Annual Review 2019

Our people (social aspects and engagement)

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Decorative image - Deeper look at: Our people (social aspects and engagement)

Our Social Report provides a comprehensive overview of staff and working conditions at the EPO, covering topics including demographics, professional development, health and social dialogue. Published annually since 2013, it underpins our commitment to transparency. In the context of our Strategic Plan 2023, it directly contributes to Goal 5, Key initiative 3: "Improve transparency and accountability". By helping to monitor numerous indicators, it also contributes to Goal 1 ("Build an engaged, knowledgeable and collaborative organisation") and to Goal 5 more generally ("Secure long-term sustainability"). 

Key findings from the report include:

  • At the end of 2019, the EPO had 6 608 staff; 34% were women. 25% of managers were female, a slight increase on previous years in line with the steady upward trend.
  • EPO staff are of 35 different nationalities. 74% have a nationality different from that of the country they work in. At the end of 2019, the average age of an EPO employee was 48.2; 59% of staff had worked at the EPO for between 10 and 21 years.
  • On average, the EPO received 131 applications per job vacancy in 2019 (2018: 119). 117 staff were recruited externally. 51 trainees started the Pan-European Seal Programme at the EPO, making a total of 219 trainees at the EPO since the programme began in 2015.
  • The EPO spent over € 5 million on talent development activities in 2019, with 94% of staff receiving at least one training activity in the course of the year.
  • The average monthly basic salary was € 9 523 in 2019. Allowances and benefits, entitlement to which depends on individual circumstances, totalled € 227 million.
  • Payments from the EPO's pension and social security schemes totalled € 346 million in 2019. The social security scheme covered 23 508 people. The average monthly basic pension was € 6 245.
  • At the end of 2019, 14% of staff worked part-time; 18% were on the part-time home working scheme.
  • Health and safety-related expenditure in 2019 was € 1.8 million, including € 0.5 million for preventive medical measures and € 0.3 million for the Employee Assistance Programme. A further € 3.9 million was spent to subsidise general staff welfare and social activities.
  • Social dialogue is fundamental at the EPO and the management therefore makes continual efforts to strengthen it. There were 103 meetings with social partners in 2019, as compared with 79 in 2018.
  • In 2019, 301 employment-law disputes were discussed with the individuals concerned with a view to reaching an amicable settlement; such a settlement was reached in 36% of these cases.

The energy and commitment of our staff are the driving force behind the EPO. Our engaged employees are passionate about their work, dedicated to quality and keen to advance the organisation's strategic goals. Their emotional connection to the EPO's values not only channels their energy into a shared purpose, it also helps to secure the organisation's long-term sustainability. 

Our Engagement Report provides an overview of our staff engagement activities in 2019, which started with an office-wide staff engagement survey in February. Around 85% of EPO staff took part in the "Your voice, our future" survey, supported by external consultants Willis Towers Watson.

Personal development, empowerment and external reputation emerged as the key drivers of sustainable engagement at the EPO. The survey also highlighted communication with senior management, creating feedback channels and fostering a culture of continuous improvement as areas for improvement.

Engagement is also about defining and communicating a powerful vision that speaks to staff. In June 2019, the EPO's first Strategic Plan 2023 (SP2023) set out an ambitious roadmap for the years ahead. The plan's first goal: "Building an engaged, knowledgeable and collaborative organisation" integrates the survey's findings on staff engagement and defines how we will ensure that it remains part of our DNA.

To increase engagement, we are taking a two-tier approach that combines EPO-wide actions and initiatives at an operational level. To track and co-ordinate these activities, teams were invited to log them in a new online tool. All of our initiatives aim to foster better communication, collaboration, knowledge-sharing and inclusion and diversity.

Towards the end of 2019, the "Your voice matters" project was set up to co-ordinate and improve the way we gather staff feedback and translate it into effective responses. As part of this project, we will also regularly monitor staff engagement levels with pulse surveys and a large-scale biennial survey.

This year's Engagement Report is the first in a series of annual updates that will chart our progress towards our goals. Looking to the future, the EPO is focused on building a workforce of empowered and highly engaged teams to create a win-win working environment.

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