We believe that we can strengthen our employees' trust in the company through open and honest communication. We therefore inform them regularly about the latest developments.
Information and communication channels
We provide employees Group-wide with a broad range of information on the latest topics, which we publish in different languages on the intranet. In 2012, we introduced the possibility for our employees to comment on the news items directly online. We set up an additional intranet platform for the “Fit for 2018” transformation program; the platform provides information as well as a discussion forum. In addition, numerous additional information media and dialogue forums are in place. Examples include the international employee newspaper “pro” as well as newsletters issued by the divisions and Group functions. Our “ChemForum”, a dialogue-promoting event for all employees working in the Chemicals divisions, was held 13 times in the 2011-2012 period.
Employee representatives and co-determination
We foster employee participation, co-determination and dialogue in our company. The Euroforum is our employee representative body at the European level and also serves as an information and advisory platform for a direct dialogue between employees and senior management up to the Executive Board level. Topics that are addressed regularly include the economic and financial situation of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany in Europe, the employment situation, and also significant changes within our company.
Moreover, the individual sites have other forms of employee representation, such as local works councils and unions. Local works councils as well as a central Group works council represent our employees in Germany, for instance. Senior executives are represented by the Senior Executives Committee.
During the 2011-2012 period, the “Fit for 2018” transformation program was a topic debated extensively by all employee representative bodies. In May 2012, around 30 Euroforum participants from 14 countries spoke with the Executive Board about the impact of the program on the workforce. In 2013, our employees at the Aubonne, Coinsins, Eysins and Corsier-sur-Vevey sites in Switzerland elected employee representative bodies for the first time in order to utilize this communication channel with a view to the further implementation of “Fit for 2018”.
We introduced the “Pulse” survey in 2009, initially conducting it every year and as of 2011 every two years. Through this survey, our employees have the opportunity to rate us as an employer and to express their concerns anonymously. The results are used to devise and implement concrete measures. In 2011, the results of the survey were slightly inferior to those of previous years. We ascribe this sentiment to “Fit for 2018”; at the time of the survey, the first measures from the program had already been instituted at the prescription medicines division. The next Group-wide survey will take place in 2014. We are monitoring employee sentiment during the current reorganization process by conducting smaller, short-term surveys. For example, the prescription medicines division conducted this type of survey in 2012. We are planning to conduct employee surveys in additional units in 2013.
Further possibilities for dialogue and exchange
Our employees have other options for dialogue and feedback, for instance the annual employee appraisal.
At the Darmstadt site in Germany, we want to use the company suggestion scheme to hone our competitive edge. We reward employees for the suggestions that are implemented by paying them bonuses based on the cost savings or the contribution to occupational safety, environmental protection and quality improvement. Our employees submitted 4,111 suggestions in 2011 and 3,128 in 2012 for improvement. These led to savings amounting to € 1.9 million in 2011 and € 2.0 million in 2012. For this, they received bonuses totaling € 1.1 million in 2011 and € 0.8 million in 2012. Around 70% of the suggestions for improvement related to production areas; the remaining 30% comprised suggestions pertaining to analysis, technology and logistics. The suggestions helped significantly in many instances to optimize production processes and occupational safety or to lower waste quantities and emission levels.