In the competition for talents, ZEISS positions itself as an attractive employer and benefits from its reputation as a global and innovative foundation owned company with a strong focus on values that have been enshrined in the corporate culture since the company’s founding.

Achieving precision, innovation and unparalleled quality requires motivated and qualifi ed employees. In light of the demographic change and the increasing shortage of skilled workers, a diverse workforce and equal opportunities that are truly put into practice will prove decisive competitive advantages. ZEISS is proactively facing these challenges with a global recruiting strategy – fully in line with the ZEISS Agenda 2020. Its goal is to make the company more customer-oriented, more competitive and more digital while also strengthening global collaboration as one team.

Involvement of Employees

The more involved employees feel at the company, the more motivated they are when working. In Germany, co-termination is another tool for involving employees. Yet as a company active around the globe, it is important to ZEISS that its central values and concepts be put into practice at all sites worldwide.

Operational co-determination is well-established at ZEISS, and the principles of the Foundation Statute are enshrined at the sites in Germany. Statutory matters and those issues regulated by collective wage agreements are negotiated with the respective employee representatives. In addition, ZEISS regularly discusses planned changes and initiatives with the employee representatives’ committees.

The Pulse Check, a survey of employees conducted on a regular basis, gives employees worldwide the chance to provide feedback issues affecting corporate culture anonymously. The company uses this tool to measure the current state 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 most recent Pulse Check was held from the end of January through February 2018. The results were presented to the Executive Board and discussed with ZEISS employees. The Pulse Check showed that more than 80 percent of all employees enjoy working at ZEISS, and that 75 percent of employees would recommend ZEISS as an employer. Both values had improved since the previous survey. Nevertheless, ZEISS has set itself the goal of further driving this positive trend through suitable measures on the corporate and departmental levels.

Measures and results
By launching the ZEISS Agenda 2020 initiative, the company has established a clear strategy for the years ahead. In order to successfully implement it, the strategy must go hand in hand with the development of the corporate culture. A reliable tool is the Cultural Journey. Launched in 2008, it involves employees in shaping change processes.

During fiscal year 2017/18, the Members of the Executive Board presented the updated strategy set forth in the ZEISS Agenda 2020 and discussed it with employees in numerous Dialogue Tours. Employees also addressed the necessary actions in numerous Team Summits, which are also part of the Cultural Journey. For example, they discussed how to improve global collaboration and prepare the company for the digital future.

Education and Training

A total of 158 young people began a vocational training program or a combined degree-and-vocational-training program in 2018 at the German locations Göttingen, Jena, Oberkochen and Wetzlar. 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. For the latter program, ZEISS cooperates with various universities. With its sophisticated dual education system, ZEISS is contributing to the development of society, above all at its German sites.

Advanced training includes focusing on the development of managers. In addition to a mandatory program to prepare them for their first leadership experience, ZEISS also promotes job rotation for its employees. Postings abroad within the company are enabled through a variety of different programs. Various offerings to identify and develop talents support employees in their professional careers, with special attention paid to their particular skills. This way, ZEISS not only enables promising careers for managers, but also offers attractive career paths for specialists.

Both young talents and seasoned professionals can participate in special development programs to enhance their leadership skills and establish professional contacts at international networking events. This prepares them for new challenges and ultimately increases ZEISS’ 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.

To support the ongoing education of all employees, the eCademy learning platform was established, providing access to a wide variety of different educational formats – from face-to-face events to courses that are entirely online. Known as the Group Learning Program, it has been available since fiscal year 2016/17 – initially only to German-speaking locations – and offers more than 150 different trainings. Globally, the program has been enhanced with numerous eBooks that are available for download on the learning platform.

Key Figures

Use of the ZEISS educational platform for fiscal year 2017/18
27,394 active users

in Germany, who have completed at least one online course

83,307 online courses

completed globally


of eBooks

Diversity and Equal Opportunity

With around 30,000 employees in almost 50 countries, diversity is part and parcel of everyday life at ZEISS. The company is shaped by a diverse array of skills, mentalities, experiences, leadership and work styles, cultural backgrounds, nationalities and lifestyles. This is a tremendous advantage, because diverse teams are more creative and solution-oriented. Thus diversity strengthens the company’s ability to innovate and plays a key role in the implementation of the ZEISS Agenda 2020.

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

Guidelines, structures and processes

Both the Foundation Statute as well as the ZEISS Code of Conduct prohibit all forms of discrimination, whether due to “ethic or social origin, skin color, gender, age, familial status, disability, religion, nationality, sexual identity or any other features” (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 different professional careers and educational backgrounds.
  2. Internationality: Employees from different cultures and with different nationalities should work in an atmosphere of mutual respect and esteem.
  3. Generations: 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.

Objectives and results

The main objectives are to better integrate international employees at German locations and support the professional development of women. In fiscal year 2017/18, the focus was on onboarding and the improved integration of international employees. The work group for monitoring and implementing these objectives is made up of representatives from various strategic business units and regions and meets every six weeks. In order to openly address problems and make suggestions for improvement, a discussion was held between the President & CEO and 25 international employees.

In order to create a corporate culture that promotes, recognizes, and appreciates diversity, the following initiatives were launched, continued or expanded in Germany during the reporting year:

  • Expansion of the cooperation network for international employees and their family members
  • Women’s Business Lunch as an initial networking opportunity for women in leadership positions in Oberkochen, Jena and Berlin
  • A mentoring program for women in Oberkochen and Jena to promote equal opportunity
  • A cooperation network for childcare and care for relatives to enable a better work-life balance

In fiscal year 2017/18, ZEISS was named a ’family-friendly company’ by the Success Factor: Family (Erfolgsfaktor Familie) business network.

Occupational Health and Safety

For ZEISS, guaranteeing a healthy work environment and a safe workplace is a fundamental obligation toward its employees. This also applies to employees from non-ZEISS companies acting on behalf of ZEISS. ZEISS promotes its employees’ health and performance through comprehensive safety measures and occupational health examinations. In doing so, the company avoids compliance risks and ensures productivity.

Guidelines, structures and processes
Safety in the workplace and protecting the health of all employees are principles enshrined in both the Foundation Statute and the ZEISS Code of Conduct. The Chief Financial Officer, as a member of the Executive Board, is responsible for occupational health and safety. The respective heads of all ZEISS business units are responsible for occupational safety and, consequently, for the development, implementation, auditing and continuous improvement of health and safety performance. The responsibilities of all ZEISS employees and managers are described in a corporate directive or Corporate Standard Operating Procedure.

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 assessing 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. The company units organize their own training programs on occupational health and safety, which are the responsibility of the respective managers.

In Germany, the Head of Occupational Health and 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 – which must be implemented throughout Germany – is available. It regulates fundamental processes and procedures. Occupational health and safety management at ZEISS sites in Germany encompasses all sites, including the non-ZEISS employees commissioned by these facilities. Their contractors must consent to ZEISS’ directive on external companies prior to accepting the commission. Eleven sites, including two in Hungary and two in China, have been certified as per OHSAS 18001, the international management standard for occupational safety. An occupational health and safety management system based on the requirements stipulated in OHSAS 18001 has been implemented at all other ZEISS sites in Germany. ZEISS promotes occupational health management primarily in Germany, but there are also individual initiatives at international sites. Insofar as health management contributes to a modern workplace and good working conditions, it is also an important factor when recruiting young talents.

Moreover, Occupational Safety Committees (OSC) subject to statutory control have been formed at German sites. They convene each quarter to discuss occupational safety issues and accident prevention. Company management is responsible for organizing the OSC. This task falls to the Member of the Executive or Management Board responsible for occupational safety or the appointed Site Manager for Occupational Health and Safety. The committees also include members of the Works Council, a company physician, an occupational health and safety expert, safety officers and, if applicable, a representative for handicapped employees. Since this includes at least one representative from company management, the committees can also make decisions.

Objectives and Results
The main objective is to reduce the frequency and severity of occupational accidents. In order to compile these data worldwide and be able to better manage preventive measures in the future, new performance indicators were introduced in fiscal year 2016/17. These data were first compiled for June 2017. The Executive Board has set the following goal for all production units within the ZEISS Group: a Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR) of less than 2.25 for all the ZEISS Group’s production units by the end of fiscal year 2022/23. In fiscal year 2017/18, the LTIFR was 3.96, and there were no fatal workplace accidents. In addition, a global coordinator for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) was appointed in October 2017. The Head of the Occupational Health and Safety department took on this role in addition to his functional management responsibility for Germany. To determine the performance indicators, 45 business units with over 23,000 employees supply statistics on the frequency and severity of workplace accidents on a monthly basis.

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