»We’ve dedicated ourselves to achieving the vision of being an ›Employer of Choice‹ around the world, with employees who enjoy their work and tend to stick around.«

Approximately 5,400 employees – which is 80 % of staff – took part in the large-scale Symrise employee engagement survey in 2016. That alone is a huge success, according to Dr. Iñigo Natzel. But it’s not only the participation quota that’s impressive, says the Head of Human Resources. In the interview he explains how this type of survey, with all its positive and negative feedback, helps Symrise to further develop as a preferred employer.

Mr. Natzel, four out of five employees took part in the employee engagement survey. Why do you think the response was so high?

To start with, we’ve again managed to increase the participation quota by four percentage points to 80 % compared to 2012 – at a point in time when our company is growing at a fast pace. That tells me that the employee engagement survey was well received. It has established itself as a platform for a dialogue between the company and its employees. At the same time, we’ve been able to explain and demonstrate to our colleagues over the years that we take their answers seriously. We’ve dedicated ourselves to achieving the vision of being an ‘Employer of Choice’ around the world – in other words, a company where people enjoy working and pursue a longer career simply because the conditions are ideal for them. We want to set ourselves apart from other companies and motivate our employees.

What were the general findings of the survey?

95 % would accept their job at Symrise again, which says a lot. What we find particularly positive is the fact that employees have a great deal of trust in Symrise’s competitiveness and future prospects. 90 % are satisfied or even very and extremely satisfied, which in part is due to the acquisitions and innovations that the company has achieved over the years.

Are you surprised by this positive response?

No, I wouldn’t say I’m surprised. I’m very satisfied that we’re able to demonstrate to our employees just how well positioned our company is. At the same time, my colleagues and I in the international Human Resources team see plenty of motivation among the teams on a daily basis, so you could almost say I was expecting it. This dedication is also expressed in another figure – we reached an Employee Commitment Index (MCI) score of 67.

Symrise employees in Brazil, Chile, China, UK, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Singapore and the USA took part in the survey. Employees of Diana, which has been part of the Group since 2015, participated for the first time.
For Dr. Iñigo Natzel, the employee engagement survey is an exceptional tool for becoming a preferred employer.

And what does that mean?

The index shows how committed and loyal employees are to Symrise. Here, too, we improved by four points compared to 2012. We use a standardized test method to measure employee commitment. It’s about loyalty, the relationship with the company, job satisfaction and motivation, which we measure for instance with the following questions: How satisfied am I with my work situation? Would I recommend Symrise as an employer? How strongly do I identify with the company and its goals? How do I perceive motivation among my colleagues? How do I view Symrise’s current and future competitive position? How strong is my trust in the company’s leadership? We use a statistical method to evaluate the answers. Our score of 67 places us in the top 30 % of companies around the world – and in Mexico, where we achieved an index score of 79, we’re even in the top 10 %.

What have you learned from the surveys?

First of all, we think it’s wonderful that our Group functions as a whole – after all, we’re active in a lot of different countries with wide-ranging cultural diversity. But there’s a lot that we have in common, which is how we’re able to develop a global agenda. While it takes differences into account, the agenda also ensures that we’re able to develop into a preferred employer around the world through many similar measures. It was the corporate strategy, the work environment, the varied range of interesting tasks and the high degree of freedom to make decisions in particular that employees rated positively in the survey. We’re also very good in comparison to other companies. That makes us proud and simplifies our work, as we have a valid foundation of figures on which we can further develop.

Where do you see need for improvement?

Interestingly, competitiveness and future prospects were rated as very good in some countries and not so good in others. In those areas, we need to make much more of an effort to demonstrate how good we are – after all, only a successful company can also retain the best employees. Another issue is, for instance, the work environment, which incidentally has nothing to do with whether general satisfaction is high or low. Each area now needs to analyze itself based on the results and, as part of our “Lean & Efficiency” initiative, make an effort to reduce workloads by making work processes more efficient – for instance, with optimized software support.

How about the communication inside the company, for instance?

It’s extremely important, particularly from the bottom up. The employees want their suggestions to be taken seriously. We need to create the technical framework that will make this possible and, at the same time, train managers accordingly. Often mentioned in the survey, career planning has been one of our areas of focus for some time now with the career@symrise portal, which is where development plans can be found. Here, too, it’s all about encouraging employees, HR staff and managers to work closely together. At nearly all the sites, we see fair and differentiated remuneration based on performance as the area requiring the most attention. We need to come up with some solutions – and it often has nothing to do with how high the income is but rather the transparency in comparison to others. And we’ve observed this phenomenon throughout the Group.

How do you want to implement the findings in everyday operations?

We’ll continue to evaluate the results and then break them down according to countries, divisions and teams. At the same time, our HR officers are working with managers locally to evaluate the results of their areas, so that the latter can then analyze strengths and weaknesses with their employees and develop concrete goals and plans. It goes without saying that we need to stay the course and, despite the overall positive results, cannot rest on our laurels. Our managers will play a particularly important role. They need to optimize their management skills and communication with the employees, thus ensuring a loyal and motivated staff for the future.

»90 % of employees have a great deal of trust in Symrise’s competitiveness and future prospects.«
of employees are so satisfied that they would accept a job offer from Symrise again.