This year, the geopolitical situation has shaken the markets of various countries. However, some international players have managed to achieve impressive results and share their profits with their employees. Outokumpu, an international steel company with a global service centre in Vilnius, can boast such achievements. Nearly 200 employees at this centre were given an extra bonus this Christmas, with a solid payment of €1,260 for the countries most affected by inflation and geopolitical events.
The official figures for the fourth quarter of the year have not yet been published, but it seems that Outokumpu had its best year ever. In the first three quarters of the year, the global steel giant produced almost 1.7 million tonnes of stainless steel and generated a net profit of €775 million.
The company’s global service centre in Vilnius was one of three units to receive special payments to reduce the impact of inflation on workers’ households.
“Given the geopolitical situation, it was decided to share the company’s profits with its employees. This means that Outokumpu’s Vilnius team, which has contributed to an exceptionally successful year, will receive a bonus of half their salary by Christmas, while all employees in inflation-hit countries will receive additional support to cover their increased cost of living. The benefit amounted to €1,260 per person,” says Domas Senovaitis, Head of the Vilnius Service Centre.
Inflationary support is not only for those currently working in the company, he says.
“Outokumpu takes care of all its employees, so not only those who are currently working, but also parents with children on paternity leave have received the benefit,” added D. Senovaitis.
However, the impressive level of benefits was not the only good news this year, despite the market challenges.
Increasing Lithuania’s visibility
Although Outokumpu has had its best year ever, the geopolitical situation, rising costs of resources, and rising prices for services have not spared the company.
“We have similar challenges as other organisations, but we have managed to keep the situation stable, so we are very happy with the results. As a country, Lithuania is becoming more expensive, but we are responding by creating more value in the international arena and providing more services.
In Lithuania, we work closely with “Invest Lithuania”, the Finnish-Lithuanian Chamber of Commerce and the Embassy. This year, we had the opportunity to speak to the Finnish Minister for European Affairs, Titti Tuppurainen, about the situation in Lithuania. If we are invited to meetings of this level, we can say that we are doing really well, we are able to represent Lithuania well and increase its visibility,” said D. Senovaitis.
Overall, the Vilnius Global Service Centre can boast both major and minor achievements this year. A lot of attention has been paid to process optimisation, structure improvement and user experience.
“We have done a lot this year. We have implemented functional structural changes, we have had changes in the management team, in the reallocation of responsibilities and positions. This has led to more efficient service delivery and better results.
We have started several projects in several areas, not only in Lithuania but also in other countries. We have focused on user experience, aligning end-to-end processes. We have started to provide operational excellence services outside the centre, which were previously internal only. Demand has grown and our visibility has increased. We feel that we are becoming recognisable on the Lithuanian market as well”, said the head of the Vilnius Global Services Centre.
Within six years, the capabilities of Outokumpu’s Vilnius Global Service Centre specialists have been properly evaluated and the work has moved to the next level. According to D. Senovaitis, the specialists in Vilnius have become partners within the organisation, who are entrusted with decision-making.
The post-pandemic period, however, had its own challenges, as it does for many organisations, which the company has tried to overcome by fostering community spirit.
“We have a hybrid way of working in the office, so this year we have tried to bring the team together and provide additional motivation, such as coffee and snack afternoons, where we have also interacted with colleagues who have come from abroad. We carried out health week activities, rewarded ideas, continued the tradition of rewarding the most outstanding employees and so on,” said D. Senovaitis.
Interest in Lithuania’s talents
One of the key achievements of the Vilnius Service Centre in 2022 will be an increased focus on Lithuanian talent. This year, the capital has implemented a particularly successful programme for them.
“Our employees have travelled extensively this year, which is an advantage for an international company. We had the opportunity to showcase ourselves and our capabilities in other Outokumpu locations.
The centre now has more global positions, which are more complex and more visible across Outokumpu’s international footprint. The positions have been created following an assessment of our competences and skills – in general, there are not many positions at this level in Lithuanian companies.
In addition, this year the Vilnius Global Services Centre has received a lot of visits and interest from foreign colleagues on how to use the Lithuania’s talents and competences that are here,” said D. Senovaitis.
Finding higher-level competences
Some of the transformations of Outokumpu’s Vilnius Global Service Centre this year suggest that its contribution to the international scene will be even greater next year.
“We have already planned our responsibilities and priorities. Centralisation, harmonisation and efficiency are the main directions. Therefore, next year we would like to maintain and reinforce our Agile competences – to be flexible and responsive, to meet the expectations of future competences, such as big data, robotic process automation.
Of course, we would like to be even more visible inside and outside the organisation, and to have even more global exposure, which is very realistic. It is important for us to give our employees the opportunity to showcase the talents within the organisation by giving them the choice to work not only in Vilnius, but also in other countries where Outokumpu operates,” believes D. Senovaitis.
Next year, the focus will also be on higher competences rather than more employees.
“We will aim to recruit higher level specialists and improve the competences of existing employees. In the long term, we plan to develop corporate value propositions that are fully personalised and respond to the individual needs of each member of the team,” the CEO said.
Challenges and paid internships
Looking back at the company’s processes, D. Senovaitis sees complex challenges that he hopes to overcome next year. For the company, he says, it is a question of how best to set up these processes and ensure that the system works flawlessly, as well as how to find the best balance within the organisation between project work, process improvement and direct work.
“Of course, remote teamwork also poses some challenges – how to harness the creative and collaborative potential of team members based in different countries. Attracting talent in the local market is also not a new topic, but personalised benefits packages should eventually make it easier to meet this challenge,” says the head of Outokumpu’s Vilnius Service Centre.
D. Senovaitis also sees the internship programme as a high-value project. Students can already apply for a paid internship with the company.
Market leaders in sustainability
In addition to human resources and process issues, Outokumpu’s Vilnius Global Service Centre, like the company as a whole, operates under a sustainability strategy. Long-term plans are being implemented on a global scale, and unprecedented innovations are being introduced in production processes.
“We have now set a new standard for sustainable stainless steel. The company has introduced an industry innovation to the global market – Outokumpu Circle Green stainless steel, produced with a 92% lower carbon footprint compared to the industry average. This solution has proven to be a success and has led to the signing of cooperation agreements with market giants such as Fiskars,” said D. Senovaitis.
Meanwhile, in Lithuania, where production processes are not taking place, the company is taking day-to-day decisions driven by its sustainability strategy.
“First we have eliminated one of the two printers, and in the future we will be able to eliminate the third one after the implementation of the electronic signature and paperless centre administration projects.
The company deliberately chose an office in Vilnius that would have the appropriate certifications and be less polluting. We also give our employees a certain number of volunteering days to contribute to environmental improvement programmes or to work for the local communities.
We are thinking about green accounting, to raise awareness of green and sustainability issues. This is also very relevant for the market itself,” D. Senovaitis emphasises.
He said that Outokumpu is also currently conducting potential implementation studies for certain production processes in Lithuania.