Roman Pfund works with hydropower and dams. "The best thing about my job is the responsibility that goes with it – and the challenge of solving complex problems that are relevant to everyday life. The best things about ÅF are the networking, the international corporate culture and the huge variety of projects we work on."
- Did you know
- ÅF runner-up in Universum's survey to find Sweden's best career opportunities
- Meet a couple of ÅF co-workers
- The ÅF nuclear trainee programme
Outstanding co-workers and an international corporate culture
A strong corporate culture is a key factor for any company that aims to be an industry leader in Europe and that ranks outstanding co-workers as its prime asset. ÅF has many years’ experience of solving technical challenges, and both the technical and commercial aspects of its consultants’ work are constantly being developed so that each and every employee can contribute to building the ÅF brand.
ÅF’s Blue Book 2.0
The ÅF corporate culture is one of the keys to the company’s success. In 2009 ÅF published the second edition of its Blue Book, which explains how co-workers can work together to create a strong culture and a successful ÅF. The book provides a picture of ÅF and describes the company’s ways of working.
The core values of ÅF – great people, teamwork and indisputable independence – describe everyday working life for the company’s co-workers and their attitudes to both colleagues and clients. An ÅF employee is a person who exceeds the client’s expectations with his or her solutions, technical expertise and business-mindedness. But ÅF employees are also good communicators, good team players and good listeners. They are positive in their outlook, deliver on their promises and show respect in their dealings with clients.
ÅF – Sweden’s favourite technical consulting company
In the 2009 Career Barometer survey of professional engineers, ÅF was ranked as the second most popular company to work for in Sweden – proof of the fact that Sweden’s engineers understand what ÅF stands for and what ÅF has to offer as an employer.
The Career Barometer is an annual attitude survey conducted by Universum Communications. All respondents are "young professionals", no older than 40 and with an engineering degree from a university or college plus two to eight years of working experience in their specialist area. Some 5,600 engineers took part in the 2009 survey.
ÅF works actively to strengthen its image among potential employees through a number of strategic activities and its participation in career fairs at universities and colleges each year. In the spring of 2009 ÅF embarked on a "Talent Tour" to four educational institutions that sparked media interest by focusing attention on female students. The theme of the tour was "Life Balance" and both Jonas Wiström, ÅF’s President/CEO, and Susanna Kallur, an ÅF co-worker and world-class Swedish track athlete, were present on all four occasions to meet and answer questions from hundreds of students.
A workplace where you can feel at home
ÅF wants employees to take pride in their work and the company, to feel confidence in their managers and to enjoy working alongside their colleagues. To meet the demands made on a modern employer, ÅF supports focused, long-term human resources work at all levels within the company, which includes various co-worker surveys that regularly assess the prevailing mood within the Group.
To make clear its position on a number of employee-related issues, ÅF has formulated policies in key areas such as human resources, salaries, equal opportunities and the work environment.
HR activities differ from country to country, but the aim remains the same: to foster a sense of togetherness and create a pleasant atmosphere at work.
ÅF works hard to create a good gender balance, an ambition that is also reflected in the company’s recruitment activities. The first step towards a more even male-female ratio is to raise the proportion of female consultants and managers to 25 percent by 2015. Whenever a managerial post becomes vacant, at least one woman must be selected as a possible candidate. If the recruitment companies used are unable to provide suitable candidates according to this model, they will be replaced by others that can. The proportion of female consultants was 17 percent at the end of 2009 (2008: 17 percent). The proportion of female senior consultants was 15 (12) percent, while female employees made up 21 (21) percent of the total workforce. Three of the eight ÅF directors elected by the Annual General Meeting are women: this corresponds to a 37 percent representation on the board.
ÅF Recruiter – a fast track for candidates with the right profile
ÅF has a web-based recruitment tool that enables both external and internal candidates to register their interest in a searchable database that is used by ÅF managers who are recruiting new members to their team. The system handles the entire chain of administrative routines for recruitment, from the job advert to the contract of employment. Simple interfaces mean that the tool can be used both with ÅF’s own homepage and by external recruitment agencies.
ÅF aims to have 10,000 employees by 2015. But growth places great demands on the need to offer an attractive working environment and good opportunities for development.
ÅF has identified three distinct career paths within the company: as project manager, specialist/expert and manager. Within each of these pathways to development there are various levels and stages. Career paths provide support for setting individual targets and action plans, not least as part of the annual personal development interviews between a manager and his or her co-workers. In practice, there may be far more development routes than these: co-workers can, for example, switch between roles within the company, acting either as project leader or specialist depending on the circumstances.
The ÅF Academy is ÅF’s own training facility which provides support for the ÅF career paths and the development of the consultant’s role. This includes comprehensive foundation courses for new consultants as well as highly specialised advanced courses and training tailored to individual requirements, all of which are firmly founded on ÅF’s views on business acumen and entrepreneurial skills. The curriculum for 2009 included courses in leadership skills, project management, sales training and commercial skills.
ÅF’s Business Executive Leadership Programme is a joint venture with IFL Executive Education that is aimed at senior managers within the ÅF Group. Training is spread over a 12-month period during which participants gain a deeper insight into the long-term forces that drive the industry internationally. Among the topics covered are strategic planning, international leadership and communication skills.
Education and training in nuclear power
The ÅF Nuclear Academy is an initiative designed to raise levels of competence to meet the increasingly stringent requirements of the nuclear power industry and its regulatory bodies. Courses lead to certification at four levels. The initiative has met with considerable interest from the industry and it gives individual employees exciting opportunities for professional development. Courses are also open to clients and other stakeholders in the industry: 125 individuals received certification in 2009.
For younger co-workers, ÅF offers a Nuclear Trainee Programme.
At the ÅF Academy, ÅF project managers undergo training to obtain certification in accordance with the European accreditation standard, IPMA. There are four levels of certification: A, B, C and D. For project managers involved in international projects, the certification process is conducted in English. Around 20 consultants were accredited in 2009.
Variable salaries and Group bonus
ÅF’s four divisions have adopted a number of systems for variable remuneration packages, based either on the results of the division as a whole, or linked directly to the performance of the individual.
To underline the relationship between the efforts made by each individual co-worker and the profitability of the ÅF Group in the short term and the long term, a bonus model has been introduced. Under the current system, part of profit that is generated at Group level is shared out in the form of bonus payments that are the same for co-workers across the company.
Other benefits open to ÅF employees vary from country to country depending, for example, on the local tax regime. In Sweden, benefits include occupational pensions, attractive insurance offers, the option of a company car and various discounts.
All ÅF Group employees are entitled to rent one of the cottages or apartments that are owned, managed or leased by the Staff Foundation. A couple of hundred families take advantage of this opportunity every year.
Sick leave and holidays
Sick leave among ÅF employees was 2.2 percent in 2009 (2008: 2.4 percent).
Total absenteeism, including holidays, was 16.4 (15.7) percent of normal working hours. Holidays accounted for 9.7 (10.3) percent, and leave of absence for 4.5 (3.6) percent.