A high-performing organization

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Committed employees

VISTA is the world’s largest competition for aftermarket personnel. Every other year, thousands of Volvo Trucks' and Volvo Buses' aftermarket employees meet to settle the score through several tough rounds of theoretical and practical challenges. In 2013, 30 teams got to travel to Gothenburg, Sweden, where the VISTA world champions were crowned. VISTA is much more than a competition, it is a huge training program aimed at making us better at what we do every day.

The Volvo Group's vision is to become the world leader in sustainable transport solutions. A deciding factor in fulfilling this vision is our employees and their knowledge and skills.

Increased global presence, new products, new technologies, demographic changes and more rapid fluctuations in the global economy will lead to challenges in the supply of expertise and resources.

Attracting and retaining competence
The Volvo Group's ambition is to offer interesting opportunities and a unique company culture that help us attract and retain the best people, whoever they are and wherever we do business.

Without engaged employees, who are willing to take an active part in the Group’s development and future, the Volvo Group will not succeed in pursuing its strategies. It is therefore important that we attract the right expertise to continue the development of environmentally enhanced products. The Volvo Group regularly maps the strategic competence needs, and annually aggregate findings on a Group level to identify the most important future needs.

The Volvo Group's Code of Conduct prescribes the minimum standard our employees can expect from their employer, but also their own responsibilities.

A qualified talent pool
Multiple factors influence the availability of talent for our industries. These included diminishing interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in some developed markets, limitations in the educational system in some emerging markets and the long-term decline in the number of people in working age in developed markets.

In order to develop and attract a qualified talent pool for our industries, the Volvo Group is engaged in several initiatives, such as the Volvo Step, a one year vocational program training program for unemployed youth in Sweden, and vocational training schools in for instance South America and Africa.

Academic Partner Program
The Volvo Group is also involved in a comprehensive series of cooperative ventures with research bodies and academic institutions to advance the technologies needed for future product development and to secure the access to competent employees.

One example is the Academic Partner Program (APP), which is a systematic approach for long-term cooperation with selected universities and research institutes in areas of special interest. The program aims to provide the Group with a picture of important collaborative partners and to increase the Group’s visibility to students and researchers. The cooperation with universities is also important for building capability and creating relationships with students and potential employees to secure access to future competence.

There are two modules in place - Preferred Research Partners for collaborative research projects and Preferred Talent Partners for recruitment purposes. In total, the Volvo Group has 11 Preferred Talent Partners (T) and Preferred Research Partners (R) in APP globally: National Institute of Technology, Karnataka (T) in India, EM Lyon (T) and INSA Lyon (R, T) in France, Tsinghua University, Beijing (T) and Tongji University, Shanghai (T) in China, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg (R, T), University of Skövde (R), School of Business, Economics and Law, Gothenburg (T) and Mälardalen University, Västerås/Eskilstuna (R) in Sweden and North Carolina State University (T) and Pennsylvania State University (R, T) in the U.S.

Competence development
Investing in the Group's employees is a fundamental part of staying competitive, sustainable and profitable. The Volvo Group’s training programs are offered at all levels for employees, and the activities range from traditional and e-based training to individual coaching and mentoring.

Individual competence development is based on a personal business plan, which provides support for translating corporate strategic objectives into individual objectives and contribution. The purpose is to ensure that employees clearly understand their role in the team and what is expected of them.

Developing talents
Every manager is responsible for assessing and developing talent in the organization. The Leadership Pipeline provides the Group with a structured approach to developing and preparing present leaders as well as potential leaders for future roles.

The Leadership Pipeline has been set up jointly with research institutes and is based on global research. It is also designed to support the Volvo Group’s culture and values as well as the strategic objectives.

Diversity enhances innovation
To create the dynamics required to succeed at a global level the Volvo Group needs to recruit and retain a broad spectrum of employees with different backgrounds, experience and perspectives. In the Volvo Group, diversity is considered to be a catalyst for innovation and a source of competitiveness and profitability. By expanding the knowledge base, skills and understanding, the Group becomes more responsive to customer needs and it strengthens the Group's market position. Diversity and inclusion have long been prioritized within Volvo.

VGAS 2013 – closing the gap to high-performers
Overall results for the Volvo Group Attitude Survey (VGAS) 2013 indicate high levels of employee engagement across the Volvo Group.

- It is very positive that employee engagement remains high during the organizational change, says Kerstin Renard, Executive Vice President, Corporate Human Resources.

The Employee Engagement Index (EEI) for Volvo Group remains stable at 76% favorable. Meanwhile the external benchmark against high-performing companies has moved up to 77%. The Performance Excellence Index (PEI), capturing if we have the right structures, processes and collaboration in place, increased to 75% favorable (from 74% in 2012).

- We are closing the gap to the high performing companies. We need to improve our ability to correct customer problems quickly, but 73% of all employees now report that their work group or team regularly reviews their performance. That is 6 percentage points above the global high-performing norm, explains Kerstin Renard.

The top priorities for employee engagement relate to Leadership & Vision, Diversity & Inclusion, and Communication.

- It is critical that senior leaders clearly explain and communicate the reasons for making a decision. Consistent communication by leaders will reinforce employee confidence and trust in our new direction, says Kerstin Renard.

The new leadership effectiveness index has improved by 2 percentage points compared to the results last year. With a 71% favorable result for leadership effectiveness, Volvo Group is trailing 3 percentage points below the external high-performing norm. The effectiveness index captures a broader range of leadership behaviors that are critical for building employee engagement and performance.

- All our leaders need to demonstrate that we value diversity, says Kerstin Renard. This is one area where we still have significant gaps to high-performing norms.

Staff and support function rationalization
In the autumn of 2013 a Group-wide efficiency program was announced. It is based on activities related to the implementation of the Group’s strategies and which will be implemented in 2014 and 2015. After detailed analysis of the consequences of the program the estimate is that approximately 4,400 white-collar employees and consultants will be affected by personnel reductions, including previously announced 2,000 within staff and group support functions. White-collar employees worldwide will primarily be reduced in Group Trucks Operations, Group Trucks Technology, Group Trucks Sales and Marketing EMEA, IS/IT, Finance and Human Resources. This is a consequence of the transformation the Group is undergoing. With a new organization and new ways of working in place, the Group will be able to utilize its resources more cost-efficiently. A majority of the personnel reductions will be implemented during 2014.

Responsibility when plants are closed
The Volvo Group strives to take responsibility also in times of restructuring. When the European production of complete buses was concentrated to the main plant in Wroclaw, Poland, in mid-2013, operations in the plant in Säffle, Sweden were discontinued.

After the decision, Volvo Buses was active in creating new jobs and providing support for the establishment of companies with high expansion potential in the former bus plant. Agreements regarding establishment of operations in the Säffle plant were signed with contract manufacturer Hanza and with Cellcomb, which develops and manufactures environmentally-friendly disposable laminate products. This process was implemented in close collaboration between Volvo Buses and Säffle municipality. Of the 328 employees affected when Volvo Buses discontinued its operations in the Säffle production plant, by the end of the year 248 had got new jobs or had been offered occupational pension.

- It is clear that our former employees are attractive in the labor market. The competency survey we conducted combined with the opportunity for competency development, also contributed to increasing the potential for employees to secure new employment, says Håkan Karlsson, Head of Business Areas at Volvo Group, which includes Volvo Buses.

Training in Code of Conduct
A Group-wide training program was launched in November 2012 to support the implementation of the updated Code of Conduct. This training helps our employees and managers to reflect on their own attitudes and behavior in different situations. Since the launch of the updated Code of Conduct 23,513 white-collar employees (out of around 50,000) have participated in the web-based training.

All employees within the Volvo Group are expected and encouraged to report suspected violations of the Code of Conduct to their direct superiors or managers of their superiors. To support this, a Whistleblower procedure is available. 

Read more in the Volvo Group's Sustainability Report 2013.