DSM Integrated Annual Report 2021

Delivering on our P & O strategy

In 2021, we continued to execute our People & Organization (P&O) strategy, which was launched in the fourth quarter of 2020. In full alignment with our wider business ambitions, the P&O strategy guides the focus of our P&O function, helps define our priorities when investing in our people, and helps to steer the company toward a better employee experience.






















Training hours per employee2








All data presented in People are subject to the Non-financial reporting policy.


Training hours includes developmental-focused trainings and our values trainings. It excludes compliance-related trainings.

As depicted below, our P&O strategy is centered around our Culture Compass. It has four focus areas, which aim to enhance our approach to organization, people, workplace, and leadership. These areas are enabled by the right rewards and our employee experience and analytics.

P&O strategy

The four focus areas of our strategy

Creating a flotilla-style organization

In 2021, we made significant progress in evolving toward a flotilla-style organization, in which critical direction comes from the center, surrounded by agile units that are empowered to achieve our common goals. We believe that embracing this model, and integrating agile ways of working, will help us to drive efficiency and impact, and enable us to respond more quickly to external forces.

Empowering our people

In a world characterized by high-paced change, digitalization, and business transformation, we aim to provide a personalized and empowering environment that encourages all our people to take ownership of their performance, development, and careers while continuing to deliver sustainable high impact as individuals. To this end, we are developing a wide range of user-centric tools and solutions to help our people to grow, perform, and be at their best. These tools enable our people to customize their own personalized learning and growth path within the DSM framework and business context and allow individuals and teams to truly take charge of shaping their professional development and growth.

In 2021, we improved and expanded the scope of our talent platform, offering a new and improved talent experience for our people. By means of artificial intelligence (AI), the platform facilitates the matching of talents to opportunities and developmental tools. In addition to identifying internal and external candidates for vacant positions, the functionalities include individualized recommendations on projects and mentors that fit the employee’s profile, in line with their individual career ambitions. As such, it allows the individual to shape their own career management.

We also invested in LinkedIn Learning to enable systematic and personalized online learning and people development. This investment gives our employees access to a comprehensive digital learning library, with over 16,000 courses in seven languages. In the first ten months of having LinkedIn Learning accessibility, our employees watched over 250,000 of the digital library’s videos. These videos provided learnings relevant to specific employees and to DSM’s broader context.

Furthermore, we launched our ‘Learn Together, Grow Together’ campaign in late 2021 to further embed a learning culture and mindset across DSM. Through a series of local and global initiatives, this campaign encourages employees to take ownership for their development and personal growth. This activation is a crucial element in fully leveraging the tools we launched and as such, ‘Learn Together, Grow Together’ will over the next few years visibly foster an environment where employees feel empowered to deliver sustainable impact as individuals.

Creating a contemporary workplace

We accelerated the transition toward hybrid working in 2021, which combines both remote and office work. Choosing hybrid work means teams are empowered to decide where, when, and how to deliver value. In practice, teams come together and share responsibility for designing their working week based on the activities they must do — and how best to do them. For employees based in plants or labs, where the nature of the work requires tasks to be undertaken on site, we explore options for flexibility.

Our TeamPact App supports a tailored approach to team dynamics, where each employee’s personal circumstances are considered. Through this interactive conversation tool, teams can agree where, when, and how they work to deliver on their objectives. The application also prompts and guides teams to help them address obstacles and maximize the benefits of hybrid working. Overall, by reducing commuting and business travel, we aim to empower our distributed workforce and positively impact people, planet, and profit.

We furthermore started a pilot in the Netherlands with an attendance app (Mapiq) with the aim to help facilitate our employees going back to the offices in compliance with the corona measures in the country. By informing our employees of who will be in the office on a certain day, the app facilitates employee interactions, such as face to face meetings and social engagements. The aim is to launch this app globally.

Beyond hybrid working, and to support the health and well-being of all our employees in the context of the pandemic and shifting work practices, our regional teams organized a wide range of initiatives and programs that help to safeguard physical and mental health. Among many of these initiatives, we made available health screenings and checks, offered sports and yoga programs, ordered flu vaccinations, and secured oxygen concentrators for employees and their families in India during a period of critical demand in early 2021.

In addition, we continued to put mental health at the center of all employee support efforts. Around the world, many of our sites extended their employee assistance programs – involving webinars, counseling sessions, and the distribution of self-help material — which offered emotional, psychological, and occupational support in local languages.

Resetting the leadership and culture context

Throughout 2021, we continued to integrate our new Culture Compass, in line with our aim to embed our culture across all areas of our employee experience. For the first time, culture awareness and experience were measured within the Employee Engagement Survey, scoring an overall 76%.

In 2021, the Culture Compass was successfully integrated into our Performance Management system, within an updated set of behavioral indicators for all employee levels, which feed into individual ratings and subsequent rewards. Training and guidance materials were provided to all people managers to implement the new approach.

As in previous years, continuing our regular performance and development evaluations was key to ensure we are a performance-driven company and that we develop our people for roles today and into the future. In 2021, almost 15,000 employees had access to the global digital evaluation tool for performance reviews. All other employees participated in performance evaluation on paper or by means of local systems.

We continued to mobilize a bottom-up approach to engaging employees with the new Culture Compass via a network of over 100 employee volunteer Culture Conversation Champions. A Culture Hub site provided access to Culture assets and resources in the different DSM languages, which were used by these Champions to facilitate local meetings, communications, and events.

A new virtual program ‘Leading through Culture’ was designed to support people managers to bring culture change to their own teams. The program received positive feedback, and over 50 programs were delivered by the end of 2021. Since its launch, the program has been updated and is now included within business-owned change roadmaps to support culture and behavior change, in line with DSM’s strategic acceleration.

Enabling our strategy

Modern, flexible rewards

In 2021, we continued to adapt the way we reward our people to better reflect and enable our key strategic drivers. More flexible reward arrangements are needed to meet the diverse challenges and needs of our people and our businesses. In view of this, our incentive programs were further streamlined and better aligned with the respective businesses. Following the selection of a supporting platform in 2021, a pilot program will be launched in 2022 to help us boost our Recognition Framework to make it more meaningful and tangible for employees. Based on the results of the pilot, including employee feedback, a further roll-out will take place, facilitating a more tailored yet globally consistent approach to rewarding and recognizing specific individual and team contributions.

Our global scale was leveraged as part of a multi-year project to procure employee benefits (such as insurance) and manage the associated policies and services in a more coordinated way. Through this initiative, we improved the global oversight, financing, terms and conditions of these benefits for the company and our employees. This foundation is essential for us to offer more flexible rewards going forward. We plan to expand on these efforts in 2022 and beyond, to ensure benefits continue to be a key offering, delivering value to our employees.

These initiatives demonstrate that our ambition is to take a more holistic approach toward total rewards. Current and future employee perceptions and input also inform our direction. In the coming year, we aim to incorporate more employee feedback in the design of our reward offerings, with the ultimate goal of strengthening our overall employee value proposition and the employee experience. By adopting a more comprehensive and integrated view of rewards, further embedding technologies in our processes, and incorporating employee as well as business perspectives, strategic decisions will be based on more relevant input.

Employee Experience and Analytics

In 2021, we took important next steps toward professionalizing our approach to analytics and our understanding of the employee experience – both of which will increasingly serve as critical drivers of how we work and deliver value for our people and organization.

To ensure alignment on how we understand and drive employee experience forward, we designed our Employee Experience Vision. While employee experience is personal, this Vision outlines our ambitions to create an environment in which our employees feel taken care of, engaged, empowered, able to deliver, and able to grow. On top of this, it outlines a set of key principles on how we want to get there, including but not limited to ensuring consistency and transparency in how we communicate and act as an organization. The Vision will serve as a powerful foundation from which to develop our employee experience efforts going forward.

Furthermore, to deliver on our ambition to become a truly data-driven P&O function, we made a significant investment in increasing data transparency. In particular, we selected a new data and insights platform that integrates and structures our most critical people and organization data. With intuitive, pre-built analytics, the platform delivers people and organizational insights fast, allowing us to drive decision-making. In 2022, we will roll out this platform to our P&O colleagues around the globe and leverage it as a catalyst to further embed data-driven decision-making into our ways of working and continuously improve our data foundations.

We aspire to become a more data-driven P&O function and employee-centric organization and have made this central to our agenda. In the years ahead, we aim to further scale the impact and reach of our analytics and employee experience efforts by:

  • Further professionalizing the way we listen and respond to our employees’ needs and expectations
  • Building capabilities in human-centered design across the organization
  • Driving synergies between key processes, initiatives and technology by working in a more integrated, cross-functional and harmonized way to drive forward our strategic agenda