As a fourth-generation family company we foster our culture of entrepreneurship. We are currently more than 600 colleagues in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Hungary, China, Vietnam, USA and Germany.
Hestra’s continued success depends on our ability to retain and recruit talented colleagues with the right competencies. Our strong brand and corporate culture, that foster responsibility and commitment, are important parts in achieving this. In our recruitment processes, we are looking for eager, committed and competent individuals with a passion for our products. We know that these individuals will give us the best chance to strengthen the company with their expertise and enthusiasm.
Our business has seasonal variations, with a big share of sales in the winter period. The changing demands of production in the factories constitute a risk for our employees, as it can lead to extended overtime during certain periods of the year. To successfully meet demand, it is important that we plan our operations in the best way possible to avoid unnecessary peaks and prolonged periods of overtime. However, colleagues at our factories are sometimes given extended annual leave with 80 percent salary when production levels are low. At our headquarters we hire employees on short - term contracts to our warehouse and customer service in the busy winter season.
Diversity remains a challenge in the apparel industry, and it is an issue we are looking to address. Traditionally, most of the seamstresses in the countries in which our factories are located, are female. A risk for our seamstresses is the ability to maintain a manageable workload that can be combined with other responsibilities. During the pandemic this proved to be particularly challenging, as some colleagues with children had to refrain from working and home-school their children as their countries were in lockdown and schools were closed.
At our headquarters and in the sales organisation, the gender balance is more even. Balanced teams, in which competencies and personalities complement each other, provide benefits for the teams as well as the company. Gender pay gaps are reviewed yearly and salaries are also benchmarked against industry peers.
We want to foster an entrepreneurial and proactive culture that gives the company and the individual chances to grow and take responsibility. Hestra’s employees are encouraged to learn and take on a variety of tasks and responsibilities. Even if it might be time-consuming at first, it makes us more resilient in the long run. Our colleagues also appreciate that they can expand their skills and gain insight into other parts of the business.
Hestra’s employees are offered yearly performance reviews with their manager. The purpose of these reviews is to plan and manage the employees’ work and development. In these reviews, we also set individual targets that are aligned with our business objectives. The reviews encourage mutual feedback and give the employees the opportunity to influence their own and the company’s development. The reviews also help us mitigate the risk of our employees obtaining the right skill level and development goals to ensure they are satisfied in their roles at Hestra.
This year the competence development has been focused on sustainable leadership. A series of workshops were con- ducted during autumn 2021 and will be followed up in spring 2022. Sustainable leadership is about leading yourself and giving the employees the tools to drive the business in the right direction and towards the company´s visions and goals, which is eventually reflected in the company’s results. As well as improving our gloves with small measures for long-lasting wear, Hestra likes to foster leaders who are in it for the long run, because in the end, it is all about tradition and long-lasting relations.
All factories develop yearly training plans to offer employees the chance to increase their competencies at work. In addition to onboarding training for new colleagues, the staff at our factories undertake training throughout the year. In 2021/22, focus areas have included occupational health and safety, labour law and reviews of ISO and amfori BSCI requirements. Employees are also offered training based on their roles’ requirements. This includes tailored training for occupational health and safety managers, and lessons on English and environmental compliance.
As a family business, Hestra sets a high value on the relationship with its employees. One important factor here are the local managers. Knowing the language and the cultural codes of the specific country, they serve as a link between staff and company. “I spend a great deal of my working time on the factory floor to keep a close contact with the people – listening, explaining, and helping to solve day-to-day problems”, says Krisztián Tenke, managing director for Hestra Hungary. “We have so many smart and keen individuals in production. It’s essential to keep a positive relationship – to interact on the same level.”
In all countries, the Hestra factories have established their own routines to keep up a feeling of belonging amongst the staff: Hestra Matsuka Vietnam for example organises annual trips including accommodation and team-building activities for the whole staff. Chinese Hestra Pinghu, meanwhile, has inherited and developed welfare policies from the past that even include care for retired employees and sick family members or support for children’s education. “In 2021, we disbursed education allowance to 22 students and amongst others subsidised the family of a colleague whose husband became seriously ill”, reports Kathy Sun, deputy Managing Director at Hestra Pinghu.
“Many of our employees have worked with our gloves for decades and there is a strong sense of loyalty and identification among the entire staff”, says Anton Magnusson. “This ultimately contributes to Hestra’s reputation as a good employer at all our four production locations, which in turn helps us to continue to attract talented people in the future. The best proof that Hestra’s long-term investment as a workplace pays off.”
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