There is still a great demand for staff with technical skills. So far, the economic recession has tended to obscure this continuing scarcity, which in due course is likely to cause technically oriented companies in the Netherlands, such as Gasunie, considerable problems. Nonetheless, by continuously seeking contact with potential employees, we are investing in the future of our workforce.
In 2011, we drew up our Efficiency Masterplan, a series of measures designed to reduce operational costs by 15% over the period 2012-2014. One of these measures was to reduce the number of jobs in the Netherlands by about 90. By the end of 2012, we had discontinued 50 jobs, without redundancies (either through natural attrition or by relocation within the company). In 2013 and 2014, we expect to be able to resolve any overstaffing in the same way.
At the end of 2012, we terminated the pension execution agreement we had with the Gasunie pension fund, Stichting Pensioenfonds Gasunie. This agreement contained an obligation to make an additional payment. It has now been agreed that the old agreement will be replaced by a new pension execution agreement that does not contain such an obligation.
Rather than wait for national developments in this field, we have reached a collective labour agreement with the unions in which all sides have agreed to work towards a career-average pension scheme for inclusion in the next collective labour agreement. This opens the way to a dialogue about a new form of financing, whereby risk is transferred from the employer to employees and retirees themselves.
Development of the organisation
In 2012, we also made substantial advances in improving our organisational structure. Implementation of the Transponder programme has led to the creation of a number of new departments and the merger of others. Others again have been given new or different tasks. Formally, the new structure came into force at the end of 2011. We used the year 2012 to adjust our ways of working, our processes and procedures. Managers and their teams devoted a great deal of energy to defining the implications of Gasunie’s strategy for their departments. They formulated tasks and responsibilities, reviewed products and customer relationships, and gave special attention to creating the desired culture and encouraging mutual cooperation.
All units and departments wrote an ‘O’ chapter for Gasunie’s business plan, describing how their unit would put the new structure into practice, and especially focusing on embedding the ideas underlying Transponder and the Gasunie Way of Working.
In the area of process optimisation, we have made good progress in making greater use of the concept of ‘storyboarding’. This is an approach to cross-departmental business processes in which staff from various departments work together on projects to expose inefficiencies in their working processes, and then jointly design more efficient solutions. Storyboarding is not only about improving the technology and logistics of a process: importantly, it also deals with aspects of culture and cooperation.
At corporate level, our main investment in leadership within Gasunie has been in strengthening the philosophy of Transponder and the desired Gasunie culture. To this end, during the year, we launched the Gasunie Leadership Programme for the Top 65, and for other senior managers, we ran the Gasunie 2012 programme, which was not only designed to develop leadership but also to ensure alignment with Gasunie’s strategy.