Passing the Baton – Mercer Rosenthal’s proactive approach to staff development and succession planning

At Mercer Rosenthal, we’ve long recognized that our team members are our most valuable resource, especially in a sector demanding specialized knowledge to manage pulp mill operations.  After all, the pulp industry offers jobs that require the highest level of expertise. To control the complex equipment in the control rooms of the pulp mill requires several years of professional experience and a high level of qualification. This is the case in many other areas of operation as well. 

But what to do when, due to the age structure, about five percent of the employees retire every year? 

The Rosenthal answer to this question is: training, qualification and planned succession arrangements. 

The basis for this is the personnel concept, which is drawn up by the personnel manager, looks at every single position in the company and keeps an eye on retirements over the next six years. 

At the beginning of each year, each supervisor discusses all personnel-related issues in their area together with the managing director, plant manager and human resources manager. For employees who retire, successors are defined and qualified in the long term. If there is no internal possibility to develop employees in this way, these positions are filled in the long term by new employees from outside. With these development perspectives, Mercer Rosenthal can bring new employees on board in good time so that they have enough time to learn the ropes and get used to the team. 

Another important aspect is the in-house training of future professionals. Even during their three or three-and-a-half year training period, the Rosenthal trainees get to know the plant as well as the processes and workflows intensively and practically. The majority of them can then be taken on as employees and fill full-fledged job.

However, passing the baton also means transferring responsibility. And this responsibility was and is accepted by many employees. Young people who started their careers at the Rosenthal plant a few years ago now bear responsibility as department heads, shift supervisors, commercial managers and in other positions. With an annually coordinated qualification plan for all company divisions, Mercer Rosenthal succeeds in providing its employees with targeted further training, thus not only giving them more tools for their daily work, but also promoting the professional advancement of the individual employee in line with the company’s goals. 

The fact that this effort is worthwhile is well known among the Rosenthal staff and numerous employees have progressed on their career paths in this way.