Future of work

The wind of change

30. September 2017
Text: Anette Frisch

How Volkswagen Group intends to support employees in the cultural transformation.

New paths to management

The HR team will focus more on experience when training prospective managers in the future. A knowledge of brands, business units, and international sites is becoming increasingly important – artificial selection processes are being replaced by on-the-job assessments. In addition to this, managerial appointments will depend even more heavily on recommendations from several colleagues. Staff who believe they have what it takes to become a manager will also be able to nominate themselves in the future. The Volkswagen brand plans to introduce this development path by mid-2018 – and implement it Group-wide by 2020.

The transition has to be shaped in collaboration with the employees. We have to take their concerns seriously, talk to them, and provide socially just and equitable answers. Going forward, work has to still be safe and humane.
Michael Sommer, former chairman of the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB) and member of the Sustainability Council

More women in the boys’ club

It’s obvious – Volkswagen’s top management is male. But the shortage of female executives is not the only area where the company needs to improve. People from other countries and cultures are also underrepresented in management. The goal of our new diversity strategy is to have more female decision-makers and more internationality in management.

Digital spaces

Many departments at Volkswagen already work agile and with new methods. With pair programming, for example, teams of two employees work on the same project content. This technique also includes cross-pairing, a form of international collaboration. Changes in the working world go hand in hand with fresh space concepts. The new IT City at the Wolfsburg site is a good example. This campus-like office complex for approximately 1,500 employees is designed for agile working

Alliance for the future

With the “pact for the future”, the central works council and the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand have agreed on a socially ethical approach to changing – instead of cutting – jobs. The partners have committed to ruling out redundancies, expanding the offering for partial early retirement, and prioritizing internal candidates when positions open up. Furthermore, 9,000 new jobs are to be created in the growing fields of digitalization and e-mobility; 700 of these have already been created so far in 2017. The digital job portal enables staff to find out what vacancies and training courses are available. More than 20,000 coworkers registered for this online tool in the two months following its launch in June.

Inner attitude

Volkswagen defines integrity as having the conviction to do the right thing, question situations if in doubt, and speak openly. As part of the company’s integrity program, 152 employees from every part of the organization are working to develop a shared understanding of integrity. They act as the first liaison person within their teams, organize information events, and form a network through the Sounding Board program.

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Meeting on an equal footing

Volkswagen has developed its “Code of Collaboration” to promote an open corporate culture that centers on values. It acts as a kind of mutual pledge by all Group employees to treat one another as equals and create synergies – even in matters that go beyond the interests of their own brand or site. Open discussion meetings aim to help create a new culture of cooperation. Both internal and external experts discuss key issues with staff and managers – such as how cultural development can be achieved at the organization post-crisis. On top of this, the Volkswagen brand regularly invites employees from all levels of the hierarchy to a breakfast meeting on culture which is also attended by executives. This centers on a discussion of how the brand’s corporate values – together, courageous, customer-focused, efficient, open and honest, and attentive – are put into practice. Topics include, for example, having the courage to act autonomously or how dialog with one another can be strengthened. There is also the initiative “Dialog Cascade Culture”, which involves the divisions and departments meeting in small groups with their director to explore how they can work together better.

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