Recruiting and retaining talent

In order to maintain our position as a successful, innovative company, we need talented and highly qualified employees. Across all our sites, we face the challenge of attracting talent and retaining them. Particularly in Europe and the United States, but also in China and other Asian countries, we are seeing growing competition for specialists and experts, primarily the consequence of demographic change. We are constantly seeking chemists, pharmacologists, medical scientists, biostatisticians, biochemists, business administration experts, engineers, and IT specialists, as well as people who are able and willing to take on managerial responsibility. In emerging markets, we face the particular challenge of recruiting qualified executives for our company.

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is striving to build its reputation as an attractive employer for potential employees. Our goal here is to recruit and retain employees who represent our Values and show the potential for growth. For instance, we are systematically driving the development and growth of our internal talent pool, thereby reducing the risk of vacancies. In addition to personal development opportunities, a competitive compensation policy is also instrumental to recruiting and retaining talent.

The Center of Expertise (CoE) for Strategic Talent and Performance, part of Group Human Resources, is responsible for developing strategies and leading initiatives for attracting talent and retaining employees. The measures devised by this CoE are implemented by local HR personnel.

Attracting young professionals

In 2010, we launched the "Make great things happen" campaign to position the company globally as an attractive employer. This initiative highlights our strengths. For instance, we offer diverse opportunities for employees to contribute to the development and marketing of innovative products, as well as career opportunities in an international, motivating and modern work environment. Furthermore, the claim of "Make great things happen" is also intended to reflect our strong sense of social responsibility as well as our commitment to maintaining work-life balance. The positive impact of the campaign is confirmed by the company's ranking among the best employers for senior scientists in Germany, which is published every year by the company Universum  following a survey of over 5,000 participants. In 2013 and 2014, the company ranked fifth out of 100 companies, versus sixth in 2012. As part of our realignment under our "Fit for 2018" transformation and growth program, we have revised our commitment  to existing and potential employees, known as the Employee Value Proposition, along with its key statements. Furthermore, we have expanded our employer branding campaign to cover a broader target audience, an effort to prepare us for issues such as greater future demand for engineers.

Our primary target groups are university graduates and young professionals such as MBA graduates. For instance, in China, Germany, various other European countries, and the United States, we have selected universities with whom we will be cooperating more closely in the future. These institutions were chosen based on their courses of study and degree programs, their student body diversity, and the distinctions their courses have received. Our partner universities include, among others, the London School of Economics. In February 2014, Executive Board Chairman Karl-Ludwig Kley attended a networking event at the London School and held discussions with a select group of students. In addition, the company regularly exhibits at recruiting fairs, which offer a suitable platform for directly interfacing with young talent, advising them on career choices, and providing them information on job opportunities at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. A company's visibility and image are also key criteria used by our target group to search for and decide on an employer. In the 2013-2014 period, we furthermore compiled a campus recruiting interview guide, which aims to help graduates identify their personal strengths, such as leadership potential or outstanding dedication.

University graduates can join us via direct hire or through a trainee program. Our trainee programs enable participants to switch between different projects over a period of two years and include continuing education opportunities as well as mentoring programs. In the 2013-2014 period, we further increased the number of trainee positions. In 2015, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany has around 50 trainees, primarily employed in Inhouse Consulting, but also in IT and Finance as well.

To further increase our reputation as an employer, we have also expanded our loyalty-building Student Excellence Program  to include a larger target audience. This program is now open not just to our work-study students, but to all interested university students. In order to reach out to university students, we launched a new event format in November 2014, which aims to give people a chance to experience our company first-hand. The Discovery Day held in Darmstadt in November 2014 was attended by 35 process engineering students from various German universities. Moreover, around 500 university students and 321 high school pupils completed an internship at our German sites in 2013, with 316 university students and 312 pupils in 2014.

Apprenticeships and vocational training

We view the vocational training of young people as one of the most important ways to prevent a shortage of trained staff resulting from demographic change. 2013 was the first year in which the number of high school graduates who went to university exceeded the number of high school graduates who entered a traditional dual vocational training program. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany will nevertheless need not just academics in the future, but also specialists trained via the dual system. In the 2013-2014 period, we therefore launched various initiatives and activities in order to make our vocational training programs more attractive. For instance, young people can now do an apprenticeship part-time. In addition to this, our apprentices can also collaborate on charitable projects. In October 2014, for instance, nine apprentices built a dormitory for homeless children in Kenya. We furthermore help our apprentices pursue a work-study program after completing their apprenticeship.

In 2013 and 2014, we filled all the apprenticeship slots that we offered in Germany. More than 450 young people completed an apprenticeship in one of 24 professions; more than 60 young people completed a dual degree program in Business Administration, Business IT, Chemistry/Process Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. Since 2014, the company has been giving unlimited employment contracts to all apprentices working in occupations for which we have sustained demand. The hiring rate – taking into account voluntary terminations – has been around 90% for several years now. As part of the MobiPro-EU program of the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, for the first time five young people from Spain started an apprenticeship at our headquarters in Darmstadt in 2014. Moreover, in Darmstadt we offer our own one-year work preparation program called "Start in den Beruf" (Preparing to join the workforce). Thanks to the time spent at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, 20 secondary school students previously unable to find an apprenticeship successfully qualified themselves for the job market. Since the program's launch in 2006, 92% of the participants have started an apprenticeship, 32% of which have now successfully completed said apprenticeship.

Professional development

Fostering talent, developing our employees and providing ongoing training – this is an investment in our future and a key factor in our entrepreneurial success. The company strives to help its employees optimally develop their personal and professional strengths. Satisfied employees who grow within a company are a critical prerequisite for the success of our businesses.

Key features of employee development are clear objectives, differentiated and open feedback on performance, as well as individual development plans. The Performance and Talent Management Process at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany therefore mandates an annual overall performance assessment for all employees. In addition we, offer a catalog of continuing education courses throughout the company that is adapted to specific regional participant needs. On top of this, we gather feedback from our employees on seminars and workshops across the Group in order to gauge and compare their efficacy as well as ensure their quality.

In 2014, for the first time our employees had the opportunity to utilize the Development Advisor, an online tool that promotes lifelong learning. The Development Advisor offers individual employees suggestions on development opportunities that build on our competency model. This tool is part of our Performance and Talent Management Process, helping employees and line managers identify suitable development options during the target agreement process.

In 2014, the U.S. magazine "Training"  named EMD Serono and EMD Millipore in the United States as one of 125 companies that excel in employer-sponsored training and development programs. The Training Top 125 winners were officially announced at an award gala held on February 9, 2015.

Performance-based pay

Competitive salaries and additional benefits increase not only our attractiveness as an employer; they also motivate employees and build loyalty to the company. At Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, compensation is based on market analyses in the relevant field and the value of the position, as well as the employee's competence and performance. Our "Global Rewards Policy" defines the framework for compensation and additional benefits across the entire company. In order to harmonize our compensation structures at a regional and global level, we are constantly implementing measures to improve processes and boost efficiency. Our goal here is to offer all employees the most comparable compensation structures possible.

When reviewing and optimizing our compensation policies, we engage relevant stakeholders early on in the process. We coordinate closely with employee representatives to define our Group-wide compensation policy. In order to achieve competitive compensation structures, we consider both internal and external factors, assessing market requirements every year with regard to income developments and positioning. Controlling for hierarchy level and value, current analyses of job conditions indicate no gender-specific differences in compensation.

Work-life balance

As a family-friendly company, we strive for our employees to achieve a good balance between work, family and leisure time. We are thus helping maintain and strengthen their motivation and performance potential. Besides this, we build their trust in our company. Our employees can therefore take advantage of flexible working models and diverse childcare options, making it easier for them to schedule their lives and achieve their personal goals. We furthermore offer our employees various health management programs along with ways to better reconcile the demands of a career while caring for family members. In addition to this, employees at all German sites can make use of a referral service that advises them and connects them with home service providers. We conduct regular surveys to gauge employee satisfaction with the respective services.

In 2012, berufundfamilie GmbH, an initiative of the Hertie Foundation, certified our Darmstadt and Gernsheim sites as being "family-friendly" for the third consecutive time (following 2005 and 2008). This distinction is based on a family-friendliness audit conducted in accordance with predefined criteria and is valid for three years. In 2013, the company submitted an interim report for the 2015 audit cycle. The Hertie Foundation has already certified that Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is continuously working to adapt its operations and strategy to help employees reconcile the demands of a career and family.

Flexible work hour models

In Germany and other countries, we offer numerous options for employees to flexibly structure their work, including choice of working hours and locations. In 2013 and 2014, our employees made use of more than 30 different part-time models, such as varying weekly work hours and individually agreed working days. Globally, approximately 5% of our employees worked part-time.

In 2013, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany officially implemented a flexible working model for all exempt employees at its Darmstadt, Gernsheim and Grafing sites in Germany. This flexible working hour model aims to bolster the performance and trust culture within the company. Employees have the flexibility of selecting when and where they work. Working hours are no longer clocked – the important thing is that employees meet performance expectations. To this end, line managers and employees work together to define targets. In October 2014, the program was opened up to non-exempt employees whose position suited the working model. When the working model was introduced, employees and line managers were given access to an e-learning program. In addition, supervisors, HR business partners, members of the Works Council, and employee representatives met to discuss open issues pertaining to this flexible working model. By the end of 2014, around 3,500 employees in total were taking advantage of the new model.

Entitlement to parental leave

At numerous sites, our employees are able to take parental leave; this option is also provided for by law in some countries, such as Germany and the United States. Often, we offer our employees better conditions than those required by law.

In the United States, employees are legally entitled to a 12-week unpaid leave of absence per year in the event of the birth of a child or illness of a family member. In addition to this, EMD Millipore also provides its employees with financial support. In total, the company offers eight weeks of paid maternity leave, two weeks of paid paternity leave, and five weeks of paid leave when adopting a child. Moreover, EMD Millipore will reimburse up to US$ 5,000 in adoption fees.

As of December 31, 2013, 433 of the employees working for our subsidiaries in Darmstadt, Gernsheim and Grafing - representing around 24% of our total employees globally in 2014 - were on parental leave, with 507 on parental leave as of December 31, 2014. Fathers represented 33% of this total in 2013 and 31% in 2014. We provide parents returning to work after parental leave with information on childcare support services. In addition to this, our sites in Germany also hold presentations and meetings with parents, and the Darmstadt site furthermore offers contacts for individual consultation.

Childcare options

At various sites, our employees benefit from childcare options that we subsidize. A daycare center for children aged 1-12 has been operating at our headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany for more than 40 years. It is supported by the family of owners. In the 2013-2014 period, we extended the hours of operation and added an additional 50 daycare spots. The center is now open year-round from 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and offers 150 slots total. In Darmstadt, employees can furthermore take advantage of our emergency service if their regular childcare provider falls through. For employees at the Gernsheim site in Germany, five slots are available at a public daycare center.

We have been offering vacation camps for the children of Darmstadt site employees since 2008 and considerably expanded the program in 2013 and 2014. In 2014, we offered a total of 365 spots that employees could book in weekly increments. The vacation camp includes sports programs, art and research projects, as well as numerous outdoor nature activities.

Since 2013, employees throughout Germany have had access to an external partner to advise them on childcare options, helping them find a suitable childcare solution. The service connects employees with nannies, "loaner" grandparents and tutors, among others.

In the United States, EMD Millipore offers its employees assistance in finding the best childcare options.

Reconciling demands of career and family

In an aging society, more and more employees will be required to care for family members with special needs. In Darmstadt, the company has therefore been offering special information and consultation services since 2009. This includes the offerings of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany's company health insurance fund (BKK), which provides informational material and connects employees with nursing staff. Furthermore, we regularly hold training seminars in Darmstadt on the topic of nursing care. Since 2013, an external partner has also been available to advise employees in their search for suitable nursing care. This includes finding day nurses or setting up an individual nursing network.

In the United States, EMD Millipore supports its employees financially by enabling nursing care to be paid out of gross pre-tax income.

Goals: Good leadership














Status in 2013 and 2014


Talent & Succession Management: Fill at least 2/3 of positions ranked Global Grade 16+ with internal candidates

Use the Talent & Succession Management Process to identify suitable employees with management potential and define a process to systematically develop them


In 2013, we introduced the Talent & Succession Management Process in order to systematically foster and develop talent.

In 2014, 74% of our vacant management positions were filled internally.

Have least 50% of managers rated Global Grade 14+ take part in a management program

Expand the geographical range of the programs to reach a broader target group

Have senior management act as the official program sponsors

End of 2018


Build a talent pool that reflects the demo­graphic structure of the company

Identify talent, inform managers on current demographics (e.g. age, nationality, gender)



Competency-based interviews with 20% of the talent

Nominate suitable talent within the scope of the Talent & Succession Management program



Have 80% of all employees using the HR Suite IT system for their annual Performance Management Process assessment

Expand the HR Suite user group to new target groups



Legend: Achieved In progress Not achieved New goal


Publication of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

In the United States and Canada the subsidiaries of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany operate under the umbrella brand EMD.

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