Sustainability report.

Outstanding employees

GKN has approximately 44,000 employees, in subsidiaries and joint ventures, and success in delivering shareholder value means the Group must strive to be an employer of choice, promoting a high performance culture with motivated, well-trained employees and outstanding leaders.

GKN seeks to recruit talented individuals with the skills and passion to become leaders of the future. In 2011, GKN recruited over 100 graduates worldwide, providing opportunities to develop professional technical and leadership career paths. GKN is also expanding its recruitment of apprentices and currently has some 825 around the world.

GKN is committed to supporting all its employees through investment and development. In 2011 the GKN Academy, an online training resource, was fully deployed through the internet enabling all employees worldwide to access this from their workplace or home. It provides over 360 courses in eight languages to employees and their families.

Good leadership is at the heart of engaging employees. Development programmes address key stages of advancement, for newly promoted supervisors, through plant leadership roles and into executive, Group-wide roles. Leadership development frameworks chart employees’ progress through managerial and technical careers, with focused assessment and training to provide the right support to achieve success.

Employee engagement is an important element in delivering positive business outcomes. Each employee’s role is related to the Group strategy, and their job purpose and its business context is explained. A variety of communication channels, with an emphasis on face-to-face communication, are used to help employees contribute their ideas and understand the context for decision-making in GKN.

A Group-wide employee opinion survey (EOS) was conducted in 2011 which identified progress in manager communication and the level of understanding of business objectives and direction. Actions are being implemented in areas where improvement opportunities were identified, including creating a greater understanding and demonstration of GKN’s Values and providing better career discussions. Monthly surveys, using a subset of the questions from the EOS, of some 3,000 employees globally provide an on-going indicator of communication and engagement across the Group. These surveys identify areas for improvement in employee communications and engagement and facilitate local actions to address these.

In 2011, GKN won the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) prize for International Employee Engagement and the People Grand Prix award, recognising both GKN’s employee engagement strategy and the progress towards achieving Group goals through employee engagement.

Global footprint

To serve its international customer base and exploit growing markets requires a truly global business. GKN has factories, service centres and offices in 37 countries across five continents.

This global footprint provides the ability to build and sustain close relationships with customers. It helps to optimise GKN’s position in supply chains and in developing new technologies in partnership with customers wherever they are globally. Manufacturing in close proximity to customers also means products have to be transported shorter distances, helping the Group reduce its impact on the environment.

In China, GKN Driveline and its joint venture partner, SDS, opened a factory at Changchun in June 2011. Changchun is the largest automotive industrial city in China. In November 2011, GKN Driveline opened a new £6.6 million precision forge at Oragadam near Chennai, India, and work commenced on a new 8,000 square metre GKN Driveline facility in Pune, India. More information on these new plants is given in the case study in strategy in action.

Expansion was also seen in more established markets, for example GKN Aerospace in the USA announced its intention to build a new 14,000 square metre aerospace components assembly facility in South Carolina. The new facility will perform assembly operations for the recently-awarded production contract for the HondaJet.

Continuous improvement

A culture of continuous improvement is at the heart of GKN. All GKN sites have a continuous improvement plan, aligned to business objectives. This engages employees to focus consistently on positive development, building a culture which constantly questions the norm and identifies opportunities to excel further and deliver greater value for the Company, customers and shareholders.

A Lean Enterprise model provides the basis for continuous improvement across all operations and is key to creating efficiency for customers and reducing GKN’s environmental footprint. Lean is central to sustainability as it helps cut waste, reduce energy use, minimise raw material use and streamline all processes. A Lean Enterprise model is applied to business and production processes worldwide (see case studies).

Continuous improvement is also an important mechanism in supporting improvements in health, safety and environmental performance which the following section addresses.