Our HR work based on the priorities

1. Tackle the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic

Throughout 2020, the coronavirus pandemic compelled us to take special action to maintain our operational capability and protect our employees. The Group-wide measures described below were taken in collaboration with the Group Situation Center to prevent the spread of the pandemic, inform the workforce, and intervene where necessary. The Group Situation Center forms part of Deutsche Telekom’s system for managing security incidents. It is responsible for coordinating, managing, and monitoring the measures taken to tackle serious threats; it reviews and evaluates the available information, and implements countermeasures – either directly, for example, as part of Deutsche Telekom Security’s master incident management system, or by delegating responsibility to employees or units with the corresponding expertise.

Maintaining our operational capability. In order to maintain our operational capability, employees in the local organizations who are responsible for operating critical infrastructure and maintaining business-critical processes were assigned to teams at short notice and spread across various locations. In addition, 16,000 employees from the 49 service centers transitioned to working from home within one week, and a further up to 80,000 colleagues in Germany and up to 180,000 colleagues globally are also able to work remotely. This was made possible by the rapid rollout of mobile working options and IT support (new facilities for remote working were set up for 16,000 employees at short notice). In addition, country-specific measures were adopted in line with local requirements, e.g., risk bonuses, a monthly allowance for employees with direct customer contact (in Greece, North Macedonia, Croatia, and Hungary, for instance), the introduction of short-time working, and the transfer of staff between key areas such as shops and service centers. Our 7,000 field staff – equipped with appropriate protective gear and information for customers (such as the recommendation to air the premises before the technician’s visit) – continued calling on customers to configure connections, rectify faults, or optimize their WiFi so they could work from home (#MagentaHelden (magenta heroes)). As a token of its appreciation, the Board of Management of Deutsche Telekom AG decided to award all active employees (non-civil servants, trainees, civil servants, and in exceptional cases also loan and temporary staff) – with the exception of the United States operating segment – a special coronavirus bonus of EUR 500 each.

Measures to protect employees and ensure hygiene. Measures that are key to preventing the spread of the pandemic within the Group included the precautionary quarantining at home of suspected coronavirus cases, issuing protective clothing to employees (especially service personnel and those working in our shops), supplying all employees with everyday masks, and providing disinfectant. As early as in spring 2020, employees were obligated to wear masks in the office and the frequency of cleaning was ramped up significantly. The maximum occupancy at meetings was reduced to match the corresponding room size so as to enable proper physical distancing. Beyond that, business travel to high-risk COVID-19 destinations was stopped at an early stage.

Information and offers of support. We were for the most part able to stop the spread of coronavirus within the Group by providing all relevant contacts at the local organizations with daily briefings from the Group Situation Center, reporting all suspected and actual cases of illness to the latter, and putting in place a process to intervene in confirmed cases. Our constant efforts to inform and protect all our employees and establish rules of conduct were supplemented and reinforced by a personal Coronavirus Update newsletter issued by our Board of Management member for Human Resources and Legal Affairs. We also made use of our extensive network with other DAX-listed companies and the world of science to continually evolve our practices and share our own best practice with other companies. Above and beyond that, we supported our employees and managers by providing them with virtual formats on topics such as leadership, remote collaboration, and resilience (for instance, the online seminar “Starke Psyche (A strong psyche)”) and by setting up additional IT support channels and a helpline for dealing with psychological problems. Moreover, we were able to offer all our employees in Germany a regular opportunity to chat online with a virologist and hygiene expert from the University of Bonn. This live chat option not only provided the participants with a rundown of the current situation, but also covered key topics, gave recommendations on how to behave, provided answers to employees’ questions, and dealt with the consequences for the “new normal” in working life at Deutsche Telekom. We were also able to provide parents with a free one-year premium license for Sofatutor, Germany’s largest online learning platform.

Social cohesion. Just how important social cohesion is for us has been evident throughout the course of the pandemic, especially during the lockdown phases. Interaction, sharing ideas, and just being together and having common experiences form the basis for innovation and creativity, and engender a feeling of safety and belonging. Since fall 2020, we have made targeted investments in initiatives to promote social cohesion. These include formats such as culture gigs (live concerts), virtual sporting and knowledge challenges, and virtual lunches with colleagues from different parts of the Company. We also offered our employees the opportunity to get together virtually for a digital Christmas party. More than 11,000 of our staff took part in the event via live stream.

Health rate and health management. As a result of the comprehensive measures taken, the Company’s health rate reached historic highs in May, June, and August 2020. What is more, the figures throughout 2020 were consistently higher than in the previous year. In 2020, Deutsche Telekom AG was once again honored with the Corporate Health Award, Germany’s most prestigious prize for excellence in corporate health management. A total of 352 employers across 15 industries took part in the demanding scientific selection process. Among the reasons given for the award this time around were our comprehensive, convincing, and targeted offerings, and our innovative ideas for responding to current trends and challenges – such as My Health Journey, an annual program for mental strength.

Employee satisfaction. According to data collected by the Group-wide employee survey conducted in 2019 (excluding T‑Mobile US), our commitment index score – i.e., our measure of employee satisfaction – was good at 4.0 (on a scale from 1.0 to 5.0). We also conduct regular pulse surveys to obtain feedback from our employees. The survey conducted in November 2020 resulted in record figures in almost all areas: employee participation (120,000 colleagues or a return rate of 77 %) and top survey results regarding satisfaction (80 %), leadership quality (88 %), brand identity (85 %), learning (85 %), COVID-19 – information (94 %), COVID-19 – mobile working (88 %), and COVID-19 – protection (91 %).

Employee satisfaction (commitment index)a







Group (excluding T‑Mobile US)



Of which: Germany



Of which: international




Commitment index according to the employee surveys carried out in 2019 and 2017.

T‑Mobile US conducts its own employee survey. The results of the survey conducted in 2020 (survey period: January through September, excluding former Sprint employees) showed that 92 % of respondents take pride in working for the company. 85 % said they would recommend T‑Mobile US as a great place to work, and 84 % believe the Company inspires them to go above and beyond their usual work-related duties. These results are among the highest in the Group. T‑Mobile US has been awarded numerous accolades in recent years for its appeal as an employer. In 2020, T‑Mobile US was once again named Best Place to Work by the independent employee platform Glassdoor. In addition, T‑Mobile US improved its position in the Fortune Best Companies to Work For top 100 list, moving up from 49 (2019) to 42 (2020). Ethisphere Institute named T‑Mobile US one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for the twelfth year in a row. T‑Mobile US also scored 100 in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for the eighth time in a row, making it the best place to work in terms of equal treatment of homosexual, bisexual, and transgender people.

2. Evolve our culture and design new working environments

We are convinced that corporate culture is a key factor in a company’s long-term success. That is why culture has always played a crucial role at Deutsche Telekom. But corporate culture must also reflect the changing needs of customers and employees. For this reason, we understand culture to be a process and not something static. In January 2020, we announced our corporate purpose: “We won’t stop until everyone is connected.” It has since proven itself to be a widely accepted cultural framework and, in times of physical distancing, has gained even more in importance.

Our Guiding Principles. Culture is part of the corporate DNA and, as such, influences not only our ways of working. That is what makes our Guiding Principles so important, leading us to reflect on our behavior on a daily basis and acting as a cultural indicator. When our updated Guiding Principles, revised in a dialog-driven process, were presented in February 2020, we could not have known just how quickly the coronavirus pandemic would put them to the test. Our living culture stood the test, providing our employees with support and guidance throughout the pandemic. Apart from a largely virtual, international Living Culture Day that scored over 16,000 mentions on social media, we offered numerous formats for focusing on corporate culture and implemented specific measures, for instance, digital collaboration formats and a redesigned learning platform.

Our six Guiding Principles

Our six Guiding Principles (graphic)

Our six Guiding Principles

Our six Guiding Principles (graphic)

Designing new working environments. The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed where and how we work together. Even after the pandemic has passed, many of these changes will remain. After all, the new trails we have blazed have proven their worth. With that in mind, Deutsche Telekom and the Group Works Council agreed on a Manifesto on the new Way of Working, the goal of which is to maintain performance, employee satisfaction, and employer attractiveness:

  1. We will take the best of both worlds: the type of work will determine the mix of mobile and in-person work, whether the latter is performed on the customers’ premises, in our shops, or in the office. The share of mobile working is set to rise significantly, not just because it “works,” but because it even enhances productivity in many areas. But real-life interaction, too, will remain a key component of our working life. That is because the success of creative collaboration, complex problem-solving, and team processes often hinges on physical proximity.
  2. Our offices will become places of encounter: the office is set to remain the most important location for our identity. More than ever before, our office buildings will become places for teamwork, encounters, and social and creative interaction.
  3. Digital tools will become even more important: digital collaboration tools have become our constant companions and key helpers in our daily work. For this reason, we will ramp up our Group-wide investment in IT tools, equipment, and enablement.
  4. We will travel less: going forward, we will get by with fewer business trips, thus making a contribution to sustainability.
  5. Our understanding of leadership will change: it will not be based on attendance and control, but on trust and transparency. We will face new challenges when it comes to virtual leadership and to leading hybrid teams. It will become even more important for our managers to create a safe, motivating “space,” formulate clear objectives, provide feedback, and monitor results. We will offer a wide range of virtual tools to support our managers in this area.

3. Continue the long-term transformation of our workforce

It is our responsibility to ensure that we have the right employees in the right place at the right time, that they enjoy competitive conditions, and are able to grow and develop. In addition to both the transformation initiatives driven by digitalization and automation, and to staff reduction and restructuring measures, the decisive tools in achieving this goal are proactive total workforce management, the digitalization of our core processes, and massive investment in developing skills.

Major transformation initiatives. In 2020, we again succeeded in transforming individual business areas of the Group, e.g., Deutsche Telekom IT at T‑Systems, and our consumer sales entity. Against the backdrop of digitalization and changing customer behavior, the difficult realignment of consumer sales was also implemented in a socially responsible manner. What is more, we successfully realigned our B2B telecommunications business and combined it within the Germany operating segment.

Collective bargaining round for 2020. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, we negotiated a new collective agreement in record time at the end of March 2020. The collective agreement applies nationwide to around 60,000 employees, trainees, and students on dual study programs. Despite the prevailing economic uncertainty, Deutsche Telekom’s intention was to offer (planning) certainty early on both for the employees covered by the collective bargaining round and for the company itself, and send a clear and positive signal for the economy. In line with the ongoing push to digitalize our core processes, the collective bargaining round was conducted for the first time in virtual form.

Skills development. Our employees’ skills and expertise are among our Company’s most important resources and thus crucial to our business success. These skills must be geared to the future and kept up to date. We are responsible for providing an environment in which employee skills can be transformed. With the introduction of a Global Job Architecture (GJA) and the continued harmonization of collective agreements on remuneration, the ver.di trade union, the Group Works Council, and Deutsche Telekom were jointly responding to the challenges this future presents. The aim of the GJA is to comprehensively consolidate and simplify the function structures. Under the GJA, all jobs in the Group are grouped together according to job families and job clusters. This is important to allow all jobs in the Group to be clearly identified. With the help of these tools, 7,500 required future profiles were identified, which will now be used for recruitment and reskilling/upskilling initiatives. Simplifying and standardizing our Group-wide job profiles is also a key prerequisite for rolling out our skills management program SkillsUP! in selected corporate units. Personal development talks help pinpoint where individual skills are lacking, while development plans can be continuously adapted by means of tailored training programs. Strategic, qualitative HR planning takes changing market conditions into account to plot the right course when investing in the skills that will be needed going forward. That includes cutting-edge performance management that enables an ongoing dialog between managers and employees.

Youlearn. Two of our top priorities are to digitalize our portfolio of training courses and strengthen our culture of learning. With our Youlearn initiative – aimed at entrenching self-paced learning in our everyday working life – we have significantly enhanced our employees’ options for upgrading their skills. Employees in Germany and our European national companies devoted over 2.3 million hours of their time to learning in the reporting year – that was 2.4 working days per employee on average. That figure was down from the previous year due to the pandemic and the consequent cancellation of virtually all traditional classroom seminars from March 2020 onward. But the digital training courses developed with the Youlearn initiative helped us fill the gap in offerings and further increase acceptance of digital learning.

Percipio & Coursera. Yet, to achieve simplicity and take the digital transformation forward, we need new organizational forms, expertise, and a cultural change – in short, we need to master a whole host of new skills if we are to tackle current and future challenges. We tackled these developments head on with measures such as the introduction of the Youlearn initiative to promote a culture of self-paced learning in our everyday working life. What is more, we rolled out Percipio (an intelligent learning platform also dubbed the “Netflix of learning”) and integrated Coursera as a provider of digital further-training courses offered by top-ranking universities, thus providing our employees with a high-quality training service. The increase in our digital learning rate from 46 % to 69 % and over 170,000 registrations for Percipio since the third quarter of 2019 validate our efforts in this area. We firmly believe that a state-of-the-art learning environment is central to our obligation as an employer to act responsibly.

Employer brand. We maintained our presence in the recruitment market in 2020 and, despite the coronavirus pandemic, stayed in contact with the talents in order to enhance trust in our employer brand. The crisis precipitated by coronavirus has changed the needs of both society as a whole and our target group of IT/NT talents, heightening the need for meaning, participation, and security. We integrated this change in values into our employer brand strategy, channeling it directly into specific employer messages. In our #IWILLNOTSTOP campaign, mission and purpose as well as meaningful work have already become part and parcel of the promise we make as an employer. The coronavirus pandemic further strengthened our focus on digital employer branding. New digital formats were developed to get Deutsche Telekom’s culture as an employer across.

Recruiting and onboarding. We want to be the magnet for global digital talent. Even amid the coronavirus pandemic, we succeeded in recruiting around 800 new employees in Germany in 2020, including in the ICT sector, and 2,150 new trainees, a high percentage of whom have technical/IT backgrounds. A quick digital recruiting process with a positive digital candidate journey is the key to success here. Particularly during the pandemic, we relied on our motto “Stronger together” to reinvent our onboarding process. One highlight of this is the virtual global welcome event entitled “New Unstoppables.” Our international careers website is a platform offering job-seekers clear and transparent information, for example, on the digital/virtual recruiting process. We also make use of game-based assessments in the recruitment process. These are a new generation of psychometric tests in the form of online games and are being deployed in the context of our hiring process for the Start up! trainee program. In addition, we use digital tools that rank final university grades on the basis of algorithms, thus enabling a fair comparison. By addressing specific target groups, our recruiting strategy also aims to encourage more talented women to join our Company. 2020 marked the eighth time that female students of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) from all over the world were able to compete for our Women’s STEM Award. We are also involved in Femtec, a career program for female STEM students, and in the Global Digital Women network. We have shown that digital recruitment is a crucial success factor when it comes to responding rapidly to changing requirements and continuing to secure employees with critical profiles for the Company.

Practicing diversity. We are committed to equal opportunity and diversity at the Group. Promoting diversity – also in our management teams – is part of our identity. Our target to fill 30 % of management positions across the Group with women still applies. Across the Group, the proportion of women in middle and upper management stood at 27.1 % at the end of 2020. At 45 %, Deutsche Telekom AG had an above-average proportion of women on its Supervisory Board, and with women occupying 37.5 % of the positions on its Board of Management, the Company occupies first place among the 30 DAX-listed companies.

Diversity is a key success factor and goes beyond just gender. In order to develop successful products, we must understand the needs of our customers, and we can do that only if our Company is just as diverse as society. The Human Resources and Legal Affairs Board of Management department is responsible for the Group’s diversity and inclusion strategy, while a large number of diversity allies in the individual subsidiaries and different countries are tasked with putting the corresponding measures into practice and implementing the relevant offerings. In early summer 2020, our Board of Management member for Human Resources launched the RethinkDiversity initiative to take a creative approach to developing and implementing further measures and projects. It includes, for example, the establishment of a diverse talent pool, with women making up at least 40 % of the members, and a program in which top male managers are assigned to mentor up-and-coming female employees destined to take over as the next generation of managers. We thus also focus on diversity aspects – such as age, cultural background, and gender – in the succession management process at senior management level. When it comes to diversity and inclusion, we continue to pursue a steady, long-term policy, also collaborating with external diversity partners such as the Competence Center Technology-Diversity-Equal Opportunities e.V. The goal is for everyone to be able to achieve their full potential and to make diverse management teams our “new normal.”

levelUP! In the age of digitalization, managers must possess skills and methods that differ greatly from those needed in the analog world. That is why we support our executives with levelUP!, an innovative digital further-training service for successful leadership in the digital age. levelUP! comprises modules that can be combined as required. Knowledge is shared primarily via interactive, digital learning formats in combination with classroom training. In 2019, the levelUP! program underwent a change of content, focusing primarily on agile leadership. Some 1,200 executives participated in the first two rounds of this latest incarnation of the levelUP! program. In 2020, the program was held in a fully digital format for the first time.

Due to the huge success of levelUP!NextGeneration in 2019, we offered the program again in 2020. In view of the particular challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, we decided to offer this program for motivated high potentials in a purely digital form. 500 employees from all over the world took part in this four-month development program, which features digital learning and imparts innovative, inspiring, and concrete leadership topics and skills. levelUP!NextGeneration also helps us strengthen and encourage intragroup and cross-segment collaboration.

Major HR and CR awards in 2020

Major HR and CR awards in 2020 (graphic)

For an overview of which sustainability indexes list the T-Share, please refer to the section “Corporate responsibility and non-financial statement.”

ICT – Information and Communication Technology
Information and Communication Technology