Involving employees

Involving employees

We keep our employees informed about changes in the Group and rely on the experience of our staff and on their feedback to implement improvements. We work together with employee representatives and trade unions on the basis of partnership. Linde’s system of employee representation in Germany consists of a central works council for the Group as a whole and works councils in the decentralised units. Linde also has a European works council, currently with 27 members, which is responsible for cross-regional issues in Europe.

Employee representative bodies have been set up at national level in other countries. In China, for example, more than 90 percent of the workforce is represented by labour unions. In 2014, 11 meetings between management and the central Group works council took place. As a result, five new works council agreements were concluded. Furthermore, in 2014, the Executive Board of Linde AG and the European works council signed an agreement on minimum standards for a measure to increase efficiency that has an impact on the Group’s headcount. Any changes need to be implemented in a socially responsible manner. The agreement describes, for example, how we will provide information and consult with employee representatives in an open and transparent process, and it sets out ways in which redundancies for operational reasons can be avoided.

Employee satisfaction is a key factor in our success. Open feedback from staff enables the Group to continue to develop. In 2014, we conducted our third global employee survey. Around 85 percent of our employees responded to the survey. The engagement index, which measures employee satisfaction and loyalty to the company, was around 71 percent (2012: 71 percent; 2010: 68 percent). This means that just under three-quarters of employees expressed very positive views about Linde as an employer. Areas rated particularly highly by our employees were customer focus and global compliance with safety standards. An area where they see a need for improvement is the Group-wide communication of our corporate strategy. The results are currently being analysed in all regions, and appropriate measures are being devised to respond to the results of the survey. As a consequence, we will be focusing in particular on strategic communication at a global level. In 2014, we implemented several measures based on the results of the second global employee survey conducted in 2012. One of its priorities was direct communication between our executive management and our employees.

We also encourage our employees to use their individual skills and experience to come up with ideas for improvement for the Group. In the Engineering Division in Germany, for example, we achieved total cost savings of EUR 400,000 in 2014 as a result of implementing employee suggestions. In China, we implemented more than 50 employee improvement suggestions, resulting in cost savings of more than EUR 1.2 million. Via the internal social collaboration platform, employees in the Information Services department raised more than 160 improvement ideas during the year under review.