Dell, Slovakia: Training, health and well-being, flexible working practices
Dell Inc. is a multinational supplier of information technology (IT) products and services to countries worldwide. In 2002, the company established a branch in Slovakia, serving clients in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The group’s headquarters are based in the UK and its manufacturing facilities in Ireland. Dell ranks second in the European market, and employs some 12,520 staff in Europe. Its revenue for the last four quarters amounted to $11.8 billion (about €9.2 billion).
The main activities of the Slovakian plant are IT sales and technical support for more than 20 countries. As of the end of September 2005, it employed a total of 1,033 workers, whose average age was 27 years. The specific age profile of the company can be attributed to the nature of the sector itself: IT products and support services require thorough knowledge of high-tech products, modern working methods and management systems. In the short history of this Slovakian branch, it has mainly attracted qualified staff who have just finished their studies. The company’s ratio of men to women is 55:45, and the qualification profile of employees is high. One of the qualification requirements is a high level of language competence, as the majority of clients are either English or German speaking. As the company is a multinational corporation, its general manager and executive board are based abroad. Some activities of the Slovakian office are outsourced, for example, maintenance and cleaning.
Preparation for a works council is underway in the company, to institutionalise previous informal discussions in social dialogue. The social dialogue is not covered by an agreement between the employer and employees, but is smooth and constructive.
Good practice today
The company defines its corporate culture as a ‘winning culture’, and insists that there are no prejudices regarding age or gender equality in any of its personnel policies.
It sponsors a community of networking groups formed by employees with common interests in areas such as ethnicity, gender, nationality, lifestyle and sexual orientation. These groups offer Dell employees the opportunity to network with other employees from the company, while providing encouragement and an enhanced sense of belonging through informal mentoring, professional and community events, and access to personal and professional development and growth. Networking groups help to foster a more inclusive work environment, improve communication among employees and enhance the understanding of all employees about the value of diversity.
Training measures, offered free of charge to all employees, have also been introduced to increase working abilities so that they are more compatible with company needs, taking into consideration the employees’ professional growth and career progression.
In addition to training, the company grants several benefits to all employees, aimed at improving their health and well-being. These benefits include a free preventive medical check-up and regular access to sports and fitness centres as well as to cultural events.
Other human resource (HR) policy measures, such as flexible working hours and part-time assignments, are also available to all employees, although the main target group in this respect is generally students who want to work for the company after they graduate.
The company’s wage policy is strictly focused on the position, responsibility and performance of the individual employee. It continues to advertise for new positions and, in fact, experiences certain shortages in this respect, especially of highly qualified staff with good language competence.
Despite the wide range of benefits offered by the company, the rate of employee turnover is high, at 24% in the last six months; however, some of the staff have left either because they were not able to fulfil the duties or handle the intensity of work, or were not sufficiently committed to the job.
HR development is considered a vital component of the company’s work policy. All training sessions, including specialised courses and manager training, are published on the internal intranet and any employee can take part if the training fits their personal development plan. All personnel policy measures require a lifelong learning dimension. In general, the training and educational activities for employees lead to improved services and help to integrate the Slovakian branch further into this international company.
Contact: Michaela Sosenková and Zuzana Hollá, HR department