As of 1st March 2019, Messer’s workforce, including at equity consolidated Messer Industries GmbH, totals over 11,000 employees in Europe, Asia and America. Most of our social and business opportunities arise from our diversity: we differ in terms of origin, culture, age, gender and sexual identity, religious persuasion and world view, but we pursue a common business objective. We want to foster appreciation of the diversity of employees within Messer through our system of values, intercultural working groups and international communication. In future we will focus even greater attention on all diversity-related issues in order to develop suitable additional measures aimed at further fostering mutual understanding as well as appreciation of the variety of skills and talents. A working group is also looking into the appropriate form of address in internal and external communication in order to treat men, women and “diverse” equally. The results are expected to be implemented in 2019.
Diversity initiative by German family businesses
In 2018 Messer decided to support an advertising initiative by German family businesses which addresses diversity in the workforce. Under the slogan “Made in Germany – Made by diversity”, 50 family companies that employ staff from all over the world have been running an extensive campaign since March 2019 to promote a Germany that is open to the world.
As at 31 December 2018, Messer had 5,805 employees, 2.3 % more than in 2017 despite the disposal of the Messer company in Peru. A total of 2,947 employees worked in the commercial areas. As in the year before, the proportion of women in the workforce was 23 %. A total of 416 persons held positions as first and second-tier managers, with 25 % of them being women. The number of employees on fixed-term contracts increased slightly from 204 in 2017 to 257 in 2018. There was also a marked increase in the number of part-time employees from 140 in 2017 to 179 in 2018. Our entire staff included 29 people with severe disabilities. In total, 76 employees were actively involved in supervisory bodies.
Across the Group, the average length of service of our staff since the date of joining was 10.6 years, as in 2017. Total staff turnover increased from 6.9 % in 2017 to 7.4 % in 2018. This is mainly due to employees leaving a number of smaller companies in South-East Europe. The average age of our staff was 42.7 years. The number of sick days per employee was 4.1 in 2018, a slight drop compared with the previous year.
In order to ensure that we continue to have well-trained employees in the future, we take measures to attract school students and higher-education students to the fascinating world of gases. These measures include facilitating undergraduate and master’s theses as well as student internships and work placements for school students. We also seek to get younger students interested in our fields of work. In 2018, for example, 16 school students had the opportunity to spend a day in our Corporate Communications department gaining practical experience as part of an initiative to familiarise young people with occupational fields; this led on to three 3-week work placements. We also offered school student work placements in the area of IT.
Messer is committed to providing educational and vocational training opportunities to the next generation of young employees as this is seen as a vital investment in the future competitiveness and efficiency of our company. In Germany we offer vocational training to motivated and hard-working school and college leavers in the areas of industrial business studies, mechatronics, IT data processing and IT support. Training takes place at various sites, in some cases supplemented by several weeks spent at international locations. In addition, dual courses of studies are supported, sometimes following on from successfully completed in-house training.
However, the number of apprentices and trainees at Messer has fallen sharply recently: the company employed a total of 18 trainees in 2018 compared with 34 in 2017. Messer also employed four trainees who are all being trained in Application Technology in Krefeld.
At two Western European subsidiaries, eight trainees completed their training, whose positions were provisionally not filled pending clarity about the Messer Industries joint venture. At several smaller national subsidiaries, each of which had only one or two trainees, one training position at each location was not filled for local reasons after the trainees had successfully completed their training.
The ongoing training needs of Messer staff are ascertained as part of annual employee performance reviews, with the local HR departments responsible for drawing up and implementing specific plans for further training. In 2018, the average amount spent on training and professional development was 243 euros per employee; in 2017, the figure was 272 euros. The average number of training days per employee was 2.8 compared with 3.4 in 2017. We are running an “English offensive” worldwide to improve English language skills. As part of this offensive, there are three groups at each company catering for different levels of knowledge of the language and providing the opportunity for employees to improve their language qualifications.
Academy Messer Group
As an internal scheme to ensure systematic personnel development, the Academy Messer Group offers a range of training courses covering both technical and professional areas as well as personal skills development. A regular, annual series of events examining current trends is very popular with our local managers and junior executives. The “Focus on Cylinder” transnational training course for cylinder salesmen was continued in 2018, with training provided at the Messer companies in Western Switzerland, the Baltic States, Hungary, Bosnia, Bulgaria and North Macedonia.
A series of seminars again took place for the Junior Circle, our programme for the next generation of managers, with participants from various national companies and specialist areas. The third Junior Circle group, which has been going through the two-year programme since July 2017, is involved in various projects focusing on the topic of “digitalisation”. For example, they are planning the implementation of a chatbot, investigating the possibilities of optimising cylinder business through digital technology and preparing the introduction of digitally controlled air separation unit maintenance.
Our salaries are based on the position, the market, performance, training, experience and seniority and, where applicable, on collective agreements and inflation compensation. Equal treatment of the sexes is taken for granted.
Equal treatment and anti-discrimination
If employees feel discriminated against or that they are not being treated equally, they can, at any time, turn to their local human resources manager or the Group Compliance Manager, who will help deal with the matter and ensure that equality is maintained. The employee may also choose to put this on record during his or her annual appraisal. In such cases, provided it is a minor infringement, the possibility of resolving the problem through mediation or equivalent coaching is discussed in consultation with the parties involved. A serious violation may, however, result in the person who committed the violation having their employment terminated.
In 2018, one case of discrimination was reported at Messer in Romania.
Internal social partnerships
2.8 % of our employees in Europe were members of a works committee in 2018. At most of our Eastern European national subsidiaries, the local management negotiates joint pay agreements with trade unions. The relationship between our workforce and the management is one that is characterised by trust, resulting in not a single strike or anything similar at Messer in 2018.
Use of the company’s own e-learning platform was expanded in 2018. The existing platform was presented to other areas in the Messer Group with the intention of also integrating them into the production of in-house e-learning training courses or to get them to use the platform for online training courses sourced externally. Another area of focus was the production of our own, tailor-made e-learning training courses. An e-learning training course on the subject of compliance has been completed and can be rolled out worldwide in future. In the medical sphere, the pharmacovigilance e-learning training course was gradually extended to other national subsidiaries. Further training courses in the Legal, Medical, SHEQ and Human Resources spheres are at the production stage.
Cooperation in supraregional networks is encouraged at Messer. Thus, for example, expert teams meet up regularly to share experience and exchange ideas and information. More often than not, the meetings also feature a talk or presentation by an external specialist.
Corporate Conference 2018
In October 2018, representatives of the management of Messer and the MEC Group met for their annual senior management conference in Shanghai, China. The primary focus was on drawing up a strategy for the coming four years with the main themes being financial independence, growth potential and organisational strength.
Meeting of helium experts
In March 2018, the helium experts from Messer Group and from the national subsidiaries met for another exchange of experience. This time the topic was “Best practice for avoiding moisture and preventing helium losses in the facility”. All the participants contributed ideas.
In April 2018, this year’s “ASU Managers’ Meeting” took place in Austria. Besides specialist presentations and an exchange of experience, the group also visited the new air separation unit in Gumpoldskirchen on the second day.
Chemistry, Paper and Environment
In May 2018, Messer Group’s Application Technology “Chemistry, Paper & Environment” unit organised a workshop with a focus on chemistry at the competence centre in Austria. It involved working together with the national subsidiaries to develop strategies for the further expansion of applications in refining – primarily applications with oxygen, but also inerting and industrial wastewater treatment. A very successful “paper workshop” had already taken place at an earlier date. A workshop on options in the treatment of drinking, process and waste water took place in the autumn of 2018. This series of workshops replaced the usual network meeting.
Application Technology’s Industry network meeting took place in June 2018 in the new Competence Centre in Krefeld. This gave participants the opportunity to get an overview of the centre’s application technology-related test equipment and evaluate the possibilities for customer tests.
Welding and Cutting
Messer Group’s annual “Welding and Cutting”networkmeetings also deal with current issues. Competitor monitoring, the current status of our “Triple Saver” campaign, 3D printing and digitalisation were on the Western Europe meeting’s agenda in June 2018.
The Messer and MEC ComManagers’ network meeting took place in Berlin in June. A total of 30 communications managers from 14 countries covered topics such as image and film rights, cybercrime and the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The meeting also featured training in digital storytelling.
At the Global HR Meeting in September 2018, HR managers from the national subsidiaries discussed the subjects of “data protection” and “cybercrime”. A very good understanding of these complex issues was gained thanks to Messer Group’s Data Protection Officer. The theme of “cybercrime” was also covered in detail at one of the annual employee meetings.
Global Sales Meeting
Around 45 sales managers from all over the world gathered in Bad Soden in September 2018 for Messer Group’s Global Sales Meeting(GSM), a two-day event that is held once a year. Our colleagues from the Western, Central and South-East Europe regions as well as China, Vietnam and ASEAN presented their Best Practices. Central Sales Functions (CSF) presented news, trends and know-how from its different departments. This included new applications and products as well as competitor analyses, segment strategies and e-sales tools.
CO2 plant managers
Messer’s CO2 plant managersmet for the seventh time. This year’s meeting took place in November 2018 in the French city of Aix-en-Provence. The participants took advantage of the opportunity to exchange experience and get tips and information on technical issues, new plant components and dealing with the authorities.
Everyday challenges as well as procedures for future improvements in laboratories were the topic of a meeting of test laboratory staff from Messer, Region South-East Europe and Corporate SHEQ. An intercomparison is intended to increase cooperation between the laboratories in future. At the same time, the idea of setting up a laboratory working group in our South-East Europe region was very well received. It will focus on gathering and exchanging ideas as well as identifying and solving problems.
At Messer, team building measures are implemented according to the needs and judgement of the national subsidiaries. Most team events in 2018 were of a sporting nature in order to benefit employee health at the same time.
Belgium: Messer Benelux runs the extra miles!
Following Messer’s worldwide pedometer competition, Messer Benelux took up a new challenge: on 3 June 2018, a team of colleagues took part in the “Great Breweries Run”. The 25-kilometre route through the Flemish countryside led to Belgium’s finest breweries.
Czech Republic: A weekend of cross-country skiing
As part of Messer’s “Fit at 120” campaign, employees of Messer Technogas added cross-country skiing to their list of sports activities. More than 20 participants – including experienced skiers and beginners – went cross-country skiing during a weekend together in the Sudeten Mountains. They covered a distance of 20 km in perfect winter weather.
Bosnia-Herzegovina: Strong as a team
As part of the traditional New Year reception at Messer in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the employees at each site took part in a team building event. The participants competed as groups in long jump and running events as well as a game in which the competitors were blindfolded and had to find their way to the centre of a circle guided solely by instructions called out by their colleagues. The event highlighted the importance of teamwork in achieving good results together and for sharing knowledge and experiences.
Bosnia-Herzegovina: Teamwork on the pitch and in the kitchen
Teamwork is key to business success. And just like with any skill, teamwork requires training. This need not necessarily take place in a work setting – there are other very effective ways of fostering teamwork, such as sports activities or cooking together. For example, Messer BH employees took part in a football tournament organised by one of our customers, GS TMT Travnik. Another team of colleagues entered a cooking contest where they impressed the jury with their culinary skills as well as their Messer-red aprons and chef’s hats.
Hungary: Summer outing to Semmering
For the second time now, the team from Messer Szendioxid in Olbő organised a group summer outing: on 2 June 2018, our colleagues visited the world-famous Lindt chocolate factory in Gloggnitz. After that they took the train to the Austrian town of Semmering for a trip along the historic Semmering railway line. This was followed by a relatively easy hike back down to the valley, which saw the group cover a distance of over 13 kilometres or more than 22,000 steps.
Vietnam: Even more successful as a team
Our Vietnamese colleagues meet once a year for the “Messer Haiphong Company Tour”. The 2018 tour saw over 200 employees from five provinces come together in the coastal city of Da Nang. Excursions in the region around Da Nang, various team building activities and a gala dinner provided an ideal opportunity to interact and get to know one another better. Some of the team building activities took place on My Khe Beach, with all the participants enjoying the creative and exciting games which allowed them to grow even closer as a unit.