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2011 Best Employers - International

BMW Group

This automaker built the first assembly plant designed to facilitate healthy aging of the workforce

Winning Years: 2011, 2009
Industry: Automotive
Location: Munich, Germany
Employees: 69,518; Percentage over age 50: 23.1

With Today for Tomorrow, BMW Group has created a holistic and cross-cutting approach to addressing demographic change at the workplace. This program comprises innovative initiatives in the areas of health promotion, training and knowledge management, work environment, and personalized retirement models. When staffing a new production plant a few years ago, BMW specifically targeted unemployed older job seekers to ensure a well-balanced age structure to support the regional labor market. Moreover, BMW recently opened a new assembly hall specifically designed to support healthy aging of its workforce.

See also: How the 2011 Best Employers winners were selected.

Lifelong Learning and Training: BMW has recently expanded its training and learning efforts with a special focus on the demographic change and older employees. Work environments are checked for the degree to which they encourage learning, and where appropriate new forms of learning are devised.

BMW provides a training program for its managers aimed at raising awareness about concepts and methods of an age-based leadership.

Equal opportunity is given to all employees, irrespective of age, to participate in training programs. BMW encourages employees to keep on learning during their whole working life.

Flexible Work Arrangements: BMW introduced a flextime model at almost all of its German locations in 1993. As a result, 25,000 employees are able to arrange their individual work times. Within flextime there is no restriction on the number of free days that may be taken each year. The BMW Group started a part-time campaign in 1994, featuring temporary part-time positions, part-time intermittent work and job-sharing

Time Off for a While: All employees have the option to take a sabbatical. With the approval of their immediate manager, they may take personal leave of between one and six months. Since the introduction of sabbaticals in 1994, more than 11,400 employees have taken advantage of this opportunity and have opted for a two-month block of leave on average. In 2008 BMW introduced a new scheme called Fulltime Select with the option to take up to 20 additional days off per year. In 2010, 1,788 employees took 10 additional days off on average.

Mobile Working/Telecommuting: Mobile working offers additional flexibility. With mobile working, employees are in a better position to combine their personal life and their working time than they used to.

Partial Retirement: BMW offers a formal phased retirement program, which allows employees to halve their weekly working time for a period of six years prior to retiring. Normally, employees work full time for three years followed by a release phase of three years, in which employees don't work anymore. BMW increases the monthly net income in the working phase up to 100 percent and in the release phase up to 88 percent of a full-time employee. In addition the company pension of the participating employees is increased.

Health Promotion and Protection:

Ergonomics/exercise: The individual modification of the workplace to the associate takes priority. In addition, BMW's exercise program offers ergo physiotherapy and prevention related to the workplace, cardio and strength training, as well as treatments for acute and chronic pain. 

Next: Health seminars and a new kind of assembly plant. >>

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