Attracting new talent - Bekaert Annual Report 2010

About people

Attracting new talent

Within the CSR effort our specific attention goes to improving health and safety in the workplace, reducing our environmental impact as well as addressing local needs in the communities in which we operate. In 2010, we were able to make further strides in establishing our role as a corporate citizen.

In 2010, Bekaert reinforced its role as a globally sustainable corporation by:

- Substantially increasing learning & development efforts towards our employees:

  • On average 44 hours of training per year per employee (figure for Bekaert subsidiaries), almost doubling last year’s figures (24 hours per employee)
  • Significant increase in all regions (EMEA +77%, North America +64%, Latin America +74%) but most notably in Asia Pacific (+284%), following from our growth in this region
  • 53% of total training hours went to training of operators in China
  • The percentage of employees who received a performance review in 2010 increased further compared to 2009:

- Continuing to launch new initiatives in the field of employee safety and health;

- Investing over € 2 million in energy-saving measures at our wire and steel cord plants;

- Diversifying our talent pool with 48 different nationalities in our management, with 64% originating from the mature markets and 36% from the emerging markets;

- Hosting 12 governmental and diplomatic delegations at the Bekaert Group Headquarters in Belgium throughout 2010. A larger number of delegations were hosted at corporate and local events.

Bekaert is about people

What is the driving force behind Bekaert’s global success? It lies, undeniably, with its 27 000 highly qualified and motivated employees. They create the dynamics that characterize our international corporate culture. In 2010, where our growth required us to push performance limits, it was they, again, who made all the difference. Day in and day out, their resilience, trust and integrity generated the much needed force to achieve our goals, in all the regions in which we are active.

Our strong business growth, especially in the emerging markets, required us to recruit a large number of people at an accelerated pace. To anticipate future changes we also brought our training and development programs up to speed, whether in Latin America, Asia Pacific, North America or Europe. And we further improved local HR processes and aligned them with our central HR department to maximize synergies on a worldwide scale.

Stepping up recruitment & selection to support growth

To support our worldwide growth, we recruited almost 5 000 new employees in 2010, over 3 000 of whom in China. The reinforcement of our employer brand and the reaffirmation of our strong position in the labor market played a key part in the success of this large-scale recruitment operation.

Our global recruitment and selection teams collaborated closely with the regional HR teams who improved recruitment and selection processes in their respective regions in 2010. We also enhanced our eRecruitment system by training recruiters worldwide, thus ensuring we had certified eRecruitment experts in each region.

In addition, Bekaert partnered with specialist recruitment vendors, thereby securing a permanent influx of candidates for our key job positions. And we strengthened our recruitment and selection teams, particularly those in Europe and Asia Pacific.

We sharpened our focus on campus recruitment activities and we now aim to consolidate these efforts in 2011. As for career events, in 2010 we organized several initiatives such as ‘The Bekaert Experience’ (France) and ‘Bekaert Breakfast’ (Slovakia); we also participated in other job fairs like ‘Top Women’ (Belgium) and ‘Careers in Asia’ (U.K.).

Recruitment focus on China

Recruitment efforts in China peaked, as we succeeded in attracting in excess of 3 000 new employees in 2010.

We intensified and extended our collaboration with search partners in the region. In addition, we stepped up campus hiring activities by adding three more universities to our list, now totaling eleven. Bekaert participated for the second 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.

We intensified our internal hiring process in order to reach higher retention and give our employees even more options to change jobs within Bekaert. Even though the market average of employee turnover is 18% in China, with initiatives such as this one, Bekaert is able to keep this figure below 10%.

Other initiatives that contributed to the success of our recruitment efforts in China included an employee referral program, and a more effective use of our eRecruitment system by connecting it with more job boards.

Developing talent

Developing Bekaert leadership

Good leadership is crucial in order for a company to seize business growth opportunities and be successful in an increasingly complex environment. In 2010, we developed a comprehensive leadership development program called ‘A Bekaert Leadership Journey’. The program, which consists of three modules, each focusing on different aspects of leadership, will be spread over 3 years.

Linking people development with business strategy

For several years now, Bekaert has been putting together an all-level overview of the strengths, development needs and opportunities of its worldwide managerial employees.

This is done through the ‘Talent Review Process’, a structured approach to discussing our managerial employees’ sustained performance over the past few years and projections on their future development capabilities. As a result, we identify actions to build on leadership capabilities which can be implemented through personal development plans.

In 2010, around 1 500 managerial employees were reviewed. The information gathered was used in our management succession planning process, which focuses on the identification of possible successors for key job roles and decisions on development assignments to prepare the successors for their next role.

Encouraging talent movement across jobs and regions

Bekaert has established ‘Resources Councils’ in an effort to promote and fertilize talent movement across the different business or function units and across the regions. These councils discuss the appointment of managerial employees to a particular job function wherever in the world, and non-managerial employees who show potential to rise to managerial level.

After having set up ‘Resources Councils’ for job functions in technology and finance in 2009, we rolled out those for IT and HR in 2010, and we fine-tuned the processes involved even more. The councils also generated input for proactive career planning for identified talents in order to build up our leadership pipeline of specific job functions.

Training programs for marketing & sales employees

Bekaert has a long tradition of developing training programs for new managers and technologists. As the importance of marketing and sales is growing in our global organization, we set up similar initiatives for our marketing & sales employees in 2010.

A close collaboration between our central HR department and all our business platforms worldwide has led to the development of a standardized training program tailored to the different marketing and sales profiles we have within Bekaert.

Working with blue collar employees for better shop floor conditions and competency management

Bekaert is currently also running a number of programs to expand the competencies of its blue collar employees throughout its business platforms.

In 2010, Proalco, our subsidiary in Colombia, launched a competence management system consisting of four main modules, each of which includes evaluation, training, career, and succession planning.

For the operations module we developed job re-training courses for each production line. The instructors of the on-the-job training sessions are operators who have participated in train-the-trainer workshops.

Following a challenging 2009 with high employee turnover and the reorganization of our European production platform, our wire plant in Hlohovec (Slovakia) implemented a shop floor improvement project in 2010.

We organized several workshops with operators, foremen, and supervisors from the production units to solve key issues and provide solutions to improvement challenges. A subsequent action plan was implemented in Total Quality Management work groups and in the employees’ individual targets.

This led to a more motivated, committed group of operators and first line managers who have a better understanding of the products they are making and of their customers’ expectations.

Operators, foremen and supervisors participated in several workshops to improve the newest technology production processes.

Learning opportunities

From the designer’s table to the production floor:
Ensuring a seamless knowledge transfer to build our greenest steel cord plant

Bekaert offers its employees every chance to develop their career. Koen Verstrepen joined the Bekaert Engineering Department in Belgium in September 2008, after obtaining a master’s of science degree in mechanical engineering. Less than two years later, he was able to play a key part in the design of Bekaert’s greenest steel cord plant ever.

“The opportunity to perform R&D aimed at redesigning equipment and processes to make them more energy efficient was the main reason why I opted to work at Bekaert. With a clear focus on R&D and the decision to manufacture its own equipment via an in-house Engineering department, Bekaert created the conditions to make a substantial contribution to reducing its energy consumption.

To turn the new Shenyang plant in China into Bekaert’s greenest steel cord plant all knowledge and expertise available within the Bekaert Engineering and R&D departments had to be deployed. Since the focus of the Shenyang project was on the energy saving aspect, I became a member of the project team.

My role was threefold. First of all I was a liaison between the team in Shenyang and the technology department in Belgium. This meant transferring knowledge from the designers of the energy-efficient machines and infrastructure to the local teams that needed to implement these new designs. Secondly, I used my experience from earlier energy projects to assess the huge amount of ideas being submitted in Shenyang. Finally, I was responsible for quantifying and explaining the benefits obtained in the project.


Turning the ambitious plan into reality – the implementation of 141 ideas for environmentally-friendly processes within less than one year – was only possible thanks to the excellent collaboration of many. I was able to experience the power of better together firsthand as the project relied on the joint expertise of engineering, technology, production, local employees and local government… I was amazed to see the commitment everyone showed. Moreover, the management strongly supported the project, accelerating its progress.

The whole project was a huge learning experience from beginning to end. I enjoyed seeing the ideas becoming reality and I also became familiar with Chinese culture faster than I could have ever imagined.

It gave me enormous satisfaction to help implement these state-of-the-art technologies. And the fact that I was not only contributing to a more successful Bekaert but also to a greener society doubled my motivation.”

The project team

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