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Top employer: seven reasons in favour of Norzucker

Außenansicht der Unternehmenszentrale Nordzucker AG (Copyright: Nordzucker AG)

Our lives would be unthinkable without sugar. It sweetens our coffee and tea, and is an essential ingredient in a delicious Black Forest cake. Based in Braunschweig, Nordzucker AG has been producing sugar from local sugar beets since 1838. Today the corporation is among Europe’s leading sugar producers.

We spoke to Peter Friedrich, HR Manager of Nordzucker Germany, and asked him why Nordzucker is so popular among applicants and why employees like to stay with Nordzucker, preferably until they reach retirement age. Here are the top seven:

1. Good prospects for the future

‘Demographic change poses an exciting challenge for us today. Interesting positions will become available in the coming years as a result of this. That offers excellent entry and career opportunities into an international environment for young people, from high school graduates to qualified specialists. Young people often have very good prospects with us, in every area of the company,’ Friedrich says.

As a multiple award-winning training organisation focusing on electrical engineering, industrial engineering and industrial mechanics, Nordzucker is mainly looking for school graduates interested in natural sciences and technology who expect a job opportunity after the end of their training. With success! ‘Our MINT programme has won numerous awards, both at the federal and the state level,’ Friedrich says.

Speaking of awards: Nordzucker received the ‘Best Employer 2017’ award in the ‘Top Career Opportunities’ category from Focus news magazine. This ranking is vivid evidence of its attractiveness as an employer.

Women
Nordzucker AG (Photo: Nordzucker AG)

2. Taking personal responsibility in an international corporation

‘As a midsize enterprise on the large end of the scale, we are an exciting industrial company, rooted in the region with our corporate headquarters in the heart of Braunschweig: we have clear structures but are still big enough for development opportunities, including beyond Germany’s borders. What’s more, assuming responsibility for integrated tasks and project work in teams that are partly intercultural is enjoyable and therefore boosts motivation,’ Friedrich explains.

Nordzucker has a presence across Europe with locations in 18 countries. Its operations range from a sugar plant in Finland to a distribution site in Athens. ‘Our range of experts is equally broad,’ Friedrich notes. Highly qualified engineers and IT specialists, SAP experts, technical purchasers and laboratory technicians work at Nordzucker. The company has 1,400 employees in Germany and a total of 3,200 overall. And they clearly like working for Nordzucker, as the company’s turnover rate is extremely low, at one to two percent.

3. Good working conditions and good pay

The employees value the factors that led to the company’s good performance in the Focus ranking. Aside from prospects for the future, a family-friendly job, an employee-oriented environment and naturally an attractive salary are important to applicants today. When it comes to recruiting specialists and new talent, it’s important for companies to be able to offer all of these aspects. ‘We pay competitive salaries,’ Friedrich tells us.

4. Work-life balance

When we raise the topic of work-life balance, Friedrich is extremely enthusiastic: ‘We put a great deal of emphasis on that. “The job comes first” is absolutely outdated. Factors such as family, health, trust and security play an increasingly important role in working life. Developing modern concepts that permit employees to balance their family and personal lives with their job is therefore one of our most important tasks.’

Sustainability is important here. ‘We maintain an ongoing dialogue with our employees, so we can establish focal points and priorities as needed. That includes in-house services such as physiotherapy and therapeutic exercise, as well as taking a holistic perspective of the immediate working environment. Focusing on ergonomic workstations to prevent health issues or alleviate existing health problems is part of that.’

5. Family-friendly company

Nordzucker employees have no need to worry if their childcare provider is not available. ‘We have set up a parent-child office, which is a children’s room combined with an office. The child can simply come along to work if necessary. It’s a great facility and is highly valued by everyone who uses it,’ Friedrich says. Traces of creative colouring on the chalkboard can be promptly removed by the in-house cleaning and ironing service. Employees can also drop off clothing here and get it back in a clean condition a few days later – this is the bestseller among the services on offer. Along with other regional companies, Nordzucker also supports a nursery facility in Braunschweig, which includes spots for the children of employees.

Nordzucker employees have no need to worry if their childcare provider is not available. ‘We have set up a parent-child office, which is a children’s room combined with an office. The child can simply come along to work if necessary. It’s a great facility and is highly valued by everyone who uses it,’ Friedrich says. Traces of creative colouring on the chalkboard can be promptly removed by the in-house cleaning and ironing service. Employees can also drop off clothing here and get it back in a clean condition a few days later – this is the bestseller among the services on offer. Along with other regional companies, Nordzucker also supports a nursery facility in Braunschweig, which includes spots for the children of employees.

6. From the lounge to the fruit basket

In addition to a tastefully decorated lounge area at the company’s headquarters which invites you to relax, Nordzucker offers another highlight at all of its locations: fresh seasonal fruit for all employees, every day. Regular trips to the vitamin hotspot at the fruit bowl aren’t just healthy, this also keeps employees up-to-date on office news thanks to chats with colleagues.

The HR Manager takes the location of Nordzucker’s headquarters in the city centre into account as well. ‘Going to the doctor or hairdresser doesn’t require a day trip, and sharing lunch in one of the nearby restaurants also improves the quality of life,’ Friedrich believes.

7. Ongoing development at the Sugar Academy

Aside from coffee and apples, we’re also interested in the topic of personnel development. ‘It all starts with a conversation as equals,’ Friedrich responds. ‘The superior and employee conduct regular joint reviews, assessing what went well and where improvements are needed.’ They then look ahead together, jointly discuss the challenges of upcoming projects and consider what personnel development measures may be useful.

Specific skills can be acquired through the Sugar Academy: ‘The highly comprehensive training catalogue covers everything from communication and negotiation training, to technology and project management, to workshops for managers and speed reading seminars.’ Friedrich tried out the latter for himself and says, ‘It’s great! Not only does it help increase your reading speed several times over, it also improves your comprehension of what you have read.’ The HR Manager emphasises that the Sugar Academy is open to all employees. The Sugar Academy is complemented by additional, individual measures, such as job rotation, job enrichment, mentoring and talent programmes.

Shared values increase cohesion

When Nordzucker essentially doubled the number of employees in 2009 with its expansion to northern Europe, the question of a common core and ideals that bind everyone together was raised. Representatives from every level of the company defined responsibility, commitment, courage and appreciation as shared values in a joint workshop. ‘These values are a promise that we make to each other. Our values are not a one-way street, they are based on reciprocity,’ Friedrich notes.

Wanted: employees with their heart in the right place

The company’s values also play a role when it comes to selecting new colleagues. ‘We want employees that are truly a good fit for us. The right qualifications are of course essential, but an applicant’s personal values and attitudes are just as important. The applicant and company truly fit together only if the gut feeling is positive on both sides,’ Friedrich tells us in conclusion.

Current job openings at Nordzucker AG can be found here:

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