Activities & results - Our People

‘A Great Place to Work’

Our first strategic pillar is about our people. After all, they are the ones that need to ensure a superior customer experience. Therefore, Vodafone wants to be a good employer, ‘A Great Place to Work’. Only if we have talented and committed employees, can we be successful – now and in the future – and make a contribution to society. With our products and services as well as by creating employment. In 2014-2015 we provided jobs for 3,838 people in various regions in the Netherlands. We also make sure that our employees can develop themselves and are employable in a sustainable way in our company or elsewhere on the labour market. To become and to remain A Great Place to Work, we invested in a number of things in 2014-2015, like the quality of our managers, development opportunities for all our employees, diversity, be appealing to and educating young people and improving the sense of unity. This will remain our focus point for the coming years. Another important focus point for the future will be captivating and engaging different groups of employees.

What is happening around us and how does this impact us?

Specific talent for specific positions
The job market is picking up and becoming more dynamic. The number of people employed and the number of jobseekers are rising (source: CBS February 2015). For young people, however, finding a job is difficult. For Vodafone it remains a challenge to recruit specific talent, for example with an in-depth knowledge of fixed TV, internet and telephony. We are still quite often seen as a mobile provider only. That makes it all the more important for us to be visible on the job market, to have a good reputation, to invest in qualified personnel and to create the right working environment. Among other things, opportunities for flexible and mobile working are important because people need a flexible balance between work and private life. We also need to give more attention to retaining and developing our existing workforce.

Needs of various groups of employees in various stages of their career
Job participation by women in the Netherlands is good, but the percentage of women at the top is lagging behind (source: Trouw 2014). In the IT industry this is even worse. Companies are also expected by the government and society to do more with respect to job opportunities for people at a distance from the labour market (Participation Act) and for ageing employees. Due to the increased state pension age, people need to be able to stay in a job longer. These developments require us to respond even better to the needs of the various groups of employees in the various stages of their career. To ensure people preserve their vitality and are able to work longer, we must also pay attention to our people’s health.

Development employees in light of fast-changing circumstances and needs
To conclude, it is a fact that the telecom industry is changing fast due to technological developments and fast-changing needs and demands of our customers. It is therefore important to have the right people in the right places and to support employees in their ongoing development in order to respond to this.

> How do we involve our stakeholders?
> How do we determine the material issues?

How can we anticipate these developments?

To become and remain ‘A Great Place to Work’, we have focused on three key areas:

1. An effective organisation
Being an effective organisation will help us remain successful in the future and keep making our contribution to society. To achieve this we manage our resources well and we simplify processes and structures. We also create engaged employees. Engagement leads to higher productivity and increased motivation to help customers to the best of our ability (source: Harvard Business Review, Manage your Human Sigma). Development opportunities, flexible and mobile working and good terms of employment are contributing factors. An effective organisation is a diverse organisation, offering opportunities to women and young people.

2. Leadership & teamwork

We make sure that the right people are in the right place, that people work well as a team and that our managers can strengthen their skills. This contributes towards achieving good results, the development of employees and diversity & inclusion.

3. Sense of unity & community 

We devote ourselves to strengthening the sense of unity within Vodafone. Within our community we stimulate and facilitate employees to engage in activities with each other outside working hours. This contributes to people taking pride in and deriving enjoyment from their work for Vodafone, making them proud ambassadors of our company and our products and services.

Everything we do, we try to do ‘The Vodafone Way’ wherever possible.

What is the progress on our goals?

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  1. In the latest survey we used a new Vodafone-wide calculation method of the scores for the Employee Engagement Index and Employee Net Promoter Score in the People Survey. This makes comparing it to the absolute target rather difficult.
  2. The results have been recalculated due to a new Vodafone-wide calculation method of the scores in the People Survey.
  3. Employee Engagement Index consists of three elements: commitment to Vodafone, willingness to continue working for Vodafone and the will to go the extra mile for the company. The index is calculated on the basis of the average score for seven questions (both positive and negative answers are included) and has a maximum score of 100.
  4. The Employee Net Promoter Score is used to measure the extent to which employees recommend Vodafone to others. The Net Promoter Score uses a 10-point scale, where 9 and 10 mean the employees are Promoters (ambassadors of Vodafone) and 0 to 6 mean they are Detractors (employees who do not recommend Vodafone or are negative about it). The Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters.
  5. Reference date 31 December, measuring number of women in management board and senior management positions. The target is a 50% increase in the number of women in top management in 2016 compared to 2011. This has been laid down in the charter ‘Talent to the Top’.

What have we achieved in 2014-2015?

Improved leadership & teamwork
In 2014-2015 we invested heavily in the performance and development of our managers. For example through our ‘Good to Great’ training programme. We are clear in what we expect from our managers and strive for a better balance between optimum performance and proper teamwork. The one-day team workshops ‘Connect’ for team efficiency also contributed to improved teamwork. Furthermore, we have become even more critical when appointing new managers.

Due to our investments in management and teamwork our employees have become more satisfied with their manager. The Management Index score rose with 4 points (compared to 2013-2014).

More development opportunities all employees
Besides giving attention to the development of our managers, we have also paid attention to the development of all our employees. With this we respond to a wish expressed by our employees. For example, we have developed a new learning & development curriculum for office and call centre personnel, aimed at professional as well as personal development. This new curriculum will take effect in May 2015. For our shop personnel we already had an extensive training programme in place.

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*Spendings have gone down, but the number of hours spent on training has not. This is caused by more training ‘on the job’.

To offer employees as many opportunities for development as possible, we fill vacancies internally whenever possible. In the last year we managed to do so in 50% of all vacancies. This applies to all parts of the organisation.

More grip on quality and diversity
Since the end of 2013, recruiting and selecting our people is being outsourced to external parties to a much lesser extent. This gives us more grip on the quality, diversity and internal career paths. We also ask current employees to suggest new candidates.

In 2014-2015 the number of candidates introduced by employees increased with 100% (compared to 2013-2014). In 2014-2015, Vodafone Group developed ‘Family Friendly’ leave. Female employees with a full-time employment contract can temporarily work fewer hours (30 hours a week) after their maternity leave, without loss of full-time pay. This encourages the promotion of more women to management positions. The scheme has come into effect as of 1 April 2015.

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Finally, we initiated a pilot to examine how we can offer more job opportunities in an acceptable way to people at a distance from the labour market.

Greater sense of unity
Through several internal communication activities we have worked on the sense of unity within Vodafone. For example, our CEO gives monthly strategy updates and several events were organised within our community, like fundraising events involving sports. The Vodafone Connect Run, which took place for the 2nd time in September 2014 is an example. It is a relay race from our offices in Amsterdam and Eindhoven, with employees running 80 km or cycling 100 km. A total of 280 employees raised 16,000 euros in this way for De Opkikker foundation. We also welcomed 90 international and 40 national colleagues during the Amsterdam Marathon in October 2014. We managed to raise 125,000 euros for Moyo Lesotho. The Vodafone Foundation doubled this amount to 250,000 euros. The sporting activities within our community also contribute to our employees’ health and level of fitness.

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*excl. pregnancy
**Split absenteeism rate of Vodafone Libertel and Vodafone Retail in financial year 2013-2014 due to 2 system changes within HR: 1) Integration of the Retail (Belcompany) HR systems into the Vodafone Libertel HR system; 2) Absenteeism tool was recently replaced, but implementation of new absenteeism application not yet completed.

In total, Vodafone Foundation donated 883,664 euros to charity in 2014-2015. And 126 employees spent a total of 1,008 staff hours on voluntary work. Furthermore, the Foundation acquired network equipment and had 2 employees trained in order to be able to set up a temporary mobile network in a disaster area or refugee camp.

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Our efforts have induced more pride in our employees. More employees answered the question ‘proud to be working for Vodafone’ in our People Survey in a positive way (from 83 in 2013-2014 to 87 in 2014-2015). Also the Employee Net Promoter Score (the extent to which employees would recommend Vodafone to others) has risen 18 points compared to the previous year.

Invested in young people
Vodafone devotes itself to improving (higher) education in the Netherlands, bridging the gap between education and the business sector and to making Vodafone an interesting potential employer for students.

In 2014-2015 we developed a learn & work concept with the University of Maastricht. The aim is to offer students the opportunity to gain work experience alongside their study. In November 2014, 5 students were welcomed into our company as part of this programme.

Furthermore, we worked on the circular economy together with Delft University of Technology (UT) as part of the government-assisted programme ‘Products that last’. Vodafone was also involved in organising the ‘Master Identity Day’ for 100 UT students of the master’s study Strategy Product Design. We developed a 4G case and a team of Vodafone coaches challenged the master’s students an entire day to come up with solutions.

We also collaborated with the Faculty of Economics & Business Administration of the University of Amsterdam (UoA). The new course Executing Strategy centres on a Vodafone case. Furthermore, our CEO gave a guest lecture for 600 UoA students about personal leadership at the Carré theatre.

In 2014-2015 we offered 54 young people an internship post for a maximum of 6 months. Five of them joined the company after their internship. Furthermore, 17 graduates followed our one-year talent programme ‘Discover’, 8 of which have been offered a permanent appointment (as of September 2015). For the remaining 9 we are still looking for permanent appointments. Out of the 18 young people that completed the Discover programme in 2013-2014, 17 were offered a permanent contract as of September 2014.

Insight in simplification of processes
With an interim employee satisfaction survey in March 2015, we asked employees which elements in our way of working were not perceived as simple. The survey showed that the Business Units listed different causes of what they experience as complex. This varies from complex systems and processes to the way we work together. Based on these outcomes, plans will be developed for concrete improvements in each Business Unit.

Introduction of new salary & pension scheme
As of 1 April 2014, we have a new salary and pension scheme. With the new pension scheme we are compliant with the changes in fiscal legislation. The legislative changes were not used as a tool for cost reduction. Our employees are still not obliged to pay a personal contribution.

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*Salary incl. bonus, overtime, social security, pension, etc.

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*Salary calculation based on 3,474 employees on the payroll in the Netherlands.

Overall our efforts have resulted in more committed employees. The Employee Engagement Index rose to 81 (compared to 77 in 2013-2014).

How did we realise our activities?

  • 787 people recruited
  • 345 contractors and temporary workers hired
  • 197 million euro paid on salaries
  • 1.456 million euro spend on training & development
  • Partnerships with stakeholders like universities

How do we look back on our results?

Because of the higher scores of the Employee Engagement Index and the Management Index, among other things, we can conclude that our attention for our managers and strengthening employee engagement has paid off. The Employee Engagement Index of 81 is in fact very good, compared to companies both inside and outside our own industry. This makes us proud.

In the field of learning & development for all our employees, there is still room for improvement. With the introduction of the learning & development curricula we expect to be able to make good progress in this field in the coming years. By intensifying our collaboration with universities we have strengthened our public role and we have become more visible as an employer on the job market. However, we still do not reach sufficient potential employees. This will remain a focus point for the coming year.

The lower scores of how employees experience our key values speed and simplicity are disappointing. With regard to ‘speed’ this shows us that there is still room for improvement in customer-focused thinking and behaviour. As to ‘simplicity’ this means that our employees experience too many barriers when it comes to internal processes and systems. It takes time, however, to change systems, processes and work patterns.

Our employee engagement is very good, compared to companies both inside and outside our industry. This makes us proud.

Another element we are not completely satisfied with is the number of new female employees and the number of women in management positions, even though this is in line with the trend in the Netherlands and the IT industry. We strongly believe in the importance of diversity and the power of more balanced skills and management styles in an organisation. We therefore set ourselves higher targets for the coming year. We strive to achieve these by, among other things, having more internal talent move on to management positions, encouraging women not to quit during or after their pregnancy and by paying more attention to diversity when recruiting external talent.

Dilemma
We are eager to recruit more people at a distance from the labour market to meet social return requirements from enterprise customers. The pilot we started in 2014-2015, will help us determine in which way we can give substance to this principle. For the target audience as well as for Vodafone. It’s a balancing act between contributing to this social cause without positive discrimination, and adhering to our principle of having the right people in the right place.

What is the impact on our environment?

Our activities have various social-economic effects:

  • By offering jobs to 3,838 employees and collaborating with hundreds of suppliers and business partners, we contribute to the direct employment as well as indirect employment, making us a substantial employer in the Netherlands.
  • For the Maastricht region, the customer care industry – of which we are part and to which we actively contribute with an exchange of knowledge – is especially important for the local economy.
  • By paying more attention to diversity and by a worldwide ‘Family Friendly’ leave we contribute to job participation.
  • By paying salaries and payroll tax as an employer we contribute indirectly to economic growth in the Netherlands.
  • By investing in the development of our employees, we increase the intellectual capital in the Netherlands, especially expertise in the field of technology and customer care.
  • By developing our employees, job satisfaction and offering a flexible work-life balance, we contribute to the well-being of employees.
  • By offering internships and traineeships and by being involved in curricula of several universities we contribute to the quality of education and the access to the labour market.
  • By deploying volunteers, donations to charities and by having a team stand-by, able to set up a mobile network in a disaster area or refugee camp, we support people in need through the Vodafone Foundation

We offer employment to 3,838 people. In this way we contribute to the direct employment in the Netherlands.

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*Including temporary staff and contractors.

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*  Exclusief uitzendkrachten en contractors.
** Employees seconded to other Vodafone countries, but working from the Netherlands.

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What are we aiming for in the coming years?

In the years that lie ahead of us, we will be focusing in even more detail on responding to the various needs of the different groups of employees in order to inspire and engage them. For a graduate, mobile working and flexible working opportunities is a decisive factor while for a senior technology professional it is the job content and terms of employment. With the labour market picking up, fierce competition and ageing population on the job market, a tailor-made approach is an essential element for future success.

At the same time we keep devoting ourselves to being an efficient organisation, strengthening leadership and teamwork and enhancing the sense of unity and engagement within Vodafone. To further embed our core value ‘simplicity’ in our organisation, all Business Units will have targets on ‘simplicity’ and will be further improving systems, processes and teamwork based on the plans that have now been developed in order to enable a simple way of working.

This article is composed by Marielle van der Hurk, Gersom van der Spek, Cathy Ascoop and Peter Schreurs
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