Alliander has the ambition to be a top employer. A ‘great place to work’. At a top employer, the employees trust the people they work for, are proud of what they do and enjoy working with colleagues, customers, suppliers and partners.
Every year we measure how satisfied our employees are about working for Alliander. Teams and departments determine the follow-up actions. The survey in 2016 elicited a high response rate of 79% (2015: 67%), which underscores the engagement of our employees. At 70%, the Trust Index – the average of the main categories of the great place to work survey – was lower than the targeted 75%. Aspects that employees were less satisfied about were management credibility and lack of respect. But many said they were, above all, proud to work for Alliander (74%) and praised the company for its honesty (73%).
Training & Development
Every year, our employees commit to personal objectives with their manager. That way, they continue to work on their professional knowledge, personal development and career opportunities. In 2016, Alliander invested 3.3% of its payroll costs in employee training (2015: 2.8%).
Within Alliander, we have a dedicated training centre to help employees develop their skills in key areas such as technology, safety and leadership. We ensure that everybody is and remains optimally equipped and is able to meet the challenges arising from the energy transition. Finding high-quality staff is also a challenge from a risk management perspective. Alliander therefore actively develops competences through trainee and talent management programmes. One specific initiative in this context is 'Alliander Leert!: a neuropsychological approach centring on individual learning abilities and preferences.
Our safety training underwent a metamorphosis in 2016. The reasons included the introduction of new guidelines for medium and high voltages and a new partnership with Enexis for the examination of our employees. In the year under review, 1,485 safety training courses were taken up (2015: 1,755).
Demand for technical training
In 2016, a new training programme was set up together with regional training centres in order to accelerate the training of field service engineers. This intermediate-level training programme enables us to meet the acute demand for technical training. It is the first course where Alliander Opleidingen not only provides teachers for practical classes but also for theoretical subjects.
The Alliander Foundation encourages and helps our employees to engage in voluntary work. 2016 was a successful year for the Foundation. Almost 1,100 volunteers took part in a range of activities (in 2015: 976). The Foundation provided funding for 73 different projects (2015: 75). Traditional team initiatives include doing odd jobs and taking part in social activities for specific target groups. A new emerging trend is that more and more teams are putting their expertise at the disposal of charitable causes. In 2016, many activities were also undertaken for and with refugees. To mark its tenth anniversary, the Foundation organised a successful initiative where employees could lend a comforting hand to lonely or ill people. 56 colleagues took part in this activity. 85% of the employees are proud that the Foundation supports employee volunteering.
New standby and outage response rosters
In September, a new system for rostering standby and outage response shifts took effect. Under the new roster, field service engineers work shifts according to non-standard time blocks and are more frequently on outage response duty. These changes received a lot of attention during the preparations. The new rosters are better aligned with peaks in outage work, which tend to occur between 4.30pm and 7pm. The aim is to avoid breaching the Working Hours Act wherever possible.
The new rosters have considerable impact on the personal lives of many colleagues. This is due to the increased number of standby and outage response shifts. Their working hours will also be more irregular, which may affect their work life balance. Another consideration is the financial impact due to the reduction of overtime. For these reasons, we evaluate the effects of the new rosters on a monthly basis and make adjustments if necessary. A large-scale evaluation is planned six months after implementation.
The company-wide Alliander Werkt! programme – launched in 2010 – was completed at the end of last year. The programme was designed to promote an effective and enjoyable working environment for our employees. Strategies include offering flexible working opportunities, measuring performance based on output instead of attendance, and encouraging effective cooperation.
In the year under review, the Basisweg location in Amsterdam was given a makeover in line with the Alliander Werkt! principles. This was a major operation involving 900 employees. We also modified some of the Netcare offices, organised guided tours of our renewed building in Duiven for thousands of visitors and gave several hundreds of workshops to employees. In addition, the Alliander Werkt! programme prepared employees for their new working environment in the renewed Bellevue head office in Arnhem. An internal survey shows that Alliander Werkt! has demonstrably helped people enjoy their work more. Aspects mentioned by employees included better cooperation and focus on results. 84% say they are more productive and find Alliander a better employer.
Dilemma: making operational choices
The energy system is developing rapidly. The economy is gaining traction and demand for new residential and business connections is on the rise. Customers are asking questions about energy feed-in and energy saving options. At the same time, we must keep the networks reliable and safe 24/7. All this involves a vast amount of work – more, in fact, than we can handle. So priorities must be set. We come up with solutions, such as more efficiency, more outsourcing and more colleagues. But we still need to strike a difficult balance and decide how to allocate capacity to ensure our energy system remains reliable, accessible and affordable.
Changes in the organisation
Our organisation is constantly evolving. In 2016, for instance, we integrated the Customer & Market and Customer & Service Departments into a new business unit to raise our customer approach and market facilitation to a higher level. With the new business unit, we are better able to offer customers the best alternatives. In addition, several business units – such as Allego, Alliander Duurzame Gebiedsontwikkeling and Kenter – were given greater autonomy.
The career centre supports all employees who become redundant due to organisational changes, but also helps others who want to improve their CV and job application skills in preparation for the future. This is particularly vital in some areas. Administrative jobs, for instance, are regularly lost due to digitisation. With the aid of the career centre, the redundant employees are preparing for a new future inside or outside Alliander. In the year under review, 161 colleagues became redundant (2015: 141) and 177 people made use of the facilities offered by our career centre (2015: 152). With this assistance, 25 employees managed to find a new job or an appropriate alternative.
“The Alliander Works Council made a successful start to a new three-year term of office in 2016. The flat structure introduced this year has made the works council considerably more effective and efficient. This is necessary to keep pace with the constant changes in our working environment and the wider world. One important subject in 2016 was the renewal of the social policy in November. Long-term employability, prevention of redundancies during reorganisations and helping employees from work to work are key elements of the new policy. In 2017, the Alliander Works Council aims to continue making a proactive contribution to ensure Alliander remains an attractive employer.”
Wouter Koks, voorzitter Ondernemingsraad Alliander