Winning Years: 2008, 2009
Industry: Industrial Equipment and Commercial Machinery
Location: Waldkirch, Germany
Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies
Mature workers at SICK AG serve as mentors for younger employees in mixed-age training groups and on project teams. The company also maintains strong ties with retired employees by inviting them to company functions. SICK AG also puts a significant emphasis on employee health with a project addressing how companies can contribute to their employees’ healthy aging by implementing comprehensive, flexible-work options.
SICK AG’s other winning policies and practices include the following:
Lifelong Learning and Training: SICK has created a number of ways for employees to further their education. Examples relevant for older workers include intergenerational learning, which the company supports by deploying experienced employees to work on various project teams and by varying employees’ work responsibilities, for example, by means of job rotation.
When the company conducts group training, it does so with mixed-age groups to avoid discrimination against any particular age group. IT training is, however, an exception in this respect, as the learning speed of older and younger employees differs in learning new media; the company finds that older employees usually need more time to acquaint themselves with the subject matter. As a response, to avoid the possibility of conflict and stress, SICK AG holds IT training in groups with employees of similar ages.
Another project, entitled “Lifelong Learning—Personnel Development Measures for the Integration and Promotion of Older Employees,” focuses on how personnel development must be reorganized to ensure the integration and promotion of older employees. It is centered on the concept of employability and creates awareness of the necessity of lifelong learning.
SICK invests in all of its employees, even those nearing retirement. As a consequence, the participation of older workers in lifelong learning is high (45 percent, in comparison with a 17-percent EU average).
The company also helps prepare employees nearing retirement for changes that they can anticipate. For example, the company hosts two-day seminars for older workers on retirement and invites employees’ partners to participate, so that both are prepared for retirement and the life changes that the transition will bring.
Flexible-Work Arrangements: In 2004, SICK introduced a combined working-time and retirement-investment-account system aimed at promoting and supporting a better organization of working time over the life course. Under this scheme, the employees can transfer a certain amount of overtime to their working-time account and subsequently convert it into money. This money is paid into an external fund, and after a period of accrual, employees can decide how to use the money saved in the account. They can use it for a temporary reduction of weekly working hours, for early retirement, for the reduction of weekly working hours in the pre-retirement phase, or for additional pension contributions.
SICK funds an on-site day-care center to enable employees to see their children. The company also allows employees’ children to eat in the company’s cafeteria, with the company covering half the cost.
Health Promotion and Protection: SICK employs a health-management initiative including both organizational and employee-related measures. The steps are geared toward promoting employees’ health during their careers, and, by concentrating on risk prevention, the initiative covers the entire workforce.
To assist in implementing the company’s health-policy goals promoting wellness, SICK established a working group for health issues.
- Discounts on travel and everyday savings.
- Subscription to AARP The Magazine.
- Free membership for your spouse or partner.