In developing social responsibility, our goal is to continuously improve the well-being of our staff, the working conditions of the people who work in our supply chain and the safety of our products.
We had 359 employees on average at Berner Ltd. in Finland in 2018 (2017: 383). Our goal is to be a responsible and interesting employer and an attractive workplace. The development of job satisfaction is also an important focus area for us. We enhance job satisfaction through leadership development and by improving the operations of our work communities.
Responsibility for employees is based on our values
Our HR practices and principles are based on our values — work, integrity and humanity — and they form the foundation of our responsibility for employees. Our common practices guide our operations with regard to recruitment, orientation, leadership, personnel development and remuneration, among other things. We also have practices and principles that enhance the work community’s operations and well-being.
Berner Group’s Code of Conduct reflects our values. The Code of Conduct guides all of our day-to-day operations in every country we do business in. The Code covers our key responsibilities and the principles we are committed to observing as an organization and as individual employees. Each employee has the right — and the obligation — to comply with our Code of Conduct.
A year of new beginnings
Berner had a busy year in terms of personnel news and new appointments. Our successful recruitment efforts brought a lot of new expertise into the organization. Over 50 new employment relationships were established during the year.
The Berner Pro business, in particular, welcomed several new employees. One of the new recruits is Jere Kujanpää. As an expert in Berner Pro’s laboratory equipment sales unit, his wide-ranging and diverse duties include sales work as well as preparing customer analyses and future investments for customers in the bio and food industry. He also maintains contact with principals.
“I didn’t know much about the job in the early stages of the recruitment process, but the fact that this was a job at Berner was enough to pique my interest. Berner is a wonderful family company with an impressive history, and it is able to offer just the kinds of opportunities I want for my future career. As a diversified company, it can provide extensive opportunities for training and development as well as excellent tools, such as the demo laboratory at our office, which makes my work and customer meetings a lot easier,” Jere says, summarizing his first impressions of Berner.
Jussi Petäjä was appointed as Category Manager in Berner’s consumer brand business in the first half of 2018. He is responsible for brands in the gardening product category, ranging from fertilizers to insect and rodent control solutions. Jussi felt the job was a good fit with his entrepreneurial character. His decision was also influenced by Berner’s values and background as a family company. Jussi appreciates Berner’s open-minded and future-oriented attitude, which he says is reflected in the development of new circular economy products and the continuous pursuit of innovative solutions, for example.
Both men are enthusiastic about their new roles and they believe the work community is a significant factor in job satisfaction:
“I came in with high expectations, but they have actually been exceeded in the first few months. What I like best are the positive atmosphere and work community. This is an organization full of professionals,” Jere says. Jussi shares his view of Berner’s positive and open atmosphere: “Our work community is characterized by an open and dialogue-oriented culture. We develop things together and everyone’s ideas are welcomed. I am frankly amazed by how active the discussions are in our internal training events, for example!”
Occupational health and safety
Healthy employees are a precondition for successful operations. We offer a broad range of employee benefits for our personnel. We promote employee well-being by providing high-quality occupational health services, supporting the sporting and cultural activities of our employees as well as subsidizing their commute.
In 2018, we also introduced Better Shape, a well-being service that allows everyone at Berner to comprehensively monitor and develop their well-being through a convenient mobile application. We also participated in the Stair Days campaign to encourage our employees to make small healthy choices in daily life and boost their incidental exercise.
We got on our bikes to improve our fitness and help people in Syria
In 2018, we again participated in the Kilometrikisa cycling challenge and made a related donation to the Chain Reaction charity campaign. As part of the Chain Reaction campaign, which operates under the light-hearted cycling competition, we promised to donate one euro to the Red Cross for every 25 kilometers of bicycle riding by our employees The funds were allocated to medical aid and health promotion for victims of the war in Syria. Our total cycling distance in 2018 was 13,719 kilometers.
We invest in functionality, comfort and ergonomics at our business premises. Our head office is a mobile multi-space office where employees can choose their workstation based on their agenda for the day. The possibilities range from an open workspace to a quiet room or café. At our production plant in Heinävesi, we focused on improving ergonomics during the year by investing in hydraulic lifting platforms. We also organized training on working methods in cooperation with an occupational physiotherapist with the aim of improving workplace ergonomics. We also conducted a Healthy at Work survey in cooperation with our occupational healthcare partner. Carried out once every three years, the survey helps develop the operations of our work community and supports the work ability of our personnel through individual feedback.
Employee and leadership development
We want to ensure the development of employee competence and good leadership. Good leadership at Berner refers to operating in accordance with our values and allocating human resources appropriately to support the achievement of business objectives.
We emphasize diversity and take the age, gender, family situation and work experience of our employees into consideration in management. Diversity management enhances well-being at work and enables the wide-ranging utilization of different experiences, views, skills and ways of working in our work community.
We support the success and development of our managerial work through supervisor training and by conducting regular 360-degree leadership appraisals. The purpose of the appraisals is to ensure that our leadership experience corresponds to our values. We conducted a 360-degree appraisal for all of our supervisors in 2018. Following the appraisals, we held feedback sessions for supervisors and work communities in line with our HR practices. Based on the feedback sessions, the supervisors prepared personal leadership development plans to support their continued development.
Every Berner employee has the right and the obligation to participate in an annual development discussion. In the development discussion, the employee and the supervisor together prepare a personal career and development plan. Our remuneration practices are based on the targets set for work. We measure the targets and their achievements regularly during the year.
We also maintain and develop the ICT skills and industry-specific subject-matter expertise of our personnel through various training courses. In 2018, we also organized occupational health and safety training as well as training on negotiation skills for our employees.
Berner’s fourth JET training program began
In 2018, we started our fourth Specialist Qualification in Management (JET) training program, which improves skills related to the management and development of personnel, customer relationships, networks and production. We implement the training program in cooperation with the training service provider Verutum and the training program is managed by Berner’s steering group. We have previously implemented JET training programs in 2007–2008, 2012–2013 and 2015–2017.
The key theme of Berner’s customized JET training in 2018 was customer relationship management. The training also covered other management themes, such as personnel management, network management, project management and process management. The training program consisted of classroom instruction days, in addition to which the JET students produced interim assignments and a more extensive development project. Their work was guided by internal mentors and the assignments and the progress of the development project were evaluated by appraisers designated for each participant. The 18-month training program will be completed in early 2020.
Inno training continued
We continued to work with the Helsinki Apprenticeship Office and the training service provider Verutum to organize innovation training geared towards a specialist qualification in service and product development. The focus of the training program was on the creation of new business opportunities, commercialization and process development. In 2018, about twenty enthusiastic Berner employees continued to work on their Inno projects using customer-driven product and service methods. The participants got together to celebrate the end of the training program in early 2019.
– “For me, the biggest takeaway from the Inno training program was the courage to voice my thoughts and ideas and the ability to refine them based on feedback from others. I also really enjoyed working with Berner employees representing various job roles, and I have continued to collaborate with these colleagues after the end of the training program. Having shared goals and working together on our studies created a very strong team spirit in the training group,” says Marketing Coordinator Heidi Selin, describing her experience of the innovation training program.
Equality and diversity
We expect everyone at Berner to be supervisors, colleagues and subordinates who act in accordance with our values. They are the starting point of our orientation training and work community training initiatives.
We have a zero tolerance policy with regard to inappropriate conduct and harassment. No such cases were reported last year. We ensure the equality and diversity of our personnel by producing an annual personnel report. We also revised our Code of Conduct in 2018 and began designing a related online training course for our personnel. The training will be implemented in 2019.
Berner joined the Work Does Not Discriminate campaign
We joined Work Does Not Discriminate, a campaign by the Confederation of Finnish Industries aimed at promoting open and non-discriminatory workplace culture. The purpose of the campaign was to invite Finns to think about their attitudes and make equality in working life self-evident. Along with Berner, the campaign was joined by a wide range of companies of different sizes, representing various industries. We wanted to play a part in highlighting equality as an important theme in working life and in Finnish work communities.
“Our core values of work, integrity and humanity have been part of Berner since the company was first established. To us, these values mean that all of our employees are valuable and equal as people, regardless of their position or background, and they must be given equal opportunities to perform well in their work,” says HR Manager Heli Rissanen.
Berner Ltd as an employer in 2018
Average number of personnel 2018
Employment relationships valid until further notice
New employment relationships total
Arrival turnover rate of personnel
Departure turnover rate of personnel
New employment relationships
Number of new employment relationships valid until further notice54
New fixed-term employment relationships12
Part-time child care leave4
Other part-time work5
Age of retirement64 y
Years of service
Occupational diseases and injuries
|Injuries at work trip||8||4||5||7||2|
|Injuries at work||16||11||16||14||14|
Engaging employees in innovation
One of our most important development projects in 2018 was innovation, and we implemented several innovation-promoting operating methods during the year.
Launched in the first half of the year, Ideabox is a tool that allows all employees to submit ideas for further development. The power of our internal idea incubator lies in its transparency and openness: anyone can react to, comment on and develop other people’s ideas. This ensures that the ideas stay alive after they have been submitted. Every idea entered in Ideabox is also reviewed by an evaluation group on a quarterly basis. Ideabox enables us to make agile use of the potential within our highly competent employees in the development of new ideas.
We also gave out Idea of the Year and Innovation of the Year awards for the first time in 2018. Launched in late 2017, the competition is open to employees and aimed at identifying the best idea and best innovation of the year. Berner’s Executive Board evaluates the proposals and decides the winners. In each of the two categories, the winning team wins a prize of EUR 1,500 to spend together. The winning teams are also awarded trophies that are passed on from one year to the next.
– “The competition is a good way to highlight the competence of our employees and partners. Good ideas and innovations are created through close collaboration. A culture of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit are important themes for us,” says Head of Department Maria Svinhufvud, who is responsible for the implementation of the competition.
Berner again took part in the Innovate or Die competition
We also accelerated innovation through cooperation with students late in the year by participating in the Innovate or Die competition for students in higher education. Started by young entrepreneurs studying in Jyväskylä, the competition invites student teams representing various fields to take on assignments related to the business challenges of real-life companies. Originally built on the foundations laid by its predecessor, the Idis-kisa competition, Innovate or Die has been organized since 2013, and Berner took part for the second time in 2018.
The competition invites students to use entrepreneurial and innovative thinking and provides the participating businesses with an effective way of sourcing new solutions for their current challenges based on the insights from students from various fields of study.
– “We were again satisfied with what we got from the event. An event like this, organized in an environment that promotes creativity, brings students and businesses together for a couple of days in a very fun way,” says HR Generalist Anne Kesänen, who was responsible for Berner’s assignment in the competition.
The competition was held at Himos Arena in the form of an intensive two-day event. Berner’s assignment was related to employer branding. Before the actual event, the students were provided with information on Berner as a company along with background material for the assignment.
Responsible supply chain
Our responsible purchasing is based on our Supplier Code of Conduct, which covers topics including human rights, non-discrimination, working hours and wages, freedom of association and the prohibition of the use of child labor and forced labor. We require our suppliers to commit to compliance with our Code of Conduct.
We engage in active dialogue with our suppliers regarding the responsibility of the supply chain.
We have commissioned an assessment by an external consultant to determine development areas related to the assurance of responsibility in our supply chain. We will start to work on the further development of our responsible purchasing in 2019.
Partnerships and sponsorships
Berner Ltd engages in long-term cooperation with selected partners and strives to be an active and responsible member of society.
We joined the UN Global Compact sustainability initiative to mark our commitment to promoting responsible ways of working in all of our operations and in every country we operate in. By joining the initiative, we committed to observing its ten principles in our strategy, culture and day-to-day operations. The ten principles concern human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption.
We have joined the S Group’s Big Deal campaign by making a joint commitment with other partner companies to reduce emissions by a million metric tons between 2015 and 2030.
Work Does Not Discriminate
Berner is a member of Work Does Not Discriminate, a campaign by the Confederation of Finnish Industries aimed at changing attitudes and reducing discrimination in Finnish working life. By joining the Work Does Not Discriminate campaign, Berner has made a commitment to promoting a non-discriminatory workplace culture and wants to do its share to highlight the important theme of equality in working life.
Our Baltic Sea commitment to the BSAG
We are continuing our efforts to improve the well-being of the Baltic Sea through our Baltic Sea commitment to the Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG). We are committed to developing ecological product innovations through circular economy solutions and we are investigating new opportunities for recycling nutrients to support sustainable development in both home gardening and professional agriculture. We also donate a proportion of the price of each GreenCare Ympäristön Ystävä fertilizer product we sell to support the protection of the Baltic Sea.
Does it Have the Key Flag
As a Finnish family company, we take pride in supporting Finnish work. XZ, LV and Herbina are examples of our well-known Finnish brands that participated in the Does it Have the Key Flag campaign by the Association for Finnish Work. There are a total of 405 Key Flag products among Berner’s Finnish brands.
Supporting health and sports
We have supported Finland’s Veterans’ Federation and Mannerheim Cross of Liberty bearers for several years. We work with the Finnish Heart Association to increase awareness of the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. We are a supporting member of the Finnish Pain Association. We also support the Cancer Society of Finland’s fundraising every year by donating products.
We have also provided extensive support to sports through partnerships with the Finnish Tennis Federation, Finnish Bandy Federation, Finnish Gymnastics Federation and the Finnish Floorball League. We also support the events organized by the Finnish Handicapped Sports and Exercise Association VAU.
Our brands are also active in providing support in areas including children’s health and youth employment. We participate in numerous events by donating products.