Media about us 4/19/2024 Read 4 min

Metinvest's key principles in working with veterans, or how to bring back the maximum number of mobilised employees to their pre-war jobs

Metinvest Group takes an active part in supporting and reintegrating veterans, as a large number of employees from the Group's enterprises have been mobilised to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and some of them are already returning from military service. Tetiana Petruk, Metinvest Group's Chief Sustainability Officer, shared the company's experience during a panel discussion on the reintegration of veterans and support for veteran businesses held on 10 April at the Kyiv Business Wisdom Summit.

Tetiana Petruk

Today, first of all, I would like to thank our men and women who are serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and whose return is very much looked forward to at our enterprises. And this is exactly the message we are sending to our veterans. In total, Metinvest Group has more than 8,000 employees serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. One in six employees of our operating enterprises is now serving in the defence forces. The main message we want to convey to them is that we are waiting for you. To date, more than 500 veterans from among our mobilised employees have returned. These people have come back from the war and returned to work. I would like to emphasise that of the more than 500 people who have returned from the frontline, about 85% are working in their previous jobs. This is currently a challenge for the whole country, as according to various estimates, about 12% of the working-age population is serving in the army. At Metinvest, this figure reaches 16%. It is a lot, so bringing back our veterans to our enterprises is very important to overcome the shortage of skilled workforce. And we are already faced with the staff shortage.

Our enterprises are located in eastern Ukraine, 30-40 km from the frontline. Obviously, the majority of the population has left the cities and towns where our facilities are located, and it is very difficult to bring people back now. To date, we are experiencing a shortage of staff, which is estimated at around 4,000 people. This prevents us from running our facilities at full capacity. At some assets, we are struggling to reach even 50-60% of pre-war production levels. For the same reason: workforce. This is a common problem for large businesses operating in Ukraine.

We have created an ecosystem for working with veterans. At the same time, we do not keep it separate from the rest of what we do. The entire company is involved in the integration of veterans into civilian work and civilian life. There are four principles underpinning our activities:

Responsibility – everyone is responsible, from a senior foreman on the shop floor to the CEO of the holding.

Systematic approach – for us, the war started back in 2024, so we were probably more prepared and knew how to deal with this, and on the other hand, we understand that this work is not a one-off. This is something we will live and work with for many years to come.

We are adapting our business processes to the new reality and understand that we will be using them for a long time to come.

Fairness – for us, heroes are the ones who are now working at open-hearth furnaces close to the frontline in Zaporizhzhia, Kryvyi Rih, and Pokrovsk and those returning from the frontline. For us, they are our dear employees and our heroes.

Priority – while we really hope that the mobilised employees will return to our enterprises, at the same time, we hope that veterans will return to the regions where our production facilities are located.

We are fighting for talent, for people who are result-oriented and have leadership qualities. And today's veterans have all of these attributes. That is why supporting veteran businesses is a priority for us. This support will help bring people back to the regions. We need to work on reviving the regions, bringing motivated people back there, and reinvigorating economic activity. This will also mean an additional resource for Metinvest, as these are our contractors and partners. As such, Metinvest is very interested in developing veteran businesses in the regions where our businesses operate. It is necessary to breathe new life into the regions.

Of course, we understand that veterans need time to return to civilian life, and we use a whole raft of tools to help them do so. It is necessary to prepare the teams to which veterans return, and to work with the veterans themselves to ensure their successful return to the team. Whenever possible, we start this dialogue with our employees while they are still serving in the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

To make our work with veterans effective, we studied a lot of different experiences. Israel and the United States have the relevant experience of working with veterans. While we are drawing on it, we are already coming to the realisation that no one else will have the same amount of experience of working with veterans like Ukraine will. We will share our experience with other countries. God willing, other countries will never have to use it.

The material was prepared by DELO.UA.