Volvo is looking far beyond the auto industry to build tomorrow’s work force.
The automaker expects to become an all-electric brand globally by 2030. That’s going to require the nearly 95-year-old company to reinvent its work force — filling its offices and plants with software developers, computer engineers and data scientists.
Volvo is thinking 10 to 20 years ahead.
“Volvo may be anticipating that, if they plan on moving into more software, technical-driven applications, they’re going to be competing against Google, Facebook, Microsoft,” Grosso said. “This move could raise their employer value proposition very significantly.”
Benefits such as parental leave speak to millennials, many of whom prioritize workplace culture.
“The next generation is less focused on the monetary elements of the job. They are looking for a responsible company that is focused on sustainability, reducing its carbon footprint,” Andersen said.
“Volvo is thinking outside of the traditional monetary offerings.”
More vexing for Volvo is how to keep product development and vehicle assembly on track if key employees stay home for several months. Sometimes this requires building redundancy into the work force and getting creative with job sharing, Grosso said.
“They could have people sharing multiple roles,” he said.
For strategic jobs, Volvo might bring in a consultant on a six- to nine-month contract.
But Volvo is prepared to deal with extended employee absences.
“In Volvo Cars, you don’t have a job description, you have a purpose that is linked to your department role in the company,” Gustafsson said.
When an employee needs to take extended leave, the team shares the workload where possible. In other cases, Volvo backfills the job with consultants and temporary workers.
Job sharing has a secondary benefit — it helps employees venture out of their comfort zones and expand their skill sets, which also helps with retention, Gustafsson said.
Short term, Volvo might feel some pressure, Grosso said.
“But long term, I would be very surprised if this benefit isn’t proven to be cost-positive,” he said.
“In this situation, a company would be looking at the total cost of employment — talent acquisition, training and replacement.”