Good leaders are crucial for the development of employees and the success of our company. That’s why we place great importance on the continuing education and development of our managers. Many of our teams work across sites and national borders, which is why fostering global collaboration is a central theme in the professional training and growth of our employees and leaders.
Our approach to leading and developing employees
Our People Strategy serves as a basis for our continuous efforts to attract, retain and develop our leaders and talent. It highlights the importance of curious talent and empowered leaders as well as results-oriented teams and networks.
We place special focus on actively engaging and challenging our leaders to become “leaders of people”. By participating in employee surveys, our people can also assess various factors such as leadership quality within the company.
Our strategic competency model describes the core competencies that underpin the conduct of our employees at all levels of the hierarchy (please see diagram).
Based on the introduction of our high-impact culture and new Merck behaviors in late 2021, the competency model will be refreshed in 2022 to reflect these updates.
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PURPOSEFUL means capturing the meaning of our work, following our mission to improve people’s lives and adhere to ethical behavior. This includes our commitment to internal and external customers and users with high-quality, high-impact solutions.
FUTURE-ORIENTED means continuously seeking best-practice solutions and embracing opportunities of new technologies to shape the future of our business.
EMPOWERING means unfolding potential in self and others by providing guidance, driving personal development and sharing enthusiasm.
RESULTS-DRIVEN means setting ourselves stretch performance targets as well as establishing a feedback culture and taking responsibility.
INNOVATIVE means constantly experimenting and driving change initiatives. This includes being open to new ideas, making quick decisions and taking risks.
COLLABORATIVE means working together across departments and geographies, encouraging teamwork that respects diverse backgrounds and cultural differences. It also means considering local needs and regulations (laws) when driving global initiatives.
In our day-to-day work, these core competencies play an important role in our success. The competency model is incorporated into our Human Resources programs and processes. Employees and supervisors discuss specific growth and development needs as well as the progress made with development measures already introduced.
Based on our current competency model, we have six leadership behaviors, which summarize our expectations towards leaders, who play a key role in embedding the competencies across the organization.
However, since our culture is constantly evolving and to support our business growth ambition, we need a culture that is consistent, complementary to our scale and relevant to our organization and the environment we are operating in. This is why we aim to establish an inclusive high-impact culture that is understood and supported by our diverse workforce of more than 60,000 employees.
In order to bring our high-impact culture to life, we have defined a new set of standards that we should all aspire to every day: our Merck behaviors.
With our six new Merck behaviors, in October 2021, we began moving from multiple frames to one simplified framework. The new behaviors represent an evolution towards what is needed in the future. They are as follows:
- Obsessed with customers and patients
- Act as the owner
- Be curious and innovate boldly
- Simplify and act with urgency
- Raise the bar
- Disagree openly, decide and deliver (3Ds)
From October 2021 onwards, our high-impact culture along with the Merck behaviors are being embedded in the foundations of Human Resources programs and processes to be implemented throughout 2022 and beyond.
We support the personal and professional development of all employees in line with their strengths, ambitions and competencies, laying the groundwork for an enriching and challenging career with our company.
In addition to dual education programs, we consider vocational training to be crucial in order to meet the current and future need for qualified professionals.
As competition for young talent grows, job security and marketable professional qualifications are vital, which is why we continuously invest in new technologies and integrate these into our vocational training programs. If, after completing their apprenticeship, our young employees in Germany wish to continue studying while working, we will cover 75% of the costs and grant them special leave.
Roles and responsibilities
Group Human Resources (HR) supports and advises all business sectors and Group functions within our organization around our human capital, in particular on topics related to recruiting, vocational training and advanced training. Moreover, we develop strategies to advance our employees, organization and company culture.
We expect our leaders to understand the needs of their diverse teams and provide support in the form of resources and data. Additionally, the ability to have access to transparent feedback through specially developed tools, allows leaders the opportunity to gain further insight into the impact of their behavior on their teams. We work with external providers to train our leaders on science-based, proven approaches to good leadership.
Every employee can access their personal data via our HR4You digital platform, which globally harmonizes basic HR processes. For instance, the platform also enables employees to initiate and steer their Performance Management Process themselves, participate in online training courses or apply internally for vacant positions.
Our commitment: Structured development
Our six Merck behaviors form the basis of our high-impact culture. They describe good leadership in our Group and are based on our corporate strategy and our company values. We regularly inform executives and employees through global campaigns about the Merck behaviors. We integrate these behaviors into all HR processes, such as training, recruitment and feedback processes.
Our People Development and Learning Policy provides a Group-wide framework within which employees can manage their professional growth. It defines requirements for our development opportunities, roles and responsibilities. The associated processes are described in our People Development and Learning Standards.
Providing feedback and supporting development
We regularly provide feedback to our employees. The Performance Management Process ensures that in addition to this regular feedback, a meeting is held once a year to evaluate employees’ overall performance. This process is consistently applied across our company. Our people managers and their employees agree on individual annual goals. The annual bonus depends on individual performance and achievement. Additionally, the bonus calculation also reflects the company’s overall performance, which we determine using various company key indicators.
Once the development direction is defined, our managers and their staff create a detailed development plan. To help create this, all employees have access to the Development Advisor. Building on the Merck competencies and Merck leadership behaviors, this digital tool provides a selection of development opportunities that employees can tailor to their own needs. Every employee can therefore rapidly and easily create their development plan, which displays the respective areas of focus via our HR4You digital platform. It is coordinated in line with the company’s strategic priorities. 98% of our employees took part in the Performance Management Process in 2021 and 74% set up an approved development plan.
Our employees can additionally collect feedback from selected colleagues and external partners on their personal development. This 360-degree feedback helps to identify personal strengths and advancement opportunities. Moreover, our people have access to a real-time feedback tool that they can access via their PC or smartphone, making it even easier to give and receive feedback. With this tool, we intend to help promote a cross-hierarchical feedback culture.
Employee learning and education
Our Group-wide advanced training and continuing education program ensures that our employees develop the skills and abilities needed to help us realize our company strategy. As part of their individual development plan, our employees can use our learning management system to register for seminars and e-learning courses. For example, we offer Group-wide training courses on “Virtual Leadership”, “Employee Welfare” and “Working Remotely”. In 2021, 100% of our employees took part in a training. Overall, more than 6.5 million training courses were completed. Additionally, our employees can participate in special courses on the career platform LinkedIn Learning.
We continuously adapt our offers to meet the individual learning needs of our employees and the strategic priorities of our company. This will help our employees to develop the relevant competencies and skills we need for our business, while contributing to their personal and professional development.
Vocational training and dual education programs
In Germany, we offer apprenticeships across 30 occupations, primarily in production, infrastructure, laboratory work, and office administration. Furthermore, we enable young adults to pursue a dual education program in the fields of business administration, business IT, process engineering (chemical engineering) and mechanical engineering. Apprentices in the Laboratory group begin their training as chemistry or biology lab technicians and, subject to suitability, may receive the opportunity to begin a dual education program after six months. Since 2014, we have been offering permanent employment contracts to all apprentices and graduates of dual education programs in occupations for which we have long-term demand. In 2021, we had a 95% hiring rate for graduates of these programs (including those who chose to leave the company).
Digitalization and virtual learning continue to play an increasing role in vocational training. To learn how to operate plants, machines or lab equipment, our apprentices also use virtual reality environments. For example, in process engineering, they practice operating the systems using a virtual reality display before applying and furthering their new skills in the actual operating environment.
Special vocational training opportunities
In Darmstadt, our “Start in die Ausbildung” program helps prepare young people for the labor market. We offer them the opportunity to complete an 11-month program with our company, gaining insight into the world of work and improving their qualifications for vocational training. On the one hand, we support young people who have earned a high school diploma and searched for an apprenticeship for at least one year without success. On the other hand, we help refugees who had to leave their countries of origin and would like to build a new life in Germany. Participants of our “Start in die Ausbildung” program can learn and benefit from each another with regard to cultural and language skills. In 2021, we hired 20 participants between the ages of 15 and 33.
Management and talent programs for leaders
To enhance the skills of our people managers, we offer three different programs:
- The Managerial Foundation Program imparts the basics of leadership, such as communication techniques, leadership styles, conflict management, motivation, and emotional intelligence.
- The Advanced Management Program covers topics such as change management, self-reflection and resilience.
- Our Global Leadership program focuses on the competencies needed to ensure successful international collaboration.
The rapidly changing environment has led us to overhaul our leadership program landscape, including virtual and purposeful leadership. We tested two new programs in the second half of 2021. Both newly developed programs cover the same core cultural topics to create a joint understanding of leadership on all organizational levels. The program “Empower Your Team” provides an introduction to our leadership culture, along with basics of leadership, such as decision-making, feedback, motivation, and emotional intelligence. “Empower Your Organization” aims at more experienced leaders and focuses on the capabilities needed to shape our future culture, covering topics such as inclusiveness, psychological safety and transformation.
Based on a pilot project in 2021, we developed the Group-wide Inclusive Leadership Workshop. In line with our communicated KPIs on inclusion, we aim to have 100% of our leaders participate in the Inclusive Leadership Workshop by 2026.
For 22 years, we have been partnering with top international universities to offer the Merck University program. Over a one-year period, senior leaders complete learning modules on management techniques and strategic business development, with 552 senior leaders having participated to date.
We also offer promising leaders our long-standing International Management Program. Through this, participants work on an interdisciplinary project over a period of eight months. They present the results of their efforts to the Executive Board. In 2021, 26 of our employees took part in such a project.
In addition to these various programs, we partner with universities across the globe to enable our employees to obtain qualifications such as an Executive MBA.
Our Expert Foundation Program teaches participants the fundamentals of their role as experts in interdisciplinary project groups.
Tapping potential in growth markets
In January 2022, seven participants successfully completed “Afrika kommt!”, an eight-month program offered by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ). The program trains experts and leaders from Africa. In supporting this initiative, we are helping to build a pool of regional partners to encourage economic cooperation between Germany and Africa. 34 former scholarship recipients have taken on a specialist or leadership position, some of them in African countries and others in Darmstadt. We have selected ten new candidates for the tenth intake of “Afrika kommt!” starting in February 2022.