Cooperation between young and experienced employees: Mercedes-Benz Cars pushes its demography initiative in production ahead
- Ceremonial opening of the interactive exhibition ‘EY ALTER’ in the Gasometer in Berlin Schöneberg, with cooperation partners and prominent guests from politics, industry and science.
- Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars: “At Mercedes-Benz Cars we are aware of our corporate social responsibility. This also includes the demographic change taking place particularly in Germany and also in Europe. With the ‘EY ALTER’ exhibition we want to focus the public awareness on opportunities of the demographic change rather than on the downsides.”
- Michael Müller, Mayor of Berlin: “Cohesion in society depends to a large extent on whether and how well people of all generations are able to participate in change processes. The interaction of experienced and young employees offers the opportunity to clear up ageing stereotypes and develop an open working culture.”
- Leonie Gebers, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs: “It's not age that matters, it's the process of ageing. Therefore, good working conditions in companies are a precondition for healthy working into retirement. The exhibition ‘EY ALTER’ and the demography initiative YES provide important inspiration for good work in an ageing and digitised society.”
Berlin – More than two and a half years after starting a demography initiative across all locations in the production organisation, Mercedes-Benz Cars has achieved successful interim results and is continuing to push this cooperation of young and experienced employees ahead. One very noticeable manifestation is the interactive exhibition ‘EY ALTER’, which opens its doors in the Gasometer on the EUREF campus in Berlin Schöneberg on 16 May after its stations in Bremen and Stuttgart.“ At Mercedes-Benz Cars we are aware of our corporate social responsibility. This also includes the demographic change taking place particularly in Germany and also in Europe. With the ‘EY ALTER’ exhibition we want to focus the public awareness on opportunities of the demographic change rather than on the downsides. In our plants we count on successful cooperation between young and experienced employees. Even in an era of digitisation and Industry 4.0, people continue to be an important success factor in the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars,” said Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain, at the opening of ‘EY ALTER’ in Berlin.
At the ceremonial opening of the interactive exhibition, which was attended by numerous guests from politics, industry and science, the host Reinhard Müller, Chairman of EUREF AG, and Markus Schäfer welcomed Michael Müller, Mayor of Berlin and patron of ‘EY ALTER’ in Berlin. Leonie Gebers, State Secretary, sent personal greetings from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Another prominent guest was Klaus Wowereit, former Mayor of Berlin, who features in the advertising campaign for the exhibition and has a testimonial role together with Julia Engelmann. The actress, poet and singer gave a performance as a poetry slammer at the opening ceremony.
Demographic change comes along with major shifts in the ageing structure, a challenge which Mercedes-Benz Cars is already addressing today. In view of an ageing workforce, the focus is moving to a new working organisation with close cooperation between generations in a modern production environment. In 2015 this led to the demography initiative ‘YES – Young, Experienced, together Successful’, with the aim of replacing ageing stereotypes with talent and potential, and encourage an intergenerational exchange.
One element of the YES initiative by Mercedes-Benz is the interactive exhibition ‘EY ALTER– why not get to know yourself’. “ Cohesion in society depends to a large extent on whether and how well people of all generations are able to participate in change processes. The interaction of experienced and young employees offers the opportunity to clear up ageing stereotypes and develop an open working culture,” says Michael Müller, Mayor of Berlin.
The exhibition and the demography initiative in the plants demonstrate that Mercedes-Benz Cars has long been aware of its social responsibility. In recent months the passenger car division of Daimler has once again intensively addressed the question of the group's deeper purpose. This arises from the conviction that corporate activities must not only be driven by the pursuit of profits, but must always also take the aspects of social responsibility and universal human needs into account.
Leonie Gebers, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs: “It's not age that matters, it's the process of ageing. Therefore, good working conditions in companies are a precondition for healthy working into retirement. The exhibition ‘ EY ALTER’ and the demography initiative YES provide important inspiration for good work in an ageing and digitised society”.
Uniform demographic standards in the plants
Alongside ‘EY ALTER’, the so-called mirror of demographic development is another important element of YES. This is used as a measuring and control device for creating transparency about the current situation at Mercedes-Benz Cars locations with regard to the ageing structure and demography-related measures. Based on these results, specific initiatives are developed in the areas of training and health management, for instance, by the company, the works council and the employees. Since the start in 2015, the ‘ mirrors’ have been implemented in 28 areas resulting in around 270 measures with over 670 participants on the aspects of health, knowledge, career and teamwork. Another success factor for YES is also the active participation by managers of the different departments. They are sensitized to encourage successful cooperation in teams of mixed ages. Thus, employees are motivated to develop their capabilities throughout their working lives.
Ergonomic optimisation of workplaces
Ergonomic innovations ensure that regardless of age, every employee has optimal working conditions available. The use of various ergonomic tools is being tested by the plants in Sindelfingen, Bremen, Rastatt and Untertürkheim. These include an exo-skeleton, a mechanical metal framework, which assists its wearer in carrying out various movement sequences such as overhead installation work. The ‘chairless chair’ is another tool that improves physical posture and flexibility between standing and seated positions. This is a wearable, ergonomic seating and posture support.
Knowledge transfer between the generations
The YES demographic-mirrors have identified the risk of an above-average loss of know-how caused by the age-related retirement of personnel. To counteract this and ensure a long-term knowledge transfer, a successful example from private day-to-day life has been adopted into professional life: The DaimlerBase project at the Bremen plant is an Intranet-based video platform which preserves experience and knowledge in the form of tutorials such as those to be found on YouTube. Working procedures and production processes such as thermal joining or the lubrication of linear axles are conveyed in graphic form. Employees record their working stages from a personal perspective using an action cam, creating a learning tutorial. Whatever the status of the employee, this makes knowledge accessible within seconds and greatly simplifies familiarisation with new areas of work. DaimlerBase shows that it is possible to reap the benefits of experienced colleagues and leave ageing stereotypes behind.
Alongside the video platform, learning content is passed on in workshops. For example, the BM learning factory from the Center for operating materials in Sindelfingen has been developed further as part of the demography initiative. There are now over 100 different courses and around 200 seminars available each year. In line with the motto ‘From colleagues for colleagues’, not only do experienced employees pass their knowledge on to the next generation, but young colleagues also contribute their current know-how. Within the demographic profile, the S.A.V.E early-warning system has also been developed to ensure an intergenerational transfer of knowledge. This system systematically identifies personnel with specialist knowledge, so that relevant experience and know-how can be transferred within the divison in time.
About the exhibition
The aim of the exhibition is to make demographic change tangible in an interactive, informative and personal way. Visitors are able to playfully discover new aspects of ageing and examine their personal attitudes to age. Following the great success of ‘EY ALTER’ � � � � at the Universum in Bremen (2015) and at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart (2017), the exhibition will visit Berlin from 17 May 2018 to 19 January 2019.
Visitor numbers to date in six figures speak for the attractiveness of the exhibition. With an age range from nine to 85 years, all age groups were represented at the last exhibition in the Mercedes-Benz Museum, even though the average age of 31.23 indicates a tendency towards younger visitors.
Visitors in Berlin will need to show full involvement at around 20 interactive stations. In five topic areas, visitors will find out what determines our thinking with respect to old and young, and how personal potentials can be used to support teams with different generations. For example, visitors can carry out an age check to establish their biological, social and perceived age, and learn at a large-scale model of a human head that many developments associated with ageing are by all means positive. New at the ‘EY ALTER’ exhibition in Berlin is the so-called ‘Learning Plant’. There, students will find the classroom of the future and companies can attend workshops on demography and digitisation. More information on the accompanying programmes for schools and companies can be found at www.eyalter.com.
About Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations
Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations is responsible for passenger car production at over 30 locations around the world. Three of them are currently being established. Within a flexible and efficient production network with around 78,000 employees it includes the central functions of production planning, TECFACTORY, logistics, and quality. Mercedes-Benz Cars produced more than 2.4 million Mercedes-Benz and smart passenger cars last year, marking the seventh record in a row. The network is based on the product architectures of front-wheel drive (compact cars) and rear-wheel drive (for example the S-Class, E-Class, and C-Class) as well as the SUV and sports car architectures. In addition, there is a powertrain production compound (engines, transmissions, axles and components). Each of these production compounds is grouped around a lead plant that serves as a center of competence for the ramp-up of new products, technology and quality assurance. Mercedes-Benz Cars is ready for the electro mobility: Around the globe electro hubs are built for the production of electric vehicles and batteries. The focus of day-to-day work is on the continuous improvement and refinement of state-of-the-art production methods, which allow future high-tech vehicles to be produced in a way that is efficient, flexible and environmentally friendly, according to the typical Mercedes-Benz quality standards. All of this revolves around the employees and their expertise, whose work is systematically supported by ergonomic workplace design and intelligent automation. In addition to its own production plants, Mercedes-Benz is increasingly leveraging partnerships and utilizing capacities at contract manufacturers as part of its growth strategy.