Other operating income also fell slightly from 1.7 million euros to 1.5 million euros, mainly due to slightly lower reversals of provisions compared to the previous year.
At 95.4 million euros (previous year: 94.6 million euros), total operating performance increased by 0.8 million euros.
The cost of materials matched the previous year’s level with a total volume of 29.8 million euros, mainly due to the absence of special provision for the cancelled major sporting events in 2020. Targeted savings in the wake of the corona crisis and significantly lower fees in the photo sector in line with lower secondary image sales also contributed. The cost savings achieved in this way almost compensated for the increased and essentially revenue-driven expenses in the growth areas.
In 2020, personnel costs increased by around 1.6 million euros year-on-year from 55.3 million euros to 56.9 million euros.
Of the slightly higher overall increase in costs, 0.6 million euros was attributable to the recruitment of extra staff for growth products, 0.5 million euros to higher allocations to the dpa provident fund, 0.5 million euros to increased non-recurring expenses for the ongoing reorganization of editorial structures, and around 0.6 million euros to the effects of collectively agreed salary adjustments. Cost reduction was achieved by the targeted reduction of outstanding vacation days and the associated reduction in the corresponding provisions. The slight decline in the number of employees and other savings effects from ongoing structural projects in the editorial and administrative departments had an additional counteracting effect.
The activities of the Human Resources department were also highly influenced by the effects of the pandemic in the year under review. As early as the first quarter, the focus was on hygiene concepts. The best possible protection of our employees’ health was and remains our overriding principle. To meet this requirement, the concepts were developed to take into account local conditions and also geared to individual employee groups. This was carried out in close consultation with external experts and the works council committees. In addition, the measures were constantly adapted to meet the changing conditions. In retrospect, we can say that these measures have had the desired effect.
Restructuring the English Service led to staff-related measures and it was possible at the end of the year to make these job losses as socially acceptable as possible.
There was also a wide range of works agreement activity. Ways were found quickly to adapt the cooperation with worker representative committees to suit the new circumstances.
At dpa-IT GmbH (formerly dpa mediatechnology GmbH) a new wage agreement negotiated via video conferencing marked a first for the dpa group. At group works council level, short-time working was a central issue and it led to broad discussion. Here too, it was possible – purely as a precautionary measure – to reach a balanced agreement with employee representatives.
In the year under review, negotiations began with the Group Works Council with the aim of shaping the framework conditions for new working arrangements. The pandemic has greatly accelerated the trend that had already become apparent in recent years, namely that even for traditional office activities, the office cannot longer to be regarded as the exclusive workplace. The majority of the activities to be performed in a news agency can also be managed “on the move”, at least in many cases. In principle, everyone involved can benefit from this. It results in opportunities to redesign office space and create more room for modern ways of working.