FOCUS AREA #1
Innovative and Developing People
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 company culture is characterized by a flat organization and a low level of hierarchy as well as agility and openness. Bittium´s employees share a passion for technology and learning. Bittium´s innovation requires motivated employees with a high level of well-being, good managerial work and a sense of community. Innovation is supported in various ways, including an encouraging and diverse company culture as well as effective working methods and business premises. Ultimately, Bittium´s innovative approach is reflected in the company´s R&D and work with customers.
In 2021, the company´s personnel continued to work remotely under a model where approximately 70 percent of the employees worked remotely as a rule. Ensuring employee well-being and supporting active managerial work have remained key elements of HR management. Monthly Pulse surveys have been used to monitor remote work, the spirit among employees, the efficiency of work and job satisfaction. The sense of community among the personnel has been strengthened by openly communicating the survey results and also by organizing lectures on well-being at work and sharing experiences. The restrictions concerning travel and visits have remained in place for the most part.
While most of Bittium´s employees have continued to work remotely, the company has nevertheless been able to produce critical products and services for its customers in various industries.
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.
|Goals||Performance Measures||Target 2021||Result 2021|
|Employee well-being and engagement||Results and scope of the
employee satisfaction survey.
|Developing the employee
experience and a sense of
community under exceptional circumstances and supporting managerial work.
|The average overall score in the employee satisfaction survey decreased to 3.74 (2020: 3.80*).|
|The response rate decreased
to 70% (2020: 81%).
|Competence development||Time spent on training
|Increasing and enabling training and taking special competencies into consideration.||3.8 days/employee|
|Developing the employer image||External employer image survey.||Increasing awareness of
Bittium and communicating
the company´s strengths.
|The external employer image survey was postponed to 2022.|
|Bittium Employee Survey (BES).||Developing the employer image internally)||In the BES survey, the score for the section “Bittium as a company and employer´ was 3.36 on a scale of 15 (2020: 3.53).|
* In the sustainability report 2020, the average of 2020 was announced 3.83. The figures has been recalculated to be comparable with the 2021 figure.
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.
- Our Supplier Requirements include the observance of human rights in activities that are directly related to our operations. The Supplier Requirements are published 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 2021, R&D activities represented 22.8 percent of our net sales (2020: 29.1%).
- 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.
Bittium´s Remote Work Policy and Hybrid Work Model
Approximately 70 percent of Bittium´s employees has been working primarily remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Employees who, due to the nature of their duties, cannot work remotely include those who work in production and laboratories as well as those whose job requires working in security-classified areas. Bittium has been able to prevent Covid-19 infections by continuing to work remotely as a rule. Bittium´s Covid-19 working group, which focuses on monitoring the pandemic as well as planning, implementing and communicating pandemic-related measures has continued to hold status meetings at least once a week. In addition, the company continued close cooperation on occupational safety and health between offices as well as weekly meetings. Up-to-date internal communication on Covid-19 has been highlighted as a priority. The information website for employees, introduced in March 2020, is still in use. The website has proved to be a useful communication tool, especially for informing employees of Covid-19 infections and reminding everyone of infection prevention practices.
Bittium adopted a more permanent remote work policy in mid-October. Under the hybrid model, each project and team agree on the most suitable remote work practices for their work and the aim is to use an optimal combination of remote work and in-office work. When the policy was drafted, the views of employees and project managers were assessed by means of surveys, and collaborative workshops were organized with supervisors, project managers and guild managers to develop the policy. The effectiveness of the remote work model will be monitored and developed further as necessary. The new remote work model was in use for just over a month before new remote work recommendations were entered into effect.
Project meetings, staff events, joint coffee breaks and internal product demonstrations were mostly organized as virtual events.
Employee Survey and the Employee Experience
The annual Bittium Employee Survey (BES) is an important tool for developing well-being at work and job satisfaction and enhancing 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.
The survey consists of five sections with 50 statements in total. The sections are:
- My work
- Bittium as a working community
- Bittium as a company and employer
- Supervisory work
In the 2021 employee survey, the response rate decreased to 70 percent, compared with 81 percent in the previous year. The overall average score decreased slightly and came to 3.74 (2020: 3.80, 2019: 3.72). The survey results in 2021 were largely in line with the results in 2019. The year 2020 was exceptional, also in light of the survey results. Team spirit, support for colleagues and commitment to the working community were again highlighted as Bittium´s strengths. The scores for supervisory work remained at an excellent level.
The employees evaluate the realization of the company´s values in the employee survey. On a scale from 1 to 10, the scores for trust, courage and innovation were 7.75 (2020: 8.06), 6.87 (2020: 7.34) and 7.02 (2020: 7.38) respectively. These results are in line with the general trend seen in the survey responses from 2020 to 2021.
In addition to the BES survey, the employee experience was monitored by means of monthly Pulse surveys. During the exceptional circumstances created by the pandemic, the Pulse surveys are an important tool for monitoring the spirit among the company´s employees. However, as the response rate has declined steadily, the survey implementation method and focus will be re-evaluated going forward.
Based on the previous year´s BES survey, the focus areas selected for 2021 were tools, processes, the renewal of the organization´s working methods, workload and the development of critical competencies. In addition to communications related to the exceptional circumstances, communications activity regarding the status of business operations and the general picture were increased.
The special development themes that were identified on the basis of the results of the BES survey in 2021 include engaging the commitment of employees and strengthening the employer image, competence development, managerial work and leadership. Process development will also continue. The challenges that are identified include engaging the commitment of newly recruited employees during the exceptional circumstances and remote work, and the employee experience of new recruits will be assessed in more detail by means of a separate survey.
Supervisory Work and Strengthening the Employer Image
Remote work has changed the nature of supervisory work, making it necessary to pay particular attention to this area. Leadership coffee meetings held every three weeks are one example of the measures taken by Bittium to support supervisory work.
Bittium Leader for Projects, a training program that promotes coaching-style leadership for project managers and team leaders, was launched near the end of the year when the Covid-19 situation made it possible to carry out training events in person, which supports networking between the participants. The training program consists of five training modules. The training began as in-person training with three groups. The plan is to continue the training with two new groups next year. Each group has 1520 participants.
Bittium´s external employer image is also strengthened by the open-for-all webinars launched in the fall. Four webinars were organized in the fall. Their themes focused on generating added value for customers in different industries. The plan is for the webinar series to continue in 2022.
The employees´ views of Bittium´s attractiveness as an employer were assessed by means of the BES survey in 2021. Communications materials related to recruitment were developed to better communicate Bittium´s strengths, internal culture and team spirit. The employer image will also be measured by means of an external employer image survey in 2022.
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.