Yara has a century-old tradition of knowledge development and innovation that has contributed to the company’s position. Innovation was a key issue at the company’s annual Management Summit, and the new position of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) was established in order to coordinate R&D activities.
In 2009, Yara developed a new human resources (HR) strategy. Launched in 2010, it entails a strategic business focus with three priorities: optimizing workforce performance; building a “candidate pipeline;” creating a highly valued work culture. The latter means an increased focus on talent retention, teamwork, and processes. Integrating diversity and mobility with these is high on the management agenda. Yara’s HR organization has been made into a global function, with a strong focus on providing direct, high-quality and relevant support to managers, employees, and the company as a whole. This will ensure consistency in HR activities and strengthen transfer of best practice across company operations.
The revised HR strategy recognizes that the recruitment, development and retention of the right people and expertise levels are crucial to further success and continued growth. Yara believes that focusing on workforce diversity will attract and retain top talent, and encourage all employees to reach their own full potential. To guarantee the professional development of employees, Yara offers on-the-job training along with complementary courses and programs. The company’s e-learning platform, Edvantage, also offers a variety of courses.
In 2009, Yara spent roughly NOK 23.5 million on external training of its workforce, equaling about NOK 3000 per employee. About 75 percent of supervised employees and 80 percent of managerial grade employees received appraisal and development reviews. Yara aims for such reviews for every employee, and communicates this goal through the Ethics Handbook, which also provides guidelines for both employees and managers on how to perform constructive appraisal processes.
Yara also aims for anti-corruption training for all employees. This will be implemented and monitored through the Ethics Program in 2010. In 2009, roughly 400 employees received tailored anti-corruption training provided by the new Ethics and Compliance Department (see pages 18–19).
Research and development
Quite unique in the fertilizer industry, Yara has retained its own R&D structure, which is closely linked to production as well as marketing. R&D is carried out at the company’s agronomic center, Hanninghof, in Duelmen, Germany, at the center for foliar products in Pocklington, UK, and at the technology centers in Porsgrunn, Norway and Sluiskil, the Netherlands. In 2009, an extension of the Hanninghof Center was established in Shandong, China. In 2009, Yara’s prize for academic achievement in the field of Physics and Chemistry, the Birkeland Prize, was awarded to the German chemist, Dr. Melanie Zimmermann.
Yara continuously develops improved plant nutrition concepts and innovative agronomic solutions. The main focus is on nutrition strategies that create higher agricultural productivity, contributing to food security and sustainable agriculture. Through 2009, Yara continued several field and pot trials aimed at improving a crop’s uptake of nutrients, and hence, the utilization of mineral fertilizers. Yara continued to improve decision-making tools for growers, including a project on how to turn mobile phones into a fertilizer recommendation tool, dubbed the CropImage solution.
Also, Yara is engaged in research aimed at reducing the environmental impacts of agriculture which contribute to global warming. Pioneering the use of life-cycle assessments (LCA) in agriculture, Yara has pinpointed hotspots for reduction of the carbon footprint of crop growth and engaged in activities targeting reduced N2O emissions from fields.
Yara’s technology centers focus on improving production processes, catalyst technologies and industrial applications as well as product quality and market support. By fine-tuning the company’s production platform, these R&D activities contribute to production efficiency and reliability, adding the benefit of increased energy efficiency and reduced emissions. Through 2009, Yara continued improvements of its N2O catalyst technology and headed an EU funded project investigating a new catalyst technology for nitric acid production that could potentially lead to significant savings and environmental benefits.
Yara also continued to improve its environmental abatement technologies, working alongside customers and providing tools and services to ensure that they are applied in the best possible way and perform to expectations.