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Our People

Goals 2021

  • Continue the digitalisation journey in all Human Resources (HR) transactional areas to ensure efficiency and data quality
  • Conduct the next Pulse Check, with the aim of an increased response rate and engagement level
  • Continue close alignment with the legal department, especially with the Group Data Protection Expert, to regularly follow up on data protection topics, provide ongoing training for relevant stakeholders and further develop the guiding tool for documentation
  • Implement a “Working from Home” Group Guideline
  • Implement Discover Resilience Together

Key Achievements 2021

  • Conducted a tender process for an electronic document creation tool, with the aim of starting implementation in 2022.
  • Introduced quality checks for electronic workflows to improve data quality.
  • Conducted a Pulse Check, which achieved an increase in participation rate of 2% and identified a decrease in employee engagement of 6%.
  • Aligned with OMV on GDPR, in particular on intercompany data exchange.
  • Rolled out GDPR-related e-learning modules
  • Introduced hybrid workplace Group guidance globally, which gives employees the flexibility to work partially from home when appropriate.
  • Implemented a Group-wide initiative on wellbeing, Discover Resilience Together, with a focus on the mental, physical and social wellbeing of employees.


Borealis puts people at the centre of all of its activities. The Group’s People Strategy therefore supports the implementation of Borealis’ business strategy through talent management and organisational development. During 2021, Borealis started a process to update the Group Strategy, and the People Strategy will therefore also be updated as necessary.

HR continued to focus on five areas during 2021: 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.

Borealis Workforce

In 2021, Borealis employed 7,606 people. This compared to 7,465 in 2020. Of these, 98% worked for Borealis on a permanent basis (2020: 98%) and 2% were employed on a temporary basis (2020: 2%). This workforce was supported by 226 (132 in 2020) leasing employees who are not employed by the Group, primarily in Austria and France, 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 services provided by HR include talent acquisition and onboarding, organisational, cultural and individual development, change management and compensation and benefits.

The Vice President (VP) HR reports to the CEO and, together with the Executive Board, identifies how HR can best support the Group’s strategy and initiatives. The VP HR and the HR leadership team ensure that the Group has the relevant competences, as well as the necessary people-management tools and resources.

The Borealis HR Handbook sets out the Group’s HR governance, which is managed through the Borealis People Policy and a number of 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.

Borealis measures performance related to recruitment, performance management, mobility, people engagement and data quality via key performance indicators in the HR Dashboard.

Improving the Human Resources Information System

Borealis’ core HR administration is centrally managed using SAP. The system includes payroll, employee data, organisational management, time management, competence management, merit and long-term incentive plans. All employees’ data are also documented in SAP.

Borealis uses SuccessFactors – a cloud solution interfaced with the SAP system – to help employees and leaders make better use of important HR processes. SuccessFactors includes Employee Profile, Learning, Succession Planning and Talent Management, Performance and Recruitment modules.

In 2021, HR started a tender process for an electronic document creation tool and electronic personal file database, with the aim of starting implementation in 2022. This will further automate the Group’s HR processes and increase efficiency and data quality. In addition, Borealis implemented automated quality checks for its electronic workflows to increase data quality.

Employee Engagement

The Corporate Co-operation Council (CCC) is a forum for exchanging information between the works councils at the various Borealis locations and top management. It is therefore an important platform for dialogue between management and employee representatives. The CCC holds four meetings and one conference each year. In 2021, the CCC Conference was held in October and scheduled as a physical meeting, focusing on wellbeing and positivity in the workplace.

Borealis also has open forums and other opportunities for interaction at all of its locations, many of which were already moved to a virtual format in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Common topics discussed at these events include the Group’s financial performance, 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, 91.8% of all employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements. In some countries (especially in Eastern Europe, where these instruments do not exist),there are no comparable agreements.

In 2021, Borealis decided to continue using the Pulse Check, first introduced in 2020, rather than undertaking a full People Survey. This enabled the Group to understand employee engagement and drive meaningful actions, while minimising the organisation’s workload in these challenging times. All employees were asked to answer ten questions. The Pulse Check achieved an increase of 2% in response rate from 69% to 71% but showed a decrease in employees’ engagement of 6%, with lower engagement seen in all business groups and business units and in most locations.

While ongoing organisational changes and strategic transformation always cause a certain level of uncertainty, and engagement in Borealis is still above the chemical industry benchmark, this result is not satisfying and requires in-depth analysis and an action plan.

In 2021, HR continued to focus on supporting operations and businesses in managing the impact of COVID-19. Given employees’ exposure to the effects of a prolonged pandemic and its related challenges, a broader, Group-wide initiative on wellbeing, “Discover Resilience Together”, was implemented. This focused on mental, physical and social wellbeing and covered a wide range of initiatives, taking the Group and employees on a journey to become more resilient to the negative effects of impactful events.

The initiative kicked-off with a recorded radio show hosting ExBoard members talking about resilience and its significance to them. By showcasing vulnerability and openness to the topic, they greatly supported a culture where employees feel they can openly talk about wellbeing issues. The programme also included numerous webinars, coaching slots, training sessions, meditation and relaxation sessions and a podcast series, where employees shared their “resilience stories” with the rest of Borealis.

Discover Resilience Together was designed to act as a springboard within the organisation, to build further local initiatives around mental, physical and social health. It also went beyond the physical workplace to include the flexibility of the hybrid working model (see Hybrid Workplace below). In addition, it encompassed digitalising the Group’s learning offer to provide development possibilities to Borealis’ people wherever they are.

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 2021 1) 2) 3) 4)

1) Total number: headcount (employees hired for more than three months, excluded: externals, trainees, apprentices, summer workers, long-term absences, temporary employees hired for less than three 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 add 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 Borealis’ 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 31.12.2021. // 4) Borealis AG is included in the Austrian figures and displayed separately.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Diversity and equal opportunity – in terms of gender, age, 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 and ideas and improve engagement.

After the launch of Borealis’ diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) journey in 2020, it was agreed to continue that journey and intensify the alignment with the OMV Group on that topic. This resulted in delivering a joint programme of activities and events throughout the year. Notably, in March 2021 Borealis organised a joint DE&I week with OMV. During this week, several initiatives, keynote speeches and activities were offered to the OMV and Borealis organisations, with the aim to inform, discuss, inspire, galvanise and guide all employees through the DE&I journey.

At all levels of the organisation, Borealis is continuously working to encourage more women to join its workforce and to take on more responsibilities. For example, the Group’s approach includes engagement with national institutions such as universities and chemical schools, a more conscious and inclusive talent acquisition process, in which unconscious bias is addressed, and actively encouraging line managers to nominate women to take part in Borealis’ talent programmes. In addition, DE&I is becoming a more prominent discussion topic in forums such as the CCC, management meetings and works councils, which fosters insights and strengthens the journey.

During 2021, Borealis expanded its DE&I focus to encompass a broader range of diversity aspects, such as age, nationality and diversity of thought. Ultimately, the Group’s goal is to encourage and support all forms of diversity within the workforce and create an environment where all employees are valued. This means having an inclusive culture, in which the same opportunities are in place for all people to feel supported and be successful.

Percentage of employees by employee category
& by gender & by age in 2021 1) 2) 3)

1) Employee category grade refers to the internal role classification system (grade 1 to 21): Senior leaders: all line managers grade 16 and above. Managers: all line managers grade 12 to grade 15. Team leaders: all line managers grade 11 and below. Experts: all non-line managers grade 10 and above; Administration (white-collar employees): non-line managers grade1 to grade 9. Blue-collar employees: non-line managers grade 1 to grade 9 // 2) All numbers as of 31.12.2021 // 3) Numbers are correct to two decimal places in order to maintain granularity.

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, conduct business ethically and ensure production processes and products are safe. It also helps employees to develop their skills and advance their careers within Borealis.

Total number of non-employees per region in 2021

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). Learning solutions continue to be developed with internal customers and reviewed and steered by the Executive Board.

Due to the close cooperation with OMV, the Group’s digital learning offers increased significantly in 2021, with the launch of two LinkedIn Learning-based offers for leaders and employees, with gamified learning solutions to drive safety performance.

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 such as the Commercial Trainee Programme in Polyolefins.

Percentage of new hires / turnover by gender & by region
& by age in 2021 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 Borealis’ 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 all employees who left Borealis (this is a change as of this year to align with OMV; in the past, only employees who left Borealis voluntarily were counted). // 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 enhancing Borealis’ reputation in the labour market. 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 total 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 that he reward package is competitive both internally and externally.

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 gender 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. 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.

Fair remuneration requires an effective performance management process. Borealis is therefore collaborating on the development of a shared performance management strategy for the wider OMV Group.

Percentage of total employees by gender and by employee category who received a regular performance and career development review in 2020 1) 2)

1) As the performance and career development cycle ends with 31 March, figures are only available from the previous cycle (2020). // 2) Numbers are correct to two decimal places in order to maintain granularity.

In 2021, the Long Term Incentive (LTI) Bonus, a reward scheme for Borealis Senior Management, was reviewed and a new LTI Plan was implemented. The new plan is harmonised with the OMV LTI Plan, fostering a strong focus on the overall goals of the wider OMV Group.

In addition, a set of sustainability related KPIs was integrated into the LTI Bonus Plan (where a sustainability KPI is one of ten KPIs on the Group scorecard) and the LTI Plan.

Data Protection

Borealis ensures that it protects employee data by following a clearly defined data protection procedure, outlined in an Operative Instruction specifically for HR. The Operative Instruction covers HR Authorisation and defines, for example, who has access to which HR data or how to request authorisation and approval workflows. Borealis also ensures that it complies with the 8th EU Directive, which requires the Group to monitor critical authorisations (such as salary data) and ensure segregation of duties.

HR closely aligns with the Group Data Protection Expert in the Legal function to regularly follow up on data protection issues and ensure ongoing training for relevant stakeholders. Trust Arc is the Group’s guiding tool for documenting GDPR-relevant processes. The Group also continuously aligns with OMV on data protection topics and, in particular, on intercompany data exchange matters. The Group also rolled out GDPR e-learning modules during the year.

Hybrid Workplace

In 2021, Borealis implemented hybrid workplace Group guidance, which gives employees the flexibility to work partially from home, when appropriate. Flexible homeworking benefits both Borealis and employees. It provides a choice of when and where employees may work for optimal results, with homeworking allowing for increased focus, productivity and execution of tasks and office working refocused on collaboration, interaction and meetings. Hybrid working also supports Borealis’ wellbeing commitments to support employees’ work-life balance. External benchmarking shows that hybrid workplace solutions have a positive influence on work performance and productivity, increase employee engagement and loyalty, foster a more diverse workforce and improve overall attraction and retention.


The Group’s HR goals for 2022 are to:

  • build a “Wellbeing” platform with a yearly calendar of activities and develop “Discover Resilience Together” initiatives at local level;
  • finalise the DE&I strategy for the OMV Group of Companies and roll out across the organisation;
  • develop a capability roadmap as an input for strategic workforce planning;
  • update and align Borealis’ Employer Value Proposition and employer brand to fit the Group’s new strategic direction; and
  • review and update the process for continuous people performance and development.

Combined Annual Report 2021 (PDF)

English and German Version available

Download full version

This online report contains only highlights and excerpts from Borealis’ Combined Annual Report 2021. 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 2021. A copy of the Combined Annual Report 2021 can be downloaded here.