Location: Wiesbaden, Germany
Constituency: 294 chemical industry employers
Highlights of 2010 Winning Strategies
A nonprofit member organization for chemical industry employers in Germany's state of Hessen, HessenChemie has introduced a range of innovative solutions to help its members address demographic challenges facing the workforce. Innovations include toolkits designed to allow companies to conduct their own demographic analyses; programs to enhance work-life balance and the compatibility of work with caregiving responsibilities; managerial training on a variety of topics related to an aging workforce; and the incorporation of standards aiming to meet the challenges of an aging society in the industry's collective bargaining agreements.
Additional policies and practices
Lifelong Learning and Training
HessenChemie has several initiatives in the area of lifelong learning and training.
The organization has developed tools and information kits to help member firms conduct their own demographic analysis, which allows them to rearrange their workforce and training plans according to the needs of the company and the individual. These kits emphasize the importance of all worker demographics receiving relevant training at appropriate intervals in their career to ensure the maintenance of individual working capacity throughout an entire working-life.
HessenChemie also offers a wide range of trainings and seminars, including "Leadership and Motivation of Employees 50+", and "Qualification and Knowledge Management in the light of Demographic Changes."
Finally, HessenChemie developed and entered into a tailored collective bargaining agreement called "Future through Education."
As an employer, HessenChemie sets an example by offering each employee an annual training budget to be utilized in line with individual requirements. These requirements are indentified jointly with the employee's supervisor during regularly scheduled reviews.
Flexible Work Arrangements: HessenChemie offers a wide range of tools to enable its member firms to maintain working conditions that are competitive and flexible and that cater to the individual needs of their employees. To this end, the organization's employment researchers analyze existing employment structures and provide advice on flexible schedules and age-appropriate working conditions.
HessenChemie further develops programs to enhance work-life balance, family-friendly working arrangements and, increasingly, the compatibility of work with caregiving responsibilities.
Health Promotion: Health promotion and protection has become a major field of activity for HessenChemie. Among other initiatives, the organization hosts the "Wiesbaden-Talks," a high-level forum on "50plus - Potentials for Economy and Society," that discusses best practices in the industry. HessenChemie offers seminars and congresses on occupational health and safety, which cover topics such as ergonomically designed working facilities, managing an aging workforce, stress, addiction, health management and the preservation of productivity.
In addition, HessenChemie has helped develop a new vocational disability insurance scheme ("BUC") offered across the industry. The employees of member firms are generally eligible to join without prior health-checks and are covered up to the age of 65. For its own employees, HessenChemie offers health check-ups, allowances towards fitness and health club memberships, and encourages staff to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Diversity Promotion: Diversity promotion plays an important role in the German demography debate. HessenChemie contributes to this through demographic analysis that looks at the existing structures and individual demographic challenges of each of its member firms. Some common challenges include:
- Recruitment; developing recruitment strategies regardless of age
- Fluctuation; developing strategies to retain employees, re-hire more mature workers, etc.
- Qualification; tackling the need for lifelong learning
- Knowledge transfer
- Transition into retirement through a formal, phased retirement program
- Fitness for work / Working capacity; rearranging production teams
Recruitment: HessenChemie offers advice on age-neutral hiring practices as well as on strategies to retain existing staff through innovative incentive programs; new pay systems, and career perspectives.
Miscellaneous: Both the parties representing employers and employees in the local chemical industry recently agreed that collective bargaining should no longer be limited to negotiating pay. With its new collective bargaining agreement "Working-life Time and Demography," HessenChemie managed to set standards aiming to allow the industry to meet the challenges of an aging society and to provide incentives for an extended duration of employment.
Elements of this newly developed "chemical formula on demography":
- The demographic analysis;
- Measures to organize work, taking age and occupational health into account and aiming at improving employment capacity and efficiency;
- Training and qualification throughout the entire working life;
- Measures allowing a smooth transition between the main stages of a working life; and
- The Demographic Fund, the crucial and innovative center point of the collective bargaining agreement.
This fund provides five instruments to flexibly structure working-life time and is funded by annual premiums to be paid by the employers. On the basis of voluntary agreements to be negotiated between employer and works council and in line with the individual needs of the employer and its workforce, funds may be allocated to:
- Long-term working time accounts;
- Part-time retirement;
- Partial pension schemes;
- Vocational disability protection; or
- Collective provisions for old age.