Annual Report 2019
Sustainability at Bittium in 2019
Home   >  Sustainability Report  >  Focus Areas in Sustainability  >  Innovative and Developing People


Innovative and Developing People

Innovative professionals with a high level of well-being are key to our success. Ensuring the well-being of our employees, competence development and the recruitment of future professionals are important priorities for us.

At the end of 2019, Bittium had 655 employees in Finland, the United States, Mexico, Singapore and Germany. 99% of our employees are based in Finland. Most of our employees are R&D engineers.

Goals Actions Performance Measures Examples of Results
Employee well-being and engagement Continue to invest in creating a good employee experience and a strong sense of community Results and scope of the employee satisfaction survey The results of the employee satisfaction survey improved slightly from the previous year, by 0.1 points (scale 1–5)
The response rate of the employee satisfaction survey rose to 80 percent
Competence development Increasing and enabling training and taking special competencies into consideration Time spent on training per employee 3.4 days/employee
Developing the employer image Increasing awareness of Bittium and communicating the company´s strengths External employer image survey Planned for 2020/2021
Developing the employer image internally Internal employer image survey Orientation training program for new employees updated

Observations Related to the Results of the Stakeholder Survey

Both internal and external stakeholders consider the focus area to be important for Bittium. Opinions regarding Bittium´s performance in taking the focus area into consideration in its operations varied slightly between the groups of respondents, with the internal stakeholders being more critical than the external stakeholders. The focus area remains one of the company´s focus areas of sustainability.

Internally organized training opportunities were seen as important and motivating, although the continuous time pressures associated with projects were seen as a challenge with respect to training. Finding the right balance in this regard was seen as important from the perspective of innovation and development.

The responses by the external stakeholders conveyed the impression that Bittium takes good care of people as well as their well-being and development. From the external perspective, looking after the well-being of employees was seen as important.


Alignment between the Focus Area and the UN´s Sustainable Development Goals

8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, fulland productive employment and decent work for all.

8.7 Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms.

8.8 Protect labor rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.

  • We ensure that our subcontractors operate in accordance with our Supplier Manual, which include the observance of human rights in activities that are directly related to our operations. We have published our Supplier Manual on our website.
  • We monitor employee well-being in various ways and the company has clear practices for supporting work ability. We maintain up-to-date safety plans as well as an equality plan. Safety issues are taken into account in the orientation training program. The employee benefits provided by the company have been selected in such a way as to support mental and physical well-being and build a strong sense of community.

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

9.5 Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending.

  • We make significant investments in our R&D activities to support our renewal and maintain an innovative and competitive portfolio of products. In 2019, R&D activities represented 33.4 percent of our net sales.
  • We create opportunities for our personnel to continuously develop their competence through studying as well as internal and external training. Our diverse and varying tasks enable continuous on-the-job learning and development and we encourage our employees to share their knowledge openly.

Company Culture and Innovation

Since it was first established, Bittium has been a strongly values-driven company. Our values are an integral part of our day-to-day work and company culture. Our company culture is defined by a flat organization, low hierarchy, agility and openness. Bittium´s employees share a passion for technology and learning.

We believe in a culture of participation and discussion, which creates space for continuous development. This also provides the foundation for innovation, which is one of our values.

Innovativeness is an integral aspect of our operations. We support innovation in various ways, including our encouraging and diverse company culture, operating methods and business premises. Ultimately, our innovative approach is reflected in our R&D and work with customers. For example, in 2009, Bittium developed the world´s first smartphone that uses both terrestrial and satellite networks.

In 2019, we continued to develop our organization and operating methods according to the principles of autonomy, agility and a coaching approach to leadership. Approximately 100 employees from various levels of the organization participated through various working groups in a change project launched in the previous year in cooperation with the Finnish Work Environment Fund. Based on the initial survey conducted as part of the project, the working groups chose topics whose development was seen as important in creating a foundation for future autonomy and agility as well as strengthening well-being and the employee experience in the organization.

The selected development areas included meeting practices, orientation training processes, strategy communications and the launch of change agent activities. As part of the project, we also launched a pilot called Kilta (“Guild´) related to the renewal of our organizational model. The aim is to increase the autonomy and influence of the personnel in the competence areas with regard to the organization of their work and the development of their competencies. The development efforts on this front will continue in early 2020.

Employee Survey and the Employee Experience

Innovation requires motivated employees with a high level of well-being, good managerial work and a sense of community. The annual Bittium Employee Survey (BES) is an important tool for developing well-being at work and job satisfaction and to enhance the employee experience. The results of the survey are discussed at all levels of the organization, from the Board of Directors and Management Group to individual teams.

In the employee survey completed in late 2019, the response rate rose to 80 percent, compared to 67 percent in the previous year. The overall results for 2019 showed a slight improvement on the previous year. The category with the biggest improvement was supervisory work, which was also among our strengths in the previous year. The other strengths highlighted in the employee survey included our cohesive team spirit and sense of community. Areas highlighted in the survey as requiring further development included, as in the previous year, the time pressures associated with projects, process agility and internal communication. The investments made in competence development were reflected favorably in the employee survey.

The focus areas for 2020 highlighted in the employee survey include the development of project management and process agility as well as the improvement of internal communication at different levels of the organization.

Competence Development and Performance Reviews

We revised our performance review model back in 2016. Under the new model, subordinates and supervisors have an informal quarterly discussion (Quarter Chat). The employees also have the option to agree to have a separate longer conversation, especially with regard to a long-term competence development plan. This actual performance review is held at a time that effectively supports competence development.

A key objective of the switch to more frequent, regular discussions has been to take into consideration individuality, support well-being at work and build trust in the relationships between supervisors and subordinates.

A coaching style of leadership by supervisors is an important tool that promotes the development of individual skills. In 2019, we organized training for supervisors focused on improving their managerial and coaching skills. The six-part coaching program covered the various areas of managerial work, such as improving the employer image in recruitment, early-stage support, the management of different kinds of teams and individuals as well as self-management. The training was implemented in cooperation with the employee pension insurance company Varma. Based on the results of the employee survey conducted near the end of the year, the quality of managerial work continued to improve and it is now one of Bittium´s strengths.

In recent years, Bittium has focused its competence development measures on training related to the latest programming languages and various standards, the development of agile and efficient operating models and, for example, software life cycle processes, and on the enhanced use of open-source methods. Bittium is also actively involved in the development of new technology skills, for example, in the areas of 5G, wireless communications technologies, software robotics, machine learning and AI.

Various methods that enable learning are included in our daily operations, such as learning on the job, internal and external courses, the sharing of expertise and individual studying alongside work. In 2019, the average number of training days was 3.4 per employee. This figure comprises both internal and external training, including orientation and independent studies.

Well-Being and Occupational Safety

The vast majority of the work performed at a high-tech expert organization involves R&D – and software development in particular–which means that the physical risks associated with manufacture and manual work are a relatively minor concern. Therefore, in our field, the most typical risks to an employee´s ability to work include musculoskeletal diseases, coping at work and mental well-being. Project-based work is prevalent at Bittium, and the schedules and workload may vary greatly depending on the situation.

Employee well-being is supported by comprehensive occupational health care services and other employee benefits. In the design of our business premises, we have emphasized not only good ergonomics but also a good work environment thatencourages direct interaction and mutual innovation.

Bittium´s OHS Committee holds regular meetings and it includes representatives from each of our offices in Finland. Its activities are geared toward preserving the occupational health and work ability of our employees and improving the quality of their working life.

All Bittium offices have appropriate safety plans in place. Some of our employees perform duties in which it is of particular importance to ensure electrical safety. The Close Call reporting channel on our intranet enables our employees to report potential safety and ‘close call´ concerns.

Bittium´s HR management and OHS function analyze occupational accidents at regular intervals and whenever particular risks emerge. In 2019, there were 11 occupational accidents reported at Bittium´s companies in Finland. About half of the accidents occurred during commutes and three occurred at the workplace. Two of the accidents resulted in a temporary disability to work.


Human Rights,Equality and Diversity

We treat all employees and applicants equally regardless of their gender, age, ethnic background, political views or other background factors. Our equality plan is based on the Finnish Act on Equality Between Men and Women. We evaluate the realization of equality at work from the perspective of pay, career development and recruitment.

A separate equality and non-discrimination survey was conducted in late 2018 and the results were processed in 2019. The survey had a response rate of 51%. Equality and non-discrimination were given good ratings in the survey. The overall score of the survey was 5.3 on a scale of 1–6. The responses to open-ended questions indicated that further development is needed on issues related to pay, the allocation of duties and the filling of new positions. Based on the results of the survey, the company made updates to the equality plan and action plans, which were approved by the OHS Committee.

From the aspect of managing and developing diversity, it is important to take into account different backgrounds and skills and to put them to good use. Participatory and coaching supervisor work plays an important role in this.

The principles concerning the diversity of the Board of Directors are defined in the Corporate Governance Statement.

The vast majority of Bittium´s employees work in countries with progressive human rights legislation. Human rights monitoring mainly concerns Bittium´s subcontractors and suppliers, and Bittium has issued framework agreements and Supplier Requirements that serve as guidance in human rights issues. Bittium´s main partners are evaluated by means of self-assessments and audits in accordance with an annual plan. In 2019, no violations or significant non-conformities related to the use of child labor, forced labor, inappropriate disciplinary action, physical punishment, or health-related discriminatory practices were observed in Bittium´s or its subcontractors´ operations.

Enhancing the Employer Image

The technology sector is characterized by intense competition for high-end talent, and Bittium is involved in that competition. Bittium´s strengths as an employer include diverse tasks and development opportunities through work on various technologies, products and projects.

The importance of meaningful work is emphasized among our existing and potential employees, and we pay special attention to this by trying to be better at taking into consideration individual expectations and experiences regarding the factors that give work meaning.

In the future, we will focus even more on enhancing our image as an employer, improving the application experience and clarifying our employer promise to ensure our ability to attract and retain the best people.

Active Engagement

In addition to performance reviews and employee surveys, our internal engagement channels include discussion-based orientation training and team meetings, events for the whole staff as well as our social intranet. We place a particular emphasis on events for the entire personnel. We support our employees´ community spirit and activities also outside working hours in the form of various clubs, physical exercise and activities. We engage in active cooperation with educational institutions. We are keen to showcase the fascinating opportunities that our sector provides for young people as early as possible. Cooperation with schools is also an important recruitment channel for future professionals. Company visits are a good way for young people to get a concrete idea of the content and nature of the work. More than a thousand students have visited Bittium during the past couple of years. In December 2019, we received special recognition from the city of Oulu for our efforts in this area.

In 2019, we organized our second official “bring your kids to work´ event. Our employees´ children visited us in the morning to see where their parents work. The event program included general presentations on Bittium´s operations customized for young audiences, Bittium product demonstrations and children´s meetings.