STRENGTHENING EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT

CHALLENGE

The success of Virbac is directly linked to the engagement of its employees, an engagement that stems from the role played by the women and men at the heart of the company and its major decisions. The challenge is ongoing for a company that has to change its method of operating in line with globalization, market changes and new technologies, while adhering to its client proximity model. In such an environment, the issue of human capital plays a major role in the company’s strategy, our ambition being to support change in organizations and professions, as well as in the specific needs of populations, by building a strong partnership with managers and all employees.

STRATEGY

In the area of social responsibility, respect for people has been one of the key values championed by the company’s founder. Virbac is committed to preserving and fostering this legacy by complementing it with ambitious policies aimed at developing its human capital. Virbac’s strategy in this area can be seen in many policies and actions aimed at reaching the following objectives: safety and irreproachable working conditions that protect employee health, maintaining a real social dialogue, a favorable compensation and social welfare policy for employees with the lowest wages, individualized skills development, internal professional and geographic mobility and promoting an environment conducive to diversity and equal treatment amongst our employees.

RISKS

There are several types of key risks associated with a drop in employee engagement. Examples of key risks identified include: - risks to the Group’s ability to attract, develop and keep the talents and skills it needs to bring its strategy to fruition; - risks to employee safety while doing their jobs and the Group’s ability to ensure the workplace well-being needed for everyone to perform to their highest potential; - risks to the health of employees due to insufficient mastery of certain materials used in the composition of medicines or used in the R&D or production processes; - risks of unfair treatment amongst our employees based on age, gender, nationality or disability. For more information on the risks associated with this CSR challenge, please refer to the chapter on risk factors (risks related to the ability to attract and retain key skills and risks related to the use of hazardous materials and HSE risk (pages 62 and 63).

Virbac’s policy as it pertains to this human capital issue is based on three complementary pillars:

  • training, skills development, performance compensation;
  • well-being in the workplace and recognition;
  • mobility and diversity aspects that provide a valuable resource for the Group.

Virbac continues to pay close attention to the opinion of its employees and looks to them to define its policies and the areas of improvement so as to unite employees around strong values, thus increasing each and everyone’s commitment and motivation. All employees regularly participate in a satisfaction survey that allows them to confidentially express their expectations on a very broad range of topics, many of which involve the human capital CSR challenge. Analysis of survey results serve as a basis for identifying key actions to undertake.

For all social performance indicators that follow, the scope includes the Group’s key subsidiaries (84% of the total number of employees): South Africa, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Spain, United States, France, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Vietnam and Uruguay. These social indicators cover both permanent and temporary contracts.

Communication, recruitment and mobility, training and performance recognition

COMMUNICATION

The ability to work together cross-functionally and at a global level is turning out to be a major issue in meeting increasingly ambitious common goals. Information and communication are essential for Virbac.
This first component is reflected in the improvement in the communication of strategic company-wide decisions made through the use of digital tools that foster the sharing of experiences, knowledge and transversality necessary to the success of the Group’s various strategic projects. Increasing the visibility of the actions carried out within the various departments also makes it possible to enhance Virbac’s expertise, both individually and collectively.

RECRUITMENT AND MOBILITY

In 2018, 610 new employees were hired, compared to 519 in 2017. India, with 184 new recruits, France, with 115 and North America with 53 account for 58% of the total number of new recruits.
In terms of age groups, 47% of new hires are under 30, 46% are between 30 and 50, and 7% are over 50 years of age.
The subsidiary that hires the most young people is India, with 69% of new recruits under 30 years of age (compared to 82% in 2017). North America recruited the most experienced employees, with 55% between 30 and 50 and 23% over 50 years of age.
In terms of gender, India stands out for recruiting a majority of men, as this practice relates to the role of seller, which is typically assumed by males in this country. Developing employees also means offering more career opportunities within the Group. To encourage increased internal and international mobility, practices in this area have been standardized through the development of a full and fair Group-wide policy for international mobility that aims to retain employees worldwide, foster transversality and efficiency through sharing of inter-cultural and inter-professional experiences, in addition to securing key positions by leveraging skills and knowledge transfer internally.

TRAINING AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT

The Virbac Group has in place a skills development policy with a variety of training programs (management, professional efficiency and industry-specific expertise in particular) that aim to maintain employability and develop skills for all employee categories.
Digital Learning plays a major role in the deployment of training paths, combining online learning and practical activities tracked over time (campus innovation, Virbac Business School, Virbac Quality Academy). For example, training expenses in France this year amounted to 2.79% of payroll, or an investment of €1,884,160.

INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT

With respect to performance appraisals, a digital collaborative tool (e-Perf), available in 14 languages, has been rolled out in 33 countries, thus enabling Group-wide alignment of practices and improving the quality of exchanges between managers and employees. Virbac is therefore intensifying its desire for its employees to play a key role in their performance and development, all while responding to business challenges.
The digitization of Perf processes is no substitute for the face-to-face meeting, which is still a special, must experience in the context of employee supervision and support. The vast majority of Group employees are afforded, at a minimum, one annual interview that evaluates their performance over the year and their proficiency in their functions. This interview is also an opportunity to discuss objectives for the following year as well as development needs.

PERFORMANCE RECOGNITION

In France, for example, during the 2018 fiscal year, 100% of employees were compensated at a level above that of the legal minimum wage. The policy for base salaries is set at +5% above the industry minimum for all categories of staff.
In addition, the policy follows a rationale of competitiveness vis-a-vis the life sciences market and is globally at the median for this market. In addition to financial elements related to individual performance compensation, the Virbac Group continues to pay close attention to collective performance compensation plans. For this reason, several mechanisms are already in place, such as a triennial incentive agreement entered into in 2017, and a profit-sharing agreement signed in 2008. Amounts originating from these agreements or voluntary payments can be invested in mutual funds, in the PEE (plan d’épargne entreprise [company or Group savings plan]) or in the Perco (Plan d’épargne pour la retraite collectif [Group retirement savings plan]); as of 2016, unused vacation days can also be paid into the Perco, with a limit of ten days per year.

Well-being at work

HEALTH AND SAFETY

This is a priority area of focus for the Group and has become ingrained in the corporate culture year after year. To boost and further reinforce the safety culture, a Group project was set up with a multi-year action plan. All managers in the industrial organization have been trained. An Intranet tool has also been developed, enabling all employees to access all types of documents about people, facilities and products.
In all countries, numerous measures have been taken regarding employee health and safety, without any formal agreement necessarily being entered into with the trade unions. Concerning the subject of psychosocial risks, the various departments, with the support of the HR teams and the parity group “wellbeing at work”, are moving towards a global approach to quality of life at work. As such, various actions related primarily to working conditions, manager training, and the communication of good practices are being phased-in.
These actions also made it possible to finalize an internal “living better together” charter, a companywide agreement on the right to log-off and a teleworking agreement.

Diversity

The diversity policy aims to ensure equal treatment of staff, encourage variety among people and human relationships, and maintain worker employability. It is built around three key areas of focus: gender equality, disabilities, and age diversity through the intergenerational agreement.

GENDER EQUALITY

For Virbac, job equity between women and men is fundamental and requires that no form of discrimination exists and is tolerated, both in terms of access to employment and promotions, wage policy and other determinants of working conditions.
Globally, Columbia, Spain and the United States are the countries with the fewest adverse gaps for women in all professional categories. On average, the female/ male base salary ratio is equal to 87% for leaders, 90% for managers, 89% for technicians/employees, and 89% for workers.
Regarding pay equity between men and women, actions have been taken to measure the gaps, find the causes and take measures, following the example of France through an agreement signed in 2012 that ensures equality between women and men in their career paths (access to vocational training, pay equity between women and men doing the same job with the same level of skill, and work-life balance).
In 2018, ten countries were given an internal classification tool (grading) that provides improved management of internal equity and a rational approach to external competitiveness, in addition to establishing compensation and benefits policies. The Group regularly conducts company-wide surveys on compensation in order to ensure that it remains competitive in the job market and adjustments are made if necessary.
With regard to recruiting for key positions, priority is given to internal and local candidates. Recruitment decisions (internal or external) are based exclusively on the skills and qualification criteria for the position. The candidate’s nationality or age does not play a role in the decision. However, to the extent possible, Virbac staffs leadership positions with local managers in order to be nearer to clients and the market culture. In 2018, of the sixteen subsidiaries (social scope), 90% of senior managers are local hires and seven subsidiaries have strictly local management.

DISABLED WORKERS

The disabilities agreement, signed in 2014 and renewed in 2017, aims to recruit, integrate and train persons with disabilities; to communicate, raise awareness among employees and managers, and build a network of in-house disability stakeholders acting as ambassadors; to maintain and develop subcontracting activities in partnership with the protected and adapted work sector.

AGE AND CULTURE DIVERSITY

Virbac has always considered the contribution of the various generations and cultures of the countries in which the Group operates to be a real treasure. The Intergenerational Agreement, signed in 2013, aims to permanently integrate young workers, recruit and retain seniors in the workplace and foster intergenerational skills sharing.
Taking a cross-functional approach to these topics related to this major CSR challenge for the Group, adherence by our employees to our values as defined in the code of conduct is a prerequisite for any policy promoting human capital that can only be based on trust. Taking the extended company into account, our partners’ appropriate application regarding rules related to employment practices are taken into consideration by the Virbac departments involved. With regard to strategic suppliers, the Virbac Group has implemented several mechanisms (evaluation questionnaire, in situ visits) to ensure that their social practices are in compliance.

AIMS & INDICATORS

Promoting employee engagement and loyalty

2018 Absentee rate: 2.68%
2018 Staff turnover rate: 14.08%

Leading the roll-out of digitalization in the Group to improve the quality of exchanges and sharing between employees, and a higher level of information on and adoption of key development areas of focus defined by management

100% of Group subsidiaries have implemented e-PERF, a solution developed in-house for conducting annual appraisals, among other things.

Increasing employee safety in the workplace: reduction in work-related accidents, better protection from potentially hazardous materials, improved ergonomics and management of psychosocial hazards

WORKPLACE SAFETY

  • 2018 frequency rate: 5.61
  • 2018 severity rate: 0.17
  • Number of professional illness cases in France in 2018: 3

The frequency rate used is based on French regulations and defined as the number of work accidents that resulted in at least one lost working day, divided by the number of hours worked, multiplied by one million. The severity rate used is based on French regulations and defined as the number of lost days following a work-related accident that resulted in a minimum of one lost work day, divided by the number of hours worked, multiplied by one thousand.

Continuing with training initiatives aimed at improving skills and employability

Number of employees present on 12/31 who have taken at least one training session/total staff on 12/31: 80%

Promoting employee diversity and equality

RATIO OF FEMALE/MALE SALARIES
(by category in %)

  • Leaders: 87%
  • Managers: 90%
  • Technicians/employees: 89%
  • Workers: 89%