Human Resources Management’s primary goal is to ensure that Bouwinvest has the personnel it needs to achieve its goals, organised in a manner that facilitates those goals. Strategic personnel planning and succession planning are key factors in the HR planning cycle. The results of this planning include a personnel development scheme and mobility plans, from internal moves to hiring and retention. The annual cycle of work planning is a cascade from fund and business plans to department targets to individual plans and evaluation cycles. More than ever, change is the one constant factor. For this reason, organisational changes are aimed at increasing flexibility at various levels, across the organisation as a whole, within departments and individual jobs. To achieve this, Bouwinvest focusses on processes rather than hierarchy. Empowering personnel is essential to success. Changes in everyday workplaces are demanding and the input of each individual employee is needed if Bouwinvest is to move forward while staying firmly in control, something that is a major requirement of our investors and regulators (The Dutch Central bank and the Dutch Financial markets Authority). Information and knowledge-sharing throughout the company is essential, which requires constant investment in facilitating IT systems and exploring the expanding uses for information. Security awareness training has become an integral part of every IT training course and the annual compliance training scheme.
HRM Highlights in 2015
The annual HR cycle confirmed that Bouwinvest has a future-proof employee base and that key positions all have secured short-term replacements. We also identified growth potential. During the mid-year reviews, we matched individual ambitions with company needs. The main ensuing initiatives were aimed at job-related development and talent management, which Bouwinvest offers in the form of a potential program, as well as via company opportunities in internal projects. The awareness of potential and ambitions also increases internal mobility, which, combined with development opportunities, is an important driver of employee satisfaction.
IT and information
This year, we launched the document management system to facilitate company-wide information sharing, while at the same time ensuring a higher standard of digital document management. The system has many features and requires a different approach to documents and digital archives. Introducing the entire company to the system will take another year and realising its full potential possibly another two years.
Operational excellence and integrity
Each year, management announces one or two central themes that departments and individual employees are then expected to ‘translate’ to their own practices. In 2015, the themes were Operational Excellence and Integrity.
The operational excellence theme led to an impressive variety of initiatives throughout the company, from cost-efficiency measures related to existing business contracts to revised internal cooperative agreements and innovative exploratory initiatives. Integrity once again proved to be an integral part of the company DNA. Departments easily formulated suitable requirements and enthusiastically participated in the compliance dilemma training.
Bouwinvest means to instigate real change by putting its people in charge. Delegating responsibilities to the lowest possible level will achieve this at individual job level. Taking one step further, we are trying to extend employee participation right into business management, paving the way for fresh views and innovative ideas. Colleagues from various departments and hierarchical levels are invited to join in projects involving process design, revising or designing internal regulations or selecting and implementing new IT applications. Last year, HR invited our young professionals, organised in Young Bouwinvest!, to explore future work trends and draft success factors for HRM in the near future. All these initiatives were warmly accepted and led to the formation of an Innovation Lab to promote and enable the exploration of innovative ideas throughout the organisation. Innovation will be one of the central themes for 2016.
Collaboration is vital
The real estate investment sector is a people business; it depends completely on know-how and expertise. And achieving commercial focus requires very high levels of collaboration and knowledge exchange, right across the organisation. This will be one of the major drivers of change at Bouwinvest in the years ahead. Collaboration is already implicit in almost everything we do, but in the future it will be a very explicit and integral part of how we do business.
To promote collaboration, we introduced an open-plan office, literally breaking down barriers and bringing people from different parts of the organisation closer together. This effort was boosted by the flex working practices we introduced, such as the absence of fixed work stations for a large number of our employees.
Communication is a key factor in the promotion of collaboration and Bouwinvest has stepped up its internal communications in several ways. We now make maximum use of internal media, such as our group intranet and various in-house newsletters, increasing the number of internal news items and project write-ups. People are now much more aware of what is happening in other parts of the organisation.
Putting people first
Our people and their know-how, their commitment and their engagement are essential to our continued success. This is why Bouwinvest places so much focus on its people’s professional and personal development. We want our people to be committed and accept accountability for their results. But commitment and accountability are two-way streets. We cannot expect people to be engaged unless we as an organisation show similar levels of engagement. We provide our people with the tools they need and create a culture in which they can focus on what they need to do.
Respect people, have fun and make money
We invest both time and money in the development of professional and personal skills, to create project challenges and also to promote an active vitality programme with a range of individual sports activities and collective events. In addition to our commercial success, we feel that this engagement has also helped us to achieve one of the lowest absenteeism rates in the real estate industry and indeed in the Dutch corporate world.
We also organise regular social and networking events for the entire organisation. These have increased the opportunities for internal networking and helped create a much more cohesive organisation, with fewer barriers in communications across the company. Besides this, the social events give people a chance to get to know each other in an even more relaxed atmosphere.
Investing in the future
We want to continue to improve as an organisation with the people we have on board and we want them to grow with us. We already have strategic personal planning and succession planning in place and in 2013 we introduced the Management Development programme, covering a wide range of management skills. The 2014 launch of the development programme for team leaders and high potentials was the next logical step in the process. We continued to roll this out in 2015, paving the way for the next generation of leaders. We also conducted our bi-annual employee engagement survey, which shows us when our employees think we are on the right track and identify improvements to make us even more effective.
Last year’s survey showed that we are indeed on the right track, as we recorded a score of 8.0, comparted with 7.8 in the 2013 survey.
Accepting social responsibility
Bouwinvest does not exist in a vacuum and we aim to play an active and positive role in the world around us. We actively promote the regeneration of neighbourhoods in inner city areas across the Netherlands, both at head office level and through our investment funds, and encourage our people to get involved in social initiatives.
On a real bricks and mortar level, Bouwinvest once again extended its partnership with the HomePlan charity foundation, which builds houses for some of the world’s poorest people. For an initial period of three years, Bouwinvest will make a fixed donation to the charity’s housing projects, but we have also committed to getting our own people involved in initiatives around the globe. In October of last year, two Bouwinvest employees spent time in South Africa with a HomePlan team building homes in the slums of Pomeroy in the country’s KwaZulu NatalSan province. Four families had new homes in time for Christmas.
On the home front, young people are currently finding it very difficult to enter the job market. Bouwinvest has therefore aims to increase the number of interns we take on each year, giving young people a chance to work in a highly professional environment and gain valuable work experience.
Influencing respectful personnel management with business partners has now been incorporated in selection criteria when tendering for Facility Management services, such as catering and cleaning. In addition to pricing, social responsibility is now a key issue in the selection of new partners and is part of our Service Level Agreements.
For more information on Bouwinvest’s CSR initiatives, see the CSR section in this annual report.