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6. February 2019.

An Interview with Romina Ivančić, the Human Resources Director at HEINEKEN Croatia

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“Our corporate strategy is transformed into the goals and operational tasks of all employees, and each of nearly 330 employees is aware of the exact way he or she contributes to the company’s success.”

Could you please give us a short introduction to your organization?
In 2003, Karlovačka pivovara became a part of the large family of HEINEKEN, a global beer manufacturer operating in 70 countries around the world that employs around 80,000 people. We are headquartered in Zagreb and our brewery, located in Karlovac, has a long manufacturing tradition – dating back to 1854.
HEINEKEN’s employees, more than 300 of them, are motivated by a passion for quality, enjoyment of life and respect for both people and nature. We are extremely proud not only of our dear Karlovačko’s long tradition, but also of the rest of our product range, which caters to the tastes of adult beer and cider fans on a number of different occasions. In addition to the Karlovačko light beer, this family of products also includes: Karlovačko Natur Radler shandy (lemon and grapefruit mint flavour), Karlovačko Retro unpasteurized beer, Karlovačko Crno dark lager and, recently, Karlovačko Crna Višnja fruit beer. Furthermore, our portfolio also comprises the international brands Heineken, Amstel Premium Pilsener, Edelweiss, Desperados and Affligem, the Czech lager Krušovice, the Slovenian lager Laško, the Strongbow cider and the Stari Lisac apple cider. Our products are made using top-quality ingredients. We are especially proud of the fact that all the shandies from our Natur line are made of 100 % natural ingredients and do not contain any preservatives, artificial colouring or sweeteners. Furthermore, in the production of Karlovačko, we only use barley malt of domestic origin – that is, barley malt made of 100 % Croatian barley.
Could you describe the vision and mission of your business and explain how your employees contribute to their realization?
HEINEKEN Croatia bases its business on three fundamental principles: natural, sustainable and fair. These are also the main principles on which we base our decisions, whether they are a matter of our relationship towards our business, our partners and suppliers or our employees. Our corporate strategy is transformed into the goals and operational tasks of all employees, and each of nearly 330 employees is aware of the exact way he or she contributes to the company’s success. For instance, each sector or department has its KPIs (key performance indicators) and defined goals, and both the managers and the employees are responsible for achieving them. In addition to this, our vision and mission are reflected in the values and behaviours we expect to see in our employees. Since we care deeply about our employees behaving in accordance with our company values, those behaviours are outlined in our annual goals and personal development plans.
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What can people expect when they join your company? What is the onboarding process like?
We care deeply about employees feeling good at HEINEKEN from the very start, as well as about them becoming a part of our team as soon as possible. This is why we do not leave people to their own devices, instead following and supporting them throughout the so-called onboarding process. Before each employee joins the company, we devise an introductory education plan for them, which includes all the introductory information about the company, the work environment, values, work instructions, and all forms of training that are necessary for the employee to start work in his or her new position. Due to this, the onboarding process lasts longer than a day – depending on the position, it can take months. So, new employees can expect to be introduced to the key processes in our industry, meet their colleagues, learn about their department and all other departments in the company, be informed about the rules and guidelines, and to be included in some relevant meetings.
Which strategies does your company employ in order to ensure the development of its employees? Which models are implemented to allow the best workers to stay in the company and achieve satisfaction?
Each position comes with a defined set of tasks and expectations, as well as the required competencies. As a part of the work performance management process, we define goals for the coming period and some behaviour-related expectations – how those goals should be achieved. In accordance with this, both the employee and his or her superior define the areas of development. These areas can be focused not only on professional knowledge and skills, but also on the so-called “soft skills”. All of our employees, whether they work in production or as department managers, have their own developmental plans, which means that the company has devised some developmental measures that support their further development, making sure they are satisfied and efficient in what they do. We hold on to the best workers by recognizing their contributions and dedication, we invest in their growth, support them in achieving their professional ambitions and, when they are ready to take the next step in their careers, we promote them to a position within the company. We expect the managers and the employees we are preparing for managerial functions to be role models, to inspire and engender change; this is why we make significant investments in the development of leadership.
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Sustainability and corporate social responsibility have become an essential aspect of all business practices. How do you ensure those in your organization?
HEINEKEN has made sustainability and social responsibility its key business priorities. Our sustainability strategy is called “Brewing a Better World” and it focuses on six areas: advocating responsible consumption, growing with communities, promoting health and safety, protecting water resources, reducing CO2 emissions and sourcing sustainably. In all of those areas, we have been achieving excellent results, which we regularly present to our key stakeholders in our annual Sustainability Report.
We are focused on running a green business and reducing our environmental impact. Since 2017, we have been using ZelEn to power our brewery, meaning that we have been using power obtained exclusively from sustainable sources. Last year, we added a warehouse to our brewery constructed in accordance with the principles of green construction, which means that the environmental impact was reduced in all the stages of construction and use. On the roof of this green warehouse, which is compliant with the A+ energy class, we installed 1,380 solar panels, which will help us reduce CO₂ emissions by 118.5 tons a year. As far as the beer bottling process is concerned, our new combination line, which allows us to simultaneously bottle beer in all types of glass packaging, is certainly worth a mention. It has improved our bottling process and allowed us to achieve greater energy efficiency and occupational health and safety. We are particularly proud of two recent recognitions: the CSR Index that we received from the Croatian Business Council for Sustainable Development and the corporate social responsibility award that was presented to us by the Croatian Employers’ Association.
As a company, you pay a lot of attention to promoting your employees’ wellbeing. Could you tell us a bit more about the activities focused on taking care of your employees?
The health, safety and wellbeing of our employees are the key areas we focus on. We have been putting a lot of effort into making our company – that is, our brewery – a safe work place: we have been educating our employees about occupational health and safety, we have been working on improving the safety standards and procedures at the plant, we have been organizing safe driving training for our employees who spend the greater or at least part of their working days in cars... Furthermore, we organize general physical exams for our employees, provide them with high-quality work equipment, prescription safety glasses, etc. For those whose work does not call for such limitations, we have introduced flexible working hours and other flexible work arrangements to contribute to our employees’ wellbeing and the balance between their private and professional lives. We believe that an emphasis should be put on employees’ performance and not the time they spend at the office. We also encourage our employees to lead healthier lives by taking up sports and other forms of physical activity.
This year, HEINEKEN Croatia joined the Employer Partner project for the first time and the company has successfully complied with the high standards of excellence in the domain of employee management. How do you perceive the value of the Employer Partner Certificate that you have been awarded?
We are extremely proud of the result we achieved in the first year of participating in the Employer Partner certification project: receiving 94 out of a possible total of 100 %. We entered this process in order to be able to compare ourselves to other companies and gain new insights into how to be an even better employer. We believe that we have already set the bar quite high in terms of work standards and the wellbeing of employees in the FMCG industry. This certificate will encourage us to realize our vision of becoming the best company in Croatia.
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What main strategic projects will you be focusing on in the coming period?
We are a company that does business in a natural, sustainable and fair way. All of our business decisions are based on those principles. Our journey forward will be marked by products made from natural and, to the greatest possible extent, domestic ingredients, produced with the environment and our community in mind. From the point of view of HR management, we will continue to insist on the safety and wellbeing of our employees, as well as on the possibilities for their career development both in Croatia and in our corporate system abroad.
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