We can only continue to fulfil our role as a leading specialist in steel pipes and tubes by having sufficient well-trained and experienced professionals in-house. We will continue to use our People Strategy over the coming years to work on having sufficiently trained employees, the integration and strategy of our company, standardizing our work processes and creating pride and job satisfaction for our people. We aim to be an attractive employer, now and in the future.
Our 2,419 employees represent 58 different nationalities while serving in 78 branches in 33 countries. Women comprise 30% of the total workforce, men comprise 70%.
Van Leeuwen has a strong position in the market and an engaging ambition for the coming years. We can only achieve this when our people thrive. We do this by creating an open working culture with excellent colleagues and leaders. We create an environment in which the role and contribution of our people is clear, we share information and consider the input and opinion of our employees important. In addition, we encourage our people to continue to develop themselves. We take our people seriously, consider it important to sketch out a clear future and seek an effective dialogue with respect, attention and support.
Integration and COVID-19
Like most companies throughout the world, Van Leeuwen was impacted by the consequences of COVID-19 in 2020. It meant we had to drastically switch gears, be creative, find new ways to keep the business going, and continue to maintain good contact with customers, partners and colleagues. In most cases we succeeded admirably and virtually all contracts and projects were able to move forward.
Following the acquisition of Benteler Distribution we had to adjust our plans for the integration of both companies as time passed. Due to the pandemic it was not possible to physically proceed with many integration projects; due to the safety measures all travel was suspended as of March 2020. However, we found online solutions to bring colleagues of both companies closer together and this way were still able to make solid progress on the integration process.
2020 above all was a year in which we had to deal with challenging circumstances, says Caroline van Nieuwkerk, Executive Director Human Resources of the Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group. ‘I am particularly proud of the flexibility and the talent for improvisation displayed by our employees. They continued working to the best of their ability and, moreover, undertook a wide range of great initiatives. Such as the development of support software, new partnership projects and the remote exchange of best practices.’ With this positive approach, and with the help of our People Strategy, we aim to continue building our organization over the coming years.
HR digitalization forms an important part of the People Strategy. We started working on this in 2020. In Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary we implemented Workday, a state-of-the-art HR digitalization system. This system provides our managers and employees 24/7 access to their personal information, personnel files and ensures that all HR processes run smoothly and fast. Van Leeuwen aims to roll out this system, supplemented with additional functionality, such as Recruitment and e-Learning, to all 78 branches within two years.
To even better bring our culture to life, we are once more going to map out the leadership competencies we need in the future. What are we already doing well, which competencies do we want to retain and what additional competencies do we need to become the company we wish to become? These are the main questions in our study. We will use the results of this study as the basis for new leadership programs. As part of this initiative, Van Leeuwen among other things aims to create a constructive, motivating dialogue between managers and employees, and at the same time create a strong feedback culture.
Furthermore, we will develop a clear, global method of working to attract new talent, retain existing talent and further develop their skills. Together with these and other initiatives, we will be moving towards a global optimally cooperating organization within three years. Naturally with our core values clearly in mind: continuity, customer focus, connectedness and innovative entrepreneurship.
Care for our people
A culture in which people are seen and valued, and in which they can do their work with motivation, pride and satisfaction, is a key spearhead of our People Strategy. We will therefore continue to invest in our people as our most important capital. Even without the pandemic, we are a company in which, with almost 80 locations throughout the world, it is a challenge to operate as a single connected Van Leeuwen team. This is why we are always looking for ways in which to strengthen the mutual bond between locations, teams and employees, so that they can share their knowledge and experience and inspire each other.