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Our People


The Group’s primary people-related goals in 2020 were to:

  • increase the focus on people mobility to ensure sufficient expertise for Borealis’ growth projects and joint venture companies;
  • increase the focus on workforce diversity and inclusion to ensure equality of opportunity for all employees to work to their full potential;
  • implement an HR dashboard, which is a tracking tool within the HR Organisation, to support HR key performance indicators (KPIs) and service level agreements (SLAs);
  • evaluate the 2019 People Survey results and develop action plans, in close cooperation with management and the Corporate Co-operation Council (CCC); and
  • introduce a global onboarding process to provide a general framework of best practices across locations.

Key Achievements and Results

During 2020, Borealis HR:

  • successfully supported the Group in managing the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular by supporting remote leaders and local leadership teams to engage with their employees, introducing an electronic signature process and implementing national COVID-19-related measures required by authorities;
  • implemented the HR Dashboard, which already shows increased efficiency in customer delivery by enabling the Group to follow up process implementation and initiate improvements;
  • rolled out a new onboarding process to all locations to support line managers and other stakeholders with providing a high-quality onboarding experience to new hires and their line managers; and
  • introduced a new recruitment system (the SuccessFactors Recruitment Module), including an online marketing platform and a recruitment tool to enable Borealis to better manage data privacy in light of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as well as placing the full recruitment process into only one system.


Borealis’ People Strategy focuses on creating a learning organisation, supporting the requirements of a growing company which is developing towards globalisation and the Circular Economy, and leveraging the benefits and opportunities of digitalisation. To implement this strategy, the Group focuses on five areas: employee engagement, diversity and equal opportunity, training and people development, process automation and fair remuneration. Achieving the Group’s goals in these areas supports Borealis’ profitability, helps to ensure high levels of employee engagement and satisfaction, contributes to operational excellence, encourages a strong health and safety performance and continuous improvement, and broadens the talent pool from which the Group can recruit. In 2019 7,397 employees (compared to 6,671 in 2018, now including mtm plastics GmbH, Ecoplast Kunststoffrecycling GmbH, Rosier S.A. and Rosier Netherlands B.V.) worked for Borealis on a permanent (98%, same as 2018) or temporary (2%, same as 2018) basis. This workforce was supported by 159 (177 in 2018) leasing employees who are not employed by the Group, primarily in Austria and some 300 summer workers, job students, apprentices and interns.

Borealis’ Workforce

In 2020, Borealis employed 7,465 people (excluding DYM Solution Co., Ltd.). This compared to 7,397 in 2019. Of these, 98% worked for Borealis on a permanent basis (2019: 98%) and 2% were employed on a temporary basis (2019: 2%). This workforce was supported by 132 (159 in 2019) leasing employees who are not employed by the Group, primarily in Austria, and some 300 summer workers, job students, apprentices and interns.

Organisational Structure

Borealis’ HR organisation provides people-related support and guidance to leaders and employees throughout their careers. The needs supported by HR include talent acquisition and onboarding, organisational, cultural and individual development, change management, and compensation and benefits.

The Vice President (VP) HR, together with the Executive Board, identifies how HR can best support the Group’s strategy and initiatives and, together with the HR leadership team, ensures that the Group has the relevant competences, tools and resources. The VP HR reports to the CEO. The Borealis HR Handbook sets out the Group’s HR governance, which is managed through the Borealis People Policy and a number of HR Group procedures and operative instructions. These cover areas such as performance management, including bonuses and development, the Borealis Incentive Plan, succession planning and talent management. The Borealis Management System collates all these documents in one system. Documents are reviewed and updated at least every three years or as needed.

The HR Services organisation strives to continuously improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the “Hire to Retire” process. The performance of these processes is followed up via key performance indicators (KPIs) and SLAs, integrated into the HR Dashboard. In 2020, the previous KPIs relating to recruitment, performance management, mobility, people engagement and data quality were retained, and SLAs relating to recruitment were added following the professionalisation of this function. The KPIs are part of the incentive goals of most HR employees.

The HR Business Partners team in all locations were vital in supporting operations and businesses in managing the COVID-19 crisis and ensuring that line managers and employees received the necessary support.

Improving the Human Resources Information System

Borealis’ HR administration is centrally managed using SAP as one platform. The system includes payroll, employee data, organisational management, time management, competence management, merit and long-term incentive plans. All employees’ data are documented in SAP, except for the employees of Borealis subsidiaries that do not use SAP. These are mtm plastics GmbH, mtm compact GmbH, Ecoplast Kunststoffrecycling GmbH, DYM Solution Co., Ltd. and all Rosier subsidiaries.

In 2017, Borealis HR began a three-year project to implement SuccessFactors – a cloud solution interfaced with the existing SAP core system – to help employees and leaders make better use of important HR processes. Following the launch of the Employee Profile, Learning, Succession Planning and Talent Management modules in 2018, the Performance module was introduced in 2019. The final module, Recruitment, went live in March 2020. In addition to implementing this module, HR has further developed automated HR processes, digitalising administration and measuring implementation using SLAs and KPIs.

Employee Engagement

The CCC is an important platform for dialogue between management and employee representatives. It is a forum for exchanging information between the works councils at the various Borealis locations, top management and owners. The CCC holds four meetings and one conference each year. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 situation, all CCC meetings were held virtually. The CCC Conference was moved to December and shortened to a five-hour virtual event, focusing on process safety. Borealis also has open forums and other opportunities for interaction at all of its locations, many of which were also moved to a virtual format in 2020. Common topics discussed at these events include the Group’s financial performance, different Group initiatives and other topics of interest.

One of Borealis’ four core values is Respect. This value includes respecting employees who wish to organise themselves and be represented by unions or works councils. In Borealis, 92.3% of all employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements. In some countries, no comparable agreement exists.

In 2020, the first Pulse Check was run to bridge the years between the Group’s bi-annual People Surveys. All employees were asked to answer seven questions which were selected from the People Survey questions. In addition, two questions related to COVID-19 and one related to the ownership change were added.

The Pulse Check showed an increase in employees’ engagement of 7%, with higher engagement seen in all business groups, business units and locations. This places Borealis above the average of the chemical industry benchmark. Borealis sees this increase, together with positive perceptions of the Group’s reaction to the challenges of COVID-19, as a clear sign of resilience in times of fast and disruptive change

Total number of employees by employment contract (permanent or temporary) by gender & by region
and total number of employees by employment type (full-time or part-time) by gender & by region in 2020 1) 2) 3) 4)

1) Total number: headcount (employees hired for more than 3 months, excluded: externals, trainees, apprentices, summer workers, long term absences, temporary employees less than 3 months). Permanent: employee contract without end date. Temporary: employee contract with an end date. Full-time: working 100% or work in a shift model (even if that does not sum up on average to the weekly working hours). Part-time: working only a certain percentage as agreed in an individual contract. // 2) Austria, Belgium, Finland, France and Sweden are our significant locations of operation with more than 500 employees. All other European production or sales locations are summarised under Other Europe. Non-Europe covers all production or sales locations outside Europe. // 3) All numbers as of 31.12.2020. // 4) Borealis AG is included in the Austrian figures and displayed separately.

Diversity and Equal Opportunity

Diversity and equal opportunity – in terms of gender, origin, religion, nationality or any other facet – are integral elements of Borealis’ open culture and enrich the Group’s working environment. Borealis strongly believes that diverse teams are more creative, resourceful and knowledgeable, and that they generate broader perspectives, ideas and options.

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) therefore have a strong impact on people and teams, improving engagement and job satisfaction and directly contributing to the Group’s profitability and sustainability. In 2020, the D&I journey was kicked-off by thoroughly exploring the area of gender diversity, starting with collecting facts and figures, learning from research and beginning reflective discussions with diverse stakeholders to define actions that fit our purpose. Analysing Borealis’ gender demographics shows that gender diversity is one area where Borealis is only in line with the industry average, with about 20.6% (20.6% in 2019) of the Group’s employees being female. Borealis has therefore begun to take a more structured approach to increasing gender diversity. From 2020 onwards, the Group has started to track the percentage of females in higher grades as well as the percentage of new female hires via the Group Scorecard. The Group has seen an increase in the number of female senior leaders, showing the positive effect of role modelling and driving gender diversity awareness top down. Since 2019, there is also female representation on the Executive Board, which provides a good example for the female population.

The People Survey results of 2019 showed no significant difference in engagement between males and females, which indicates a balanced and healthy foundation to build on.

Percentage of employees by employee category &
by gender & by age in 2020 1) 2) 3)

1) Employee category grade refers to the internal role classication system (grade 1 to 21): Senior leaders: all line managers grade 16 and above. Managers: all line managers grade 12 to grade 15. Teamleaders: all line managers grade 11 and below. Experts:all non-line managers grade 10 and above; Administration(white collar employees): non-line managers grade 1 to grade 9. Blue collar employees: non-line managers grade 1 to grade 9. // 2) All numbers as of 31.12.2020 // 3) Numbers are correct to two decimal places in order to maintain granularity.

At Group level, Borealis is continuously working to encourage more women to join its workforce and to take on more responsibilities. Borealis HR actively engages with national institutions, such as universities and chemical schools, to promote Borealis and the chemical industry as an attractive employer for women, and to increase women’s interest in a technical career path. The SuccessFactors Recruitment tool introduced in 2020 will improve the Group’s ability to measure which publishing channels attract external applicants, which will provide more insights to ensure that Borealis’ recruitment marketing activities are equally attractive for all genders. Borealis also encourages line managers to nominate women to take part in talent programmes.

The Group’s gender diversity is a discussion topic at some CCC meetings and open forums. This includes discussions of how everyone can contribute to improving diversity and inclusion and what might help women looking to take a next career step, while respecting cultural differences. While gender diversity may be the starting point for Borealis’ D&I journey, it is not the final destination. From 2021 onwards, Borealis will take additional measures to increase diversity and actively strengthen an inclusive culture. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage and support all forms of diversity within the workforce (such as gender, age, religion, race, personality and skills), and create an environment where all employees are valued. This means having an inclusive culture in which the same conditions are in place for all people to feel supported and be successful.

Training and People Development

Borealis looks to routinely train and develop employees as well as external people who work with and for the Group. The Group’s ambitions require employees to understand how their work affects customer satisfaction and to have a zero-accidents mindset that puts safety first. Providing appropriate training for functional and workplace skills that are rooted in Borealis’ values, safety and ethics ambitions helps the Group to protect the health and safety of all employees, aim for job security, conduct business ethically and ensure production processes and products are safe. It also helps employees to develop their existing skills and to advance their careers within Borealis.

Total number of non employees per region in 2020

The Group identifies each employee’s training and development needs through its yearly performance management process. This results in line managers and employees agreeing on Individual Development Plans (IDPs). Employees with performance gaps have mandatory Performance Improvements Plans (PIPs). The catalogue of training courses made available to employees is then designed based on IDPs and PIPs. Line managers and management teams can also contact the Borealis Learning Network if a new training need is identified in their organisation. Borealis is continuing to upgrade its HR IT tools and technologies to gather more data and insights, resulting in a better understanding of what the organisation requires from training and development.

Talent Management and Leadership Development

Offering meaningful careers and ways to unlock people’s potential is essential for attracting and retaining a highly skilled, qualified and diverse workforce. The Borealis Talent Management Process focuses on attracting, identifying, promoting and developing potential for leadership and expert positions, using Leadership Talent Management Programmes and Expert Talent Programmes. In addition to global leadership programmes and courses, the key businesses have developed function-specific programmes. The Group sometimes offers outplacement programmes for employees who leave Borealis.

Percentage of new hires / turnover by gender &
by region & by age in 2020 1) 2) 3) 4)

1) The percentage of new hires is based on employee changes during the year in the respective category (e.g. 100 employees with 10 new hires is 10% new hires) // 2) Austria, Belgium, Finland, France and Sweden are our significant locations of operation with more than 500 employees. All other European production or sales locations are summarised under Other Europe. Non-Europe covers all production or sales locations outside Europe // 3) Turnover refers to employees who left Borealis voluntarily // 4) Numbers are correct to two decimal places in order to maintain granularity

Fair Remuneration

Fair remuneration means ensuring pay for performance, based on transparent performance evaluation. It supports strong business results by incentivising high-performing individuals and teams, increasing employees’ retention and Borealis’ reputation. Borealis is therefore committed to providing fair and transparent reward packages for all employees.

Every employee reward package at Borealis consists of a base salary and incentive compensation. The reward package is based on the systematic evaluation of roles, using an external evaluation methodology linked to Borealis’ internal grading structure. This requires up-to-date role descriptions which define core activities and responsibilities. The reward package is evaluated regularly in the context of insights into national remuneration market data and developments. This approach ensures the reward package is competitive both internally and externally. Some reward packages for temporary employees are linked to the duration of their employment with Borealis.

Borealis’ reward evaluation processes are gender neutral by design. Each grade in the Group’s grading system has a country-specific pay range and the pay position of employees within this range is monitored at both country and Group levels to control overall pay equality. The Group shares this aggregated gender pay analysis with its employees, as legally defined in the various countries. Employees are also entitled to information about how their salary compares to the respective market.

Individual performance can influence the size of the reward package. An annual merit review process allows management to adjust pay, for example, for inflation or performance reasons, and enables each country to request funds for eliminating any pay gaps among employee groups.

Employees are offered additional benefits aligned to local markets. These benefits and the level of subsidy, where applicable, are aligned with the Group’s ambition to promote a healthy lifestyle, taking into account local market practice and national taxation rules. Benefits can therefore include subsidised lunches, access to a gym or subsidised gym membership, health and dental care insurance and company pension plans, on top of the national social security system.

Borealis performs a yearly equal pay analysis to identify focus areas for improvement. Borealis’ owners may also provide additional focus areas through the Remuneration Committee, which assists the Supervisory Board in reviewing and approving Borealis’ compensation approach. The Pension & Benefits Council, which is led by the CFO, sets the overall principles for employee benefit programmes, monitors their implementation across the Group and decides on significant changes to them. Based on the output from the Pension & Benefits Council and the Remuneration Committee, the Executive Board then gives HR a mandate to design new concepts for remuneration and to propose changes when needed.

Data Protection

Borealis ensures it protects employee data by following its data protection procedure. As part of this, the Group has two Operative Instructions for HR. The first Operative Instruction covers HR Authorisation and defines, for example, who has access to which HR data or, how to request authorisation and approval workflows. The 8th EU Directive requires Borealis to monitor critical authorisations (such as salary data) and ensure segregation of duties. This means, for example, that the same person cannot change salary levels and run the payroll. To meet these obligations, Borealis has defined self-regulating actions.

The second instruction covers HR Data Protection, which includes tools to ensure compliance with GDPR, an EU law on data protection and privacy. The instruction contains definitions of purpose limitation (meaning that personal data collected and stored shall only be used for specific purposes), data minimisation, data accuracy, storage limitation, integrity and confidentiality, transfer of personal data to third parties, the right to be forgotten, portability of data and consent management. HR is in close alignment with the Group Data Protection Expert in the legal department to regularly follow up on data protection aspects and ensure ongoing training for relevant stakeholders. “Trust Arc” is the Group’s guiding tool for documentation of GDPR relevant processes.

Percentage of total employees by gender and by employee category who received a regular performance and career development review in 2019 1)

*) As the performance and career development cycle ends with 31 March, figures are only available from the previous cycle (2019).


The Group’s HR goals for 2021 are to:

  • continue the digitalisation journey in all HR transactional areas to ensure efficiency and data quality;
  • review the performance management system to further empower pay-for-performance and continuous dialogue with the employees;
  • implement a social media strategy in Talent Acquisition and further develop the employer brand;
  • conduct the next People Survey, with the aim of again achieving an industry leading participation rate of 85%; and
  • continue HR’s close alignment with the legal department, especially with the Group Data Protection Expert, to regularly follow up on data protection aspects, provide ongoing training for relevant stakeholders and further develop the guiding tool for documentation.

Combined Annual Report 2019 (PDF)

English and German Version available

Download full version

This online report contains only highlights and excerpts from Borealis’ Combined Annual Report 2020. Only the entire report is legally binding and it must be read in full to gain a comprehensive understanding of Borealis’ performance and activities in 2020. A copy of the Combined Annual Report 2020 can be downloaded here.