We greatly value the perspective of our employees – which is why we actively engage them in our efforts to advance our company. In this context, feedback from every individual helps us pinpoint the areas where we can do better. At the same time, through an open culture of dialogue, we build a creative and innovative working environment in which our employees can contribute their diverse ideas. Dealing with one another fairly and respectfully always forms the basis of our actions.
Our approach to employee engagement
We seek to understand the needs of the people who work for us and therefore regularly conduct employee surveys, both Group-wide and within select countries, individual business sectors or specific projects. These surveys are an important building block of our corporate feedback culture because they help to facilitate communication between managers and employees and also show us areas where we can improve.
Our Social and Labor Standards Policy further bolsters the foundation for fair and open interactions with our employees.
How we engage our employees
The Engagement and Inclusion unit within our HR organization is responsible for employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, and also develops and manages our employee surveys.
We include local employee representatives in our company’s decision-making processes, doing so regularly and extensively. Within Germany 13 of our subsidiaries have employee representation, while 26 of our subsidiaries across eight other European nations have employee representative bodies (Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland). In Germany, 60% of all employees are covered by collective agreements (14% of our workforce). Local works councils as well as a Group works council represent our employees, discussing topics such as compensation, working hours and organizational realignments. The Senior Executives Committee advocates for the interests of our top leaders in Germany, while the Euroforum represents our employees at the European level. Focusing on the economic situation, employment rates and significant changes within our Group, this body covers all EU countries as well as Switzerland and Norway, although not all countries have their own delegate.
Our commitment: Group-wide Social and Labor Standards Policy
We are dedicated to upholding the appropriate and fair labor and social standards that are stipulated in our Group-wide Social and Labor Standards Policy. It complements the provisions of the Merck Human Rights Charter and our Code of Conduct with respect to labor and social standards. These include the fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), which cover freedom of association and collective bargaining, forced labor, child labor, anti-discrimination, equal opportunity, equal pay, working hours, occupational health and safety, and the prevention of abuse and harassment. The Social and Labor Standards Policy makes it clear that we do not tolerate any form of discrimination, physical or verbal harassment or intolerance in the workplace. In this way, it creates the framework for fair and respectful interaction. We conduct internal audits to ensure that our local subsidiaries comply with these principles.
Understanding our employees
Every year, we conduct Group-wide confidential and voluntary employee surveys. The regular exchange between our employees, managers and leaders provides a valuable information base for improving the working environment and business processes. The survey conducted in 2020 revealed that 77% of our employees feel engaged with our company; around 50,500 people (86%) took part in the survey.
The Covid-19 pandemic poses significant challenges for us and our employees. We therefore asked them about their experiences so far and wanted to know how they assess our handling of the pandemic. In 2020, we conducted two additional pulse surveys among our employees worldwide. Among other things, we asked employees whether our internal communication on the pandemic is clear and comprehensible, whether hygiene rules have been communicated sufficiently, and whether supportive training offers are adequate. 90% of the participating employees (53% of all employees worldwide) rated these aspects positively. We also asked whether they felt sufficiently supported by their supervisors and what they had personally learned from the crisis.
Encouraging and rewarding ideas
Our company has a long tradition of rewarding ideas. In 1853, we became the first industrial company in the world to contractually stipulate bonuses for successful employee implemented suggestions for improvement, and approximately 60 years ago we laid out company agreements stipulating principles and rules for our ideation efforts. Our idea management program seeks to inspire our employees to think creatively and encourage them to contribute to the continuous improvement of our company procedures and processes.
Every year, we present awards to our employees in recognition of outstanding ideas, teamwork and projects.
Keeping employees informed and encouraging dialogue
We keep our employees throughout the Group up-to-date and encourage exchange through a number of formats tailored to specific target groups. Examples include our intranet or our international employee magazine “pro”, which is published in seven languages and is available in a digital format as well as an app. The magazine also offers podcasts on important company topics. “pro” has a readership covering more than 90% of our approximately 58,000 employees worldwide in their local language. There are also local editions in some countries.
EVA is our global intranet, which is also accessible without PC access via mobile devices. Receiving approximately 2 million visits per month, EVA provides relevant information and materials, organized by business sector, function and strategic topic. A software enables the automatic translation of news articles into 22 languages, making it easier for the people who work for us to communicate worldwide.