We recognize that our employees are crucial to our success. To secure our future viability, we seek to attract people who have the potential to take on greater future roles. Demographic change is heating up the competition to hire top talent, especially in Europe, the United States and parts of Asia. By contrast, in several emerging countries, filling leadership positions is one of the greatest challenges.
Owing to the ever-faster pace of technological progress, the bar on professional requirements is constantly being raised. In response to this situation, we constantly work to advance our employees’ career development and help them build their skills. In doing so, we as an employer must also meet the growing expectations for work-life balance.
Our approach to recruiting and retaining talent
Our aim is to attract qualified employees and retain them over the long term. In our quest to offer our people a career that is both professionally and personally enriching, we are committed to facilitating professional paths that align with their individual ambitions, skills and talents. Especially when it comes to new challenges and development opportunities, we encourage them to take on responsibility.
In 2017, we introduced a new Group-wide job architecture called Expanding Horizons that provides leaders with greater flexibility in making employee-related decisions while also empowering them with more responsibility. Through this initiative, we are promoting strategic objectives such as empowering our leaders, engaging our employees and creating multifaceted development opportunities for our talent. Expanding Horizons combines personnel development with other HR processes such as compensation and guidelines for organizational development. This initiative builds on the Global Role Framework, a catalog of positions and functions in which all employees have been re-mapped from Global Grades into Roles. The Expanding Horizons job architecture defines three fundamental career types - managers, experts and project managers – which all have equal opportunities. Those who wish to advance their careers and attain a top position within the company can also do so as an expert or project manager. The job architecture thus creates greater transparency for individual employees regarding their development opportunities and the requirements of their particular Role, providing a solid framework to effectively develop human resources.
In addition to implementing this new job architecture, we have made it our mission to discover high-potential individuals at an early stage in their career and develop their talents. Within our Succession Management Process, we work with leaders and our HR unit to systematically prepare candidates for leadership positions, allowing us to fill vacancies quickly and efficiently.
How we structure our personnel management
All global HR expert and business partner roles are organized in one global structure, serving all businesses and functions. Our "Talent, Development & Recruiting", "Rewards", and "Engagement & Inclusion" expert units focus on strategies to advance and promote our employees, organization and culture, coordinating the implementation of the necessary measures. At our sites around the world, our HR staff implements these measures in collaboration with leaders from our business sectors. In doing so, they comply with global HR guidelines and requirements, which we monitor by means of internal audits that are conducted every two or three years.
In September 2017, Executive Board member Belén Garijo assumed responsibility for Group Human Resources, a function previously performed by Kai Beckmann. Our Chief HR Officer reports directly to Belén Garijo and is in charge of the various expert and business partnering HR activities. In 2017, HR Services were combined with other Group Function services into one Business Services unit. Executive Board member and Chief Financial Officer Marcus Kuhnert assumed responsibility for this Business Services unit.
Digital HR tools
To harmonize our HR processes around the world, in 2012 we introduced HR4You, an online platform accessible to all employees. It is used to manage all key HR functions, such as development and succession planning, recruitment, continuing education, and employee performance assessments. Moreover, it helps calculate compensation and bonus payments.
Our commitment: People Development Policy
Our People Development Policy provides a Group-wide framework for employee development and succession planning and contains guidelines pertaining to our development opportunities, as well as roles and responsibilities. The corresponding processes are set out in the People Development process descriptions.
Group-wide labor and social standards
Our company is dedicated to appropriate labor and social standards, working hard to uphold them. Our Code of Conduct is a compulsory set of rules for our company’s entire workforce. All employees receive a copy with their letter of offer. The 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. Thus, it supports all employees in choosing the 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 such as freedom of association, the right to organize, collective bargaining, forced labor, child labor, anti-discrimination, equal opportunity, equal pay, working hours, occupational health & safety, and the prevention of abuse and harassment. These principles describe our commitment to respecting fundamental labor standards and are reviewed during our internal audits to check that our local subsidiaries are complying with them.
In 2017, we furthermore decided to draft a Group-wide set of guidelines on adherence to additional ILO core labor standards. Our intention is to make global occupational and social standards an integral pillar of our organization.
Providing feedback and supporting development
We regularly provide our employees feedback on their performance through our Performance and Potential Management Process, which ensures that, in addition to the 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.
The process involves leaders and subordinates working together to define individual objectives and 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. Thanks to a 2017 upgrade to our electronic HR4You platform, employees can now create their development plan easier and faster.
of our people took part in the Performance and Potential Management Process in 2017, and 61% submitted a development plan.
Every three years, 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. Using a new feedback tool we launched in 2017, it’s now easier for employees to receive and submit feedback.
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 and continue down the path of success. Our employees can use our My Learning online tool to sign up for suitable activities such as seminars and online training courses.
In 2017, a total of 5,700 employees took part in our global classroom training. These courses are flexible, meaning that while the core curriculum is uniform around the world, there is still room for adjustments, for instance to reflect specific local change projects. As well as classroom training, more than 3,500 employees also signed up for global e-learning courses and more than 380 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 and employee performance. In making compensation decisions, direct supervisors always consult with their respective superior. 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 pension, health & well-being, and services. To meet the multifaceted needs of our workforce worldwide, we offer a variety of benefit packages.
To ensure a competitive compensation 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. In making adjustments to this policy, we involve key stakeholders such as employee representatives in the early stages of the process. The reward structures at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany are gender-neutral and based on defined criteria such as job requirements and performance. Our analyses on Group level show that there are no significant gender-based compensation inequities.
Attracting qualified university graduates
We endeavor to attract the top university graduates. As part of our efforts, for instance, we partner with the German online network “careerloft”. Furthermore, we regularly attend job fairs to reach out to potential applicants, informing them 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 personal contact with university graduates.
In addition to recruitment, we also provide financial assistance to talented students. That’s why we collaborate with organizations such as the German National Academic Foundation and the Foundation of German Business, and furthermore support 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.
Sparking student and graduate interest
We employ trainees in units such as Inhouse Consulting, Finance and Production. In 2017, we launched trainee programs in Marketing, Sales, Human Resources, and Research & Development. All trainee programs named “GOglobal” provide graduates experience in various units, international assignments, tailored continuing education, mentoring, and coaching, while also offering participants a high level of visibility within the company. Although the programs are largely centered around Germany and the United States, we also employ trainees at our sites in Ireland and France. In 2017, the first two trainees in China started our vocational training program. In 2017, we employed 90 trainees.
Beyond trainee programs, we also offer internships 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. Furthermore, every year we invite students from German, Austrian and Swiss universities to our company, where they learn about the various career tracks and job opportunities we offer. Going forward, we intend to step up contact with students.
The foundation: Vocational training
For us, vocational training is one of the most important ways to meet the current and future need for qualified professionals. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, we offer numerous apprenticeship positions for various professions, as well as dual vocational training programs. We continuously invest in new technologies and integrate these into our vocational training. We also give young adults the opportunity to 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 100% of the costs and also allow them to take special leave. Furthermore, apprentices can take part in community outreach projects.
Impressive hiring rate and new dual vocational training programs
In 2017, 588 people were enrolled in vocational training programs at our sites in Germany, with 205 beginning their apprenticeship at our company. In total, we offer apprenticeships across 23 occupations, primarily in production, laboratory work and office administration. Furthermore, 18 young adults embarked on vocational training courses 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 study program after six months. Since 2014, we have been offering permanent employment contracts to all apprentices and graduates of dual study programs working in occupations for which we have long-term demand. In 2017, 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 11-month program with our company, providing insight into professional life and improving their chances of gaining an apprenticeship. In 2017, 20 participants aged 16-25 started this program. Since its launch in 2006, 204 young people have already taken part in the program; 103 of them have successfully completed an apprenticeship, while 37 are still in a vocational training program.
In October 2016, we established a similar program for refugees. Having entered its second round in 2017, the “Integrating refugees through training” initiative prepared 12 young people for vocational training, thereby opening the door to the German labor market. The project comprises language, technical, cultural, and career-related training. In 2017, we hired three of the participants from the 2016 program as apprentices and placed two others in apprenticeships with other companies. The seven remaining participants are now pursuing further studies at schools or academic institutions.
Leveraging the opportunities of digitalization
Our work is becoming increasingly digital and flexible, a development described by the terms “Work 4.0” and digitalization. This trend is also impacting our vocational training and continuing education programs, where we are integrating instruction on using new technologies such as 3D printing and trying out novel learning and innovation methods such as design thinking. Moreover, since 2017 we’ve been providing all new apprentices with hybrid laptop/tablets to teach them how to navigate our company’s software landscape and to educate them on data protection. In 2017, members of the Production Engineering group partnered with employees from Organic Polyproduction to implement damage simulation software. In addition to simulation software, apprentices also utilize augmented reality technology to learn how to operate plants and machinery, accessing useful additional information via a display.
Our EVA collaboration platform is another example of an innovative, cutting-edge working environment. EVA stands for “Expertise everywhere, Virtual teams, Access to information” and brings our employees from across the globe together. It allows virtual teams to collaborate and communicate across departmental boundaries and national borders. In total, approximately 50,000 people have access to the platform, which has won an array of international awards. A dedicated project team is continuously working to improve and optimize this tool.
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 2017 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.
Rolled out in 2017, our newly developed employer brand sums up what it means to work for Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. It is built on the passion, creativity and curiosity of the employees who have helped us become a global science and technology company. We believe that curiosity always leads to positive outcomes, something we hope to make clear both through our employer brand and the accompanying campaign. We are aspiring to become the employer of choice for all inquisitive individuals, which is why this campaign centers on our promise to “Bring your curiosity to life”.
The success of our efforts is also confirmed by our ranking among the 100 top 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. Among scientists, in 2017 our Group ranked fifth in the student survey and seventh among experienced professionals.
In addition to this recognition, we were also ranked fourth among the world’s top employers by Science, a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal. Almost 7,000 employees as well as managers from biotech and pharmaceutical companies took part in the magazine’s online survey.
Finding work-life balance
We recognize how important work-life balance is for a productive and motivated workforce, which is why in many countries we allow our employees the flexibility to organize their own work schedule. Our people make use of more than 30 different part-time 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. Moreover, in Darmstadt we hold special seminars and offer referral services for employees who provide care for family members.
Expanding flexible working models
We offer our employees various flexible and innovative working models. The mywork program was implemented in 2013 at the Darmstadt and Gernsheim sites in Germany and is now open to all exempt and non-exempt employees. Since 2017, this model has been available in many countries across Asia and Europe, and also in Australia. In agreement with their teams and supervisors, employees can freely choose their working hours and location. Employees can decide for themselves, together with their respective supervisors, when and how often fixed physical presence in the office is necessary for all team 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 December 2017, a total of 5,267 employees were making use of this model.
In 2017, 4.6% of our employees worldwide worked part-time, 10.7% 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 lead to greater employee satisfaction and increase our appeal as an employer.
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 2017, 101 employees had signed up for this program, which gives mothers and fathers on parental leave the opportunity 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 offerings. 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. 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), 452 employees were on parental leave at the end of December 2017, 51% of whom were fathers. 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 to fathers, even though it is not a legal entitlement. In offering these benefits, we do not differentiate between full- and part-time staff or employees with fixed-term contracts. The latter may apply for parental leave until the end of their term of employment.
For 50 years, a daycare center for children aged 1-12 has been operating at our global headquarters in Darmstadt. 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 variety of vacation camps focused on sports, art, research, and nature for up to 450 children. Since June 2016, we have also been providing temporary care for sick children. For up to two days, 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 features a daycare center for the children of our employees. 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. We are currently considering the possibility of introducing measures at our other sites as well to help our staff reconcile work and family life.
Family and elderly care: Better informed
Twice a year, we offer our employees in Germany family care seminars on a range of topics. An external associate provides advice on all issues relating to family care and guides people 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.