How we work together
Our culture reflects the way in which we are part of society. The knowledge, competencies and conduct of our employees are all-important in this regard.
Our core values define our culture and determine our conduct. They give us something to hold on to, inform our attitudes and behavior, and decide the extent to which we are successful in our business, both now and in the short and long term. We believe that our employees should be capable of adapting to a continuously changing environment. To achieve this, we need a safe, sustainable, and dynamic working environment. The foundations for this are laid in a culture that is imbued with the principles of personal leadership, trust, and responsibility. One of which everybody forms part, and in which we inspire in terms of diversity and inclusion. Our guiding principle is that at APG, you can be who you are.
We connect. We are genuinely interested in our colleagues and value different points of view. We call to account and are accountable. When something changes, we get each other and our stakeholders on board in a timely manner.
What we do impacts our customers. We listen, understand their needs, respond to them, and give feedback. We deliver results, are proactive, and discuss issues openly, so that together we arrive at the best solution.
We make difficult things easy. This is what informs our working methods, to make the clear language we use and the products we make simple, understandable, and compelling.
We continually improve. We are open to new ideas, apply new technologies, and set priorities together. It is OK to make mistakes.
We are there for each other. We care about colleagues and clients and look after them. We give each other our trust and clear instructions and take that extra step to achieve our goals together.
We are not wasteful. We are cost-conscious, use less when we can, and invest where we need to. We manage clients’ money as carefully as if it were our own.
We deliberately opt for a way of working where we are considerate of others, in every decision, big or small. We lead by example, ask critical questions, and inspire others. We aim for a proper balance between work and private life, and very consciously choose when and how we carry out which activities. In other words: at APG, we work flexibly, based on what is right for us personally while also taking the needs of our team into consideration.
Our external auditor has audited the “soft controls” - the factors that impact behavior - we apply in our organization. KPMG has concluded that the culture at APG contributes towards an effective internal control environment and that APG’s scores are in keeping with those of other major financial institutions. Points of attention are primarily engaging employees in strategy-making, expressing appreciation to fellow workers, and clarifying roles and responsibilities. The results of both the KPMG audit and our employee engagement survey help us to make an even greater contribution to society.
We want to lead the way in sustainability. APG’s greatest impact on sustainability is the way it manages the investments for its pension fund clients.
We impose strict sustainability and social responsibility requirements for the companies we invest in. However, we can only set the bar high for others if we satisfy these requirements ourselves. This is why we encourage our employees to make sustainability part of their day-to-day activities and decision-making. We want to increase this commitment by demonstrating our social engagement within the community in which we operate.
It has become clear these past few years that we still need to take significant steps to make our organization more sustainable. To this end we launched a number of initiatives in 2020 that were relatively easy to implement. In 2021, we focused on policy formulation, including long-term objectives. In 2022, we will develop these objectives into specific plans, and will ensure that our policy is actually implemented.
In 2021, we joined the UN Global Compact initiative. The principles of this international organization with respect to human rights, employment, the environment, and fighting corruption were already important criteria that informed our investments before. Now they must become an integral aspect of our organizational structure.
In 2021, we adopted a human rights policy. At APG, we are confronted with human rights in four areas: employment law, procurement, our handling of participants’ personal data, and awarding investment mandates. In 2021, we also installed a Sustainability Board. This board, which is chaired by the head of our Executive Board, prepares the decisions that we need to take in order to implement our sustainability goals.
We want our business operations to be demonstrably climate neutral by 2030. This is why, in 2021, we took a number of specific steps regarding our business premises, circularity, and national and international travel. In 2021, our gross CO2emissions totaled 7,218 tonnes (2020: 8,173 tonnes). The COVID-19 crisis prevents us from making useful comparisons with base year 2019. APG uses Gold Standard certificates to compensate its remaining emissions. See Chapter 8 Appendices for more information about our carbon footprint and the underlying principles.
In early 2022, we moved into our new, fully sustainable office building on the Basisweg in Amsterdam. This building, called Edge West, is the most sustainable redeveloped building in Europe and has the highest possible BREEAM certification, a certification that expresses the degree of sustainability. By relocating our Amsterdam offices at the Zuidas district and our temporary premises to this building on the Basisweg, we will greatly reduce the level of CO2 emissions produced by our business premises.
When relocating to Edge West, we not only considered our energy consumption and CO2 emissions, but also the health and well-being of our employees. We prioritized topics such as providing sufficient green spaces and daylight, good acoustics, healthy workplaces, and facilities for people to exercise. We also completed the BREEAM certification process for our Heerlen office. The aim is to obtain the certification Excellent for these premises as well.
We believe that working flexibly will remain the norm. We want to continue to have roughly half the work performed from home. This also helps us reduce our CO2 emissions. In 2021, we already noticed a considerable CO2 saving. If we work from home more, this will also impact the way we use our offices. Our new offices in Amsterdam have already been set up for the flexible use of work areas. We are also organizing flexible work areas at our offices in Heerlen. This also means that, over time, we will need less office space.
Loek Dalmeijer, Group Sustainability Officer APG
“I want it to show even more clearly where in our office environment we have opted for sustainable alternatives and what these yields. Not only in terms of the provenance of our coffee, or how we separate waste, but also the way in which the new Amsterdam offices are made energy neutral and gas-free. When colleagues see that they work in a sustainable organization and how they can make sustainable decisions in their own work(place), this will become an organic part of the organizational culture.”
We carefully consider which materials we use and can reuse. We are proud of the fact that our new offices in Amsterdam are housed in a renovated building and that we managed to reuse many materials. We want our offices to be places that produce no residual waste. Our initial goal is to produce less than 10% residual waste (in 2021 this was 18%). With this in mind, we use as few new materials as possible and encourage the reuse of products. By recycling raw materials, we reduce waste. In Amsterdam, for example, there is a site near our premises where we will process our fruit, vegetable, and garden waste into fertilizer for the surrounding gardens. Another aspect of our waste management policy is using attractive and user-friendly collection points. Via awareness campaigns we show the benefits of waste separation and urge people to change their recycling habits.
On January 1, 2022, we introduced a new mobility policy. We try not only to reduce the number of necessary transport movements, but also to make these trips as clean and short as possible. This policy applies both to foreign trips and to commuting.
We have started working flexibly, also because this instantly reduces travel. The starting point is to strike a 50:50 balance between working from home and at the office. We also encourage the use of public transport. For short trips, less than 20 km, taking an electric or pedal bike should become the new normal. We have also tightened our parking policy and brought it in line with our objectives and new way of working. From January 2022, there will only be 200 parking spaces available at our new Basisweg premises in Amsterdam. By contrast, at our two former Amsterdam offices we still had a combined 600 parking spaces available.
In 2020, we joined the Anders Reizen initiative and signed the Dutch Business Sustainable Mobility Pledge. Anders Reizen is a coalition of more than 70 organizations to halve the CO2 emission per FTE generated by business trips by 2030, compared to 2016 (our benchmark year is 2019: we do not have accurate data for previous years). The organizations also share each other’s best practices.
To properly perform our work, we simply need to make international trips. Certain matters simply cannot be dealt with online, especially because we invest in unlisted companies. This usually means that we have to visit these companies in person, for example to discuss their business operations. We want to make sure “on the spot” whether the enterprises we invest in are complying with international standards, in such areas as human rights, employment, and the environment.
This may mean that in future we have to make even more visits to companies in which we (may) invest. A significant part of our CO2 emissions is already generated by international trips. Since emissions are falling rapidly in other areas, the proportion of CO2 emissions from taking a plane, in particular, will only increase.
To make these trips more sustainable, we introduced certain measures in 2021. For instance, we tightened our international travel policy. For trips up to 500 km, the train is the preferred way to travel. If somebody wants to travel by plane, this requires the approval of a line manager. For all our flights, our travel agency selects the one that produces the lowest CO2 emissions.
We have concluded a long-term contract with SkyNRG, under which we will partially switch to clean aviation fuel. This will take place as soon as the world’s first large-scale production facility for sustainable kerosene in Delfzijl becomes operational, which is scheduled to be in 2025. By already committing ourselves to this kerosene, we are helping this new market to develop and grow.
APG wants to be “A Great Place to Work.” This is why we make substantial investments in our employees’ development and in the creation of a safe and sustainable working environment.
The COVID-19 crisis continued to have a huge impact. Throughout 2021, all employees primarily worked from home and meetings were held online. In the fall, we started to cautiously return to our offices. Nevertheless, the occupancy rate at our offices in Amsterdam, Heerlen, and abroad remained very low. From late November onwards, we again followed the government’s guidelines to work from home.
Although these circumstances sometimes hamper our ability to work together, we still do have to do so, especially now that we are preparing ourselves for the new pension system. This is why we have made substantial investment in online team development, something we will continue to do in 2022. We have also invested heavily in reinforcing social connectivity between employees. To facilitate personal contacts and discussions, we have encouraged taking joint walks, for example. The chair of our Management Board has led the way in this.
To facilitate working from home, each employee received a personal budget of €850 to set up a workplace at home.
Some find it easier to work from home than others. This depends for instance on their family circumstances, the possibilities there are to create a comfortable workplace, and the nature of their activities. In mid-2021, employees told us how they rated their home office, giving it an average score of 70.6 out of 100. For those employees who found it impossible to work from home, measures were taken to ensure they could work safely at our offices.
Every manager attends a personal leadership program to learn how to take charge of his or her own life and career. This program is also designed to support employees in the choices they must make and to teach them how to deal with the (unavoidable) changes in their working life. The managers also guide the development of the team. Supervised by a coach, teams can join a program to boost effectiveness and collaboration, both for the team itself and for the individual team members.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we were aiming for a more hybrid form of working. COVID-19 has only accelerated this process. This also changed the manner of leadership within the organization. The progress interviews have been replaced with twice-yearly “development interviews.” These focus on the employee’s longer-term learning and other development, job satisfaction, and work-life balance. Development interviews are held at all levels of the organization. In addition, the employee periodically discusses short-term performance and development with his or her superior.
We have grown faster as an organization in 2021 than in previous years. Preparing for the new pension system and - in anticipation of this - shifting through records, requires extra staff. We primarily need (temporary) staff for further innovation and digitalization and for the Grip on Data program. People with specialist pension and digitalization knowledge. In 2021, we hired 380 new staff, 96 of them on a permanent contract. Naturally, there were also some people (336) who left APG, primarily due to retirement, but also to move to a new job or because their temporary contract ended.
As an organization, we need (and want) to keep learning. To do this, we need a safe environment to try out new things, in which we are unafraid to speak out and ask for help, and to give and receive feedback. One in which employees are appreciated for who they are and what they can do. In light of all the changes we have to deal with, we believe it is important to support the development of our employees. In recent years, this has resulted in the program The Making of You, which focuses on the long-term employability of employees. Each employee must take control of his or her own convictions, attitudes, and behavior, in order to turn ambitions into changes.
The new pension system has greatly increased the demand for specific pension knowledge. There is also a need for more staff with (specialist) digital and analytical skills. This is why we are rethinking the courses we offer. Our clearly defined Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP) will provide us with a more accurate picture of our organization’s future development needs. In 2021, this phased plan led to our setting up three academies in the fields of data, digitalization, and decision making, respectively. In 2022, we will add two more academies, one focusing on participant orientation and another on pension knowledge. We want our employees to continually develop themselves, to ensure that they get the best out of themselves and build a long-term future for both APG and themselves. In this way, learning and working are inextricably entwined at APG.
COVID-19 has unfortunately reduced the possibility to attend in-person training and courses. To offer staff the facilities to develop themselves and provide easy access to learning, all employees may make use of GoodHabitz’s e-learning library. This library offers online courses and masterclasses on such subjects as personal effectiveness, vitality (fitness), communication, management, MS Office, social media, talent development, Spanish and English. Employees can choose between any of over one hundred online training courses and masterclasses during working hours. In addition, interactive online lectures given by external speakers are offered throughout the year. These are on wide-ranging subjects, including the brain, feedback, focusing and hybrid working. During Vitality Week, in September, lectures were given on vitality and personal development.
Our human capital is our most valuable asset. Our employees’ individual differences, life experiences, knowledge and know-how, creativity, innovation, self-expression, and capabilities shape our culture.
As an organization, we want to help create a sustainable society. In the end, pensions are about people, life, and living together. We want to be an organization that appeals to people, one that both existing and future clients can identify with.
APG encourages diversity and an inclusive culture. Diversity refers to all visible and invisible differences. Inclusion is about recognizing and appreciating these differences. Inclusion means an environment in which we embrace, respect, and value each colleague, so that each person feels safe and welcome.
This responsibility already starts when recruiting new staff. All our job advertisements refer to diversity and inclusion. We also make sure of a diverse composition of our selection committees. We raise awareness for diversity and inclusion during events and in our communications. We regularly invite staff to talk on our intranet about their experiences and backgrounds. These personal narratives promote identification and connectivity within the organization.
In 2021, we worked hard on improving inclusion and psychological safety within our organization. In order to obtain useful, well-founded information on today’s cultural diversity, we have joined the Barometer of Cultural Diversity set up by Statistics Netherlands CBS.
Five key points for diversity and inclusion
- We want to reflect society, so that we are better able to understand our participants’ needs and wishes.
- We need diversified talents and competencies, in order to become more agile and achieve better results.
- We are working towards a sustainable future. We can only achieve this by making all aspects of our organization sustainable.
- We want everybody to be themselves and to be unafraid to do so. This is a prerequisite for greater engagement.
- We do everything we can to create the safest possible environment, one in which people are not afraid to speak out. This helps us to position ourselves as a self-aware player in the pensions industry.
Evelien Starren, Expert Risk Manager, Asset Management
“About seventy colleagues with whom I work closely together knew that I would be coming to work as a woman. I did not actually get much work done that day, as everybody dropped by for a chat. Their reactions were heartwarming. Some said I looked great, while others remarked how brave I was. My female colleagues made me feel welcome right away and gave me the impression that I was one of them.”
A varied age structure is part and parcel of an inclusive policy. Our aim is to bring different generations together in our teams. In 2021, we looked which age categories included the most employees who were leaving (voluntarily). Unexpectedly, younger people were not overrepresented. We notice a slight increase in the number of staff leaving who have worked at APG between five and ten years. This may indicate that not enough was done to develop this group’s talents and/or that there were not enough career opportunities for them. We will continue to analyze this issue in 2022.
One specific goal is to appoint more women to managerial positions. For instance, at least 30% of the members of both the Executive Board and Supervisory Board must be women and at least another 30% of both Boards must be men. We have easily attained this goal. We scored less well at second level management, though: our target was at least 35% women, but we are only at 26%. Currently, about 74% of our managers and team leaders are men and 26% are women. Our aim is to raise this to at least 40% women. 64% of our workforce is whole currently male and 36% female. For more information on our workforce, see Chapter 8 Appendices.
In order to give talent development among women a necessary boost, we have set up a special program in partnership with Schouten & Nelissen. We expect much from this program, which is a combination of online and offline learning. Greater diversity leads to better results, and this is precisely what APG wants to achieve by creating greater diversity within the organization.
Our staff need to stay fit and to feel connected, even when working from home. We encourage them to take good care of themselves and to discuss any problems they have with their team and their supervisor. We also encourage them to regularly take time off and get enough exercise.
In 2021, we regularly used surveys to monitor and find out about the well-being of our staff. In addition, each employee has received a personal vitality budget. This may be spent as the recipient sees fit, for example on a fitness subscription or dietary advice.
Sickness-related absenteeism fell slightly, from 3.6% in 2020 to 3.5% in 2021.
APG wants to be “A Great Place to Work” and to be an organization of highly engaged employees, who show the best version of themselves in their work, whether at home or at the office. An important prerequisite for achieving this is to listen to our people. In order to sound out our employees and hear their opinions, we twice conducted an APG-wide employee engagement survey, at the end of March and October 2021. Just like in 2020 (81%), the response was surprisingly high in 2021, with 82% and 83% taking part in the March and October surveys, respectively. This shows that employees remain convinced that it is worthwhile to get their voices heard at APG.
The engagement score was above average as well, at 7.6 (2020: 7.8). Despite this small decline, it is still a good result, especially in times of COVID-19, and well above the benchmark (6 points). The survey confirmed that employees feel that they are given the opportunity to perform their tasks well (empowerment) and are given the necessary resources to do so. And more importantly, that they feel at home at APG. Based on this survey, we see as opportunities for improvement the enthusiasm about APG’s future, having clearly defined roles, and complying with the organizational values. We have started work on these points for improvements.
Despite the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, many employees stated that they felt fit and energetic, although some declared that they were finding it very difficult to work from home. During periods when the COVID-19 measures were eased, these employees were given preference and were allowed to return to the office before others.
In 2021, the Top Employers Institute proclaimed us a Top Employer in the Netherlands for the fourteenth time in a row. This organization conducts independent surveys on good employment practices, HR policy, and employment conditions all over the world. We score very well compared to 63 other certified organizations in terms of leadership and workforce planning. In other words: putting the right employees with the right competencies in the right place.
We observe a transparent and prudent remuneration policy, which naturally reflects APG’s long-term vision and strategy.
Our remuneration policy carefully considers three different aspects:
A proper balance must be struck between the remuneration of the Executive Board and that of the staff, and between the different organizational units, and men and women. When differences in remuneration occur, we must be able to clarify and justify them.
We always endeavor to strike the right balance between competitive, justifiable remuneration, and recruiting and retaining talent. To this end, we use specific benchmarks for particular positions and organizational units.
We take responsibility for our role in society, by finding a proper balance between offering the right remuneration and maximizing pension value.
We have adopted a centralized and integrated remuneration policy, which focuses on opportunities for development, training, and education. We offer a fixed salary, a good pension plan, and other fringe benefits, e.g., a vitality allowance and group insurance options. An employee who voluntarily leaves the company does not receive severance pay. Severance pay for daily policymakers is capped at the equivalent of one year of total fixed remuneration. As agreed in the collective bargaining agreement, the above-mentioned three aspects of the remuneration system were further jointly studied in 2021. The findings of these studies are discussed in more detail in the CBA meetings.
We differentiate in remuneration where necessary. Variable remuneration is only paid to those asset management staff who directly influence investments, and to the staff of our Entis subsidiary. The level of this remuneration depends on the position, and on quantitative and qualitative performance. 50% of the variable remuneration depends on non-financial variables, such as sustainability indicators. For most of these employees, the variable remuneration is deferred and is only paid later on, depending on the amount. For instance, half is paid in the year following the performance year, while the other half is paid in three equal installments following a re-evaluation of the performance.
No guaranteed variable remuneration or retention bonuses are awarded. Sign-on bonuses are rarely agreed.
In other countries, variable remuneration makes up a larger proportion of the total remuneration, depending on the local legislation and labor market. Performance-related remuneration is an integral part of those cultures. These rewards are composed differently and can be higher than in the Netherlands. Here too, we consider whether a larger share of the total remuneration package should be variable remuneration, based on internal and external ratios and the societal perspective. We use variable remuneration in order to reward employees for performance, thus allowing us to recruit and retain the right staff.
We regularly carry out risk analyses to determine whether our remuneration policy, in particular our variable remuneration policy, might lead to adverse remuneration incentives, notwithstanding the various controls we have implemented. Each year, jobs that have a material impact on AM’s risk profile are identified as “Identified Staff.” Our remuneration policy uses control measures that apply to these positions.
For 2021, the total amount of variable remuneration paid was €48.6 million (2020: €46.7 million). Of this total amount, €41.3 million (2020: €39.2 million) related to our foreign businesses, while €7.3 million related to variable remuneration awarded in the Netherlands. The €1.9 million increase is primarily due to the growing organization and an increase in the number of staff who qualify for variable remuneration, especially in our foreign businesses. The strong investment performances in 2021 likewise resulted in the awarding of generally higher variable remuneration.
In 2021, twelve asset management staff members (2020: nine), all of whom were employed abroad, received a total remuneration of more than €1 million. The number of employees receiving a total compensation in excess of €1 million in any given year depends on developments in foreign exchange rates. Total compensation includes fixed and variable remuneration, as well as other benefits.
Responsibility for the remuneration policy
APG complies with the applicable laws and regulations as regards controlled remuneration. We also comply with the Dutch Corporate Governance Code. The primary responsibility for the remuneration policy rests with the Executive Board. The Supervisory Board supervises this. The Remuneration Committee advise the latter.
The remuneration of the individual members of the Executive Board is determined by the shareholders’ meeting, on a proposal of the Supervisory Board. This exception to the Corporate Governance Code, which is laid down in APG’s Articles of Association, may be ascribed to the mitigated structure regime that applies to APG. Under this regime, the power to appoint directors also rests with the shareholders’ meeting, albeit on a proposal of the Supervisory Board.
The Management Board of APG Asset Management is responsible for implementing its own remuneration policy. Since our asset management activities are placed in an independent company, APG Asset Management has its own supervisory board and remuneration committee. The supervisory board adopts the remuneration policy, on a proposal of the Management Board. The Review Remuneration Committee supports and advises on the remuneration policy. This committee consists of members of HR, Risk, Compliance, and Legal, who work closely together to ensure that the policy is properly set-up, interpreted and monitored. The internal auditor, who does not sit on the Committee, periodically audits the set up, implementation, and application of the policy.
Remuneration of the Executive Board
We consider these same three aspects - internal and external ratios and societal perspective - when deciding the remuneration of the Executive Board.
The internal ratio between the remuneration of the Chief Executive Officer and that of the average employee is 4.6 (2020: 4.9), which puts it on the low side. For APG Netherlands alone, this ratio is 5.6 (2020: 6.0). We periodically test the external ratios, based on a carefully constructed external benchmark of comparable organizations. The societal perspective is reflected in, among other things, the form of the remuneration. The Executive Board members participate in the pension scheme on the same basis as other employees. Executive Board members are not eligible for variable remuneration.
We apply the same principles to members of the Supervisory Board. Their remuneration must incentivize them in the performance of their duties and must be in keeping with their responsibilities. They present proposals on their own remuneration to the shareholders’ meeting. The notes to the financial statements contain a summary of the remuneration of the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board. For more information, please refer to the remuneration report on the website apg.nl.
The strategy to prepare APG for future changes has been discussed extensively with the Works Council, which was also involved in the Pension of the Future program.
The Works Council believes that timely training, retraining and additional training of staff is essential for the transition to the new pension system. The Works Council shared its vision of staff development with both the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board. In November, an initial impression from the completed SWPs for the quantitative and qualitative challenges for the future was shared with the Works Council.
In 2021, eight requests for advice, including the request for adopting a new policy and capital administration structure, as well as five requests for consent, were submitted to the Works Council. In the fall of 2021, the Works Council presented its advice on the reallocation of tasks within the Executive Board and the portfolio allocation. The Works Council was also informed about less significant changes within the organization.
In 2021, the Executive Board met twelve times with the Works Council, two of which meetings were attended by members of the Supervisory Board. At these meetings, the general course of affairs and the expected developments within APG were discussed. On some occasions, the Works Council also exchanged ideas with those members of the Supervisory Board who were appointed on the nomination of the Works Council (enhanced right of recommendation).
Carla Voss-Martinow, member of the Works Council and HR officer
“The Works Council also acts as sparring partner for the employer, whereby the interests of all those involved are considered. You do not always have to agree with each other, but you do have to respect each other’s standpoints. After all, only by challenging each other do we arrive at a position that has the best and broadest possible support, and do we become the wonderful and reputable company that we want to be.”
In addition, eleven agenda committee meetings were held with the Works Council’s managing committee. The Works Council itself met twenty-eight times, with many meetings dealing with a specific topic.
In addition to the Works Council, consultations took place with the labor unions. Among other things, we discussed our new HR cycle and the reorganization plan with them, as well as the remuneration policy, the Pension of the Future, flexible working, and future ways of working.
A number of changes took place in the Works Council. Its chair stepped down to take up a new position within APG. The Works Council regulations were updated in the run-up to the elections to be held in March 2022. All employees can follow what is going on at APG by reading the agendas and reports that are published on the Works Council’s Intranet site.
Reorganizations are announced in a timely way through monthly updates. This ensures that the Works Council is briefed proactively and can make the necessary preparations to fulfill its role. The method of reorganization applied at APG was also evaluated last year. An internal audit of issues such as pension administration provided “learning points” that will be incorporated in a new reorganization plan. This was coordinated with both the labor unions and the Works Council.
Due to COVID-19, the meetings with the Works Council were primarily held online. Contact with the Works Council took place in an open and critically constructive atmosphere.