Innovative and Developing People

The year 2020 was very exceptional for the personnel. A major change was seen in March, when approximately 70 percent of the employees started teleworking because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

FOCUS AREA #1

Innovative and Developing People

The year 2020 was very exceptional for the personnel. A major change was seen in March, when approximately 70 percent of the employees started teleworking because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Face-to-face communication was largely replaced by virtual meetings. IIn addition to project meetings, staff events, coffee meetings and internal product demonstrations were held online. Taking care of employees´ well-being took different forms, and the importance of managerial work was emphasized.

Bittium switched to remote working in March 2020. This ensured that the company was able to provide its customers engaged in very critical industries with the products and services they needed, despite the exceptional circumstances. Owing to the nature of the company´s business, approximately 25–30 percent of the employees cannot work from home. They include people working in production and laboratories as well as employees whose job requires working in security-classified areas. By assigning 70 percent of the employees to remote work, those remaining in the workplace were protected from being infected with the coronavirus.

Travel and visit bans were issued at an early stage. The company established an internal Covid-19 working group, and an information website for the personnel was launched in March. Remote work instructions were prepared for the staff. The production started working in shifts.

The Pulse survey, conducted monthly, is used as an employee feedback channel to make remote work easier and keep up the spirit. By sharing the results, the company made an effort to enhance the sense of community and share experiences during the exceptional circumstances and, where needed, address any issues that come up.

Goals Actions Performance Measures Examples of Results
Employee well-being and engagement Creating employee experience and sense of community in exceptional circumstances. Extra support for supervisory managerial work was aligned. Results and scope of the employee satisfaction survey The total result (average of all questions ) in employee satisfaction survey improved to 3.83 points on scale 1–5 (3.72 in 2019).
The response rate of the survey rose to 81% (80% in 2019)
Competence development Increasing and enabling training and taking special competencies into consideration Time spent on training per employee 4.2 days/employee
Developing the employer image Increasing awareness of Bittium and communicating the company´s strengths External employer image survey Execution postponed to 2021.
Developing the employer image internally Bittium employee survey (BES) BES section: Bittium as a
company and employer
improved and was 3.53 (2019: 3,32) on scale 1-5

Company Culture and Innovation

Bittium´s values are trust, courage and innovation. These values are an integral part of everyday work and the company culture of participation and discussion. The employees evaluate the realization of the values in the annual employee survey. On a scale from 1 to 10, the grades for trust, courage and innovation were 8.06, 7.34 and 7.38, respectively. The company culture is characterized by a flat organization, low level of hierarchy, agility and openness. Bittium´s employees share a passion for technology and learning.

Innovation is always present in Bittium´s work. The company supports innovation in various ways, including encouraging and diverse company culture, working methods and business premises. Ultimately, the innovative approach is reflected in R&D and work with customers.

In 2020, Bittium continued the initiative launched in 2019 to develop the company´s organization and working methods according to the principles of autonomy, agility and a coaching approach to leadership. The selected development areas included meeting routines, orientation training processes, strategy communications and the launch of change agent activities.

The Covid-19 pandemic caused the company to change its meeting practices: since March, meetings have mainly been virtual. As part of the development of the orientation training process, a new tool that works as a platform for the orientation training material and training sessions as well as various eLearning courses, was introduced. A spesific eLearning module for strategy communications was prepared. The change agent activities continued, with the change agents participating in the orientation training of new employees.

Aiming for the renewal of the company´s organizational model, the Kilta (“Guild´) pilot, launched in 2019, was continued. The objective is to increase the autonomy and influence of the personnel in the different technical competence areas with regard to the organization of their work and the development of their competencies. Two "Guilds" were established in 2020.

Employee Survey and the Employee Experience
Innovation requires motivated employees with a high level of well-being, good managerial work and a sense of community. The annual Bittium Employee Survey (BES) is an important tool for developing well-being at work and job satisfaction and to enhance the employee experience. The results of the survey are discussed at all levels of the organization, from the Board of Directors and Management Group to individual teams.

In the 2020 employee survey, the response rate rose to 81 percent, compared with 80 percent in the previous year. Measured with the average for all questions, the result improved from the previous year (2020: 3.83, 2019: 3.72).

The sections of the survey, consisting of 50 statements, are as follows:

  • My work
  • Bittium as a working community
  • Bittium as a company and employer
  • Managerial work
  • Projects.

 

The results for all of the sections improved, but the strongest improvement from 2019 was seen in the section Bittium as a company and employer. During the exceptional circumstances, the importance of internal communication, caring for the staff and managerial work is strongly emphasized. Team spirit, support for colleagues and commitment to the working community are strengths that help the company to go on even in situations in which the ways of working are suddenly transformed.

“The strongest improvement
was seen in the section Bittium
as a company and employer.´


The focus areas for 2020 were the development of project management and process agility as well as the improvement of internal communication. The Covid-19 pandemic has made internal communications a priority, and it´s been developed in many ways. In addition to communications associated with the exceptional circumstances, the business´ status and the general picture have been communicated more actively than before. According to the feedback from the employees, during the exceptional circumstances internal communicarion has been successful, and employee satisfaction with communications has improved overall .

The company has worked on project management as a whole, including project management materials, as part of the development of the orientation training process and related tools. However, the implementation of the Leadership section, which focuses on a coaching approach, was postponed. It was rescheduled for 2021 to enable face-to-face implementation. The networking of project managers and team leaders is considered important, so that knowledge, good practices and peer support can be more efficiently distributed across organizational borders. Many measures and surveys have been carried out to make the processes more agile.This work will continue in 2021.

According to BES (Bittium Employee Survey) 2020, it is particularly important to continue improving the processes and renew the organization and working methods as well as promote the meaningfulness and autonomy of work.

Competence Development and Performance Reviews

In accordance with the performance review model, the employee and supervisor have an informal quarterly discussion (Quarter Chat). The employees also have the option to agree to have a separate longer conversation, especially with regard to a long-term competence development plan. This actual performance review is held at a time that effectively supports competence development.

A key objective of the switch to more frequent, regular discussions has been to take into consideration individuality, support well-being at work and build trust in the relationships between supervisors and subordinates.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also changed the nature of managerial work. Therefore, the company has paid particular attention to this area. The managerial work has been supported by means such as arranging supervisor meetings every two weeks.

Similar to previous years, promoting the development will be continued of expertise in areas such as software life-cycle process development and management, increased use of efficient operating models, and programming languages. Expertise in new technologies will also be promoted, including software robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence as well as 5G and wireless communications technologies.

In 2020, partly owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the competence development of Bittium´s staff has focused on the development and reinforcement of internal working methods in areas such as system and testing automation of agile methods. Employees have participated in training and eLearning courses e.g. in modern C++ and embedded software programming and robotics.

The employees are encouraged for self-development and training. In 2020, the average number of training days was 4.2 per employee. This covers both internal and external training, including orientation training and independent study. Internal training may also involve learning at work or sharing of expertise, and external training may involve self-study.

Well-being and Occupational Safety

At Bittium, the majority of work involves R&D and product (software) development. Therefore, the most significant disability risks include musculoskeletal diseases, coping at work and mental well-being. The risks associated with manufacture and manual work are a relatively small concern. Project-based work is prevalent, and the schedules and workload may vary greatly depending on the situation.

Employee well-being is supported by occupational health care services that are more extensive than required by law, as well as other employee benefits. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the employees have been informed about occupational health services, such as the digital clinic and remote appointments. Information about ergonomics has also been provided, and the employees have access to the services of an occupational physiotherapist and the Cuckoo Workout application.

Since March 2020, Bittium´s Covid-19 working group has met several times a week. It focuses on monitoring the pandemic as well as planning, implementing and communicating the pandemic-related measures. Furthermore, the OHS cooperation between offices was intensified and weekly meetings initiated.

All Bittium offices have appropriate safety plans in place. Some of the employees perform duties in which it is of particular importance to ensure electrical safety.

The Close Call reporting channel enables employees to report potential safety and ‘close call´ concerns on the company´s intranet. In 2020, two observations were reported.

Bittium´s HR management and OHS function analyze occupational accidents at regular intervals and whenever particular risks emerge. In 2020, there were three occupational accidents reported at Bittium companies in Finland. Two of the accidents occurred during commutes and one in the workplace. One of the accidents caused a temporary disability.

Human Rights, Equality and Diversity

Bittium treats all employees and employee candidates equally regardless of their gender, age, ethnic background, political views or other background factors. The company´s equality plan is based on the Finnish Act on Equality Between Men and Women. The realization of equality at work is assessed in employee surveys from the perspectives of pay, career development and recruitment.

The extensive annual employee survey enables Bittium to address equality and non-discrimination themes. Therefore, the company doesn´t carry out a specific equality survey each year. The previous equality survey was conducted in 2018. Its results are discussed under Employee survey and the employee experience.

From the aspect of managing and developing diversity, it is important to take into account different backgrounds and skills and to put them to good use. Participatory and coaching supervisor work plays an important role in this.

The principles concerning the diversity of the Board of Directors are defined in the Corporate Governance Statement.

The vast majority of Bittium´s employees work in countries with progressive human rights legislation. The subcontractors and partners are required to adhere to Bittium´s Supplier Requirements, which also discuss the company´s approach to human rights questions. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year the compliance has been evaluated with the requirements only on the basis of self-assessments. Normally, the company also carries out on-site audits. In 2020, no violations or significant non-conformities related to the use of child labor, forced labor, inappropriate disciplinary action, physical punishment, or health-related discriminatory practices were observed in Bittium´s or its subcontractors´ operations.

Enhancing the Employer Image

Skilled, motivated and committed professionals constitute Bittium´s most important resource. The company´s strengths as an employer include diverse tasks and development opportunities through work on various technologies, products and projects. Bittium employees have a strong team spirit and feel that they are appreciated by their colleagues and the workplace community.

New employees are asked to complete an employer image survey after 4–6 months of employment. The latest survey, carried out in October 2020, was answered by 15 employees. On a scale from 1 to 10, Bittium´s grade was 8.6, compared with 7.67 in the previous employer image survey.

Bittium´s external employer image is also strengthened by the open-for-all webinars launched in autumn 2020. During the autumn, four webinars were held. Their themes focused on generating added value for the customers in different industries. The webinar series is intended to continue in 2021.

Active Engagement

Since March, interaction between the employees and teams has been mainly virtual. Normally, the employees´ collective spirit and activity is promoted also outside the working hours in the form of various clubs, physical exercise and activities. In 2020, the club activities were mostly on pause, and they were replaced with informal virtual coffee breaks and team contests, for instance. In addition, for the second time, several teams from Bittium participated in the Kilometrikisa cycling challenge. Staff events and parties are an important way of acknowledging employees. However, this year it was not possible to arrange any such get-togethers.

Bittium engages in active cooperation with educational institutions. For the company, the cooperation provides an important recruitment channel for future talents and also an opportunity to portray a career in technology as an attractive and interesting future opportunity. What is it like to work for a technology company can be demonstrated on visits to educational institutions. In 2020, such visits were not possible because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The company has an intention to continue them as soon as it becomes possible again.

Personnel in 2020

At the end of 2020, Bittium had 684 employees in Finland, the United States, Mexico, Singapore and Germany. 99% of employees are based in Finland. Most of the employees are R&D engineers.

 

Alignment between the Focus Area and the UN´s Sustainable Development Goals

 

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

8.7 Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms.

8.8 Protect labor rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.

  • We ensure that our subcontractors act in accordance with our Supplier Requirements, which include the observance of human rights in activities that are directly related to our operations. We published the Supplier Requirements on our website.
  • We monitor employee well-being in various ways, and our company applies clearly defined practices to support work ability. We maintain up-to-date safety plans as well as an equality plan. Safety issues are taken into account in our orientation training program. The employee benefits provided by our company have been selected to support mental and physical well-being and build a strong sense of community.

 

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

9.5 Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending.

  • We make significant investments in our R&D activities to support our renewal and maintain an innovative and competitive portfolio of products. In 2020, R&D activities represented 29.1 percent of our net sales (2019: 33.4 percent).
  • We create opportunities for our personnel to continuously develop their competence through studying as well as internal and external training. Our diverse and varying tasks enable continuous on-the-job learning and development. We encourage our employees to share their knowledge openly.