Note 13: Restructuring
In 2014, we continued to restructure our business to execute our company strategy so we can continue to meet the needs of our customers in years to come. We are aware of the impact this has on the employees involved and, as a responsible employer, we are committed to supporting our employees during such reorganizations. We do this in compliance with legal requirements and, where applicable, in consultation with employee representative bodies. We strive to ensure clear and ongoing communications, transparent selection processes and, in many cases, support in the transition from work-to-work, which can include training and outplacement.
During 2014, our workforce decreased due to ongoing restructuring and divestments, but we also added to the headcount, mainly through new hires in high growth markets. For details of how our workforce changed, see Note 4 of the Consolidated financial statements.
Wherever possible, we announce our restructuring plans between 12 and 26 months in advance (recent examples have been Yeronga in Australia, and the site relocation within Powder Coatings China of operations in Ningbo and Suzhou to Changzhou). This allows for better planning in the transition from work-to-work. In most countries, we use the services of an external company to support employees in finding their next position. Exceptions to this are in Italy, based on an agreement with the Italian government, and the Netherlands, where we operate an in-house mobility office to support employees.