Across the globe, our employees drive next generation advancements in science and technology. As they do so, we encourage every one of them to pursue the professional path that aligns with their individual ambitions, skills and talents. We offer flexible working models that allow our people to adjust to the changing priorities in their lives. To continue down the path of success, we endeavor to attract talent who will bring courage, creativity and curiosity to the table.
Our approach to attracting and retaining talent
We believe that curiosity can make great things happen. We therefore seek to provide an environment that gives our employees plenty of scope for creativity and awakens their desire to innovate. Our employer brand communicates this mindset to the outside world. Through our motto “Bring Your Curiosity to Life”, we show applicants what they can expect when they join our company. We regularly train our employees, managers and recruiters on the characteristics of our employer brand.
In addition to our recruiting efforts, career development also plays a key role in attracting and retaining people. Focusing on their individual strengths, aspirations and skills, we support their personal and professional development, thereby laying the groundwork for an enriching and challenging career with our company.
We endeavor to discover qualified employees at an early stage in their career and develop their talents. Within our succession management process, we work with leaders and Human Resources to systematically prepare these select candidates for leadership positions. Our goal is to move suitable candidates into vacancies quickly and efficiently.
We furthermore develop our people by transferring them within the company, for instance from one business sector or function to another. To provide a framework for this practice, our company has a Group-wide job architecture in place called Expanding Horizons, which defines three fundamental career types of equal stature: managers, experts and project managers.
We seek to offer our employees ideal working conditions including a retirement plan and flextime models, along with social benefits and an attractive compensation package. Compensation is based on both our company’s success and individual performance.
How we structure our human resources management
Human Resources (HR) supports and advises all businesses and units within our organization. Our Centers of Expertise Talent, Development and Recruiting, Compensation and Benefits, and Engagement and Inclusion develop strategies to promote and advance our employees, organization and corporate culture. These units also coordinate the implementation of necessary measures. Across all our sites, HR staff execute these measures in collaboration with leadership from the business units in accordance with Group-wide HR guidelines and requirements. We perform internal audits every two to three years to ensure that all steps taken comply with these guidelines.
Belén Garijo is the Executive Board member responsible for Group Human Resources. Our Chief HR Officer, in charge of the various HR activities, HR experts and HR business partners, reports directly to her. Our Business Services unit oversees the operational tasks of human resources work, such as drafting contracts and payroll accounting. Marcus Kuhnert, Executive Board member and Chief Financial Officer, is responsible for this unit.
To harmonize our HR processes Group-wide, in 2012 we launched the HR4You online platform, which can be accessed by all employees. This platform is used to manage central HR tasks such as development and succession planning, job vacancies, continuing education, and employee performance assessments. It moreover helps calculate compensation and bonus payments.
Our commitment: Guidelines for employee development and working hours
In 2018, we updated our People Development and Learning Policy, which provides a Group-wide framework for continuing employee development. For instance, it specifies guidelines for our development opportunities along with roles and responsibilities. The corresponding processes are described in our People Development and Learning Standards.
Also in 2018, we furthermore started drafting a Group-wide flexible work guideline that was adopted by the Executive Board at the end of 2018 and is intended to establish and foster a variety of flexible options for working time and location across our organization.
Group-wide work and social standards
We are dedicated to upholding appropriate labor and social standards. Our Code of Conduct is a compulsory set of rules for our entire workforce. All employees have been provided with a copy of the Code of Conduct, and new employees are supplied a copy with their letter of offer. Our Code of Conduct explains the principles for dealings with business associates, general partners, co-workers, and employees, as well as the communities in which we operate. It thus supports all employees in choosing an ethical path. Our Human Rights Charter supplements the Code of Conduct with global human rights principles such as the fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO), which cover topics like 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. We conduct internal audits to ensure that our local subsidiaries are complying with these standards.
In 2018, we used a benchmark analysis as the basis for drafting a Group-wide guideline governing adherence to additional ILO labor standards. This new guideline is to be rolled out and implemented worldwide in 2019, underscoring our ambition to make international occupational and social standards a pillar of our organization.
Providing feedback and supporting development
We regularly provide our employees performance feedback through our Performance and Potential Management Process, which ensures that, in addition to this ongoing feedback, a meeting is held once a year to evaluate their overall performance. This process is applicable to all employees Group-wide with a Role of 2 or higher, and additionally to all non-exempt staff employed by either Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany or any other subsidiary based in Germany.
Our leaders and subordinates work together to define individual objectives and, in a separate process, create a detailed development plan that reflects each employee’s core tasks as well as current strategic priorities. In drafting the development plan, all employees have access to the Development Advisor. Building on our competencies, this web-based tool provides a selection of development opportunities that employees can tailor to their own needs, while our digital HR4You platform allows them to create their development plan quickly and easily.
Employees can additionally have their performance assessed by select colleagues and external partners. This 360-degree feedback helps to identify personal strengths and advancement opportunities. Moreover, our people have access to a real-time feedback tool launched in 2017, that can be accessed via their PC or smartphone, making it easier to give and receive feedback. Intended to help promote a non-hierarchical feedback culture, this instrument has been used since its rollout by 16,183 employees, who have provided feedback 32,743 times. We are constantly updating the tool to make it more user-friendly.
of our employees took part in the Performance and Potential Management Process in 2018, with 70% of our employees creating a development plan.
Employee learning and education
Our Group-wide advanced training and continuing education program ensures that our employees develop the skills needed to help us realize our company strategy. We constantly adapt the offerings to meet current learning needs and strategic priorities. Moreover, employees can use our digital HR4YouLearning tool to sign up for events such as seminars and online training courses as set out in their tailored development plan.
In 2018, more than 4,100 employees took part in our Group-wide classroom courses. These courses are flexible, meaning that while the core curriculum is uniform throughout the company, there is still room for adjustments to reflect aspects such as specific local change projects. Along with in-person training, 1,550 employees signed up for global e-learning courses and 235 completed online language classes.
We endeavor to reward the performance of all our employees and maintain a competitive edge in attracting qualified professionals, which necessitates commensurate compensation. At our company, compensation is based on the requirements of each position as well as each employee’s respective performance. In addition to competitive remuneration, we offer attractive fringe and social benefits. Our benefits4me package, for instance, encompasses three pillars, namely company-funded benefits including our company retirement plan, health and well-being offerings, and services. To meet the multifaceted needs of our workforce worldwide, we offer a variety of benefit packages.
To ensure a competitive remuneration structure, we regularly review our compensation policy based on data analyses and benchmarks. In doing so, we take internal factors and market requirements equally into account. When revising this policy, we involve key stakeholders such as employee representatives in the early stages of the process. The pay structures within our company are gender-neutral and based on defined criteria such as job requirements and performance. Our Group-level analyses show that there is no significant gender-based compensation inequity.
Attracting qualified university graduates
We endeavor to attract top university graduates. As part of our efforts, we partner with the German online network “careerloft”. Furthermore, we regularly attend job fairs to inform potential applicants about job opportunities and career tracks within our company. In countries outside of Germany, particularly the United States and China, we likewise use career fairs as a way of making initial contact with university graduates.
In addition to recruiting talented students, we also provide them financial assistance, collaborating with organizations such as the German National Academic Foundation and the Foundation of German Business, as well as supporting the Deutschlandstipendium (German national scholarship program).
University graduates can apply for a position with our company directly or complete one of our trainee programs. Our trainees acquire international experience in various business sectors and functions, and take part in tailored continuing education offerings.
Inspiring young people to join our company
We employ trainees in units such as Inhouse Consulting, Finance, Production, Marketing, Sales, Human Resources, and Research and Development. In 2018, we launched a trainee program in Procurement.
Our global graduate program GOGlobal enables university graduates to join our company as a trainee. Within 24 months, the entry-level employees get to know various departments and functions while also gaining international work experience. All ten GOGlobal trainee programs provide experience in various units, international assignments, custom-tailored continuing education, mentoring, and coaching. Although the initiatives are largely centered around Germany and the United States, we also have trainees at our sites in China, France and Ireland. In 2018, we employed 114 trainees.
To cultivate young talent, we also offer internships in all departments to high school and university students. Through our Keeping Ties to Students program, we stay in touch with talented individuals who perform particularly well during their internship. Besides these programs, we also offer university students work-study jobs or the opportunity to pursue their bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctorate. Furthermore, every year we invite students from Austrian, German and Swiss universities to our company to learn about the various career tracks and job opportunities we have. In 2018, we redoubled our contact with students by expanding our Keeping Ties to Students program and augmenting the number of German national scholarships we sponsor.
The foundation: Vocational training
For us, vocational training is a key way to meet the current and future need for qualified professionals. In Austria, Germany and Switzerland, we offer apprenticeships across a number of professions, along with cooperative education programs. We continuously invest in new technologies and integrate these into our vocational training. Young adults can also complete their vocational training on a part-time basis. If after completing their apprenticeship they wish to continue studying while working, we will cover up to 75% of the costs and also allow them to take special leave. Furthermore, apprentices can take part in community outreach projects.
High hiring rate and dual education programs
In 2018, 604 people were enrolled in vocational training programs at our sites in Germany, with 222 beginning their apprenticeship at our company. In total, we offer apprenticeships across 24 occupations, primarily in production, laboratory work and office administration. In 2018, we launched an animal welfare apprenticeship along with an apprenticeship to become a wholesale and international trade specialist. 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 start a dual education program after six months. Since 2014, we have been offering permanent employment contracts to all apprentices and graduates of cooperative study programs in occupations for which we have long-term demand. In 2018, the hiring rate for graduates of these programs – taking voluntary terminations into account – was over 90%.
Special vocational training opportunities
In Darmstadt, our “Start in die Ausbildung” program helps young people who have a high school diploma but have been searching for an apprenticeship for at least one year without success. We offer them the opportunity to complete an eleven-month program with our company, providing professional experience and improving their chances of gaining an apprenticeship. In 2018, 21 participants aged 16-25 started this program. Since its launch in 2006, 223 young people have already taken part; 103 of them have successfully completed an apprenticeship, while 55 are still in a vocational training program.
We also have a similar program for refugees. In 2018, the “Integrating refugees through training” initiative prepared 12 young refugees for vocational training, thereby opening the door to the German labor market. The project comprises language, technical, cultural, and career-related training. In 2018, we hired four of the participants from the 2017 program as apprentices and placed three others in apprenticeships with other companies. The five remaining participants are now pursuing further studies at schools or universities.
Leveraging the opportunities of digitalization
The digital transformation has long since overtaken the world of work. New, agile approaches to work are increasingly gaining ground, a shift we are actively supporting within our company by offering our people numerous innovative digital options to perform their tasks. Take for instance big data applications such as people analytics, which allow us to analyze Human Resources data. Our Manager Self Services and Employee Self Services also epitomize a state-of-the-art approach to work, enabling employees to manage their own data, access information and handle HR-related tasks on their own.
Using such big data applications developed by our People Analytics HR unit, leaders obtain rapid, specific answers to HR-related questions. Besides gleaning conventional master data, this software also collects information on compensation, performance and potential, along with info on engagement and succession planning, interconnecting this data in meaningful ways. Managers thus have access to an extensive trove of data that they may utilize as long as they comply with data privacy. The analyses are based on algorithms and enable us to conduct predictive analytics and make data-driven decisions.
Digitalization is also impacting our vocational training and continuing education programs, where IT skills are becoming increasingly crucial. At the same time, digital media are creating new opportunities for learning, which is why we are increasingly integrating 3D printing, Big Data and artificial intelligence into our curricula. Moreover, we are testing out novel learning and innovation methods such as Scrum and Design Thinking.
To learn how to operate plants and machinery, our apprentices also utilize augmented reality glasses while operating the systems, accessing useful additional information via a display.
In 2018, a Group-wide HR innovation campaign also gave rise to an initiative entitled “Ad@m”, which features a chatbot. Accessible to HR business partners and leaders, it provides support for HR-related issues, among other things. Going forward, the chatbot will be taking over standardized tasks so that managers and HR business partners have more time for other matters.
Good standing in employer rankings
Our company is one of the world’s best employers, a fact now officially verified by the Global Top Employer 2018 certificate awarded by the Netherlands-based Top Employers Institute. Every year, this independent institute organizes an international assessment involving an external audit as well as a detailed survey to determine the processes and structures that make up a company’s human resources environment.
The success of our efforts is also confirmed by our ranking among the 100 most attractive employers for students and experienced scientists in Germany. This index is published annually by the research and consulting firm Universum and involves a survey of more than 5,000 people. In the category of Natural Sciences, our Group ranked fifth in the student survey and seventh among experienced professionals in 2018.
In addition to this recognition, we were also named a 2018 top employer by Science, a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal. Almost 8,000 employees as well as managers from biotech and pharmaceutical companies took part in the magazine’s online survey, ranking our company fourth.
Finding work-life balance
We recognize how important work-life balance is for a productive and motivated workforce. With this in mind, at the end of 2018 our Executive Board adopted a Group-wide guideline intended to facilitate the use of a variety of flexible working time and location options in the twelve countries where the majority of our employees work (75% of our workforce). In many countries, we already allow our employees flexibility in setting their own work schedule, with our people making use of more than 30 different part-time working models. In Germany and the United States, where around 45% of our workforce is based, we offer parental leave conditions that go beyond the statutory minimum requirements.
Flexible working models
We offer our employees various flexible and innovative working models. Our "mywork" program, for instance, is available to employees at our Darmstadt and Gernsheim sites in Germany along with many other facilities across Europe, Asia and Australia. It is open to both exempt and non-exempt employees. In agreement with their teams and supervisors, employees can freely choose their working hours and location. Together with their respective supervisors, the teams can decide for themselves when and how often fixed physical presence in the office is necessary for all members. Working hours are no longer recorded or monitored. This approach aims to strengthen the culture of performance and trust within the company. At the end of 2018, a total of 5,698 employees in Germany were making use of this model.
In 2018, 4.8% of our employees worked part-time, 12.5% of whom were men. We believe that with these flexible working models, we are on the right track to achieving a better balance between the expectations we set as an employer and the home life demands of our employees. Ideally, such a balance should also lead to greater employee satisfaction and increase our appeal as an employer.
Supporting mothers and fathers
We endeavor to make it easier for our employees to return to work following parental leave, which is why in 2016, we launched a program for parents in Darmstadt and Gernsheim (Germany). By the end of 2018, 100 employees had signed up for this program, which gives mothers and fathers on parental leave the chance to talk and interact while also helping them keep in touch with the company. Moreover, they can make use of the various training and networking opportunities. We have established a similar program in the United States.
In the United States, we offer the female employees in our Life Science and Healthcare business sectors eight weeks of paid maternity leave. In Life Science, fathers are eligible for two weeks of paid paternity leave, which also applies when adopting a child, while Healthcare staff are given five weeks of paid paternity or adoption leave. In 2019, we intend to standardize paternity leave across all our subsidiaries in the United States, setting it at five weeks. By contrast, the statutory minimum only provides for 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave per year. Furthermore, we also reimburse up to US$ 5,000 in adoption fees.
At our sites in Germany (around 25% of our workforce), 326 employees were on parental leave at the end of 2018, 42% of whom were men. In other key countries, we go beyond the legal requirements to offer other kinds of new parent support such as extended leave for employees in Brazil. In India, too, we offer five days of paid paternity leave even though it is not legally required. In offering these benefits, we do not differentiate between full- and part-time staff. Employees with fixed-term contracts may apply for parental leave until the end of their term of employment, with their employment continuing as agreed until the contract terminates.
For 50 years our headquarters in Darmstadt has featured a daycare center for children aged 1-12. This facility is funded by the Merck family and offers 150 slots. Since 2013, we’ve been providing year-round care from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. For the children of our employees in Gernsheim, five places are available at a public daycare center.
Our Darmstadt site also offers provisional daycare services to cover times when an employee’s regular childcare falls through. During school breaks in the German Federal State of Hesse, we host a number of vacation camps focused on sports, art, research, and nature for up to 450 children. We also provide temporary care for sick children. For up to two days a year, parents throughout Germany can engage the services of an education specialist free of charge to look after their children at home.
Our facility in Mumbai, our main site in India, also has a daycare center that our employees can use. In the United States, parents can go to www.care.com to find external childcare. Furthermore, we offer up to ten days of provisional childcare, as well as daycare center slots at special rates and home childcare.
Saving for retirement through a long-term account
We enable our employees in Germany to reduce their working hours before retirement or to retire earlier through a long-term account. For instance, they can deposit part of their salary or comp days into the account. Our company additionally makes contributions to the account to supplement the balance. Employees can then utilize the accrued balance to retire up to three years before they are due to start their regular retirement plan, or to reduce their working hours by 50% for up to six years. In 2018, 9,214 employees made use of this option.
Taking a sabbatical
In essence, all employees of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Real Estate GmbH in Germany (22% of our workforce) can request a sabbatical, which allows them a break of up to one year. At the end of 2018, 22 people were on sabbatical. For personal emergencies in which an employee needs to leave immediately, we additionally offer an emergency sabbatical of up to three months in duration.
Assistance with family and elderly care
For our employees in Darmstadt who are caring for family members, we provide special seminars and family care services. Moreover, through our “Family leave” model, we offer people throughout Germany the option of taking a short- or long-term break from work, whether partial or complete. We are thus enabling employees to organize and provide care for their loved ones, in line with the German Family Leave Act and the German Home Care Leave Act.
Twice a year, we offer our employees in Germany family care seminars on a range of topics. In 2018, these addressed work-life balance, the financial and legal issues involved when family members require care, and age-related dementia and depression. An external associate provides advice on all issues relating to family care and guides employees in their search for suitable options. In Darmstadt, our company health insurance fund also puts people in touch with nurses and, in the United States, our employees can use the online portal care.com to locate family care services.