Competence Development and Performance Reviews
In accordance with the performance review model, the employee and supervisor have an informal quarterly discussion (Quarter Chat). 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 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.
Activities related to competence development emphasize the development of effective and agile working methods to ensure that competence development needs will be identified on a more business-driven and employee-driven basis in the future. This effort has been supported by, for example, change agent activities and the information obtained from the personnel survey and pulse surveys on how the employees perceive the current situation as regards competence development. Bittium has taken many measures and conducted assessments related to competence development, and these will continue in 2022.
Topical themes in competence development include data, analytics and artificial intelligence, cloud solutions and virtualization. Efforts related to software life-cycle process development and management, increased use of efficient operating models, and programming languages and new technologies will also continue. When training is organized to support competence development, online learning methods and platforms are used where possible, but in-person events to support competence development are also organized as necessary. For example, a training program to support the product development and project competencies of employees who work with medical technologies was successfully carried out online, on a location-independent basis.
A new tool was introduced in 2020 to develop the orientation training process for new employees. The tool serves as a platform for the orientation training material and training sessions as well as various eLearning courses. The development of the orientation training path for various jobs and expanding the use of eLearning solutions continued in 2021. Internal eLearning courses have also been created outside the actual orientation training path to serve broader competence development needs, and these types of solutions will also be taken advantage of in the future. A dedicated eLearning module created on the topic of strategic communication has been well received.
Employees are encouraged to discuss competence development needs with their supervisor, and self-development and training are also encouraged. In 2021, the average number of training days was 3.8 per employee. This includes both internal and external training as well as orientation training and independent study. Internal training may also involve learning on the job and the sharing of expertise, and external training may involve independent 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. Project-based work is prevalent, and the schedules and workload may vary greatly depending on the situation. The need for occupational healthcare services at Bittium has increased slightly compared to the most recent pre-pandemic year. In particular, the number of medium-duration sickness-related absences related to mental health has increased. In response to this, supervisors and project managers have been encouraged to meet their team members face to face more frequently, at least via video calls. In 2022, the company will focus on early support to make it possible to address challenges in a timely manner and prevent stress.
Employee well-being is supported by occupational healthcare services that are more extensive than required by law, as well as other employee benefits. The occupational healthcare services also include a digital clinic and opportunities for remote consultations. Employees also have access to the services of an occupational physiotherapist and the Cuckoo Workout application. HR coffee breaks were organized in 2021. They are open virtual events for personnel, addressing topics related to well-being, such as the ergonomics of knowledge work and the importance of good sleep. At its highest, the number of attendees in these events was several hundreds of people representing various parts of the organization. A company bicycle benefit was introduced near the end of the first half of the year. Bittium has taken out remote work insurance for employees.
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 risks associated with manufacturing and manual work are a relatively small concern.
The Close Call reporting channel in Bittium´s intranet enables employees to report potential safety and ‘close call´ concerns. A total of three such concerns were reported in 2021.
Bittium´s HR management and OHS function analyze occupational accidents at regular intervals and whenever particular risks emerge. In 2021, a total of three occupational accident reports were submitted in Bittium´s companies in Finland. None of these accidents led to disability or liability under the Finnish legislation governing occupational accidents and diseases.
Human Rights, Equality and Diversity
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. Participation-oriented and coaching style supervisory work plays an important role in this. All employees and job applicants are treated equally regardless of their gender, age, ethnic background, political views or other background factors. Bittium´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.
As the extensive annual employee survey enables Bittium to address the themes of equality and non-discrimination, the company does not carry out a specific equality survey each year. The next survey is planned for 2022.
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. Subcontractors and partners are required to adhere to Bittium´s Supplier Requirements, which also address the company´s approach to human rights questions. Compliance with the Supplier Requirements was evaluated in 2021 based on self-assessments. In 2021, 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.
Interaction between the employees and teams has been mainly virtual. Normally, the company promotes the employees´ collective spirit and activity also outside working hours in the form of various clubs, physical exercise and activities. Club activities were resumed in 2021 and new clubs were established, which speaks to the value given to team spirit at Bittium. Several teams of Bittium employees also participated in the Kilometrikisa cycling challenge for the third time. Organizing team meetings was also possible during the year.
Bittium was not able to organize visits to educational institutions in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Personnel in 2021
At the end of 2021, Bittium had 653 employees in Finland, the United States, Mexico, Singapore and Germany. 99% of the company´s employees are based in Finland. Most of the employees are R&D engineers.