3rd European Company Survey: Diversity as a trigger for success

The 3rd European Company Survey interviewed HR managers and employee representatives in 30,000 organisations in all member state and some close neighbours. The survey is embedded in the overarching EU 2020 targets of smart, inclusive and sustainable growth. The Commission grants a key role to all companies, who need to facilitate innovation and creativity, ensure good job quality and develop human capital. The figures provide a detailed picture about the current corporate situation as well as past and future developments and highlight some advantages and the general importance of Diversity.

European companies face a great amount of different challenges: They need to keep pace with fast emerging and very flexible global competitors, they need to adapt to fast changing consumer demands and shortening product cycles and they need to satisfy their employees, more confident and organised than ever before. To sum it up companies need to be innovative, adaptive and creative. Autonomous teamwork is a new emerging trend, allowing employees to form teams, rotate between the different teams and decide on their own. A fifth of all companies use autonomous or semi-autonomous teams, another 53% employ management-directed teamwork. Companies want to improve their flexibility and innovation capacity by fostering decentralised decision-making, and they will achieve better outcomes if they built-up heterogeneous teams and foster the appreciation of Diversity within those teams.

Diversity of thoughts and potentials is another part of the answer. Making knowledge available for the entire company is an important field of work for a majority of companies (62%). Employees are obliged to keep track of their work and record best practices for their colleagues. Finding staff with the right skills constitutes another big challenge for many companies; 39% of all respondents report problems to recruit compatible talents. Diversity facilitates the access to diverse potentials and improves the employers’ position if he offers an attractive Work-Life-Balance and a pleasant working atmosphere. Those aspects also improve the motivation of the workforce (a problem for 17% of the respondents) and might also lead to lower levels of sick leave (13% report high levels of sick leave).

In order to reach and retain the best talents many companies also try to improve their employer branding. They increased and changed the way of communication and started to engage in a social dialogue with the employees. Especially medium sized and bigger companies involve elected employees in decision-making bodies and provide them with internal information. Social media and online discussion boards as tools of real interaction are utilized in 24% of the larger companies, so there is still room for improvement.