DSM Integrated Annual Report 2022

Delivering on our P&O strategy

In 2022, we continued to execute our People & Organization (P&O) strategy, launched at the end of 2020. In alignment with our wider business ambitions, the P&O strategy helps to guide the focus of our P&O function, define our priorities when investing in our people, and steer the company toward a better employee experience.















Engagement Index1 2


>75% by 2021





Participation Rate





















Training hours per employee3








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


As the divestment of Engineering Materials was announced prior to the launch of the EES, people working for Engineering Materials completed a different questionnaire. The scores cannot be aggregated in the total, therefore EES and associated metrics are reported excluding Engineering Materials. The 2021 Employee Engagement scores excluding Engineering Materials were: Employee Engagement Index 77% and Inclusion Index 77%.


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

As depicted below, our P&O strategy 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 employee analytics and listening practices.

Creating a flotilla-style organization

In 2022, we further embedded our flotilla-style organization, in which critical direction comes from the center, surrounded by agile units that are empowered to achieve our common goals. Starting in January 2022, we activated a new operating model for our global corporate and support functions. Across these corporate functions, we have adopted an agile, incremental way of operating, with a rapid prototyping approach that enables us to develop fit-for-purpose digital solutions more quickly. Within P&O, we implemented a learning journey on agile ways of working to ensure we could support the rest of the organization with this core competence. We believe that embracing a flotilla-style approach and integrating agile ways of working will help us to drive efficiency and impact, enabling us to respond more effectively to external forces.

Empowering our people

With our world changing and our business transforming itself, we aim for DSM to provide an empowering work environment that encourages all our colleagues to take ownership of their performance and development. We recognize that everyone’s journey is different, and we support people in making a sustainable individual impact, no matter their role. Our user-centric tools and solutions enable colleagues to customize their learning path within the DSM framework and business context, as well as allowing individuals and teams to take charge of their professional development and growth, while performing at their best.

In June 2022, we launched MyCareer Marketplace to DSM employees worldwide. This online platform, which is also available as a mobile app, gives our people control over their career development. It allows colleagues to learn, share their professional achievements, identify and develop skills to support their career goals, find job and project opportunities and mentors, and drive their professional growth. MyCareer Marketplace also supports mobility within DSM. Between June and December, more than 30% of relevant DSM employees used the tool.

Our Annual Performance Management cycle continued, with approximately 15,000 employees taking part during the year. All other employees participated in performance discussions on paper or by means of local systems. We simplified the performance management process in 2022 to give managers and employees more time to discuss their performance and development needs – supporting our focus on developing our people now and for the future. We also started to move toward a Continuous Dialogue approach that ensures our people have regular opportunities to receive feedback, reflect on their development and aspirations, and set new goals.

This was also the first full year of our ‘Learn Together, Grow Together’ initiative, which was launched in late 2021 to inspire, support, and guide our people in shaping their personalized learning journeys. Founded on four pillars – Own it, Find your fun, Try something new, and Share what works – this campaign aims to make learning accessible, attractive, and fun. By tapping into employees’ motivation to develop skills that interest them, Learn Together, Grow Together increases their learning agility – a critical skill in fast-paced environments. This initiative also contributes to embedding our learning culture throughout DSM and empowering our people to take ownership of their growth. Eight months after its launch in 2022, 51% of all our employees had visited the new Learn Together, Grow Together learning platform a total of 150,000 times. This frequency is already a greater proportion than had ever visited our previous learning platform. Next to this, the number of employees that spend time (recurring) in the Bright Learning platform was 42% higher compared to 2021. As we believe in sustainable learning, we plan to plant trees in ratio to the number of hours our employees spend learning. In 2023, we will plant 6,770 trees across the globe to recognize the time our people spent on digital learning in 2022.

Resetting the context for leadership

Our Culture Compass – established in late 2020 – continues to underpin our approach to leadership and the employee experience. In 2022, global research company Gartner developed a case study on the Culture Compass, sharing this as a best-practice model for other companies. Throughout the year, we continued to integrate the Culture Compass into the employee experience:

  • Onboarding: We developed a Culture Compass Virtual Experience for all employees onboarding remotely and delivered a ‘Culture and DEI’ session for new trainees in our Group digital Services (GdS) team. In Switzerland, we also embedded culture into onboarding processes via our ‘Leading through Culture’ workshop for new People Managers
  • Recognition: To strengthen DSM’s recognition program, in alignment with the Delivering Value element of the Culture Compass, the Total Rewards team piloted a recognition platform, Brilliant, in Brazil and Singapore. The outcome will be assessed through a recognition survey in the first quarter of 2023

Finally, P&O launched the Evolve Toolkit for People Managers. This Toolkit consists of resources to help our leaders strengthen their teams’ resilience and performance, such as digital team exercises and templates, team development sessions, facilitation of team dialogs, and masterclasses. Fourteen virtual masterclasses were conducted (seven Evolve Ready and seven Igniting Team Performance), in which 184 colleagues participated. It received a rating of 4.44 out of 5 on participants’ ability to apply their learnings to their role at DSM. In the coming months, we will measure the effectiveness of this toolkit, and determine follow-up actions accordingly. To support the resilience of all DSM employees, we also hosted 10 Maximizing Your Resilience webinars, in which 171 employees participated. Participants gave the question “I would recommend this webinar to a colleague/friend” a 4.5 out of 5.

Creating a contemporary workplace

In 2022, we took the next step in our hybrid working strategy, working toward a 50:50 balance between remote and office work for all office-based employees. For employees based in plants or labs, we continue to explore options for flexibility. The intention is that this balance will enable colleagues to work flexibly and efficiently on individual tasks where needed, while also facilitating collaboration, closer relationships, larger networks, and increased development opportunities through in-person connections. Like many businesses around the world, we have found that some employees are hesitant to return to the office, which is why we introduced creative initiatives to promote the value of in-office working, such as the trial of ‘Teams-less Tuesdays’ toward the end of the year. Through this initiative, we aim to keep Tuesdays free of large online meetings, thereby encouraging employees to use Tuesdays for face-to-face collaboration or on-site initiatives and to consider alternatives to online meetings more generally. In 2023, we will evaluate this initiative and take appropriate follow-up actions.

Tools and resources such as our Digital Guides, the TeamPact app, and Mapiq continue to support employees in taking an innovative, tailored approach to team working. By suggesting alternatives to Teams meetings, helping to plan face-to-face interactions through the Mapiq app, and taking employees’ working preferences into account through TeamPact, these resources make it easier for teams to work in the way that best suits their situation.

Our regions also implemented various hybrid working initiatives throughout 2022. These included an integrated hybrid working program in Latin America, events to celebrate returning to the office and hybrid-based plans for office spaces in India and Asia-Pacific, and hybrid-focused DSM TV episodes in the Netherlands.

Modern, flexible rewards

Flexible rewards can enable our P&O strategic drivers by taking into account the diverse needs of our people and businesses. To make these rewards programs as effective as possible, insights into employees’ needs and perspectives are essential.

In 2022, we planned to undertake a broad compensation and benefits survey. This survey was postponed due to other priorities, however we did increase our understanding of employees’ views on our rewards offerings in two ways. First, in April, a P&O survey provided a first indicator that we need to make our short-term incentives and other rewards more motivating and more widely available. Second, people often mentioned that they would like to talk about compensation and benefits with us in the open-text comments of our 2022 Employee Engagement Survey (EES). In 2023, we plan to further explore this topic and determine appropriate follow-up.

We also piloted our recognition program in Singapore and Brazil in the second half of 2022, after finalizing the underlying Recognition Guideline in 2021. In early 2023, we will validate the pilot results.

We expanded our offering of flexible benefits programs in 2022. In July, DSM Brazil launched its Bright Benefits program, which allows employees to select from a ‘menu’ of flexible benefits alongside certain fixed benefits. Bright Benefits was well received by employees at all levels of the organization. In feedback from the Employee Engagement Survey, colleagues highlighted the attractiveness of the benefits offered and how the choices help meet their personal needs. We already run similar programs in countries such as the Netherlands and the US, and in the coming years, we hope to offer flexible benefits to employees in more regions, in order to further strengthen our employee value proposition.

Employee experience and analytics

In 2021, we designed our Employee Experience Vision, which outlines our ambitions to create an environment in which our employees feel taken care of, engaged, empowered, able to deliver, and able to grow. To better meet the needs of our business and realize this Vision, we implemented the new P&O operating model in 2022 that was designed in 2021. This included the launch of a P&O service desk as a new contact channel for our employees and the design of simpler and more transparent P&O processes across the board. We also continued to develop our employee experience capabilities with hands-on training sessions, intensive coaching, a supporting playbook, and other materials. Meanwhile, we began measuring employee experience across P&O. This resulted in an increased focus on well-being for both P&O and the company more widely, and we integrated well-being questions into all our global listening initiatives. Finally, we introduced an easier-to-use platform for managing core P&O activities in Switzerland. In the coming years, we plan to roll out this platform to other DSM countries.

We continue to work toward becoming an insights-driven P&O function, where all P&O colleagues can access the information they need to make robust decisions. To this end, we implemented a more accessible and intuitive insights platform in March 2022. This platform provides the entire P&O community with a single access point for our People data, a step-up from our previous set-up of six unconnected dashboards. Across P&O, 30% of colleagues are now using it on a regular basis. We plan to integrate this platform further with the Finance function by making FTE and cost-center data available on the platform.

Furthermore, we have increased our efforts to develop a ‘data culture’ and build a new set of data literacy capabilities to upskill our functions. These efforts have included training, working groups, and the establishment of a dedicated data community. Together, these initiatives have enabled a shift in focus from ‘data crunching’ to data analysis and insight collection, with everyone in our P&O function now equipped to generate insightful reports themselves. We plan to further embed this shift in the coming years.

Employee listening

Listening to our people enables us to understand their needs, pain points, and motivations, and therefore to shape a positive employee experience. In 2022, we established a new employee listening strategy that aims to:

  • Focus on measuring what is purpose-led, performance-driven, and evidence-based
  • Simplify and streamline our listening initiatives, balancing global standardization and local needs
  • Optimize the use and integration of data sources and analysis
  • Design our listening initiatives with action in mind

To support this vision, we redesigned our Pulse Surveys and Employee Engagement Survey to align with our strategic objectives and continuously measure critical dimensions such as well-being, work engagement, and psychological safety, alongside other topics relevant to our transformation to a flotilla-style organization (such as priority-setting, adaptability, and customer focus). In comparison to our census-based annual Employee Engagement Survey, which provides us with a detailed understanding of how our people are experiencing fundamental topics, our sample-based quarterly pulse checks help us to gather employee feedback more regularly and take targeted actions more quickly. By analyzing our open-text data in a more structured way, we also improved our ability to act on what our people are telling us, as we were able to identify more accurately what is on people’s minds and what they think we should improve.

The annual Employee Engagement Survey, sent out to all our employees, remains a key source of employee feedback. The results provide insights into employees’ views on topics such as preferred work locations and well-being. Despite the considerable changes and challenges experienced in 2022, our overall DSM scores in the Employee Engagement Survey remained largely the same, with no drop in any dimension scores compared to our 2021 scores on a like-for-like basis.1 This includes our Employee Engagement score, which scored similar to last year (77%) and our response rate (89%). To ensure the most accurate comparison of our business to last year, scores of 2021 excluding Engineering Materials will be reported in the remainder of this chapter.

In 2022, we measured a new topic called work engagement. Work engagement refers to people’s passion about their job and is thereby different from employee engagement which refers to the commitment, pride, advocacy, and satisfaction people feel towards the company. With a favorability score of 80%, we found that people are passionate about their work.

Our top three sub-category scores relate to the finding that our employees believe that DSM is a safe place to work (93%), consider health and safety a top priority (92%), and find their work meaningful (86%). The scores for both inclusion (79%) and managers (78%) rose slightly compared to 2021, by 2 p.p. and 1 p.p. respectively. Encouragingly, the gender gap on employee engagement between male and female executives in 2021 (men scoring almost 9 p.p. higher than women) was almost entirely closed (1 p.p.) in 2022.

At the same time, our results also brought to the forefront some improvement areas – with well-being scores being at the lower end, with an average score of (70%). Based on these insights, our focus areas for 2023 and beyond are to build further momentum on inclusion across DSM and support the well-being and ability to regularly re-energize among all our employees.

Through advanced text analytics on the comments of the Employee Engagement Survey, we also examined the emotions expressed in people’s comments and identified 48 topics, such as workload, innovation, and compensation and benefits. This is an improvement versus 2021, where we only identified 17 topics and whether the sentiment was positive, neutral or negative. Based on our 2022 analysis, we learned that the level of complexity and bureaucracy across our systems and structures, a fear of failure when innovating, and the pressure of being part of an overstretched workforce are areas for improvement. These insights will help us to further prioritize when redesigning our processes and structure in 2023 to boost simplicity, innovation, and agility.

To ensure improvement conversations take place at all levels, our leadership teams across the globe will continue to discuss the results, explore root causes behind low scores and prioritize targeted actions in 2023. In parallel, we support our people managers with a toolbox containing tips, trainings, and templates to engage in a conversation with their team about the results and determine meaningful follow-up actions.

1 As the divestment of Engineering Materials was announced prior to the launch of the EES, people working for Engineering Materials completed a different questionnaire. The scores cannot be aggregated in the total, therefore EES and associated metrics are reported excluding Engineering Materials. The 2021 Employee Engagement scores excluding Engineering Materials were: Employee Engagement Index 77% and Inclusion Index 77%.

Employee Engagement Survey
Full-time equivalent
Inclusion Index
The Inclusion Index is a subset of items in the Employee Engagement (Pulse) Survey to specifically measure Inclusion. Inclusion is: “A working environment where all employees are a full and equal member of a team; where diverse perspectives are valued, and investment is made in their development; where people are respected and able to contribute as they are and not having to conform; where they can reach their potential, and where they can speak up without fear of retribution.”
People & Organization