Top priority: satisfied employees

Steinbeis assists with demographics project

In less than ten years, people over 40 will constitute the majority of the population of Europe for the first time ever, according to a study conducted by the Adecco Institute in London. And the consequences are staring us all in the face: The decline in population and aging of the current labor force means more people are working longer and more women are working in the first place – while the number of qualified up-and-coming employees is dwindling. Employers and employees alike have to start thinking about how to maintain health, motivation and performance levels in the future. The Steinbeis Consulting Center for Operational Health Management, with its ProSalutO method, offers a holistic concept that enables businesses to react adequately to these demographic changes – and a project with the Brückner Group shows just how successful this concept can be.

The salutogenic research addresses the question of how health can be promoted by individuals as well as entire organizations. It found three factors with the biggest impact on how satisfied and motivated people are: comprehensibility, manageability and meaningfulness. These can be very practically promoted based on actual needs in the areas such as workplace design, work processes, information, communication and management. And the most effective way to improve work satisfaction? Just ask the employees themselves; being able to constructively contribute to the development of one’s business is a guarantee for motivation and performance. It fosters mental and physical health.

The Steinbeis Consulting Center team moderates steering committee meetings and employee events, offers its own survey on subjective workplace quality, and consistently focuses on the question, “How can the parties involved better understand, manage and give meaning to their working conditions?” The steering committee, a representative sample of customer businesses, designs the in-house steps of the market analysis, prioritization, strategy planning, implementation and evaluation.

The Brückner Group, a Leonberg company going back over 60 years, decided to pursue the employee satisfaction issue. As early as 2009, it initiated an organizational development process under the project name “vit@work,” which has been receiving support from Steinbeis project director Ralf Elsner since 2011. vit@work stands for vital, innovative and transparent organizational development. Quickly, the initial objectives of an operational health management system turned into a comprehensive demographic project.

“vit@work is about more than just health and physical fitness. It focuses on organizing a company in the long term in a way that ensures young and old, experienced and up-and-coming employees can work well with one another, that experience can be passed down, and that each individual can derive meaning from his or her particular work. Each employee should have the opportunity to contribute to developments in the company by being healthy, motivated and active as long as possible,” says Regina Brückner, owner and CEO of the Brückner Group. The Steinbeis Consulting Center for Operational Health Management moderated the organizational development process. First, employees filled out surveys, which resulted in various spheres of action. These were then discussed with the vit@work steering committee and approached with suitable strategies. This paved the way for new initiatives at Brückner, such as a “Lunchtime Rendezvous,” free water and fruit for employees, discounts for the neighboring gym, part-time and flexible work models, home-office work, and employee training from experienced or retired employees. A redesign of the openplan office is also planned to optimize the working environment. Central to the project’s success is its transparency and the extensive participation of the employees, which served to strengthen loyalty to the company.

At the beginning of the year, Brückner successfully entered the vit@ work project for Baden-Wuerttemberg’s Demographic Excellence Award, an initiative sponsored by the Federal Association of German Business Consultants (BDU) and the Baden-Wuerttemberg State Ministry of Business and Finance. The jury selected the project as its 2012 beacon project among companies with 50-250 employees.

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