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Social responsibility – human resources management

Our human resources work focused on two main areas during 2015. Thanks to largely stable staffing levels, one focal area was the integration of employees who joined DVB, as well as those colleagues who moved locations within DVB. Another key aspect of our work was to support managers in promoting staff within their area of responsibility, and to enhance their qualification.

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To fill open positions, we first look for experienced specialists, be it for Transport Finance or for one of our service areas. Accordingly, we generally recruit personnel with the help of recruitment consultants. Fortunately, we have increasingly been able to fill positions through referrals from our own employees, or through unsolicited applications. No recruitment measures are necessary for our trainee programme, as there are plenty of qualified candidates who apply directly.

DVB's focus on diversity is also reflected in our recruitment activities: to the extent possible within the scope of staff selection, we strive to promote a heterogeneous personnel structure at all of DVB's office locations, in terms of nationality, age and gender.

Personnel development

DVB's business environment constantly gives rise to new and complex issues that our organisation has to deal with. The goal of human resources development is to equip managers and staff with the skills to deal with these challenges.

Annual employee reviews are one of our key instruments we use to assess development. These reviews are mandatory, with an execution rate of 100%. They provide a platform for open dialogue between manager and employee, regarding the employee's skills, expertise and potential for development. For this purpose, Group Human Resources provides managers with a discussion guideline that is deliberately kept lean. The guideline serves as orientation for structuring the discussion, leaving scope for further discussion issues. Development measures planned for the employee are noted in the guideline, and are implemented by manager and employee, with support provided by Human Resources.

The range of development measures is wide – including, for instance, learning from colleagues, learning from feedback, or participation in internal and external training courses. We have been offering in-house trainings on presentation skills, negotiation techniques, work efficiency, MS Office and project management, amongst others, in order to provide staff and managers with targeted tools and techniques, to help them in their day-to-day work. It is important for us to offer development measures that are made-to-measure and fit the Bank’s and the individual employee’s needs.

Besides the employee review, the determination of the bonus has been deliberately set up as a separate process. This process applies to all non-tariff employees in Germany and all employees deployed at international locations who hold a title (Assistant Vice President, Vice President, Senior Vice President and Managing Director). Determining bonuses is based on achieving explicit quantitative or qualitative targets that have been mutually agreed between employees and their managers.

Given the complexity of international financing and advisory, we do not train apprentices, but we have been successfully conducting a trainee programme for many years. The 18-month programme covers all the major aspects of our Transport Finance business, including relationship management and loan management.

Qualification programme on corporate finance

We want to provide our clients with more than funding; we also want them to see us as their partner in corporate finance services. Therefore, we ran a comprehensive qualification programme in corporate finance for our Shipping Finance front-line staff in 2015. Support for this programme came from FitchLearning, a renowned international provider of training for the financial industry.

The training programme was specifically designed to fit our training needs and comprised two multi-day modules:

  • In the first module, a subject-matter expert imparted the theoretical fundamentals of corporate finance for the shipping sector, before participants put their knowledge to the test with case examples.

  • The second module built on that knowledge, and helped our relationship managers gain a routine in applying it during everyday operations. Participants also reflected upon the role of a client’s strategic advisor.

Executive development

DVB conducted a management survey amongst all its Senior Vice Presidents and Managing Directors in 2011. The results of this survey showed that the ongoing professional development of management staff is a key aspect of our human resources work. For instance, those surveyed expressed their desire for proactive Human Resources development and for development perspectives, including outside traditional careers.

Our aim is not to centralise the work that managers are responsible for in overseeing, training and developing employees, but rather to better equip those managers for their management duties. That is why in 2013 we developed a training package for managers, to enable them to deploy our development tools in a targeted manner.

The course, which covered several days, focused on the following core topics, and on ways and means to implement them in practice:

  • giving and receiving feedback;
  • discovering talents and promoting them;
  • coaching employees;
  • working on one's own career development.

Based on positive feedback from participants, and with support from the Board of Managing Directors, we ran this training again in 2014 and 2015 to include more managers. When needed, we will schedule further trainings for managers who are just starting to grow into their new executive role or who have only recently joined the Bank.

We see these initiatives as key milestones on the way to qualifying our management team, to develop a corporate culture of open feedback, and to establish a joint vision of management.


DVB's characteristically dynamic approach is embedded in our concept of leadership. Our executive staff need to respond and make decisions quickly and flexibly. DVB's flat hierarchies help decision-makers to respond quickly, precisely and in a targeted manner, even to complex issues or transactions.

Managers, as well as the members of the Board of Managing Directors, are also always accessible under our open-door policy in order to engender internal transparency and an open exchange. Being exposed to challenges that make sense, remaining receptive to new ideas and continuously challenging opinions – these are at the heart of our management concept.

In an enterprise with a manageable number of employees such as DVB, we believe it is more productive to promote a personal approach, offering a high degree of autonomy rather than a top-down management style. Given this background, employee management, training and development are not administered centrally: instead, they are primarily the responsibility of managers. Group Human Resources also provides support.

In concrete terms, this means that we are supporting our managers with hands-on tools to analyse the need for development, to structure employee review discussions, as well as with training proposals and customised advice.

Health and safety at the workplace

Promoting the health of our employees at the workplace is a top priority. A notable positive aspect is our continuously low sick rate, which in 2015 was at 3.2% in our German offices (2014: 2.6%). This figure also includes members of staff of long-term sick leave, i.e. those who have been absent for health reasons for more than 42 days.

We established the Committee for Occupational Health and Safety, to be responsible for the creation, maintenance and development of safe and ergonomic workplaces, as well as the identification of potential risks and the prevention of accidents and work-related health problems. We contribute to a comfortable working environment with modern and high-quality office facilities that foster effective work.

Occupational health consulting is carried out by an external provider in Frankfurt/Main. This company supports the Bank in occupational safety, accident prevention and all other health and safety issues. At a local level, Health and Safety Officers are responsible for risk assessment and management as part of occupational safety, and for enacting measures to prevent work-related health problems.

In 2015, we conducted a first-time assessment of psychological risks at work in Frankfurt/Main and Hamburg. This risk assessment takes all measurable external factors influencing our employees into account. It covers and examines 15 different categories that the German Occupational Health and Safety Act defines as potential sources of psychological stress, such as the personal decision-making competence, the variety of work and the work climate.

Preparations for this risk assessment started in November 2014, when a working group comprising Group Human Resources and members of the local German works council was established. This working group commissioned Hamburg-based Institut für Karriere und Gesundheit (Career and Health Institute; IKAGE) as a renowned advisor with the project. Together, they developed a risk assessment concept. To analyse the work situation as objectively and representatively as possible, the inquiry was conducted through structured group interviews (ten occupation-based groups, each comprising five employees). The service provider anonymised the results of the interviews and rearranged them on a group basis in a way that the answers could not be traced back to individual staff members.

Once all group interviews were concluded, in the summer of 2015, IKAGE analysed the results for each group and each of the 15 categories. Where necessary, they provided advice on how to counter possible risks. The results were then discussed in the works council and presented at a works meeting at headquarters in Frankfurt/Main. During 2016, the parties in the workplace will agree on a few last individual measures.

We offer all employees globally a thorough health check-up, and provide assistance with vaccinations when necessary. To protect our employees in the event of illness, disability or accident, we make an extensive insurance programme available at each of our offices, further supplemented by global policies.

We also assign great importance to a healthy diet of our staff: DVB has handed over the operation of its employee restaurants in Frankfurt/Main and Amsterdam to external service providers. In some locations we provide employees with free coffee, tea, water and fresh fruits.

Collaborating with the works councils

In 2015, we were repeatedly able to swiftly confront new challenges and develop pragmatic solutions. This was only possible thanks to the good co-operation that took place with the SE Works Council, as well as with local Works Councils in Germany and the Netherlands.