“We’re not just here for the fun of it”

As well as being a social responsibility for every employer, giving young people new skills and developing new talent can help a company achieve its own goals. We visit a special construction site in Winterthur to see how ­Implenia is putting this principle into practice.

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Attractive working environment

Implenia employs over 8,000 people from more than 70 different countries. Over the years the Group has taken numerous measures to promote its employees’ health and safety. By offering the chance to work on exciting projects and providing a wide variety of development opportunities, Implenia is one of the most popular employers for many professions.

What we achieved in 2014 / 2015

Our goals for 2017

  • We are reducing the ­number of occupational accidents to less than 75 per 1,000 full-time posts.
  • We are sensitising our ­apprentices to sustaina­bility issues.
  • We are significantly expanding our appren­ticeship scheme, specialist ­career offerings and ­management training.
  • We are continuing our ­active engagement with the “Young Generation”.

3.1Employees from over 70 nations

Full-time posts by type of employement

Implenia grew in size during the period under review, partly because of the acquisition of German company Bilfinger Construction in 2014. At the end of 2015, Implenia employed a total of 7,960 people (full-time equivalents, including temporary employees). The company-wide fluctuation rate in 2015 came to 10.9 percent (excluding seasonal fluctuations), which is slightly lower than in the previous year.

People from more than 70 nations work for Implenia; as is usual in the industry, most of these are men. However, the share of women rose in Switzerland and across the Group from 9 percent in 2014 to 11.2 percent in 2015. Implenia treats all employees the same, regardless of their origin, colour, sex, religion or sexual orientation or political views.

The company follows the guidelines issued by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). These deal in particular with employment standards relating to equal remuneration and to discrimination in employment and occupation.

The percentage of women has gone up from 9 to 11.2 percent.

In an effort to ensure equal opportunities in the workplace, Implenia set up a women’s desk in 2015 to deal with issues such as wage parity and sexual harassment. Anyone affected by discrimination can contact the desk for advice, help and support, or to report incidents in confidence.

3.2Market-oriented remuneration

Implenia is committed to transparent, fair and competitive remuneration. For office staff in Switzerland each function is evaluated in terms of the job requirements and the responsibility involved. The result of this evaluation determines the basic salary.

For onsite staff, Implenia keeps to the negotiated collective agreements, or if there is no such agreement in place, to the statutory minimum wages. Implenia makes general wage adjustments by joint agreement, and grants individual wage rises on the basis of employee appraisals.

In addition to their agreed basic salary, managers receive a variable salary component tied to the goals they have been set. Top managers, around 25 of them across the Group, are also paid an additional component in the form of shares.

Employment regulations and social benefits meet modern standards and in some cases are better than the statutory requirement. For example, employees benefit from attractive pension arrangements and an extra week’s holiday, while fathers can have a week of paternity leave and mothers can have 16 weeks of maternity leave.

The pension fund’s Board of Trustees is made up of equal numbers of employee and employer representatives. At the end of 2015 Implenia’s pension fund had a funding ratio of 98.7 percent.

In addition to its statutory pension provision, Implenia runs the “Fondation Patronale” pension foundation, which has capital of CHF 11 million. This was set up to mitigate the financial consequences of illness, disability and death by paying out pension benefits and voluntary inflation supplements, and helping people who have been affected by restructuring.

3.3Involving employees

Construction projects are becoming more and more complex. Mastering the new challenges demands professional and social competence, experience, passion and motivation. These skills and attitudes can only thrive in a conducive working environment. Implenia’s core values, such as integrity, transparency, innovation and reliability, are set out in its Code of Conduct and create the foundations for just such an environment. Thanks to the company’s flat hierarchies, decision-making paths are short and people are given a lot of responsibility.

Implenia strives to be an international, multicultural, learning organisation, and does what it can to help employees accompany it on this journey. A culture of open discussion is very important here. Employees are told quickly and transparently about important developments and decisions. For example, the CEO regularly sends an electronic newsletter to employees, in which he talks about the current state of the business, individual projects, corporate culture, general economic conditions and prospects for the future.

Recognition as an attractive employer

Implenia wants to be the employer of choice for ambitious professionals. It has already done much to achieve this aim and in 2015 was ranked as one of Switzerland’s most attractive ­employees. In a widely respected student survey of the 100 most desirable employers, ­Implenia was once again listed in the top quartile for the engineering sector. Around 12,000 students from almost 50 Swiss universities and colleges took part in the 2015 Universum Swiss Student Survey.

Young Generation
With its “Young Generation” initiative, launched in 2015, Implenia encourages communication across the generations – dialogue between current management and the young workers who will largely shape the company’s future. Young employees from all regions attended a number of workshops to produce a shared vision of the future. A delegation with an average age of about 30 talked to the Group Executive Board (GEBO) about trends in society, the construction industry and the company, and set out their expectations and proposed solutions. The GEBO used this input to formulate and execute immediate measures and to set out a timetable of medium-term activities. The “Young Generation” will continue to develop as a group and will continue to be given opportunities to contribute systematically to the decision-making process in all areas of the company.

The employee magazine “Impact” is one of the central tools for internal communication. It is produced in four languages and is sent to the whole workforce twice a year by post. Employees can also find all the documents relevant to them on the Intranet. “Yammer”, the internal social network gives employees the opportunity to exchange knowledge, share content and talk to each other. Employees also receive information every quarter about the latest decisions made by the Group Executive Board (GEBO).

Finally, Implenia also puts on regular information events about concrete subjects and encourages dialogue through the use of digital discussion forums and personal exchanges with management. At the start of every year around 250 managers gather for a group-wide interactive event focusing on the previous year’s achievements and the current year’s priorities. This is supplemented during the same period with information events specific to each Business Unit.

3.4Career-focused training and development

Implenia offers an attractive range of training and development courses. “Icademy”, established several years ago, is Implenia’s in-house training and development concept. It encourages systematic individual development of employees’ key skills and abilities. More than 400 employees were trained at 27 different events during the period under review.

Employee development is based on an objective evaluation of the individual’s achievements as measured by the “Management by Objectives” approach established three years ago. The company has a modern, web-based employee management system called “Iperform”, which maps and supports processes like agreeing objectives, employee development, training and e-learning. “Iperform” is used to offer and coordinate training activities focused on the employees’ areas of responsibility and place in the hierarchy.

The “Winning the future” leadership programme was focused more sharply on Implenia’s current needs and for the second time was attended by employees from all language regions.

Over the last year Implenia has refined its construction manager profile and introduced the “Fachkarriere” structured career and development model in Business Units Construction German-speaking Switzerland and Construction French-speaking Switzerland. This model describes clear classification, development and promotion criteria for the various construction manager functions, as well as the compulsory training and development measures required to make the next step in the personal development plan. Training is offered as class-room sessions, on-the-job training and certificated courses.

Within this specialist career model, Implenia offers modules covering things like business basics, employment law, and preparing for work. During the period under review, training was given to 119 site managers and construction unit leaders in Business Unit “Construction German-speaking Switzerland”.

The aim is to create a standardised career model for the whole group in order to bring on internal talent even more effectively and provide opportunities for long-term development within the company.

The “Winning Performance” programme, introduced in 2014, trains future management talent and new managers in strategy, business, team leadership and communication, as well as in personal and social skills.

Good managers are vital to the company if it is to achieve its aims. As well as knowledge of the management tools, and a command of modern management skills, these managers need to share a common conception of what management is all about. Two years ago, Implenia created a multi-level management training concept to strengthen these qualities. The “Winning Performance” programme, introduced in 2014, trains future management talent and new managers in strategy, business, team leadership and communication, as well as in personal and social skills.

For experienced employees in the upper ranks of management, Implenia has focused the “Winning the future” leadership programme, originally developed with the Executive School of the University of St Gallen, even more intently on the company’s current needs. This programme was run for the second time during the period under review, with 22 people attending from across all the language regions.

3.5Recruiting from within

Promoting young talent and effective internal succession planning are two of the keys to Implenia’s success, which is why the company systematically continued to expand its talent management process during the period under review. This includes line managers working closely with HR officers to identify development potential in their staff so that individuals can be given the right development opportunities to help them deal with future challenges. The talent management process also determines the nomination of participants for the management development programme.

Specialists are hard to find, which is why Implenia invests a lot in recruiting new employees. Implenia regularly attends university and college recruitment fairs to tell young professionals, students and graduates from all disciplines about the Implenia Group and the opportunities it offers for careers and training.

Strategic partnership with ETH Zurich

Implenia focuses hard on matters relating to operational excellence and has invested in building up internal expertise in industrial construction, as well as in promoting innovative technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM). Its strategic partnership with ETH Zurich, launched in May 2016, should be seen in this context. The company is ­supporting an assistant professorship for innovative industrial construction, as well as working to ­intensify knowledge transfer between academic research and business. Implenia will be funding the new professorship for the next six years with a total of CHF 2.4 million.

With its 12-month trainee programme in Switzerland and its 24-month programme in Germany, Implenia also offers graduates an attractive gateway into the world of work. During the period under review, this trainee programme was expanded to include commercial trainees. Implenia also supports the ETH Zurich’s Excellence Scholarship & Opportunity Programme with an annual contribution. The programme provides additional training to outstanding young talent. In addition, in May 2016 Implenia entered into a strategic partnership with the ETH Zurich, which included the establishment of a professorship (see box).

Implenia believes that training young professionals, as well as being one of its social responsibilities, also directly helps the company reach its goals. Implenia wants to position itself as a benchmark for promoting young talent in the construction industry so it can increase the number of young people it recruits.

Apprentices and continued employment

During their induction week in Melchtal, 70 apprentices learn the fundamentals and get to know their new colleagues

During the period under review a total of around 280 apprentices were employed by Implenia in on-site or office-based roles. In 2015, 74 people completed their training. Around two-thirds of successful apprentices have subsequently been given jobs at the company. In 2014 the Group appointed a Head of Trainees to implement the apprenticeship strategy consistently and support trainers in their work. In recognition of her work this person was awarded the Cadre D’Or by the “Baukader Schweiz” management association in 2015. Her role focuses on establishing Group-wide quality standards and coordinating all the relevant activities (see the article “We’re not just here for fun”).

A future for all

Get stuck in and do it yourself – that was Implenia’s message at the 2015 Swiss Futures Day. The day gave girls and boys aged between 10 and 12 a chance to learn about different ­professions. Trainees and employees at Implenia’s head office in Dietlikon and in various ­offices around Switzerland gave the young visitors an interesting insight into their day-to-day working lives.

3.6Health & Safety first

Safety at work comes before profit. True to this principle, Implenia has been waging a campaign against accidents for some years now. In 2015 Implenia once again carried out a variety of programmes and campaigns to increase employees’ awareness of safety matters.

Implenia’s safety culture is based on the expanded Health & Safety Processes set out in the Implenia Management System (IMS). Implenia set up a new dedicated Health & Safety Department at the beginning of 2014. Since 2014, safety has been a fixed item on the agenda of every Group Executive Board meeting, underlining the high priority Implenia gives to workplace health and safety.

Within the two Construction Business Units – German-Speaking Switzerland and French-Speaking Switzerland – where most employees work and where the risks are greatest, OHSAS 18001-certifed programmes ensure effective measures are in place.

Security Officers (SO) are responsible for implementing the Health & Safety Processes in the Business Units. Implenia continued to expand its SO organisation during the period under review. For example, the integration of Health & Safety was intensified as an integral part of work preparation (AVOR) to ensure that safety issues are already addressed when a construction site is being planned.


Raising awareness
Implenia uses regular awareness raising activities on its construction sites, including courses and safety tests, to remind site personnel and technical managers of important health and safety issues.

Emergency procedures for Implenia construction sites are set out in great detail. Emergency plans are available to all employees and are the subject of regular training. To ensure that anyone affected by an accident or emergency is treated quickly, Implenia arranged for 75 employees to receive first aid training from qualified paramedics in 2015.

Implenia’s Health & Safety principles also apply to subcontractors and suppliers. Since the start of 2016 work contracts have included a specification sheet detailing the relevant requirements. These include the obligation for each subcontractor to carry out a risk analysis before starting work. Subcontractors are also obliged to give their employees, temporary workers and suppliers training in the content of the Code of Conduct.

When Bilfinger Construction was acquired, Health & Safety was one of the central focuses of integration work. The number of staff working in the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Department was increased again. Implenia is currently working on a uniform, group-wide approach to accident figure reporting.

All the work done on Health & Safety in recent years is having an effect: across the Group as a whole, the number of accidents per 1,000 full-time employees in 2015 was 86, which is 22 percent lower than in the prior year. As a Group, therefore, Implenia has achieved its target of reducing occupational accidents per 1,000 FTE to under 100. The striking reduction is mainly due to the acquisition of Bilfinger Construction: the business units in Germany and Austria have significantly lower accident figures than those in Switzerland. If the Swiss and Norwegian business units are taken separately, the number of accidents per 1,000 full-time employees moves above the target to 107.

The proportion of injuries caused by tools and equipment has also been reduced. Despite this positive overall trend, Implenia wants to keep driving the number of accidents down, especially in Switzerland. More frequent inspections by the responsible site personnel will be one of the methods used to achieve this. For Implenia, safety is always a management issue.

By contrast with occupational accidents, non-occupational accidents increased during the reporting period, going up by 18 percent between 2014 and 2015. Most of these accidents occurred when playing ball sports, on the roads or as a result of slips and trips in the home and garden. The rate of absence due to illness remained about the same.

Evolution of occupational accidents by category

Winner of the 2015 Safety Award:
Antonio Barbagallo, Foreman
Winner of the 2016 Safety Award:
Beat Klaus, Foreman.

New Health & Safety award
In 2015 Implenia launched its Health & Safety Award to celebrate outstanding achievements in the field of health and safety at work by a construction site, team or individual. One of the main aims of this is to encourage employees to take responsibility for Health & Safety. A jury selects a shortlist of four from all the proposals submitted. Employees then choose the winner in an online vote. The inaugural award was presented in February 2015 to Antonio Barbagallo, a foreman who saved his colleague’s life by noticing the first signs of a heart attack and administering immediate first aid. The 2016 Health & Safety Award went to Beat Klaus who introduced regular morning exercise sessions at a construction site in Killwangen (Canton Aargau). The jury also presented a Special Award in 2016 to the Arnstadt site (in Thüringen, Germany), which has remained accident-free for five years.

In October 2015, Implenia set up an internal department for occupational health management. The specialists in the department support staff who have suffered accidents or illness, and help them return to work. They also work on prevention and will be launching health campaigns focusing on stopping smoking and promoting exercise, nutrition and workplace ergonomics. In 2015 and 2016, for example, Implenia took part in the national “Bike to Work” campaign.

Employees in stressful situations – particularly victims of accident and illness – have a greater need than most for information, and the internal occupational health management service provides them with the support they require. Medical professionals trained specifically in occupational health matters provide personal care and help with administrative challenges, as well as supporting the company on issues relating to health in the workplace.

For Lisa Bjørvik, Quality & HSE Manager at Tunnelling Implenia Norway, it’s obvious that “women are good for the working environment”.



3.7Health & safety and environmental protection in Norway (Norway and Sweden)

Norway is a world leader when it comes to health, safety and environment (HSE) practices, partly because of the stringent rules that apply to the oil and gas industry there. Laws, regulations, strict guidelines and certifications, but also targeted practical measures, all help to prevent injuries and accidents at work. A firm determination to reduce occupational accidents to zero is reflected in the accident statistics. With only around 30 accidents per 1,000 full-time posts in 2015, Norway recorded the lowest accident figure in the whole Implenia Group.

Lisa Bjørvik is QA and HSE Manager at Implenia Scandinavia. In this role she is responsible for ensuring that Implenia’s most northerly construction sites comply with all the relevant safety and quality standards. She makes sure that every employee on site completes a special safety course and signs a personal safety declaration before they start their first day’s work. All injuries and accidents that occur during a project have to be carefully recorded and reported. Lisa Bjørvik then takes immediate steps to prevent any similar accidents from occurring in future.

She has a very varied working day: “Quality Assurance (QA) and Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) are very interesting areas. Everything changes constantly and there is never any shortage of work to do. There’s always something new to learn. No day is like another and you always have to be flexible enough to change your plans spontaneously.”

Norway has invested a lot of time and effort in accident prevention. Implenia’s HSE staff are well trained and regularly conduct exercises to work through different scenarios. Unfortunately the same level of diligence is not always found among subcontractors, so many of their workers are sent on an HSE training course. Lisa Bjørvik believes it is important for on-site employees to internalise the HSE message and let it inform their day-to-day work. Accidents happen quickly on building sites, so safety is always the number one priority.

“Working on building sites isn’t for every woman,” says Lisa Bjørvik. “You have to be extrovert and be able to accept a rough and ready style at times. And a sense of humour doesn’t hurt when you want people to listen to you.” Even today, there still aren’t that many women working on building sites, but the trend is going upwards. Lisa Bjørvik has no doubts: “Women make for a better working atmosphere. I believe that a good mix of male and female is always an advantage, and you definitely see that in health & safety, where a lot of women work. I would recommend that every woman tries working on a construction site at some point!”