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Bayer: meeting demographic change head-on
In many countries the age structure of the population will change drastically over the coming years. Falling birth rates, particularly in industrialised nations, and an increasing life expectancy pose a strategic challenge for Bayer – one that we at Bayer have been working hard to meet for a number of years.
A forward-looking analysis of the demographic trend
Years ago, Bayer developed methods and instruments that facilitate a systematic analysis of the demographic situation at Bayer Group and allow us to reliably predict what the future has in store for us. This specially developed analytical instrument takes the form of an innovative forecasting software with its own investigation algorithm. Having been successfully tested in a number of selected company sections, the software has already been used to examine the demographic properties of a large number of countries and Group sections. The findings were used to identify areas where there is a need for action by the Group, as well as to initiate more in-depth analyses within the various Group and service subsidiaries. The country organisations' medium-term estimates of local job market trends were also used in strategy planning. For Bayer, meeting demographic change head-on is a task that affects the whole organisation, requiring implementation of a vast number of measures across all sections.
Education and training, recruitment of new talent and Employer Branding
Consistently o ffering training and education to young persons to obtain qualified junior staff is an important part of the equation: in recent years, Bayer has regularly employed more than 900 apprentices for about 20 trades – apprentices make up roughly seven percent of the employee population at Bayer. Young skilled workers who have been trained in-house are our most important asset, and one we will use to offset the number of retirements in the technological and commercial area. Apart from this, we actively try to attract young talent early on in their lives, all over the world. In addition to offering students of various disciplines more than 2,700 high-powered internships in 2010 alone, we maintain close ties with the best universities around the world, as well as international student organisations. Our activities have helped us recruit about 4,000 university graduates who took up management or specialist positions at Bayer. This success is due in part to our Employer Branding scheme, which we use to convey to our main target groups the advantages of working for Bayer and get our potential employees excited about working for the group. We position our company on social networking sites to complement our conventional personnel advertising and recruitment programmes – with great success.
Adapting and maintaining the skills of the workforce
Today we are already investing large amounts of money in maintaining the skills and health of our employees. Using our vast range of further education and training resources, we help our employees deepen existing skills or learn new ones, and adapt them to changing requirements. The "Bayer Senior Experts Network" (BaySEN), launched in 2010, is intended to retain the long-term experience of retired managers in the company and convey it to the next generation.
Health promotion and stress reduction in old age
Another focal point of our measures to meet demographic change head-on is to continuously improve the company's health management system. We put on a great many courses in many countries to promote and maintain our employees' health and occupational performance capabilities, even before the backdrop of a rising life expectancy.
Implementing the collective agreement on "working life and demographics" is a milestone in this regard. Bayer is the first and so far only company to use the funds thus generated specifically for health care measures. From 2011 onwards, the majority of our employees in Germany can choose to undergo a comprehensive medical health examination at their workplace. Employees whose work is primarily physical in nature have the option of significantly reducing their workload in the years prior to retirement age; the reduction in their pay is compensated with money from the demography fund.
Promoting diversity and internationalism
Another contribution toward demography management that may be indirect but is no less important is the way in which we actively promote diversity in its many forms. The fact that we strive to further expand the existing set of measures to find a balance between work and family life makes us an attractive employer for young women and ensures that highly qualified female employees are not lost to us forever when they take time out to look after their children. At the same time, cultivating young employees and managers in the rising economies of South America and Asia means that we benefit from the mostly positive demographic trends in those countries, while at the same time promoting diversity, internationalism and innovation within the company.
We are convinced that these measures and initiatives will help prepare us for the impending demographic change and enable us to limit its repercussions on the Bayer Group.
Dr. Stefan Neuwirth, Head of HR Strategy & Projects,
Forum for Sustainable Development of German Business e.V.
econsense is an association of leading, globally active companies and organisations of German business specializing in the area of sustainable development and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Founded in 2000 on the initiative of the Federation of German Industries (BDI), the goal of econsense is to provide a dialogue platform and think tank, with the dual objectives of advancing sustainable development in business and assuming social responsibility.