Interview with Jan Sülflow, shift coach of LANXESS´s subsidiary Saltigo GmbH.

What’s your role at LANXESS, and how long have you worked here?
I started working at the LANXESS subsidiary, Saltigo GmbH, in 1998. Since the beginning of2017, I’ve been the shift coach of shift 1 in plant 2. Plant 2 actually includes three plants: the distillation plant, the chlorination plant and the pressure, hydrogenation and alkylation plant. Here, preliminary products for the crop protection industry are manufactured.

What is your job description and which tasks are you responsible for?
My job is best described as a “multiplier” between the management and the shift workers. I coordinate processes and work safety, and I am responsible for ensuring that employees maintain the proper qualifications. I am also the contact person for the shift workers and apprentices.  I regularly check our operations and, if any problems occur,  I come up with solutions in collaboration with my team.

Jan-Sülflow

Jan Sülflow (36), shift coach of LANXESS´s subsidiary Saltigo GmbH

Are you a supervisor and/or part of a team? If so, how big is your team?
I supervise a team of five shift coaches. A total of 27 employees work on my shift 1 across the three plants.

How is shift work organized (a general overview)?
We work according to a rotational, fully continuous shift schedule that consists of an early, late and night shift. An employee’s working hours are divided over ten days: three early shifts, three late shifts, one day off, four night shifts and six days off . Our shift system operates 365 days a year with production running 24 hours a day.

Working on Christmas Eve – how does it look in practice? Is it like any other day or are there differences?
There is basically no difference from regular working days. We identify and resolve any problems with the same professionalism and precision as on any other day of the year.

Do you do anything special with co-workers on Christmas Eve to make the evening as enjoyable or as festive as possible? For instance, does someone bring cookies? Do you eat a nice meal together and listen to Christmas music? Perhaps there’s a Christmas tree?
If time allows, we have something to eat together, such as sausages. However, there can’t be an extensive communal meal, because at least one employee must be in the control room to monitor the systems and alarms. If a new application for the plant is required, we have to carry it out. Otherwise, we listen to Christmas music on the radio, but we don’t have a tree.

What’s the mood like on Christmas Eve?
You notice that things are more quiet. The day shift isn’t there, and everyone is in a cheerful mood. Sometimes someone will put on a Santa cap, which helps keep our spirits high.

Do you have any strange/funny/nice stories to share from past Christmases?
When I operated the machines myself, I had a colleague who one day gave us all a bag filled with Christmas stolen (a traditional German dried fruit and nut bread), a chocolate Santa Claus, oranges and nuts. We were all delighted and thankful for the gift. Shortly after Christmas we went to empty our piggy box and count how much money was left. The colleague then revealed to us that the money was gone. This is how we found out where the money for the presents came from. We laughed and quickly agreed that next year we would rather have such a nice gift bag than spend the money elsewhere. Our colleague is still doing this today, which I am very happy about.

What’s the first thing you do when your shift on Christmas Eve is over?
I am looking forward to enjoying Christmas with my partner and visiting my godchildren.

How does your family deal with your absence on Christmas Eve? Do you celebrate Christmas Eve later? What does Christmas look like in your family?
We are bound to the rhythm of shifts and therefore can’t be so flexible in holiday planning. This year I was able to take a holiday and am looking forward to visiting my family in Rostock. Some years this is not possible, so I spend Christmas with my girlfriend and friends at home. This is the real disadvantage of shift work; while everyone else is celebrating with their loved ones, we have to work.

What wishes do you have for the coming year?
Especially at Christmas time I realize that the whole working world is very stressed. Everything seems to be moving faster and faster, and many personal matters fall by the wayside. So I hope that everything relaxes again with the start of the new year. My intention for the New Year is to have more time for friends, family and colleagues. Otherwise, I’m perfectly happy.