Above all, the coronavirus has shown us the importance of the digital transformation of the work environment. Companies suddenly needed to have many of their employees switch to mobile work and working from home in order to protect the employees’ health and ensure the continuity of business operations. But the situation also revealed the advantages of virtual cooperation. Evonik is using this experience to test mobile work as a concept for the future. Under the title of #SmartWork, it is now conducting 13 pilot projects all over the world, in which about 2,000 employees are testing new concepts. These programs aim to boost productivity and employee satisfaction and to reduce costs through measures such as modern office spaces and fewer business trips. The employees are using one of Evonik’s many communities to share ideas and practical tips that have helped them during the pandemic.
Jointly shaping the digital transformation
Our digital guiding principles play a key role in our orientation in the modern and mobile work environment. At the beginning of 2020, Evonik was the first company in Germany’s chemical industry to issue such a set of principles jointly with the Works Council. The principles focus on the employees and their needs. “We want to jointly take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital transformation,” says Thomas Wessel, chief human resources officer and industrial relations director. For Evonik as a modern employer, providing support for working together is of paramount importance in any case. For us, cooperation is important. That’s not just a slogan - it’s our corporate culture in practice, which is reflected in the many awards Evonik has received as a model employer in Germany and abroad. Employees with diverse origins and cultural backgrounds enrich our teams and are a key to economic success. Promoting this diversity is the task of the diversity council, which consists of members of the executive board and high-ranking managers from various company units. In an industry that has employed relatively few women in the past, the diversity council is working to increase the proportion of women in the workforce, including at the management level. That’s just one example of the diversity council’s activities. What drives the council’s work is the commitment of our specialists and managers to foster diversity and set an example, as well as a great variety of local initiatives. Diversity is a fixed component of Evonik’s expertise model. Evonik also played a pioneering role through its adoption of a key issues paper on the inclusion of persons with disabilities. This paper serves as a basis for the concrete implementation of measures such as ensuring a barrier-free daily working environment. More than 96 percent of our employees all over the world are supported by employee representatives. Evonik has commissioned the researchers in its corporate archive to investigate and document the more than 120- year history of codetermination at the company. In 2020 the company published the book Menschen machen Mitbestimmung (People Create Codetermination).
A balance between work and private life
In order to recruit and retain the best specialists, Evonik supports its employees’ efforts to find a good balance between work and private life. This support includes specific offers for employees at different stages of life. Balancing individuals’ careers and family responsibilities once again became a focus of attention during the covid-19 pandemic in particular. We promote this balance through measures such as flexible working times, tryout programs for part-time management duties, job sharing, childcare places, vacation programs for kids, and discussion groups for parents. “At Evonik, a family orientation is part of our corporate culture. We want to offer our employees an attractive workplace and gain their loyalty,” emphasizes Thomas Wessel. Employees can also take advantage of the company’s offers if they need to care for close relatives - for example, by taking a leave of absence or receiving counseling or financial support. Measures like these increase employees’ job satisfaction and motivation and thus also contribute to the company’s business success. That also applies to Evonik’s support of individual employees’ professional and personal development. For example, it offers various programs focusing on career planning and development as well as the expansion and deepening of specialized knowledge. Examples include the newly developed talent program “Evonik Explorers,” a database especially for trainees, and the learning platform “LILY,” on which employees and managers alike can take digital “learning journeys.” Whether it’s digitalized or not, learning is a lifelong process.