“A single CLA for the metal industry is no longer relevant”

Diane Tuinebreijer, Director Human Resources, Wärtsilä Netherlands

‘I think it's fair to say that the metal and technology sector is reasonable conservative. I'm talking about the compartmentalised thinking when it comes to job descriptions. Obviously, there are elements of knowledge that are essential to jobs that you can't ignore, and that people have to fundamentally have at their disposal. But I believe we should be looking much more at the learning capacity and competences that people have. Not with the aim of turning technicians into something as rare as five-legged sheep, but more with the realisation that evolving to a management function requires different competences than just good technical skills. That is a crucial point, certainly given the transition in which the sector finds itself.’

'We are edging more and more towards co-creation with clients”, she says. “The market will never be the same as it was before the recent crisis years. Demand is permanently lower, but more importantly, it's different. Companies like ours can no longer dictate to the market as we did in the past. Instead, we see that technology is ensuring that producer and client are gradually converging. For example, we can help ships to dock automatically, by remote control. Or carry out underwater repairs, so that a ship no longer has to go in dry dock. That saves a huge amount of time and money. In the entire development process of ships and power plants too, there is more exchange of ideas and co-development going on. I believe there are countless opportunities to be found there, as long as we and our clients are open to them. We put together internal task forces aimed at specific clients, in order to optimise the service from every possible discipline.'

This whole transition is taking place in a world that is mobile in an even broader sense. “That's certainly true for my professional field”, says Tuinebreijer. “In a country like the Netherlands, you can see that employees are attaching more and more value to the ‘purpose’ of the company. Wärtsilä's ‘purpose’ is to enable sustainable societies through the use of smart technologies. This is where what goes around comes around: where once the ship owner made their decisions mainly from a point of view of costs, now you see that social aspects are also playing a part. Take inclusivity, for example, and contributions to environment and climate goals. In addition, more flexibility in work is becoming increasingly important, for both men and women. In the Netherlands, we work hard within certain hours.

“More flexibility in work is becoming increasingly important, for both men and women”

I know that there are other countries where they tackle this differently, resulting almost ‘unnoticed’ in a better combination of tasks being realised in both work and private life. It sometimes seems as though part-time working in the Netherlands is necessary for many people, simply because of the structures we have in place for the layout of our lives here. In some other countries, for example, people are more flexible with working hours and working from home doesn't exist, even though it does happen. That's not necessarily better, but it might help if we Dutch were prepared to look differently at the position of work in our lives. Without wanting to regulate it all beforehand. In that context, I think it would be good to take a look at the dynamic in the Metal and Technology sector. The differences between companies that are a part of that sector are only becoming greater, and yet we continue to try to cover all that with a single CLA. In my opinion, that's no longer the most suitable form.”

New market conditions and the rapid technological developments make new demands of people, within Wärtsilä too. Tuinebreijer: “We mustn't underestimate just how fundamentally work is changing. I find the impact of that quite intense. We're asking people for loyalty and commitment in a movement in which they can't always predict the consequences. That can be somewhat threatening. In response to this insight, we started a project in 2017 called ‘Step Ahead’. It's a long-term project aimed at giving employees control over their own lives as much as possible, so they can respond to the movement of the changing world. We stimulate people to work on their resilience and flexibility. It's their own responsibility to make sure that they're able to stay in the race. We try to coach the employees as well as possible by way of training, and also in the development of culture. In a company that operates globally, you're sure to come across some important cultural differences. To give you a couple of examples: an introvert Finn is not at all the same as an introvert American and an Asian colleague is not accustomed to giving feedback, certainly not to a superior. So, there's no ‘one size fits all’ programme with which to give direction to people’s development and mindset. Something that works in one country is absolutely not done in another country. We try to offer tailoring in the way in which people can develop personally, with programmes such as ‘Step Ahead'.”