Evonik Industries offers a holistic and long-term human resources planning approach that brings together people who are just starting their careers with employees who are about to retire. This “GenerationenPakt” agreement pays off for young and old alike as well as for the company itself.
How can the company maintain its wealth of knowledge? How can one provide young people with appealing prospects? And how does one enable older employees to decide for themselves how and when they will retire? Evonik provides answers to all three of these questions with its “GenerationenPakt” agreement. Signed in 2015, this agreement was first offered to non-exempt employees born between 1959 and 1961 who still had five years left to go before they could begin early retirement on their preferred date. Evonik takes advantage of these five years to specifically train people for the upcoming job vacancy. Ideally, the more experienced employees will also work together with their prospective successors during this time. This enables people who are starting out on their careers to directly benefit from their predecessors’ experience in the tasks that they themselves will have to perform later on. As a result, Evonik can now promise all new trainees who join the company in 2016 that they will be hired once they have successfully completed theirtraining. The new approach not only lets the company more precisely plan and control the demand for trainee positions, it also ensures there is enough time for training and for giving trainees custom-tailored qualifications over an extended period. The employees who will soon retire consider this phase an especially satisfying one of their careers. It ensures that the knowledge that they have accumulated over many years is not lost, but instead preserved for the company.
“This model meets the desire of many older employees to gradually leave their jobs over a period of several years instead of retiring abruptly,” says Thomas Wessel, Chief Human Resources Officer of Evonik Industries. “We have responded to this wish and linked it with the hiring of young trainees. This way, we want to make our personnel planning more reliable and provide young people with clear prospects for the time after their training is finished,” he adds. The agreement is jointly supported by the company, the works council, and the IG BCE trade union.
Executive Secretary of the Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE)
This model is also made possible by the fact that the participating non-exempt employees have long-term accounts in which they save up money, vacation days, pre-retirement days off and/or excess working time. An employee’s savings in this account are converted into the number of days that he or she can retire early. Evonik also provides additional funding for such accounts. If an employee retires at the earliest possible date with deductions, Evonik lessens the reductions of his or her company retirement benefits. The company even continues to provide vacation pay, and the employee’s long-term account is not affected during the person’s actual vacation time. Instead, Evonik pays for the vacation days. The model’s popularity is borne out by the high participation rate. In fact, more than three fourths of the employees who are eligible to take part actually do so.
Evonik promotes the long-term development of highly skilled personnel as early as preschool. One of the many initiatives that Evonik has launched for this purpose is Young Spirit, which has been getting small children interested in the STEM subjects for over ten years now. By this means, preschoolers and elementary school children are playfully instructed in subjects that will later spark their interest in pursuing a career in mathematics, computer science, the natural sciences or engineering.