The risk is that NS is confronted with staff shortages at points within its organisation where this may cause discontinuity in the implementation of crucial processes.
NS and indeed the country as a whole are feeling the effects of labour shortages. Up to 2022, the number of job vacancies will remain higher than the number of new employees who can fill them. At NS, the rate at which job vacancies are being filled and the time until they are filled have remained stable, despite the shortages on the labour market. However, our ability to find staff for future job vacancies at IT, Technology, Train Modernisation, Commerce, Network Development an Retail is a source of concern.
Among staff on the trains, chief guards and train managers international will become difficult to find. Given the age structure of the current workforce, we expect to see a high outflow of retiring staff and lower levels of flexibility in assigning staff to trains over the next five years. Another relevant aspect is the increase in sickness absence, which fuels demand for additional capacity.
NS has drawn up strategic staff planning schedules and taken measures such as more frequent rolling stock reviews and succession planning. Short-term campaigns have been set up to prevent further growth in sickness absence. Managers are receive coaching and guidance from case managers to deal with complicated absenteeism cases. A special sickness absence task force conducts in-depth studies into the causes and prevention of absenteeism, monitors the progress made and issues weekly reports. In addition, the sustained employment approach as a whole is subjected to an external re-assessment, and we are working on the details of an action plan for the medium and long term to keep our employees healthy and vigorous.
Risk control trend
Following a decrease in 2018, this risk increased once again in 2019. While staff shortages were manageable in 2019, they may rise further in the years ahead despite NS's growing appeal as an employer. There is a fierce battle for talented people on the market. In addition to that, we should continue our focus on strategic forecasting and weighing the options available for dealing with labour market shortages and normalisation of sickness absence.