5. A year of advances. Generating wealth and well-being
The huge growth of our organisation over the last few years has had the effect of reinforcing our endeavour to make a reality of the corporate values that distinguish us as an advanced company where dealing with people is concerned. Our impetus in involving people in the company´s capital, management and results is crucial for understanding this expansion.
We will keep on improving... putting our faith in basic issues like innovation, the management model, participation and business culture seen as major strategic challenges, and giving people greater prominence through effective participation in teamwork and the work of the organisation.
Eroski understands the growth of the organisation as being the combination of several factors:
From this definition of our business strategy, it is clear how important people are within the group, and how much we wish to extend this awareness to all the organisations with which we are connected.
The Eroski Group works to guarantee respect for human rights, and this has enabled us to achieve and maintain SA 8000:2001 Standard certification, which demonstrates our direct implication with this awareness and the fact that we promote it in our suppliers.
Owners and key figures
The Eroski Group has developed a company organisation model based on the ownership and prominence of its people as worker members. Each person who joins our organisation therefore does so as a member of our Cooperative or a member of Gespa (in the non-cooperative area), and has shares in the company capital, management and goals and in its profits. This situation, whereby a limited liability company benefits from the determination of its workers to be proprietors of the company, is a new experience in Spain.
The worker members being shareholders in the company means that we are decisive agents in the decision-making process and in the company's strategic development. Represented by our democratically-elected delegates, we can formulate proposals and participate and vote in the adoption of the management authorities' agreements.
In 2004 our staff amounted to 30,101 people, of whom 12,298 are worker members and Group proprietors.
The proposals or suggestions put to us will be studied and voted by an internal democracy system based on peer-to-peer government participated in by consumer members and worker members on a 50% basis.
Our corporate values include wage solidarity and participation as basic principles and characteristics. The only criteria for establishing wage levels are assessment of the tasks and skills necessary and the exercise of professional proactive attitudes to continuous improvement. Two assessment manuals are used for this purpose by the Assessment Committee, elected by the Board of Directors and the Company Council. Wage solidarity, taken as meaning a narrower salary range, implies that those in posts higher up on the hierarchy have to give over part of their remuneration in accordance with a more even scale, so that the posts of lesser responsibility have a higher wage than average in the sector.
The Group's interaction and proximity with our customers and consumers is based on their participating as members in our ultimate management authority in the same proportion as the worker members. At the close of the financial year 2004 there were a total of 356,590 Consumer Members, throughout the whole of Spain.
Both the consumer members and worker members are kept informed of the organisation's development through the Company Board Meetings, held on a yearly basis. The consumers, who are involved in the group's strategic management, attend these meetings to receive information and collaborate to the management of the business with their suggestions and contributions.
The figure of the Member/Friend of the Eroski Foundation was created to represent the consumers in areas where there are no consumer members. The number of Member/Friends of the Eroski Foundation tripled during 2003 and 2004, reaching a figure of 137,396 people by the end of 2004.For quality employment
Total commitment to our work
In 2004 we continued our advancement in the creation of improvement programmes for getting the workers involved in the management and improving the quality of life at work. This policy has enabled us to attain better results in the Staff Satisfaction Survey, with a score of 3.34, which reflects the fact that there is a healthy working atmosphere and is an excellent evaluation by the Spanish Corporate Reputation Watch.
MERCO, the Spanish Corporate Reputation Watch, assesses the reputation of Spanish business agents and companies through the Corporate Reputation Index. The variables it uses as a basis for calculating a company's reputation are the economic and financial results, the quality of the product or service, the corporate culture and the quality of working life, together with the ethics and corporate social responsibility, the global dimension, international presence and innovation.
The Eroski Group has received an outstanding classification for quality of working life, ethics and social responsibility and innovation, improving on the score obtained in previous years. Other notable values were quality of product and service and economic results.
In 2004 we came 33rd in the general index of the Spanish Corporate Reputation Watch (MERCO), our rating having improved on previous years, and our Chairman has been classed among the 100 most reputable business leaders, in 83rd place.Generating employment
Our staff increase of 909 people in the year 2004 reflects our continuity and sustainability as regards job creation over the years. The Eroski Group maintains a strong expansion policy in all its lines of business, with 159 new establishments being opened in 2003 and 113 in 2004, which means we are now present all over Spain and also in France, and in many autonomous communities we are the organisation generating the most employment. We also make local and regional agreements, such as those signed with the Guipúzcoa Regional Government and Cáceres City Council to encourage generation of employment and training of the population.
The Eroski Group is expanding, not only as regards new centres opening but also through involvement in the areas in which we become established: people are from the places in which we work. Local people are the ideal choice as they are well aware of the characteristics of the area.Quality and stability
At Eroski we are proud to be able to fulfil one of our fundamental goals for yet another year, the creation of quality, stable, participative employment. We continue to work towards reducing the percentage of people with temporary contracts and sub-contracted workers, and the inclusion of less-favoured groups.
In 2003 the Eroski Cooperative made a major effort and took on almost 800 new people, mainly as shelf-stockers at our hypermarkets.
The gradual increase in the number of workers becoming worker members is also notable, with their numbers growing at a greater percentage rate than the numbers of staff themselves. In 2004 the worker members increased by 13.15% while the staff increased by 3.11%. This is proof of the fact that the company's philosophy is to create stable, participative employment.
Eroski also believes in youth and dynamism as opposed to the general tendency towards economic activity, with the number of adult profile employees having increased by 3.2% in 2004, while juvenile employment descended.
The Eroski staff have an average age of 36 and an average seniority in the company of over 8 years, which shows that in many cases we generate first jobs that are stable and provide an opportunity to continue working in a quality job with a high degree of participation as a Group member.
Eroski gives great importance to employing women and wishes to give them even more significance, which is a reversal of the current job market trend where, according to Labour Ministry data, women account for 56.7% of the unemployed.
In the same way, in all the Group's companies women occupy more posts than men, with 76% female staff. As part of our equal opportunities philosophy, a high number of posts of responsibility are occupied by women, and the number of management posts they hold is increasing day by day.
Eroski's commitment to generating stable, quality employment is measured throughout the organisation by surveys which assess the degree of satisfaction and our adaptation to individual needs.
In the opinion of the 13,582 participants in the survey (over 60% of the total staff), the main aspect considered susceptible to improvement is remuneration and recognition, and we are therefore undertaking specific measures with a new Assessment System and an ambitious Leadership programme, which will include recognition, amongst other aspects. All the other factors are satisfactory, with the Very Satisfied classification being awarded to Working Atmosphere (3.73), Environmental Impact Policy (3.60) and Integration in the Company (3.59). The percentage distribution of people satisfaction was as follows:Professional development
Our quick growth and diversification strategy requires the empowerment of our people in two aspects. Firstly, everyone's participation in the running of a larger organisation gives rise to big challenges, requiring development of personal skills and aptitudes for posts with a greater content and responsibility, always backed by continuing training programmes adapted to the developing needs. And also, the philosophy of internal promotion within the group gives rise to the need for a profile of flexible, cross-disciplinary people who will transmit the knowledge they have acquired in different areas as they perform their duties, thus enriching the organisation.
In addition to investment in training new recruits, we have continued to train the people already forming part of the organisation, as a key factor for their internal promotion or reinforcement of their knowledge of the company's activity in general. All this has enabled 56% of posts to be covered through internal promotion this year.
As regards training, we would stress the Training Programmes we have run on the subjects of Occupational Risk Prevention, Knowledge for Excellent Job Performance, Corporate Training and Training for Continuous Improvement.
Also, in 2004 an intensive Leadership Programme was developed by means of 63 courses attended by 939 people, with a total of 26,288 hours of training being given. The aim of this was to provide our managers with the skills for directing their teams better, placing the emphasis on communication, affectivity and interpersonal relations.
At the same time, as a result of our commitment to people satisfaction and the creation of quality employment, some courses and training activities in the Basque language were proposed and given in accordance with the personal and professional characteristics of our staff, in order to better their situation and attend to their expectations.Company benefits
Eroski's great concern for the quality of the jobs we provide has led to policies for tailoring them to the individual needs that condition the way in which we can best carry out our work. We have therefore developed a policy for conciliating work and personal life which gradually includes more measures to optimise people's performance and satisfaction, with a personalised design and approach.
A series of measures have therefore been devised, of benefit to all those belonging to the Group, providing they comply with certain requirements. Access does not depend on the level of the person's post within the company and the equality criterion extends to all those making up the organisation.
The measures include flexibility of working hours, and workers can apply for reduced hours, voluntary unpaid leave for longer than provided for by law, adapting the working week to 20 and 28 hours for those in responsible posts, etc. This would not imply any loss of professional category within the Group, and the complementary measures needed for their post to be covered would be taken.
Basically, we are people, and we therefore understand the concerns and needs that must be attended to for quality posts to be generated. Our degree of participation and commitment to the organisation is a result of the response to our demands, and collaboration for the design of new measures to facilitate the conciliating of work and personal life to enable jobs to be done better.Occupational Risk Prevention
Our aim is to improve working conditions on both a physical and organisational level, and we have dedicated much effort to ergonomic studies on significant tasks from a preventive perspective, post modelling and psycho-social intervention, assessing risk levels and organising conferences on emotional control. Also, to ensure a level of protection similar to the one our workers benefit from, we have begun to adapt and coordinate our business activity in accordance with the laws on this matter.
During 2004, over 9,000 people participated in the training activities on prevention, and 47,000 training hours were dedicated to these matters.
As regards Health Monitoring,, we have continued with our commitment and have implemented a Basic Health Unit in Murcia in addition to our existing units. In all of them we continue to carry out medical check-ups in accordance with risk, medical consultations and counselling, and also educational and health promotion activities.
These measures, together with other occupational risk prevention activities, has enabled us to reduce the incidence rate (i.e. the number of accidents per 1000 workers) in comparison to past years, with a figure of 70.96.
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