Press release, 26 November 2013

Eurofound publishes first findings of the third European Company Survey:

Despite recession, EU companies have difficulties finding workers with the right skills

In the midst of Europe’s greatest recession, 40% of all EU companies have difficulties finding workers with the right skills. For innovative companies, this is even more challenging. This emerges from Eurofound’s third European Company Survey (ECS), launched in Brussels today, which provides a snapshot of human resource management practices, employee participation and social dialogue at the workplace, and performance and innovation. In some countries, both social partnership is strong and a high level of social dialogue is taking place, and there is also extensive innovation in work organisation. In-depth analysis will explore whether and how these phenomena are linked in differing national settings, sectors of activity and company types.

Workplace innovation is increasingly recognised as a driver for reaching the Europe 2020 targets of smart, inclusive and sustainable growth, contributing to creating jobs, developing human capital and boosting productivity. The European Company Survey (ECS) maps what is happening in companies across the European Union.

Over a third of companies and establishments in Europe have introduced innovation measures and report that their financial situation has improved. Changes like product and process innovation or changes in technology at company level are helping firms to be more resilient and exit the recession.

How companies organise their work is important in facilitating innovation, improving performance and ensuring good job quality. The third ECS found that more than two-thirds (68%) of staff monitor external ideas and technological developments for new products, services and processes and almost as many (62%) document good practice or lessons learned so that these may be shared with colleagues. Almost two-thirds of companies and establishments (63%) use some kind of variable pay, and this is most commonly linked to individual performance.

In companies and establishments with a formal employee representation, nine out of ten employee representatives report that they are informed by management about the financial and employment situation.

The survey also found that social partnership is strong and a high level of social dialogue is taking place in Europe’s companies and establishments. It found that almost nine out of ten establishments and companies (88%) have structures in place for employee representation, in which workers are informed about the most important recent decision affecting working conditions. In seven out of ten workplaces (69%), employees are asked to give their views before any decision is taken, and in six out of ten (60%) workplaces employees are involved in joint decision-taking with management over the decision.

The third ECS provides new data on how organisations are organised – in particular, how employees and their representatives are involved in improving work organisation and work processes. In doing so it aims to contribute to a better understanding of how to facilitate economic growth for Member States and better outcomes for employees. It maps practices in establishments with 10 or more employees across the EU28 with regard to work organisation, human resource (HR) practices, employee participation and social dialogue, and how these practices support ‘smart growth’. The fieldwork for the third ECS was carried out in the spring of 2013, involving senior decision-makers responsible for staff and employee representatives in 30,000 companies in 32 countries.

Read more on the new ECS

For further information contact Måns Mårtensson, media manager, on email: or mobile: +353 876 593 507.


The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working conditions (Eurofound) is a tripartite European Union Agency, whose role is to provide knowledge in the area of social and work-related policies. Eurofound was established in 1975 by Council Regulation Council Regulation (EEC) No. 1365/75.

For more information about Eurofound and its work, and free access to all our data and findings, find us on the following social media channels:






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