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Aspect 2: Employee concerns

With their commitment, expertise, and high performance, our almost 217,000 employees ensure that we are always there for our customers, our network remains stable, and the Company can grow and pave the way for the digital society. They are crucial to our business success. Six Guiding Principles, representing our values, form the cornerstones for collaboration within our Company. We have defined our strategic HR priorities in line with the motto: “Supporting people. Driving performance.” We attach great importance to employee involvement and fair behavior toward colleagues, promote diversity, and engage in systematic health management.

For our Guiding Principles and further information about our HR work, please refer to the section “Employees.”

Collaboration with employees’ representatives and trade unions

Digitalization is fundamentally changing the way we work together. Employees are expected to demonstrate greater flexibility, social skills, and autonomy, to continue learning throughout their lives, and to work with greater independence. We have made it our goal to support our employees in this transformation – and to help them not only to manage change, but also to take an active role in shaping it.

Codetermination rights play a key role in the digital transformation. Together with employees’ representatives and trade unions, we want to create the working world of the future – with an eye to the needs of our workforce and the success of our Company. As the underlying laws and contracts vary from country to country, codetermination matters are managed locally with trade unions and employees’ representatives. Group management is generally involved in issues of particular importance.

The works councils, central works councils, and Group Works Council represent the interests of Group employees in Germany. Our partner representing the employees’ interests on a European level is the European Works Council (EWC). We also have executive staff representation committees and representatives of disabled employees at unit, company, and Group level. The EWC has been one of our established key dialog partners for many years, representing the interests of our employees in countries within the European Union and the European Economic Area. The EWC has 32 seats, 29 of which are currently occupied (as at December 31, 2021). Collective bargaining plays an important role and has a long tradition at our Company, a fact made clear by the percentage of employees covered by collective agreements. As of December 31, 2021, 73 % of employees in Germany were covered by collective agreements. We record the Group-wide coverage rate every two years. As of December 31, 2020, it stood at just under 46 %. In 2021, 115 collective agreements were signed with the trade unions in Germany, which is a testament to the close cooperation with employees’ representatives.

We carefully monitored trade union matters in the United States over the course of 2021. The responsibility for national human resources management matters in the United States lies with T‑Mobile US’ management, who are deeply committed to exercising this responsibility. Across the globe, Deutsche Telekom respects the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining in accordance with national law. This naturally also applies to the United States, with all employees at T‑Mobile US entitled to form or join a trade union. At the same time, employees are also free to choose not to do so. T‑Mobile US will not exert any influence in this respect, neither favoring nor discriminating against employees because of a decision they have made.

Collaboration with employees’ representatives is founded on our commitment to trusting cooperation – anchored in our Group-wide Employee Relations Policy, which sets out twelve core elements describing what we stand for as an employer around the world. The policy also describes our aspiration with regard to the following HR topics: virtual working, employee development, responsible handling of changes, health and sustainability, fair pay, work-life balance, leadership, diversity, the prohibition of discrimination, and how we communicate and work together with employees’ representatives. Topics such as freedom of opinion and digitalization are also addressed. Our Code of Human Rights & Social Principles policy statement also includes a voluntary commitment to safeguarding the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining (in compliance with national law in each case).

Our employee survey, carried out every two years, is a key indicator of the relationship between our Company and its workforce. We supplement it with pulse surveys, which give us a snapshot of the mood across the Group twice a year. More than 117,000 colleagues, or 80 % of the total, took part in the employee survey in 2021. The survey dealt, among other topics, with sustainability, with considerable success: 84 % of those surveyed stated that they identified with Deutsche Telekom’s environmental and social engagement. A total of 83 % believe that Deutsche Telekom acts responsibly towards the environment and society. Both figures represent an increase of seven percentage points on the 2019 survey.

For further information about the employee survey, please refer to the section “Employees.”

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

People from some 150 countries work successfully together at Deutsche Telekom. They all bring their diverse skills and cultural characteristics to the workplace. Respecting the individuality of our employees and harnessing their diversity for our joint success is just as important for our Group as developing a shared corporate culture. That is why the Human Resources and Legal Affairs Board of Management department includes a Diversity team. Our Group policy on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the six Guiding Principles, the Employee Relations Policy, and the Code of Human Rights & Social Principles policy statement form the foundation of our commitment to diversity. We are also a founding member of the Diversity Charter corporate initiative.

In line with the key dimensions of diversity set out by the Diversity Charter, we offer all employees – irrespective of age, ethnic origin and nationality, gender and gender identity, physical and mental abilities, religion and worldview, sexual orientation and social origin – many development opportunities. To achieve this, we use a range of measures including mentoring programs, flexible working models, child care services, advisory services for those caring for loved ones, and an action plan for inclusion. Developments in the proportion of women in leadership positions and serving on the supervisory boards are reported to and discussed by the Board of Management on an annual basis. We offer various training courses that shine a light on unconscious bias in order to reveal hidden prejudices. Last but not least, we support the many employee networks at Deutsche Telekom, e.g., in Germany Magenta Pride, Women@telekom, the Fathers’ Network, and the Network for International Employees.

In Germany, for example, our collective agreements on remuneration and other matters reached with the trade unions ensure transparent, gender-neutral compensation. We meet the requirements set out in the Act to Promote Transparency of Pay Structures by publishing a report on gender equality and equal pay every five years – most recently in the 2017 financial year.

For further information about equity and diversity in our Group, please refer to the section “Employees.”

Occupational health and safety

The coronavirus pandemic again left its mark on 2021. We kept our comprehensive hygiene plans in place and initiated many other measures to protect our employees’ health. These focused among other things on offering vaccinations to our employees and on giving our employees the opportunity to work from home where there were no compelling operational or personal grounds preventing this.

For further information, please refer to the section “Employees.”

Measures that promote health within the Company not only help individual employees and ensure long-term business success, but also have positive effects beyond that on society as a whole. We use holistic health management to take on social responsibility and promote a proactive culture of health. We support our employees in maintaining their health and occupational safety with a host of target audience-specific measures and extensive prevention programs. We consider the statutory requirements to be only the minimum standard we must achieve. Our corporate occupational health and safety measures are effectively incorporated into our structures via certified management systems and appropriate policies and guidelines. We support the Group-wide approach with an internationally harmonized quality, work, health, and environmental management system based on the international standards ISO 9001, ISO 45001, and ISO 14001.

The Board of Management bears overarching responsibility for safeguarding health, occupational safety, and the environment. We manage cross-segment measures at Group level; the Group companies have health & safety managers who are responsible for specific processes and offerings that take into account special requirements and conditions right down to company level. We systematically evaluate the measures to ensure they are effective. The health rate, for instance, is reported to the Board of Management once per quarter. In addition, we review the results of our employee survey, analyses of stress prevention measures under collective agreements, health insurance reports, and competitor benchmarks. We analyze this data each year to derive measures that exceed the statutory requirements. Raising awareness, prevention, and encouraging individual responsibility are high priorities at our Company.

Group-wide initiatives serve to promote health awareness and health literacy among our employees. On completion of the employee survey, for example, all teams across 30 countries are issued recommendations, along with measures to be implemented on the basis of their particular health index rating. In Germany, a range of services are available to employees to promote health in the workplace, including comprehensive check-ups, colon cancer screenings, and flu shots. The Betriebsärztlicher Dienst (BAD) occupational health service started vaccinating Deutsche Telekom employees against the coronavirus at 87 locations around Germany in June 2021. Assembly and meeting spaces at larger locations were turned into temporary vaccination centers. The health promotion program also includes courses on nutrition, exercise, and relaxation (stress prevention, mindfulness, etc.). Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many courses had been held online since 2020. Digital formats were offered again in 2021. In addition, with our Germany-wide employee and executive advisory service, we offer a portfolio of support services in the area of psychosocial health, but also crisis prevention and advice in the event of psychosocial crises and extreme incidents. As part of this, occupational physicians have also been available since 2020 to answer medical questions regarding coronavirus. In 2021, we expanded the options to include an advisory service for our employees who had been affected by the extreme flooding event in July.

Standards have been put in place in Germany to improve occupational safety by regulating aspects such as safe, ergonomic environments in buildings and vehicles. In addition to services available to all employees, there are also target group-specific measures, e.g., driver safety training for certain areas of work. Our aim is to promote employees’ health, boost their motivation, and improve the health rate.

A variety of key figures demonstrate the effectiveness of our corporate health management services. The health rate, including long-term illnesses, at Deutsche Telekom in Germany was 95.3 % in 2021 (prior year: 95.0 %). Excluding long-term illnesses, the health rate in 2021 stood at 96.7 % (prior year: 96.5 %). The health rate is reported to the Board of Management each quarter. Our aim for 2021 was a Group-wide health rate of 95.9 % (excluding long-term illnesses). The total number of work-related accidents continued to decline in the reporting year in comparison with the previous year. With 4.2 accidents (resulting in over three days of absence) per thousand employees, the accident rate in Germany was well below the industry average. This figure includes occupational accidents associated with the coronavirus pandemic. Without these Covid-19 cases, the accident rate in Germany was 3.7 and therefore once again down year-on-year (prior year: 3.8). The health index, which is measured every two years in a Group-wide employee survey, increased slightly in 2021 in comparison with the previous survey. The score from the 2021 employee survey for the Group health index was 69 on a scale of 0 to 100. In the 2019 survey, the index had been shown as an average on a scale from 1 to 5, with a value of 3.6. When converted to the new scale, this represents 65 points, which means the index improved by 4 points. The next survey is scheduled for 2023.

We noted one-time effects in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus-induced regulations (lockdown) and hygiene measures taken to mitigate the pandemic. This led to an increase in the health rate and an improvement in the accident rate. The return to “normal” working conditions, and also to normality within society, means we must expect an increase in temporary incapacities for work due to infections and a rise in accidents on the way to work. With this in mind, we will not be changing the targets for the health rate or the accident rate.