Free Press Unlimited asked and received a lot from its staff this year. Once again, the commitment was great and we can all be extremely satisfied with the results. At the end of the year, the Board of Directors offered all personnel and partners a special Christmas dinner, as thanks for their unbridled dedication, also in difficult times.
The three pillars on which we based our new HR policy in 2016, are as relevant as ever:
1. Employees are the most important pillars of the organisation.
2. Free Press Unlimited wants to be an appealing employer.
3. Personnel policy must be properly implemented.
Together with the Knowledge & Quality team, the HR manager ensured personnel could develop and continue to learn. We keep the work appealing by offering the opportunity of finding another job within the organisation: we first post a vacancy internally for a week, and only post it externally after that if that hasn’t provided a good candidate. In addition, every employee can take paid refresher leave once every five years: three weeks holiday or six weeks for a course or study. In 2018, two people opted for a six-week leave.
To keep the HR processes clear for everyone, in 2018 we replaced the Legal Regulations with a Personnel Manual. With the same information, but now more readable and understandable. New employees receive an introduction booklet with practical information about Free Press Unlimited, are given an introduction course and are coupled with a colleague who acts as a buddy and guides them in the first three months.
Because we wondered whether the current evaluation system was still effective, we let loose our hackathon participants on it: can it be different, better? Many ideas emerged from that, and our HR manager is now working on them. In 2019, we will further explore the possibilities for a new system, together with an external agency.
In 2018, the number of FTE rose again, but not as remarkably as prior to 2017. At the end of 2018, Free Press Unlimited employed 70 people, who together filled 61.6 FTE (2017: 64 people and 56.1 FTE). During the year, we said goodbye to twelve colleagues, who were either looking for a new challenge, or whose contract was not renewed, and we welcomed fourteen new people.
The topics of diversity and inclusiveness invariably appear on the agenda of the Free Press Unlimited Days, our internal learning days. This year we wanted to go a step further: an external expert led our discussion on intercultural communication. After all, people of diverse nationalities and cultural backgrounds work for Free Press Unlimited. For that reason, the official language is usually English, so everyone can follow the discussion.
As an experiment, at the end of 2018 we took part in a survey on inclusiveness and diversity, carried out by research agency, Keystone. It was a great opportunity for us to pinpoint any possible problems within the organisation. Do people ever feel discriminated, and if so, in what way? Have they experienced nasty incidents and how do colleagues and the organisation deal with that? At the start of 2019, the (anonymously obtained of course) results were not known to Free Press Unlimited.
If we look at the male to female ratio, then Free Press Unlimited isn’t doing badly: the Board of Directors consists of one woman and one man and we have five female and four male managers. That is a reflection of the total distribution throughout the organisation, where 39 women and 31 men work. The age-groups at Free Press Unlimited are also approximately the same size: 23 employees are under 35-years-old, 26 are in the 35-50 age-group and 21 people are older.
Interns and volunteers
Once again this year, we were very pleased with the five volunteers who came to strengthen the Communications department. They wrote articles for our website and posts for social media, and assisted at events such as Free Press Live and Men4Women. The refreshing points of view and substantive contributions from our five interns were also very welcome. They worked as project assistants in the project teams and for the Communications department, where they were supervised by senior project staff.
The sick leave percentage rose significantly in 2018, from 1.83% to 3.36%, due to the long-term illness of two employees. Of course we make every effort to prevent people becoming ill. That is why, since the end of 2017, we have an in-house prevention officer who contributes to the daily safety and health at the office. We also invited and ergonomist from the Health and Safety inspection who gave advice on a proper work posture.
We treat everyone with respect and do our work with integrity; behaviour that does not respect boundaries, and abuse of power are out of the question. These are a couple of important principles of Free Press Unlimited’s integrity policy. In recent years we have regulated parts of it very well; there is a procedure for whistleblowers, we have an external confidential advisor and our safety policy and risk management help us limit the risks, for the organisation and for individual employees. However, it can always be better and more current.
In 2018, we took huge steps towards a tightened and complete integrity policy, which will be introduced next year. We have expanded the internal and external complaints procedures and we are strengthening our fraud and corruption policy. Our Code of Conduct, dating from 2012, has been updated and, in addition to a description of standards and values, deals with the practical behaviour of employees. We will arrange internal workshops in 2019, in which we will actively work on this practical interpretation.