For more than 350 years, we have worked to improve and enhance people’s lives worldwide. Our High-Impact Culture enables us to continuously re-examine our way of working and challenge long-held assumptions to advance human progress. It drives us to double down on our people to recruit, develop, retain, and promote the best and most diverse talent, while cultivating and rewarding an inclusive environment.
Our approach: Unlocking our collective potential
We recognize that our daily actions ultimately impact our customers, patients and partners. This is why we have identified a standard set of behaviors that form the foundation of our High-Impact Culture such as ‘raising the bar’ and ‘acting as the owner’. They are firmly embedded in our company culture to provide guidance to all our employees and leaders.
We believe acknowledging and rewarding individual achievements, as well as a feedback-driven culture, enable collective success. Accordingly, we are introducing a new approach to performance, providing our teams with a framework that values employee expectations, clarifies goals, provides feedback, and rewards performance as part of our High-Impact Culture.
A constant shift towards learning from others, delivering and receiving feedback, and acknowledging the perspectives of others in constructive ways are also crucial elements of our culture. By promoting an open mindset, we empower our employees and strengthen our organization.
We also work to increase employee engagement and promote individual accountability by creating regular opportunities for dialogue and participation within the company. For example, employee surveys with regular pulse feedback opportunities provide valuable data points for managers, employees, and Human Resources (HR) to conceive new measures and initiatives that promote a culture of dialogue and collaboration in the workplace.
Roles and responsibilities
Global Human Resources (HR) is responsible for advising all business sectors and Group functions on matters concerning human capital. HR addresses the needs of our employees, organizational topics, and company culture founded on ethics and a shared set of company values.
We expect our leaders to understand the needs of their diverse teams and provide support in the form of resources and data. In addition, the ability to access transparent feedback through specially developed tools allows our leaders to gain further insights into how their behavior impacts their teams. For this reason, we work with external providers to train our leaders in proven, science-based approaches to lead more effectively.
Our commitment: Employee representation
As set down in our Social and Labor Standards Policy, we will respect our employees’ legal rights to form and join worker organizations of their own choosing, including labor organizations and trade unions, and will not discriminate based on an employee's decision to join or not join a labor organization.
Within Europe, 41 of our legal entities in nine countries (Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Switzerland) have employee representatives. Our respective site management teams cooperate with them at the local level. In addition, the Euroforum represents our employees from a European perspective in all EU countries, as well as Switzerland, Norway and (post-Brexit) the United Kingdom. However, not all entitled countries send delegates to the Euroforum. The Euroforum focuses on the current global economic situation, employment rates and significant changes within our company, with regular exchanges during the year and additional meetings as required. In 2022, the regular mandate period ended in most European countries. Awareness-raising measures driven by our country speakers and local HR units supported the election process for new delegates. We now have Euroforum delegates from 14 countries, which is three more than in the last mandate period. All delegates meet once a year.
In Germany, one of our largest locations worldwide, 99% of the local workforce is employed by subsidiaries subject to the German Co-Determination Act. We have a total of 20 subsidiaries in Germany. In 16 of them, our employees are represented by the Group Works Council; in nine of them by the Joint Works Council in Darmstadt; the remainder are represented by their local Works Council. The interests of our senior executives are represented by the Senior Executive Committee, which negotiates topics such as compensation, working hours and organizational changes. In addition, 57% of our employees are covered by collective agreements (12% of our global workforce).
In countries not covered by collective bargaining agreements due to different administrative, trade and judicial structures, we closely work with unions to implement operational decisions and coordinate relations between management and employees. Working conditions and terms of employment of employees in these countries are determined by legal requirements and our Global Guidelines.
Strengthening our High-Impact Culture
We aim to create a positive culture based on our strategic core elements of caring, outperforming and pioneering. By fostering our High-Impact Culture, we empower our people to create positive outcomes for our customers, patients and society. As part of this culture, we define a common mindset that guides how we do business and interact with colleagues and stakeholders. By embracing a standard set of behaviors, we can deliver on our purpose and create a work environment where everyone can succeed, develop and grow. These behaviors also embody our shared values and help to ensure our teams reflect different cultures, ways of thinking and life experiences.
In 2023, we launch a new approach to how performance is steered, managed and evaluated in our company. MyImpact will replace the existing Performance Management Process and provide a framework for our organization to improve its performance and culture by encouraging continuous feedback.
In 2022, we presented the new approach to senior leadership in all relevant sectors and functions. We also informed the Work Councils and unions, who have been involved in the necessary negotiations prior to implementation. The main features include:
- Customized elements fitting the different nature of roles and responsibilities of our employees
- Simple and flexible year-round commitment setting, adjustable at all times
- Continuous and transparent conversations about performance
- Timely and frequent feedback collected to provide a basis for unbiased dialogue between supervisors and employees
- A new and simplified way to evaluate employee impact, reflecting our High-Impact Culture
- Flexible performance-related recognition and financial award framework available throughout the year
Strengthening our sustainability culture
In addition, we launched two e-learning courses in order to strengthen the sustainability culture in our company. The first one is for employees and was already rolled out at the end of 2021. The second one has been available since September 2022 and is targeted to managers with personnel responsibility. The two courses are mandatory for the relevant employees and are available in nine and seven languages, respectively. As of the end of 2022, 83% of all employees had completed the training.
Embracing conversation and dialogue
In our increasingly connected world, we are convinced that feedback enhances open dialogue, builds trust and improves collaboration. Therefore, in 2022, we intensified our efforts to promote continuous feedback across our organization and hierarchies. For example, we anchored this approach into our learning and development portfolio. Our feedback programs give employees and leaders insights from various sources to support individual development.
Furthermore, we have designed a new, simplified 360-degree feedback tool to provide valuable input to employees while encouraging our organization to promote continuous feedback based on integrity and respect. The tool also provides guidance about integrating feedback practices into daily work and structuring feedback discussions accordingly. Overall, we aim to make feedback a regular habit rather than a formal process.
In this context, we are also taking action to promote psychological safety in our teams. This practice helps employees to work efficiently while feeling safe, respected and accepted. In 2022, we introduced workshops to support teams in better understanding their current psychological safety levels. As leaders play a critical role in creating the right atmosphere within their teams, we also ensured that psychological safety is a core topic of our leadership development program Empower. In addition, we provide a dedicated toolkit with practical guidance and actions that leaders can implement to promote psychological safety.
Empowering our employees
We are committed to ensuring our employees and leaders are involved in our business processes and can engage in dialogue through various channels, such as internal communications platforms, anonymous surveys, and roundtables.
In 2022, we developed concrete measures to gain insights into our employees’ experiences throughout their employee lifecycle, from onboarding to leaving the company. For example, we now evaluate feedback from the onboarding experience after 90 days and again after three months to understand the experiences of new employees and identify areas for improvement. Similarly, our exit surveys collect insights into their reasons for leaving the company.
In addition, we evaluate the progress made in implementing our High-Impact Culture by conducting pulse surveys on the perceived culture change and newly introduced behaviors. Other main feedback formats include a yearly global employee engagement survey that serves as the main feedback channel for all our employees. With a strong focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in 2022, we conducted an additional inclusion assessment to identify and understand areas where we can strengthen our culture of belonging. This assessment helps us to create a more inclusive environment for members of underrepresented groups, such as people with disabilities, people from different ethnic groups, or those identifying as members of the LGBTQI+ community.