Precision, innovation, and unparalleled quality can only be achieved with motivated and qualified employees. ZEISS takes specific measures to promote a motivating workplace. Against increasingly intense competition for talented employees, ZEISS positions itself as an attractive employer and, in this context, benefits from its reputation as a global and innovative foundation-owned company with a distinctly values-driven company culture.

Demographic change is increasingly leading to a noticeable lack of young talent and specialists, while at the same time digitalization requires all employees to gain new qualifications. ZEISS is proactively facing these challenges with a global recruiting strategy – fully in line with the ZEISS Agenda 2020, which is pursuing the goal of making the company more customer-oriented, more competitive and more digital, as well as strengthening global collaboration as one team.

Involvement of Employees

ZEISS has had a very long tradition of operational co-determination, and in Germany this is enshrined in the Foundation’s statutes. In addition to issues that must be negotiated with employee representatives (either due to legal mandate or collective bargaining agreements), ZEISS regularly discusses planned changes and initiatives with the employee representative committees. A regularly conducted worldwide survey of employees, the Pulse Check, gives employees around the globe the opportunity to provide feedback on issues relevant to the corporate culture. The company uses this tool to measure the current status of the corporate culture and determine where progress has already been made and which priorities should be set in the future. In addition, the results of the survey are used to define specific recommended actions for developing the corporate culture. The Pulse Check survey is conducted every two years.

Profit Participation
ZEISS employees received a share of the profits generated in fiscal year 2016/17. The Group issued profit participation certificates with a total (nominal) value of 4.1 million euros to employees in Germany. The non-transferable certificates have an annual return, the level of which depends on the Group’s return on sales. The profit participation certificates have a term of 5 years, after which they are paid out. In addition, employees in Germany received a gross bonus payment of up to 2,100 euros, which was paid out in October 2017 after the end of the reporting period. Employees at the majority of companies outside Germany also shared in the profit for fiscal year 2016/17 on the basis of the regulations specific to the respective country.  

Actions Taken and Results
By launching the ZEISS Agenda 2020, the Group has set itself an ambitious strategy for the years ahead. In order to successfully implement it, development of the corporate culture must go hand in hand with strategic development. ZEISS launched the Cultural Journey back in 2008. In conjunction with the departmental Team Summit workshops, in which employees can help shape change processes, the Cultural Journey is the main tool used to actively refine the corporate culture. In over 50 Dialogue Tours held at ZEISS locations around the world, members of the Executive Board presented the updated strategy set forth in the ZEISS Agenda 2020 to employees and discussed it with them. In addition to the Dialogue Tours, employees also addressed the necessary activities in numerous Team Summits as part of the Cultural Journey and discussed aspects such as how to improve collaboration as a global ZEISS team and prepare the company for the digital future.  

Global Employee Structure







of which trainees



of which contract workers



of which part-time employees



of which employees with fixed-term contracts



Percentage of female employees



Employees by Region







EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa, excluding Germany









Training and Further Education

Almost 120 young people began a vocational training program or a combined degree-and-vocational-training program in 2017 at the German locations in Jena, Oberkochen, Wetzlar and Göttingen. They are being trained in the fields of industrial mechanics, precision optics, mechatronics and industrial business management, or are completing a combined degree-and-vocational-training program – which marries theoretical knowledge with real-world application – at ZEISS in cooperation with various universities. As such, ZEISS is contributing to societal advancement at its locations – above all in Germany, with its sophisticated dual education system.

One focus of advanced training measures is management development. In addition to a mandatory program for managers to prepare them for their first leadership experience, ZEISS also promotes job rotation for its employees. If need be, assignments abroad are made possible within the company through a variety of different programs. Countless programs to identify and develop talented individuals offer employees advancement opportunities. In this context, consideration is shown for employees’ particular abilities. In this way, ZEISS makes a career not only as a manager but also as an expert in a specialist department possible.

Both young talents and senior professionals can take part in special development programs to enhance their leadership skills and make new professional contacts at international networking events. This prepares them for new challenges and ultimately increases ZEISS’s appeal as an employer – which plays an extremely important role in combating a lack of skilled workers.

With a wide range of training and education programs – for example, in the form of web-based seminars – ZEISS also offers employees in other countries professional development opportunities. The company established the online educational platform eCademy for the purpose of training all employees. Here, employees have access to a wide variety of different educational formats – from classroom-based sessions to online courses. Known as the Group Learning Program, it has been available since the 2016/17 fiscal year – initially only to German-speaking locations – and offers more than 150 different training seminars. Numerous e-books supplement the program worldwide.  

Key Figures

Use of the ZEISS educational platform for fiscal year 2016/17
9,622 active users

in Germany, who have completed at least one online course


of e-books

Educational Figures for Germany*

(November 2016 to August 2017)

Fiscal year (FY)




Total no. of courses completed




Total no. of participant days**




* These statistics include face-to-face training sessions for FY 2014/15 and 2015/16, and e-learnings booked via the learning platform in Germany for FY 2016/17. From FY 2017/18 onwards, the ZEISS learning platform will be rolled out worldwide and the statistics adjusted accordingly. The numbers do not contain any training sessions related to professional training or partnerships with universities.

** Based on the estimated length of the training course (one participant day corresponds to 7.5 training hours) and not including travel or preparation time.

Diversity and Equal Opportunities

With approximately 26,900 employees at over 50 locations in 40 different countries, we live and breathe diversity on a daily basis at ZEISS. The company is characterized by a wide variety of skills, mindsets, experiences, leadership and working styles, cultural backgrounds, nationalities and life plans. This is a great opportunity because diverse teams are more creative and solution-oriented. As such, diversity as a general underlying condition can both strengthen the company’s innovative ability and play a key role in the implementation of the ZEISS Agenda 2020.

At the same time, diversity in all its forms is the key to the global success of an international company like ZEISS – because employees know the markets, understand customers’ different needs and know how to respond to business partners’ cultural practices and customs. This greatly improves local acceptance and trust at the company.

Experiencing Diversity

To make adjusting to a new cultural environment easier, ZEISS initiated the International Club in 2012, which now has more than 200 members. It helps international employees better integrate at the German locations in Oberkochen and Aalen. Regular events help the new arrivals build their own social network and become familiar with their new surroundings. At Language Lunches, the participants have the opportunity to speak their native language and meet their coworkers from other departments. The Language Lunches are now held at the Oberkochen location in six different languages: French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. 

Both the Foundation’s statutes and the ZEISS Code of Conduct prohibit all forms of discrimination, whether due to “race, skin color, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, religious beliefs or world view, political beliefs, age, physical condition or appearance“ (ZEISS Code of Conduct). ZEISS further emphasized its commitment to diversity by signing the Diversity Charter in July 2017.

The goal of this business initiative under the patronage of German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to promote the acceptance, appreciation and inclusion of diversity in the German work environment.

When it comes to its strategy for promoting diversity, ZEISS focuses on five aspects in particular:

  1. Professional background: Being open to applicants having different professional careers and educational backgrounds.
  2. Internationality: Employees of different cultures and nationalities should work in an atmosphere of mutual respect and esteem.
  3. Age: The work environment needs to be organized so that different generations can work together successfully.
  4. Gender: Everyone should receive the same opportunities, regardless of gender.
  5. Workplace culture: An open and flexible workplace culture should allow all employees to achieve the right work–life balance.

In Germany, the following initiatives were launched and expanded:

  • Women’s Business Lunch as the first networking opportunity for women in leadership positions
  • Mentoring program for female employees
  • A project to improve the onboarding of international employees

In addition, there is a cooperation network for childcare and care for relatives. In the 2016/17 fiscal year, ZEISS was named a “family-friendly company” by the Success Factor: Family business network.  

Health and Safety

ZEISS views guaranteeing a healthy work environment and a safe workplace as a fundamental obligation it has to its employees. ZEISS promotes their health and ability to perform their duties through comprehensive occupational safety measures and preventive occupational health examinations. In doing so, the company eliminates compliance risks and ensures productivity.

Safety in the workplace and protecting the health of all employees are principles enshrined in both the Foundation statutes and the ZEISS Code of Conduct. The Chief Financial Officer, as a member of the Executive Board, is responsible for occupational health and safety. In all ZEISS business units, the respective heads are responsible for occupational safety and, as such, for the development, implementation, auditing, and continuous improvement of health and safety performance.

All companies in the ZEISS Group are obligated to appoint an OHS (Occupational Health and Safety) Officer in writing. The duties of the OHS Officer can differ as a result of local legislation but always include advising management and evaluating occupational health and safety risks.The duties of the OHS Officer can differ as a result of local legislation but always include advising management and evaluating occupational health and safety risks. Furthermore, all ZEISS employees are called on to actively promote occupational safety and report risks to their supervisors or the respective OHS Officer.

In Germany, the head of occupational safety takes on an advisory role for all locations pursuant to Germany’s Act on Occupational Physicians, Safety Engineers and Other Occupational Safety Specialists (Arbeitssicherheitsgesetz). To do so, an occupational safety and health protection handbook – the implementation of which is mandatory nationwide – regulates fundamental processes and procedures. Several German sites are certified to the international BS OHSAS 18001 standard for occupational safety management systems.

ZEISS takes extensive measures to promote occupational health management, particularly in Germany, although individual initiatives do exist in other countries outside of Germany. Corporate health management plays a key role in creating a modern work environment at all German locations. The focus in this regard is on employees’ health, motivation and ability to perform their duties. Key areas of activity include the structure of employment relationships as well as building employees’ knowledge with regard to health topics.  

Further information is available in the current Sustainability Report.

If you have any questions or comments on sustainability at ZEISS, please write to us at: respons ibility @zeiss .com