Dr. Natzel, what are the biggest challenges for Symrise in terms of Human Resources?
The speed of transformation in our world has increased enormously. The changes are tremendous – just look at the challenges and opportunities, that come with digitization. We need to get our employees ready. If we don’t support this as a company, we will fall behind.
What other issues need to be addressed?
We are currently facing and will continue to be faced with demographic change to an ever greater degree over the medium term, in Germany and many other countries. The proportion of employees who are older than 50 has constantly increased over the last five years. On the one hand, that’s a great thing, since we have loyal employees who stay with us for a long time and contribute their experience to our organization. At the same time, it also means that we must invest in the knowledge of these employees and actively support them so that they can keep pace. We are also developing a platform with which we can transfer know-how to younger employees, and on which we are documenting our guidelines and processes. Moreover, around 125 employees are working outside of their home country seconded into our various countries for a number of years for transferring knowledge. This ensures that there is a great deal of international exchange in the Group.
How do you bring young, new employees into the company?
Symrise is investing more and more in recruitment – one reason being that competition for the smartest and most capable employees has become harder at a lot of sites. In Germany alone, for instance, in addition to a large number of trainees, we also have 120 students completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree while working at Symrise. Several students often stay with the company after completing their studies. Investment in young, new employees has also ensured that the number of employees who work at the company for less than ten years has increased. In other words, we are constantly getting younger. At the same time, we need to keep expanding our continuing education efforts. This is more important than ever if we want to ensure our employees’ knowledge stays up to date, to get people thinking more innovatively and to prepare people for management.
Can you put these efforts into numbers?
In 2018, we spent around € 3.5 million on continuing training and education. Every employee participated on average in 3.7 days of training. The working time costs the company an average of around another € 1,000 per employee. But it is all worth it. We are happy to invest in education, and this can be seen in the approximately 650 assessments that were completed last year. With these assessments, we surveyed employees’ strengths inorder to be able to advance the development of their individual careers. For us, one thing is always clear: Employees must be ready to change and develop, and we as a company must guide and support this process.