Healthy and engaged staff members


Growth in number of employees

Our workforce grew by 9% from 389 to 423 employees in 2018. 220 employees work in Gorinchem, 85 in Nijkerk, 81 in Scharsterbrug and 37 in Barneveld. At the end of 2018, the average employment duration was 9 years. 20% of our employees are female. 52% of the women work part-time and 64% of them have a permanent contract. 6% of the men work part-time and 86% of them have a permanent contract. As of 1 January 2018, all production sites follow the CLA of the dairy industry. In addition to the dairy industry CLA, we use the Arbeids Voorwaarden Regeling van Vreugdenhil (Vreugdenhil Employment Conditions Regulations, AVR) as of 1 January 2018. 70% of employees are subject to the collective bargaining agreement for the dairy industry. 30% of employees are subject to the collective bargaining agreement for the AVR. Since 2016, our production locations in Gorinchem and Scharsterbrug are SMETA pillar 4-certified. SMETA is an independent and internationally recognised standard for employment conditions.

Lost time accidents

In spite of the fact that we paid more attention to safety in 2018, there were too many lost time accidents in 2018. There were 16 in total, with the time lost ranging from one to several days. One positive element was that the number of accidents fell in the second half of the year, from 10 to 6. There is clearly increased attention from the management for this subject. Albert de Groot (CEO) and Gerrit Jan van Schaik (HR Director) spoke to various employees about their accident at their place of work. Also, the measures initiated in 2017 were continued last year. These include encouraging people to report dangerous situations, attention during shift and management meetings and sharing pictures of improvements with colleagues using narrowcasting. We also narrowcasted the number of days without lost time accidents for every site.

Our objective is that the management systems for health and safety in the workplace on all Vreugdenhil sites will be certified in accordance with the international ISO 45001 standard. In 2019, we will start certification for this at two sites. The measures taken and planned improvements will be continued in 2019 and are expected to lead to a reduction of the number of accidents.

Sickness absence

Sickness absence in 2018 was 4.6% (compared to 3.7% in 2017). In 2018 we were above our 2020 target: sickness absence lower than 4%. Absence shorter than 6 weeks is reasonable similar to 2017. The higher percentage was mainly due to a number of long-term, non-work-related sick employees in Barneveld and Gorinchem. Sickness absence prevention is a constant focus of attention for managers, the HR department and the occupational health and safety service.

Safe and pleasant working environment

Vreugdenhil wants to be a place where people enjoy working in good health, helping to create a successful company. In 2018, we offered all our employees a PME (Preventive Medical Examination). An external agency did the examinations, in which 52% of our employees took part. There was special attention for shift work, vitality in general and undesirable behaviour.

The work ability, as reported by the employees themselves, was just above average in relation to the benchmark. 87% of the respondents felt their work ability was good to excellent, 12% felt it was moderate, and 1% felt it was bad. Working in 2, 4 or 5 shifts and at high temperatures was considered demanding. The results show that working in 5 shifts was experienced more positively compared to another shift work. People who were the least positive on their own work ability were offered an individual meeting with a lifestyle coach. To improve vitality, training was offered in 2018 on topics like sleep, health, food and alcohol. Information was also given on dealing with stress and ownership.

The topic ‘undesirable behaviour’ (such as gossiping and yelling) had been identified in an earlier study. A number of actions were taken in 2018 on this issue; these included workshops with actors and a communication training focusing on what to do in the event of undesirable behaviour. Two years ago we were still at, or even just above the benchmark, but now there is clear improvement and we are below the benchmark (approx. 10% vs over 12%). In 2019, we will again offer training to continue this upward trend.

In total about 140 employees (33%) took one of the trainings mentioned above.


‘Between May and July 2018, Bewegen Werkt did preventive medical tests into the work ability of employees, undesirable behaviour, the working environment and the impact of shift work on workers’ physical and mental health. The findings of the survey, based on questionnaires completed by the employees, yielded several good points as well as points for improvement at every site. The follow-up plan is to organise workshops and vitality coaching, in which we give employees practical tips that are in line with the needs at every site. In this way, Vreugdenhil ensures that its employees will be healthy and available for work for longer.’

Kees der Weduwe, Bewegen Werkt

Long-term work ability and health

In 2019, a number of projects will be launched to promote the vitality and health of our employees. In January, everyone will get access to GoodHabitz, a platform for online training on professionalisation, health and personal development. In addition, a BRAVO programme will be launched tailored to every site comprising training aimed at exercise, smoking, alcohol, good food and relaxation. A vitality coach may support employees in the event of long-term work ability issues. In 2018, preparations were made for the leadership project, which aims to strengthen the personal leadership qualities of all employees.