by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

Daimler Makes Striking a Balance Between Employees' Work and Private Lives a Key Aspect of its Management Culture

The study "Balanced! – Reconciling Employees' Work and Private Lives" was launched by Daimler in cooperation with the Faculty of Occupational and Organizational Psychology at the University of Heidelberg. The first results of the study and the resulting measures to be implemented by the company were presented today at the "Forum for the Future" in Wiesensteig. These include the creation of new guidelines for managers aimed at helping establish the issue of Life Balance as a key aspect of the company's leadership culture.

Wilfried Porth, Management Board Member for Human Resources and Labor Relations Director at Daimler AG: "Our world of work is facing fundamental changes. More and more employees, both men and women, want fulfillment in their careers while also being able to take care of their children or other dependents. Daimler aims to actively respond to and manage these challenges at our company."

Erich Klemm, Chairman of the General Works Council of Daimler AG:
"Supporting employees to maintain an appropriate Life Balance has been an issue for us for a long time. This is illustrated by the trailblazing company agreements spearheaded by us for balancing family and career lives. The important thing now is to continue along this path and to include all employee groups along the way. It is also important to continue the development of the leadership culture in the company in order to enable employees to avail themselves of the available possibilities with active support from their managers.“

Prof. Dr. Heinrich Flegel, Chairman of the Group’s Executive Staff Representation Committee: "We as senior executives support the ‘Life Balance’ HR initiative of Daimler AG. This topic must be taken seriously and lived by the Board of Management and the entire top management. Through the improvement of our personal Life Balance we are perceived as role models by our employees and managerial staff and thus in turn contribute to the improvement of their Life Balance.“

Because of the fundamental importance of Life Balance for the performance of the workforce, Daimler decided back in 2009 to align its HR strategy with the latest scientific findings and agreed to a long-term collaboration with the University of Heidelberg.

New Measures Implemented at the Company

This is the context in which the Health and Safety unit and the University of Heidelberg launched the long-term study, which analyses in detail the expectations, goals and required framework conditions for an optimal Life Balance. The project activities were intensively supervised and supported by the General Works Council from the very start. The results were presented earlier today at the closing event in Wiesensteig. The Company's Management, General Works Council and the Executive Staff Representation Committee of Daimler AG have coordinated and approved a number of measures which are focused on four core areas.

To avoid crowding the electronic e-mail box of employees during vacations, from the start of 2013, employees will be able to have their incoming e-mails deleted automatically in their absence. At the same time, an absence message will instruct the sender of the respective e-mail about the name of the responsible deputy to enable dealing with all issues. Wilfried Porth: "This new game rule for e-mail absence is a significant measure that will help our workforce to "switch off" even better during rest periods.“

In addition, parents who are active in their careers as well as in child rearing are to be supported, and managerial staff is to be sensitivized on the subject of Life Balance. New guidelines for managers have also been drawn up and ratified by the Board of Management, and are now being communicated as part of an internal campaign.

The guidelines for managers focus on four main aspects:

- Observing boundaries: Prioritizing tasks and planning capacities.
- Being able to switch off: No-one is expected to be on call 24/7.
- Making conscious use of rest: Consciously taking a break from your daily work.
- Reconciling your work and private life: Taking advantage of the available Life Balance offers.

The guidelines give managers pointers for their everyday work, and actively help them to contribute to establishing Life Balance within their own area of responsibility through their actions. It is also important for each Daimler employee to take responsibility for their own reconciliation of work and private lives.

Daimler's Employee Portal provides employees with a customized overview of the measures, information and seminars offered in connection with Life Balance. The Portal compiles all of the relevant guidelines and offerings relating to the reconciliation of employees' work and private lives at Daimler AG.

Study Methodology

In 2010 and 2011, respectively, more than 6,000 employees in Production, Administration and Management at Daimler AG were surveyed with regard to their Life Balance as part of the study "Balanced! – Reconciling Employees' Work and Private Lives". The results show factors which have a negative or positive effect on the balance between employees' work and private lives, as well as highlighting ways in which they can be improved.

A Long Tradition of Reconciling Employees' Work and Private Lives

Striking a balance between the work and private lives of employees is given high priority at Daimler, which is why the company has offered a number of ways to reconcile professional and private requirements for years. For example, one key instrument for achieving a good balance between employees' work and private lives are flexible working (hours) arrangements and models. Daimler currently offers a number of different models, such as part-time employment agreements, job-sharing, mobile workstations and telecommuting.

The question of childcare also becomes crucial when it comes to striking a balance between employees' careers and families. Since the fall of 2007, Daimler has created more than 470 childcare places for toddlers and pre-schoolers at the "sternchen" daycare facilities in eleven locations around Germany. Overall, Daimler plans to create 570 childcare places at 14 locations in Germany by 2014.

Credits: Daimler AG

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