Corporate Culture and Employees
Appeal as an Employer
Residential real estate companies always work closely with customers due to their nature – both in the property management and the trade side of their business. That’s why they need motivated employees with relevant qualifications who focus on the customer as part of their everyday work. Encouraging young talent and offering them good prospects within the company is an effective way of addressing the shortage of qualified staff currently affecting Vonovia and other businesses.
What staff want from their employers is changing – issues like work-life balance, flexible working and job satisfaction are becoming increasingly important, particularly for younger people. That’s why it is all the more important for Vonovia to position itself as an attractive employer that anticipates and responds to the requirements of younger generations. This approach could make a key difference as we compete for a limited pool of qualified employees.
From a personnel perspective, the most significant risk facing us is that we may not be able to find enough qualified staff and managers to fill the vacant positions in the company. This risk is most pronounced in the manual trades. Our strategic position – particularly in the manual trades – means that we use our own employees for a great deal of the services we provide. As a result, we have exceptionally high staffing requirements for the housing industry and are dependent on the availability of candidates on the labor market. It is therefore all the more important for us to offer (potential) talents an attractive long-term workplace in our company.
2020 was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. It was also the most pressing issue for the company’s employees. Keeping them safe was our top priority. We put measures in place right at the start of the pandemic to protect staff in our customer service centers and administrative roles. Special safety measures were put in place for employees working on construction sites. Our extensive use of mobile working and digitalization had the effect of mitigating the crisis. Mobile working was implemented wherever possible. The company rewarded its employees for these efforts at the end of the year by paying the highest possible tax-exempt special bonus of € 1,500 per employee in Germany and Austria. The Management Board set up a coronavirus task force to coordinate the company’s safety measures during the pandemic. This task force was responsible for reviewing the pandemic situation within the company on a regular basis under the auspices of the Management Board and Supervisory Board. This demonstrates the company’s commitment to keeping its employees safe. The sustained financial stability of Vonovia continues to strengthen its position as a reliable employer. More than 1,000 new employees have been registered since spring 2020.
new employees despite coronavirus pandemic
Vonovia is continuing to grow in Germany and across Europe. We need qualified and motivated employees who will accompany us on this journey over the long term and reinforce our focus on the customer. In order to implement our mission and the pursuit of our growth strategy, we need a well-trained workforce. We aim for a high level of annual recruitment in order to cover our personnel needs. This requires a high level of commitment from our HR team because labor markets in many places are tight. We are digitalizing our HR management structures and processes to help our employees in their work and create a modern, transparent working environment for our company.
We are continuously expanding the range of services we offer to our customers. We provide many of them with our own resources. Our “insourcing” policy provides stable, dependable employment with fair pay for employees at different stages of their career. We did not have to make anybody redundant in 2020, despite the pandemic. Works agreements on company shutdowns and short-time working were signed with the co-determination committees, but fortunately we did not have to make use of them.
We advertise our advantages as an employer both internally and externally so that we can fill vacant positions as quickly as possible. Internally we make sure to deploy employees in positions that line up with their strengths and provide training to develop their skills as needed. We also have a number of schemes which promote a good work-life balance, including flexible working hours and mobile working. We offer attractive benefits like our profit-sharing scheme and a corporate culture that is based around team work. Our employees benefit from a wide variety of training and development opportunities. This creates an attractive workplace for new staff and makes it more likely for staff to stay with the company. Vonovia also offers excellent entry-level opportunities and targeted career progression programs for young people and apprentices. BUWOG Group GmbH in Austria was once again certified as a family-friendly employer in 2020.
Certification of BUWOG as a
In addition to new challenges and responsibilities, the digital transformation provides its fair share of opportunities in the area of human resources management. We are also making targeted investments in digitalization to address the changing nature of our business and how we work together in the company. These investments will adapt our HR management structures and processes to reflect current developments. The works agreement on mobile working that was introduced in parts of the Group in 2019 was rolled out to the rest of the company at speed during the coronavirus pandemic. The ability to use an app to report in sick, digital time tracking and switching to online formats for professional training and development have created additional flexibility and allowed us to continue our work largely without interruption.
We structure our working environment in line with the core standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO Convention) and the principles of the UN Global Compact (UNGC). We treat these as minimum requirements and significantly exceed them throughout the Group. These values are enshrined in the Code of Conduct, which is an important element of business ethics at Vonovia. We also comply with strict national legislation in Sweden, Austria and Germany, such as the German General Equal Treatment Act (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz – AGG). It is our aim to ensure that applicable laws, e.g., individual and collective labor laws, are complied with at all our sites. This includes involving our employees in important decisions. In all of Vonovia’s business areas, we ensure constructive dialogue between management and employees based on trust, for example, through the works council members. We inform the workforce of significant operational changes within the statutory notice periods. Our employees are also free to form trade unions and exercise their statutory right to freedom of association.
The Management Board of Vonovia SE has published a Human Rights Policy to underline the company’s commitment to fostering diversity and equality and eliminating discrimination. This reinforces our commitment to ensuring compliance with global human rights standards. This also applies to companies that we acquire and integrate into our Group structures. Neither we nor any of our partners tolerate forced or child labor under any circumstances (see section Respect and Promotion of Human Rights).
of Vonovia employees have a
permanent employment contract
The majority of our employees (91%) work under permanent employment contracts. We do not outsource jobs to other countries and only employ workers on a temporary basis in exceptional cases.
The CEO is the member of the Management Board responsible for Human Resources, which is established as a central shared service in the Human Resource area. Austria and Sweden have their own HR departments. In Austria, HR reports directly to the commercial managing director. The reporting structure has yet to be established in Sweden because it was listed as a separate company until recently. HR reports are provided as needed.
The Head of HR discusses developments with the CEO on a regular basis. The objectives and focus of HR work are developed in collaboration with the Management Board and are then cascaded down throughout the organization.
Objectives and Measures
Across the Group, we are striving to position ourselves on the labor market over the long term as an attractive employer for young talent and qualified professionals.
Demand for employees is particularly high in the trade and creative areas of Vonovia Technical Service (VTS) and the residential environment. 200 apprentices joined us in summer 2020 – more than ever before at the start of a vocational training year. Some of them were previously at businesses which encountered difficulties because of the coronavirus crisis and had to reduce or stop their apprenticeship programs. Vonovia invited these young people to continue their training with us. We doubled the number of apprenticeships in manual trades as part of the Plus100 project and created additional roles for apprentices to transition into.
than ever before at Vonovia
Some key elements of our HR management system in Germany, Austria and Sweden are targeted human capital development by means of professional training, talent management, retaining our top performers and systematic succession planning. Our needs-based professional development courses and programs include training sessions and specialist seminars, management development courses and certified qualification schemes (see section Vocational Training and Personal Development). In 2020 we established a Community Academy to put a community-based approach at the heart of all our activities (see section Community Development and Infrastructure Contribution). We want to take digitalization to the next level in 2021 and use additional modules from the IT application SAP SuccessFactors in order to reduce our administrative workload and improve our monitoring of training measures. This will also help us to expand and organize our online training courses.
Our Our employer branding concept helps us to attract and retain employees. It emphasizes the company’s commitment to innovation and the importance of team work and job security at Vonovia. It also enables us to reach candidates from specific target groups. Our ratings on the Kununu portal improved last year. An employer branding concept is currently being prepared for the BUWOG Group GmbH in Austria.
performance metric from 2021
Increased employee satisfaction
Employee satisfaction is our main indicator of the effectiveness of our employer branding and the attractive benefits described above. We survey employees on a regular basis throughout Germany and Austria. The most recent survey was carried out in 2019. Vonovia has decided to use a structured bottom-up process to ensure that these surveys and the opinions of our employees actually lead to improvements. Employees discuss the results of the survey with their line managers and make a joint decision about what to change. We have not been able to implement this process in full as planned due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, senior executives are assessing feedback provided through digital channels. Wider-ranging measures that have to be decided at Group level are finalized with the Management Board. The employee share program in Germany will be rolled out to Austria.
Changes in employee satisfaction ratings will be treated as a key performance indicator going forward and factored into management remuneration on the basis of the new Sustainability Performance Index (SPI) (see section Sustainability Strategy in Detail). As a result, the employee survey will be repeated at regular intervals from 2021 onwards, conducted by an external service provider. The aim for 2021 is to achieve a slight increase in employee satisfaction compared to the 2019 survey.
Co-determination processes also play an important role at Vonovia. They help us to evaluate what we do as a company and continuously improve employee satisfaction. Vonovia employees have the right to elect their own representatives. Employee representatives are not treated any better or worse than other employees.
Proportion of male employees who are eligible on
Achieving a healthy work-life balance is becoming increasingly important for both current employees and job applicants. Our response has been to implement individual agreements on working hours, increase flextime arrangements and provide more opportunities for mobile working. There are also some top-level athletes working at Vonovia. They can schedule their working hours in a way that allows them to balance their sporting and professional commitments. Agreements on paternity and educational leave are very popular with our employees in Austria. We also provide voluntary social benefits such as discounts on purchases made through a special online platform and discounts in shops and restaurants in the area.
We want to show our employees that their long-term health and productivity is important to us. We have developed Group-wide occupational health and safety standards for this purpose and put them into practice with conviction. Our health and fitness management program includes partnerships with gyms and pays off in this respect (see Promoting Health and Safety).
Planned for 2021
- Plan and implement employee survey
- Use more modules of the IT application SAP SuccessFactors (Performance & Goals and Succession & Development and Learning)
- Prepare a new employer branding concept in Austria
- Implement an apprenticeship program to position BUWOG Group GmbH as an attractive employer in Austria
- Expand and further digitalize onboarding processes