Daimler has joined forces with the Faculty of Industrial and Organizational Psychology at the University of Heidelberg to initiate the 'Balanced! – Reconciling Employees' Work and Private Lives' project, a research study that also serves as a strategical HR initiative for Daimler. Daimler attaches great importance to a balance between work and private life.
The aim of the project is to maintain the balance between the work and home life of Daimler employees so as to safeguard their performance in the long run. Until July 2013 the study is being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and is co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF). The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is responsible for the overall management of the project.
In both 2010 and 2011 more than 6,000 employees from production and administration, including managers, were surveyed about their individual work-life balance. The responses clearly revealed which factors have a positive impact on the equilibrium of work and private life, and which have a negative impact. It also pinpointed where further improvements could be made. This paved the way for the Daimler Life Balance program.
Initial action steps resulting from the project. Out-of-office email policy
To ease the strain on employees' inboxes during annual leave, as of 2013 staff can choose to set their email to automatically delete incoming mail while they are away. At the same time, the sender of the incoming mail receives an out-of-office message with contact details for the deputy responsible, so that the matter can still be addressed.Educating managers
Managerial staff at Daimler must recognize that their actions as a role model and a pillar of support are integral to the Life Balance program. Presentations have been held to advise employees across departments, units and teams about Life Balance, outlining expectations and encouraging them to take the initiative. The Board of Management has also issued guidelines specifically for the management via an internal campaign. The campaign draws on the findings of the employee/management survey and focuses on four key areas:
- Respecting limits:
The company is supportive of employees and managers prioritizing tasks and structuring workload. The goal is to recognize limits and work within them.
- Switching off:
Nobody is expected to be available all the time. Daimler is mindful of this when it comes to email correspondence, for example. Employees and managers are not required to reply to emails at weekends or while on annual leave. Similarly, the company recommends managers set fixed periods during which no meetings are scheduled, much like a national 'bridging day' before or after a public holiday. This time can be used for work that requires concentration or for using up accumulated overtime.
- Allowing for recovery:
To make a conscious break from the daily routine, Daimler recommends that employees and managers take annual leave on completion of projects.
- Reconciling work life and home life:
Daimler encourages employees to take full advantage of the many Life Balance opportunities available to them. This relies on an open dialog between employees and their managers, allowing room for professional and personal commitments to co-exist (e.g. parental leave or caring for a dependent).