Resilient employees

Attracting new talent

Bekaert considers its 23 000 employees as the driving force behind its global success. They create the dynamics that characterize our international corporate culture. We recruit them, value their aspirations and support them in their careers through a centrally managed and locally executed HR policy. It is our employees who have made the difference in the challenging year 2009. The resilience, trust and integrity they have demonstrated in their daily work have generated the much needed force to realize our goals, in all the regions we are active in.

better together in recruitment & selection: close on-campus contacts

For several years now, Bekaert has maintained close partnerships with universities and schools the world over. We support student associations, such as the association of Master of Engineering Science students at the universities of Ghent, Leuven and Brussels (Belgium). In the U.S., we have built up a strong recruiting relationship with the Colorado School of Mines by participating in its fall and spring career fairs. And, during an extensive campus recruitment tour, we visited the leading universities in China. Furthermore, a project with a local secondary technical school in Hlohovec (Slovakia) was set up, through which employees at our plant provided practical classes to the students.

By participating in job fairs at leading universities and schools on the world stage, we met with students and high-potential graduates who were pursuing internships and full-time positions at Bekaert. In addition, we convened with various departmental faculties and staff in an effort to further broaden Bekaert’s presence and enhance our recognition on university campuses. Through internships and thesis projects, students got the opportunity to participate directly in projects with various Bekaert plants the world over.

In December in London (U.K.) we participated for the first time in ‘Careers in Asia’ – a recruitment event that supports Asian-based companies in attracting, selecting and recruiting high-caliber Asian graduates and early-career professionals living outside their home countries. Bekaert’s global and Asian recruitment teams cooperated on the organization of and participation in this successful recruitment event.

Additional staff for new production platforms

To staff our newly-built plants in 2009, we recruited over 200 people. Of those 90 were deployed at the Lipetsk (Russia) plant. Another 320 jobs will be created there along with the continued investments planned as from now until 2013. At our new plant in Chongqing (China) 130 new hires were welcomed in the course of 2009.

Aligning HR with new realities

Acting as a responsible employer in difficult times

Through several realignment operations in previous years, Bekaert had already anticipated the inherent industrial overcapacity in the mature markets. Due to these proactive measures the adverse effects on our business from the global recession were subdued. Nevertheless in the U.S. and U.K. we faced a continued structural decline in demand and had to continue readjusting our manufacturing platform in order to equate our capacity with changed demand. At the affected plants in Clarksdale (U.S.) and Scholes (U.K.), we initiated a constructive dialogue with the social partners in order to minimize the impact on the people involved.

Despite the global challenging economic circumstances, the overall impact on employment in our operations was kept limited by relying on a series of temporary measures. To bridge the periods of low production activity we relied on economic unemployment systems, non-renewal of temporary contracts and internal re-assignment. Measures were also taken to control salary increases.

In August our regional headquarters and steel cord sales office at Akron (Ohio, U.S.) organized the ‘Bekaert Employee Appreciation Week’. In this week the Akron management showed its appreciation to the employees by surprising them each day with a new activity with, among other things, a special breakfast and - to close off the festive week - a lunch prepared by the Akron office supervisors and managers. A much appreciated initiative, as the employees testified.

In China, where we expected the downturn to be limited in time – and where we had experienced an urgent need for broader-based training due to several years of very fast growth – we seized the opportunity of low plant activity to keep people operational and have them trained on specific topics. They took part in different modules of Bekaert’s Operational Excellence program, such as safety, quality and maintenance.

HR processes further aligned at Bekaert Ideal

In Latin America, our efforts to align the HR processes of the Bekaert subsidiaries in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, with Bekaert’s own processes made steady progress throughout the year. Networking and teamwork among the entities there have been success factors in completing this task. After determining uniform job levels, performance management and remuneration systems, we focused on recruitment, training and development, organizational climate survey methodology and the standardization of HR indicators. The goal is to have all entities fully integrated into the Bekaert talent management process by 2010. This will offer our employees in the region broader career prospects while, at the same time, enabling us to enjoy the benefi ts of a rich talent pool.

Developing new talent

Integrating our core values in Learning & Development

In 2009 we expanded our ‘Managing Personal Growth’ basic training with a ‘Building Personal Resilience’ module. This module links personal values and career aspirations to Bekaert’s core values and aspirations, and focuses on personal resilience. The ‘Managing Personal Growth’ basic training course is a program which all managers worldwide need to go through at a certain point in their career. The first 40 managers participated in the updated training in October and reported the new module to be helpful in their personal and career development. It supports their goal of aiming for a higher contribution within Bekaert, while experiencing increased personal satisfaction. We will continue this updated training in 2010.

Within our Global Introduction Program for new Bekaert managers worldwide, we have integrated a course on business ethics, control and legal guidelines, thus promoting a higher level of awareness and understanding.

Raising cultural awareness

Cultural diversity is inherent and implicit in global business. Bekaert clearly sees this diversity as an opportunity to increase the cultural awareness of its global managers. For several years now, Bekaert has been organizing training courses for employees who often collaborate with colleagues from a specific foreign country (e.g. China Conduct, India Conduct, Japan Conduct and Russia Conduct).

In 2009 we experienced the need for a broader, ‘multi-way’ training program, focusing on differences between various cultures. As a result, we introduced training on ‘Cultural Awareness’ for our employees working at our Technology Centers in Belgium and in China. In this program we map the differences between various cultures using specific examples. The purpose of this course is to explain the origins and typical characteristics of various cultures and, most importantly, to show our employees how they can deal with and benefit from these differences.

Professional opportunities that span the globe

Because Bekaert spans the globe we are able to offer our employees professional growth on a truly international level. In 2009 77 expatriations took place within the Bekaert Group. The following people, for example, are pursuing a career at Bekaert that has taken them thousands of miles from their cities of origin.

  • A native of Brazil moved from Operations Manager Colombia to Plant Manager Indonesia.
  • A native of the United Kingdom moved from Process Engineer CBSC, Jiangyin, China, to Technical Commercial Support Engineer in Rogers, U.S.
  • A native of Chile moved from Production Manager Van Buren, U.S., to Plant Manager Bekaert Canada.
  • A native of Belgium moved from Product Marketing Manager in Shanghai, China, to Innovation Manager in Marietta, U.S.
  • A native from Turkey moved from Senior Process Engineer in Belgium, to Plant Manager in Lipetsk, Russian Federation.
  • A native from Slovakia moved from Process Engineer in Slovakia, to Process Engineer in Spain.
In 2009 we aligned the HR processes of the Bekaert subsidiaries in Latin America with Bekaert’s own processes. The goal is to have all entities fully integrated into the Bekaert talent management process by 2010.
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