To us, a sustainable HR policy, where people are front and center, is a prerequisite and a significant factor of our business success. We promote the long-term and sustainable development of our employees by equipping them with the necessary know-how and competences for the future. In order for us to attract and retain highly qualified personnel, we are positioning ourselves as an attractive employer that respects people, affords them a safe work environment, and promotes their health.
Our ports are active and alive around the clock, on 365 days a year. Some 700 male and female employees are on the job to provide outstanding performance for our customers. We make it our task to provide an environment in a constantly changing world that promotes motivation, inner drive, and self-responsibility.
To us, HR development means a key to success: It is the philosophy, motor for change, and framework impetus for many different areas, such as reconcilability of job & family, training and continuing education, and the promotion of health and well-being. Central topics of our HR development are digitization, the development of our expert staff and our management personnel, our cooperation and leadership, as well as the further development of our employer brand.
Today's professional world is dynamic and change is normal. Digitization, increased requirements and customer demands raise new questions in need of answers. It is therefore our superordinate goal to enable our employees to keep up with the changes they face in a professional context: From new-hire to job familiarization, to the continuing qualification, we are here to offer invaluable support.
In 2016, we finalized and put in place an HR development Strategy. It comprises the most important topics from the field of action “Employees & Safety” for the coming years. We report our progress multiple times a year to the supervisory board.
As part of our communication with the corporate management, we report every two weeks on the status of projects and come to an agreement on the progress of the measures. During the monthly meetings of the different HR managements, we exchange ideas and agree upon topics together with the executives during corporate management meetings and at the so-called ‘Great Internal Roundtable’.
An important development in this context is our concept for the topic Employer Branding that we conceptualized in a joint effort between the Communications and HR Departments in 2019. We have completely overhauled our Career Page, and we have increased our presence and activities in the social media. In our corporate blog ‘Hafenpost’, we report about everyday life events at NPorts.
To us, qualification is a key topic. Through it, we continually strengthen the expertise and specialty skills of our crew, thus securing NPorts’ competitiveness. Specialized qualification promotes the development in the individual areas of work, such as Engineering & Technical, Port Office, etc. The interdisciplinary offerings cover a great variety of competencies for a successful cooperation.
We approach the topic ‘Qualification’ from two different angles: (1) Maintenance and further development of basic qualifications that any employee brings to the company and that he/she needs to accomplish the daily tasks, (2) Recognizing and strengthening employees with great potential in our company that we want to further develop.
Since the fall of 2018, we have had a comprehensive database for training and continuing education that is accessible to any of our coworkers via our social intranet. It consists of interdisciplinary and specialty skills training and continuing education offers. Currently, there are 203 offerings (92 interdisciplinary and 111 specialty offerings). If the suitable training cannot be found, our employees are encouraged to make suggestions.
The right further education depends on suitability determination. Here by us, this is an integral part of the employee talks that are held every two years. One purpose of these conversations is to determine the training requirements and the objective of the further training or continuing education. Eight to twelve weeks after completion of the education, managers and employees evaluate the training together. If the desired success was not accomplished, additional measures are taken that can lead to obtaining or maintaining the specific qualification.
In the future, we would also like to define target qualifications for each function with the help of a digital qualification management tool. The systematic alignment with the individual actual qualification should then compute the commensurate need for additional training for each person.
The promotion of further education of all employees is a corporate goal. We evaluate the average number of hours for further and continued education as a control parameter on an ongoing basis. The first complete survey for 2018 showed a value of 21.4 hours of further education for each employee. Within the reporting period, this value increased by 1.1 hours, bringing it to a total of 22.5 hours in 2019.
In addition, we have determined in our corporate goals two days of further development of interdisciplinary competencies per year as a target for our managerial staff. In order to support fulfillment of this target, we are currently developing two programs for managerial staff:
(1) “Fit for Leadership” for the development of interdisciplinary competencies for existing managerial staff, and (2) the program “The Leader of Tomorrow” for future managerial staff. We intend to offer both concepts starting in 2021. They are designed with a modular structure, and can be tailored to different managerial levels and to the individual participants.
Apprenticeship and Internship
To us, the long-term cooperation with younger people is just as important as the cooperation with specialized and managerial staff. In each of the years 2018 and 2019, we were able to offer 56 young people an apprenticeship in nine different professions in our company. Therefore, we score far above the federal and state average with an apprenticeship ratio of close to 8% (2018). We train more people than we can retain after the apprenticeship. Much to the benefit of the apprentices themselves and of other companies: Because in a rural, economically challenged region, a good start into your professional life is of the essence. That is why we will continue to invest in education, training, and apprenticeships as part of our social responsibility for a strong region.
Additional traineeship programs that we are proud of are the dual course of study in civil engineering that we started offering at our branch Cuxhaven, and our trainee program for male and female engineers.
Occupational Safety and Health Protection
To us, safety and health of our employees are two important topics that we each control within the scope of our own respective responsibilities. We work in accordance with the statutory ordinances on occupational health and the accident prevention regulations. In addition, we have our occupational health externally audited within the scope of our certification pursuant to DIN ISO 9001.
At NPorts, occupational safety is uniformly structured corporate-wide. The entrepreneurial duties are delegated by corporate management to the leadership of the branch offices, and for our headquarters, to HR management, so that there are clear responsibilities delineated for each site. Our headquarters are also in charge of adjustments, when it comes to the organization of occupational safety. We have assigned safety specialists and safety commissioners for all of our locations. They support and advise the responsible parties on the employer side with decisions for occupational safety. For large projects, we generally put a safety and occupational health coordination in place or we make sure that our contractors do so.
Every year at each site, three ASA meetings (occupational safety committee meetings) take place, where the local topics of occupational safety are discussed and adjusted, and work-related accidents are analyzed. At the annual, joint and centralized ASA meeting, superordinate topics are discussed, new and transcending measures are determined, or existing ones are evaluated.
Within the scope of its responsibilities, the Workers’ Council actively contributes to the design of the occupational safety. It scrutinizes risk assessments and operating instructions and makes suggestions for the improvement of occupational safety.
Within the spirit of an all-encompassing occupational safety scheme, we create a risk assessment for each work place. For any risk or danger, we examine the necessary technical, organizational, or individual safety measures. Regular on-site workplace inspections complement the risk assessments. In order for us to represent these uniformly company-wide, we have introduced the guideline “Handlungshilfe 4.0”, where we also provide the General Operating Instructions. Parallel to this, we created a database with all of the Dangerous Goods Operating Instructions.
We capture our work-related accidents in a comprehensive statistic by category (see page 63). We take any work accident seriously, explore its root cause and conduct - where necessary - work place inspections, and deduce commensurate safety measures. It is our goal to maintain an above-average occupational safety record compared to the rest of our industry.
We are therefore proud to say that our accident rate for the reporting period is lower than in the previous period. It means that the number of reportable work-related accidents (for each 1,000 full-time employees) has dropped from 41.2 (2017) to 38 in the year 2019.
For preventative occupational medicine, we have commissioned an external occupational health physician service that also covers consultation and support services for our employees. In all areas, we have a number of first aid responders available that goes above and beyond the required minimum. We train them in the required intervals.
Occupational Health Management (OHM)
Healthy employees are the backbone of our business success. The company-wide operational health management (OHM) that we introduced in 2015 is designed to keep us on track towards success. We are executing our OHM as a partner project with the JadeWeserPort companies, which significantly increases the efficiency of the offered measures. We are offering our participants a corporate fitness program, among other things.
Our OHM complements the occupational health and corporate integration measures. It is our goal to promote health, satisfaction, and cooperation, and also to maintain our employees’ performance level. We provide various offers to our employees to maintain their health in the long run. During the reporting period, we put special emphasis on the topic “Healthy Leadership” that we are promoting in compulsory training sessions.
The task force Corporate Occupational Health Management (AK Gesundheit) is represented by six employees from all locations that function as points of contact.
In addition, they recommend and conceptualize offers for good healthy behavior. They report on a quarterly basis to management and in regular intervals to the corporate executives about the current state of affairs.
In the OHM, we announce a guiding theme. The guiding theme is determined based on the suggestion from the AK Gesundheit together with management. Since 2016, we have also involved our male and female coworkers in the selection of topics. A great initiative was for instance the joint ‘fasting’ in 2019 within the scope of the campaign “40 Days Without”.
Human Relations and Employer’s Welfare Responsibility
As a responsible employer, we want to design our employment relations in a fair and attractive manner. In offering our benefits, we do not discriminate between full-time and part-time employees or between employees with limited and unlimited work contracts. Beyond the statutory old age insurance (~social security), there is a scheme under the collective labor agreement for a corporate, mostly employer-paid old age ‘pension’, analogous to the one that public servants receive.
The occupational integration management (BEM) and the associated labor agreement support employees with health impairments. It specifically aims to facilitate their professional integration after longer absences due to health issues. (> 42 days). In this context it is our goal to discover operational causes for an illness and to devise strategies for the avoidance of such causes.
Reconcilability of Job and Family (Work/Life Balance)
A family and phase-of-life-conscious HR policy is pivotal for the motivation, satisfaction, performance, and health of employees. Here at NPorts, we pride ourselves of a corporate culture that emphasizes partnership, gives enough leeway for self-initiative, self-reliance, and trust, and that supports the reconcilability of job and family demands.
We continuously strive to optimize work conditions and we have expanded our recent measures for the reconcilability of job and family. Examples are the provisioning of home office work places, and personal points of contact at each or our sites, that our employees can turn to.
We have been certified as a family-friendly employer since 2017. Since that time, we have initiated a number of measures within the scope of the prescribed target agreement. The portal Job and Family that we created in 2018 on our social intranet offers a great service for our employees: In the portal, you can find comprehensive information about parental leave, parental benefits, care for relatives, work from home, flexible working hours options, or even child care offers. There are NPorts-specific data sheets and links towards further information pages that round out the offer.
It is important to us that our employees are well-informed at any stage of their life and that they feel supported.
Last, but not least, we developed a special parenting time concept in 2019 (Guide for Re-entry After Parental Leave). The guide supports managers and HR departments in their quest to prepare for professional leave times as well as possible, to keep in touch with the parent, and to help make the re-entry as ideal as possible. In doing so, we are focusing on the individual needs of the parents and we try to reconcile them as well as possible with the professional requirements. More and more, parental leave is also used by male employees: A welcome development that we love to support. In the reporting period, a total of 36 persons took advantage of parental leave, of which 17 were male.
Here at NPorts, we pursue the goal of equality between women and men. We are voluntarily guided by the Niedersachsen Equality Act.
For that reason, we have assigned an Equality Commissioner, and she gets involved in any HR issues and reports as an annual subject on this topic.
Aside from her blog and the annual women's meetings, we have also introduced an anonymous whistleblower system for the reporting of discrimination and sexual harassment, among other things.
According to our self-conception, the working conditions of women and men should make the reconcilability of job and family possible and should realize the professional equality. The promotion and adherence of these goals are followed by our Equality Commissioner. Voluntarily, and driven by our self-conception, we have determined target quotas and measures for the promotion of equality in the Equality Plan for the years 2019 through 2021.
In 2019, the women's quota as part of the total employment volume increased from 18.1% to 18.8% (roughly 0.7 per cent points).
Another Aspect of equal treatment can be found in the principle “The Same Pay for the Same Work”. Here by us, the Collective Labor Agreement for Public Servants of the States (TV-L) regulates the remuneration of more than 95% of all employees. Due to the historically based different interpretation of the tariff stipulations of the labor agreement for the pay scale grouping in the individual branch offices, we are working on establishing a transcending pay scale grouping transparency across all locations. For four areas, we were already able to agree upon grouping matrices: (1) technical jobs, (2) nautical jobs and Port Office, (3) tasks in the area of real estate, and (4) management positions.
In addition, we subscribe to the equal treatment of people, regardless of ethnic background, religion or fundamental beliefs, disability, age, or sexual identity. We back this up through our zero-tolerance policy towards any kind of discrimination and bullying. We instituted a neutral complaints body pursuant to the General Equal Treatment Act and its purpose is to investigate discrimination.
We welcome employees that come to us with health limitation or that suffer from health-related limitations during the course of their career. When it comes to selection decisions, merely expertise and personal qualifications count. By the end of 2019, we were employing 52 severely disabled persons. With a total of 10 women and 42 men, the quota of severely disabled employees was at 7.9%.
Leadership and Dialog
We have summarized and put in words our corporate culture in our “Agreement of Cooperation and Leadership”. Culture is, what we jointly live by on a daily basis at the company: Every woman and every man here contribute to it through their own behavior. And in this respect, our management carries a special responsibility. In regular workshops for management staff, we focus on topics centering around culture, responsibility, and leadership. In order to prepare managers even better for their tasks, to further develop their interdisciplinary abilities, and to sensitize them for the complex challenges they might face in the future, there are currently two concepts for the development and/or further development of leadership personnel being drafted (see page 26, chapter “Development of Competencies and Further Education”).
To us, as a decentralized company with six locations, controlled information and communications flows on all levels, and in particular between the individual locations, are of the essence. As a complement to everyday communication and the work of committees, our social intranet, and the NPorts App that was introduced in 2020 are two important pillars of the internal dialog. In addition, we conduct regular employee surveys, the last one was in early 2020.
A special form of dialog are regular talks with the employees. Within the scope of such employee talks, employees may request to receive a feedback on their performance, their behavior, and on their career perspectives every two years. On this occasion, they can also express any wishes and concerns they may have. We conduct such talks with our management on an annual basis. Beyond that, we involve employees in formal occupational health committees, in the health work group AK Gesundheit, the work group Corporate Culture (see appendix), and in work groups for digitization.
During the entire reporting period, 130 talks with management staff were conducted. The lower number of talks in 2019 is the result of sickness-related absences and job functions that were not occupied at that time. The number of biennial talks for the period 2017 through 2018 was 438. The following table contains an overview of the number of conducted talks with employees that are managers themselves (annual talks), and with employees that are not part of the managerial staff (biennial talks).