WELLBEING IN OSRAM CZECH REPUBLIC LTD.

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1 WELLBEING IN OSRAM CZECH REPUBLIC LTD. 1. Organisations involved Osram Czech Republic Ltd.,Zahradní 46, Bruntál, Czech Republic 2. Description of the case 2.1. Introduction Osram is one of the two leading light manufacturers in the world. The company, which is very much internationally oriented, has around 41,000 employees supplying customers in 150 countries worldwide from its 44 production sites in 16 countries. Osram Czech Republic Ltd has about 1,000 employees and therefore ranks among the biggest employers in the region of North-East Bohemia. The global company acquired the Czech company in 2000, which was at that time working on a completely different activity. Since 2004, and after major changes, the company is producing lighting components. Osram is now striving to take roots in the region, and to keep its employees well and satisfied by their work. Wellbeing of workers is supported in many ways. Beside the legal duty of an employer to protect the health and safety of the workers, the company management is also focusing on measures to improve wellbeing and social atmosphere in the production plant Aims The biggest challenge for the new employer was to decrease the rate of short-term sickness absence and employee turnover, as this could be seen as symptoms of workers unhappiness. To improve wellbeing of current or potential employees, as well as to gain social approval of the local community, the company made a great effort to improve all social processes What was done, and how? Osram developed a holistic and comprehensive approach to wellbeing for the employees. It relies on several measures. Human resources and work organisation In the past, Osram has faced difficulties in recruiting new employees, particularly for engineering positions. To solve this problem Osram created links with schools and universities (for example, Osram currently has partnerships with two technical universities). To decrease staff turnover, Osram has implemented a policy of individual interviews between new employees and the Human Resources (HR) manager after six months and after one year of employment. These interviews are designed to give to new employees a chance to talk about any issues and also to evaluate employees work at the company and discuss possible career plans. In addition, several other measures such as skills development and improvements of health and wellbeing, made to improve the quality of work, have positively impacted voluntary staff turnover. The educational programme makes it possible to train employees for new positions and therefore minimises the need for the recruitment of skilled labour outside Osram. All new employees, including white-collar workers and managers, go through an extensive training programme in order to give them a thorough understanding of the company s production processes. 1

2 Picture 1: Training session at OSRAM Employees are involved in deciding on the company s activities. Regular surveys are conducted on a number of measures implemented on the site, e.g. composition of the social fund was discussed at length and preferred benefits were established (the first three benefits most in demand were: employer s contribution for transport to go to work, meals at work and health programs, in this order). Workers also suggested some changes in working conditions (beside technical and organisational innovations) which were assessed by a commission and, if possible, implemented. The company emphasises smooth organisation of work, which helps to reduce job stress and makes the work requirements easier. To improve the smoothness of work processes, managers working with employees at different departments on the site were involved. They convey instructions and information from above, deal with administrative duties and more generally ease working life for the employees. The rates of work injuries, near injuries, employee turnover and sick leaves are systematically analysed. To reduce these rates, many different measures are applied: visits to the sick workers; interviews with them after return to work; bonuses for presence at the workplace; vaccinations; improvements in the meals provided at the workplace; more sport opportunities, etc. Work-life balance Osram takes into consideration the balance between work and family life in order to support family members working in Osram (time schedule of work shifts according to their needs, support to transport to work). All sport, cultural and social activities are organised for the whole families. For parents and children Employee Days, Open House Days, Christmas Painting Contests, Photo Contests are organised. Anniversaries, births of children and other important moments in the life of employees are celebrated at the workplace. Osram has made several provisions to improve its employees work-life balance: Cut in production shifts after carrying out a survey on working time among employees in Furthermore, employees voted to keep a rotation between the morning, evening and night shifts. The female employees considered this the best way of securing their family life. It is however possible for employees to opt for only one type of shift. This is offered in order to retain employees such as older workers who are not able to work the three shifts. Employees are also entitled to five weeks vacation; a week more than the statutory requirement. Some may have private problems and this is also taken care of since management closely cooperates with the site trade unions. Health and safety 2

3 The company strictly respects the safety and health at work regulations, and continuously monitors working conditions in regard to the workload and health risks. Information on the prevention of occupational safety and health risks (OSH) is already included in the instruction process of the new workers. They are thoroughly trained in OSH generally and in safety at their workplace specifically. Newcomers are under the supervision of experienced workers until they manage to learn all work operations, and for their safety and information of others they wear yellow shirts. There is also a rotation of workers in different work operations to prevent work monotony and overload from onesided work (every worker has knowledge of different operations recorded on the chart in the workroom). At Osram, several measures have been taken to improve work quality and to minimise risks. These include employment of an in-house physician, provision of special mats for employees who have to stand most of the day, softer floor surfaces, ergonomic chairs, and introduction of job rotation and more breaks in repetitive work tasks. All sections are furnished with first aid kits and some workers are certified in first aid. Every workplace with health risk is provided with protective means and devices. Also frequent breaks at work help to prevent overload. The company tries hard to create a pleasant and friendly environment for workers and show them respect. Company s healthcare providers systematically follow markers of health condition of workers. Interviews with employees upon their arrival from sickness back to work provide further information for the planning of health promoting activities. Osram teaches the employees an ecological behaviour, informs them about chemicals used in the manufacturing and their possible health risks. The company also trains them how to sort wastage and how to treat dangerous refuse. Implementation of health promotion at the workplace Healthier food was introduced in the plant canteen (more fresh vegetables and fruits); more sport opportunities and contests were organised support for sport groups (men and women football, skiing, skating, year around rental of the sports hall and swimming pool, cycling and walking trips). Flu vaccination is offered. Evidence for health supporting activities is gathered for instance at the Healthy Days (screening for cardiovascular risks, counselling in healthy lifestyle, etc.). They are very popular with employees and therefore such activities are planned for the future too. The participants are screened for cardiovascular risks, and individuals are counselled for improvement of lifestyle. Smoking is prohibited inside the factory. Few places outside are assigned for smokers. The company encourages cycling to work by providing the stands for bicycles and showers for the use of cyclists. It also supports all kinds of summer or winter sports which the employees prefer. 3

4 Picture 2: Cycling at Osram OSRAM Czech Republic takes part in many national or international tournaments, often with very good results. Teambuilding activities encompass outdoor actions. Employers and trade unions also organise informal sport activities for themselves, for which the surrounding hilly country provides many opportunities. Picture 3: Teambuilding and outdoor activities Pleasant and friendly atmosphere in the factory contributes to the feeling of loyalty to the company and at the same time protects from stress What was achieved? 4

5 The company regularly monitors the rates of sick leaves (short absences, long absences, maternity leaves 67% of the workers are women). Average sickness rates gradually decreased from the 7.2% in 2004/2005 to 2.9% in 2010/2011. Also rates of work injuries (now falling down) are analysed as to the cause and a possibility to prevent them. The staff turnover is also monitored. It decreased from 15.5% in 2002/2003 to 1.6% in 2010/2011. This information is open to all workers. Among other things, the company also follows the satisfaction of workers with measures in the field of safety and health at work and health promotion. Employees satisfaction is measured every year by an anonymous global employee survey where are included question about working conditions, worklife balance, etc. Employees satisfaction increased as it was of 73% in 2010 and raised up to 85% of positive answers in The survey showed that the Health Days (repeated for 3 working days to allow all shift workers to take part) were very much appreciated by the workforce, which praised their course and content, and even came with new ideas for the next Health Days. In order to express their opinion on a daily basis, there are Tell us boxes located at several places in the company. Employees can put their comments, questions or ideas about wellbeing (anonymously or not, as they prefer) and the company management answers the questions to all the company on a regular basis either directly, in the company magazine or during meetings with the employees. Management clearly succeeded in integrating a diverse workforce into a group of people united in goals and sense of belonging: they call themselves the Osramites and enjoy many collective activities. They refer about them proudly in the company magazine ( osram.cz ) which is prepared, written and printed by all workers and illustrated by photos from many photographic contests (while the company premises are decorated by the children s pictures winning Christmas contests). All this and the free and unembarrassed expression of opinions and wishes of workers in frequent opinion surveys and elsewhere indicates their sense of satisfaction and wellbeing at the workplace. They certainly view their work as a positive factor in their lives. Because of providing safe and healthy working conditions, and continuously promoting workers health and wellbeing, Osram Czech Republic Ltd has been awarded the title Health Promoting Enterprise the 3rd grade, valid until Success factors Management s ability to understand that the increased rates of sickness absence and job turnover can have many different causes and as such they must be approached and dealt with. The single financial motivation (bonuses for attendance) is not enough. The intense interest of management in its employees wellbeing seems like the behaviour of family members resulting in a cohesive and happy group of people Further information Osram Czech Republic Ltd.,Zahradní 46, Bruntál, Czech Republic Contact person : Romana Kretkova, HR manager 2.7. Transferability The complex approach may solve many problems of a different nature and it is suitable for any kind of enterprise. 5

6 3. References, resources: Contest for the title Health Promoting Enterprise, Czech Republic 2010, Audit Report No. 33V/1/2010, National Institute of Public Health 6

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