Employee Participation is Routine at Bertelsmann

Autonomy and responsibility strengthen the motivation of employees and their identification with the company. We want all employees to be dedicated to the continual development of our company, to respond flexibly to the needs of our customers, and to take part in the innovation that’s required to develop new products and services. Therefore, employees at Bertelsmann are actively involved in shaping their tasks, their workplace, their local company, and the company as a whole.

Employee Representation: Partnership Requires Strong Representatives

Dialog between employees and their direct supervisors is the key to a functioning partnership - and to a successful company. Effective dialog in turn requires guidelines, mutual trust and, above all, elected and empowered representatives: in the works councils, the representative committees of executive staff, the committees representing employees with disabilities, and the Bertelsmann Management Representative Committee (BMRC). The employees have four representatives on the Bertelsmann Supervisory Board: three of them from the works councils, the fourth is from the BMRC.

Performance Review: Open Discussions for Successful Collaboration

Dialog between supervisors and employees is the basis for a successful collaboration, as information, appreciation and regular feedback are essential to the motivation and satisfaction of our employees.

The most important element in this process is a routine, open and ongoing exchange of ideas. In addition, at Bertelsmann we use formal instruments, such as standardized appraisal materials and guidelines that offer employees and managers a framework for working together.

Employee Survey: Partnership in Action

The Employee Survey is a key element of Bertelsmann's corporate culture of partnership. At regular intervals – for the first time in 1977 and globally since 2002 – our employees are asked to anonymously evaluate important aspects of their working life in a questionnaire. Questions cover topics including workplace conditions, their supervisor’s leadership behavior, opportunities for training and development, team cooperation, and the company's business strategy. The questionnaire is available in 15 languages. The aim of the survey is to enter into dialog in a spirit of partnership, and to follow up by shaping processes of change together. It is compulsory for all executives to discuss the results with their team and to jointly draw up an action plan.

Employee Suggestion: Every Idea Counts

Committed employees who look closely at their work and develop creative concepts are essential for our entrepreneurial success. A great number of ideas for improving our business processes and products are submitted to Bertelsmann’s employee suggestion schemes each year. All of the ideas are examined, and many are put into action. In this way, the employees actively help shape the company.

A little review: The year was 1959 – Bertelsmann's in-house employee suggestions scheme had just been officially inaugurated – and an employee working in distribution at the Gütersloh printing plant of what was then called Mohn & Co, came up with a solution on how to fold 30,000 copies of "Lesering llustrierte" (Illustrated Reading Circle) as quickly as possible: He brought a clothes wringer from home. The new method worked so well that he was soon rewarded with a handsome bonus from the money he saved the company.

We still honor the ingenuity of our employees: with a bonus of up to 25 percent of the savings achieved by implementing their suggestions the first year. This incentive leads to a continual improvement in quality and efficiency, while also opening up new business ideas for the company. In this way, improvement suggestions from the working environment of individuals contribute to the success of the entire company. Creativity pays off – both for our employees and for the Group.