programme is intended to help fill at least half of all vacant managerial positions with internal candidates. In 2019, this was achieved for 58% of all Group management vacancies (previous year 57%).

In 2019, the ceramics plants in Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Finland, Italy, France and Portugal saw the continuation of an initiative aimed at improving leadership skills at various hierarchical levels. This initiative is planned at Group level, adapted to local requirements and put into practice in multi-day workshops involving local coaches. During the reporting year, the programme targeting the development of managerial staff was continued within the sales organisations in the European countries. The aim of these courses was to strengthen the leadership skills for more than 100 regional sales managers on the one hand, and, on the other, to standardise the role of these managers in order to drive sales as a whole.

In 2019, the Operations Development Programme (ODP) was introduced as a development programme for talented external and internal junior managers in the area of operations (production, logistics and purchasing). The aim is to recruit internationally mobile people with a technical background or who have studied engineering and who, in the medium term, should take up a managerial position at Geberit. The programme is divided into several phases. In the initial onboarding phase, candidates get to know the culture, philosophy and processes at Geberit. This is followed by a second and third phase in which the participants are assigned responsibility for exciting, international projects under close supervision by a member of senior management. Initially, this will take place at established Geberit sites, and later also at other sites that are not as established but have the corresponding need.

In 2019, 264 apprentices (previous year 247) were employed. The transfer rate to a permanent employment relationship was 85% (previous year 89%). Furthermore, 98 internships were made available and 29 Bachelor and Master theses supervised.

For further information, see Business Report > Business and financial review > Financial Year 2019 > Employees.

Performance evaluation and career planning (GRI 404-3)

In everyday working life, the personal and professional development of each individual employee is encouraged in a variety of ways. This covers all areas of work, functions and age groups. Around 80% of all employees took part in appraisal interviews in 2019 at which development opportunities were also identified and discussed. As part of the standardised global Performance assessment, Development and Compensation process (PDC), employees receive a performance assessment and/or agreement of objectives at least once a year.

Diversity and equal opportunity (GRI 405)

Management approach diversity and equal opportunity

In its Code of Conduct, Geberit sets store on promoting diversity and creating a culture that enables all employees to develop their full potential in the company. The company strives for diversity and promotes equal opportunities irrespective of gender, ethnic origin, skin colour, age, religion and nationality.

Geberit pursues a fair and non-discriminatory employment practice in accordance with prevailing national and international law. Recruitment, training courses and promotions depend solely on individual achievements, skills and potential regarding the requirements of the position in question.

Protection of the principles of equality is anchored in the Geberit Code of Conduct. This includes the prohibition of discrimination against any employee on the basis of gender. Fair and equal pay for women and men is guaranteed as follows:

  • Job assessment by function in accordance with the proven Hay method on the basis of know-how, thinking ability and accountability. All jobs are pooled in a Group-wide grading system. The resulting grade is the basis for determining an employee’s pay. This guarantees gender-neutral, fair salary structures.
  • Binding wage agreements with set pay grades at many Geberit sites.

Diversity of governance bodies and employees (GRI 405-1)

The proportion of female employees at the end of 2019 was 24% (previous year 24%), and for senior management this figure was 11% (previous year 9%). The five-member Board of Directors has two female members. No further data on diversity of governance bodies and employees is currently being collected as Geberit and its stakeholders do not consider this to be relevant. For key figures on diversity in terms of gender and age structure, see Key figures sustainability > Employees and society.

Ratio of remuneration between women and men (GRI 405-2)

According to the annual survey of all Geberit Group companies, no differences between the basic salaries of women and men exist anywhere within the Group.

Non-discrimination (GRI 406)

Management approach non-discrimination

The Geberit Code of Conduct forbids discrimination as defined in the ILO core labour standards. Geberit does not tolerate either discrimination or workplace bullying on the basis of race, gender, religion, creed, nationality, disability, age, sexual orientation, physical or mental handicap, marital status, political views or other characteristics protected by law. Geberit aims to ensure a safe working environment for its employees. All forms of workplace violence, including threats, threatening gestures, intimidation, attacks and similar forms of behaviour are forbidden. Compliance with the Code is verified annually as part of a Group-wide survey.

According to the Geberit Code of Conduct, employees who openly address irregularities which represent breaches of applicable law, ethical standards or the Code of Conduct are acting correctly. The Group Executive Board of Geberit must be informed of problems in the area of integrity in order to be able to manage these swiftly and reliably. By openly addressing such issues, Geberit employees are contributing to their own protection, that of their colleagues and the protection of Geberit’s rights and interests.

If issues should occur, employees should seek a personal meeting with their supervisor. The Geberit Integrity Line is available to all employees as a whistleblower hotline. The service is intended to enable employees to anonymously report cases such as sexual harassment or when a corrupt payment is being covered up. The Integrity Line is operated by an external company with experience in this area, and is available around the clock seven days a week.

Cases of discrimination (GRI 406-1)

According to the annual Group-wide survey, there was one case of verbal sexual harassment revealed in 2019. This incident was resolved and the employee responsible has left the company.

Freedom of association (GRI 407)

Management approach freedom of association

Employees are completely free to join trade unions, associations and similar organisations. No rights with respect to exercising freedom of association or collective bargaining as defined in the ILO core labour standards and the UN Global Compact are subject to restriction at the Geberit Group.

Non-compliance with the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining (GRI 407-1)

According to the annual Group-wide survey, no infringements of the guarantee of freedom of association and collective bargaining were identified in 2019.


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