People at Merck

Our employees are crucial to our success. Therefore, it is particularly important to us to recruit the right people with the right capabilities at the right time to work for Merck. To support Merck’s growth and innovation course, we need a working culture that values diversity, promotes various forms of collaboration and responds flexibly to different requirements. This calls for creative solutions and curious employees who are constantly growing in terms of their professional expectations and skills. This innovative spirit is key to generating new ideas that pave the way to a successful future.

Overview of our headcount figures

As of December 31, 2016, we had 50,414 employees worldwide (2015: 49,613). In 2016, we were represented by a total of 215 legal entities with employees in 66 countries.

DISTRIBUTION of employees

by region
in %

The future starts now

In a continuously changing world, qualified and creative employees are of tremendous importance. We endeavor to prepare each and every employee not just for today’s demands of the workplace, but also for the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow.

A strong starting position

Merck is using the motto “Make great things happen” to position itself in the global job market. The aim is to convey to potential applicants a sense of what makes Merck unique: an inspiring, motivating work environment in which innovations thrive; an environment in which everyone has the opportunity to apply their ideas and engagement to benefit customers and the company, while at the same time developing themselves as employees. To make Merck even more attractive as an employer, in 2015 we repositioned our corporate brand. Consequently, in late 2015, we started an analysis of the impact of the new corporate brand on employer branding. It is essential to harmonize employer branding and messages with the new brand in order to position Merck as an attractive and responsible employer.

When filling open positions, we concentrate on attracting employees who have potential to take on greater roles in the future. For this, we have introduced a globally uniform and binding process. It starts with an internal job posting before external channels such as job portals and recruitment agencies are used. On the one hand, the process offers employees better development opportunities, and on the other hand it minimizes the costs of external recruitment.

In order to support executives in making hiring decisions and to establish uniform quality standards, we offer interview training courses for employees with personnel responsibility. In these courses, the participants learn proper interview behaviors, targeted question techniques and how to incorporate relevant diversity aspects into the hiring decision.

We start integrating new employees before their first day of work, since a good introduction marks the beginning of a successful collaboration. In order to make the onboarding process as efficient and easy as possible for new employees, we have created a welcome website that can be accessed worldwide. Protected by a password, this website is available in eight languages and offers new employees all the information they need. Furthermore, we have set up a special room on our intranet to allow new employees to network and to inform them of important global, local and business-specific issues. In addition, each new employee is assigned an experienced colleague who supports them during their initial orientation period. Our managers are also given a detailed information pack so that they can optimally integrate their new employee into their role. This pack contains an onboarding plan, process descriptions and general information on Merck as an employer.

Success through knowledge

To enhance our growth and innovation potential over the long term and ensure the necessary flexibility to allow us to respond promptly to new trends, we support the development of our more than 50,000 employees. Only by strengthening the abilities of each individual can we count on innovative and curious employees and managers in the future.

This approach starts with good training. In 2016, we again maintained a constant high vocational training rate at Darmstadt, our largest site. A total of 523 motivated young people were enrolled in apprenticeships in 23 different occupations in 2016. We give unlimited employment contracts to all apprentices working in occupations for which we have sustainable demand. On average, the post-apprenticeship hiring rate – taking voluntary terminations into account – was more than 90% over the past five years. Of course we also offer vocational training at other sites in Germany, in which a total of 53 young people participated in 2016.

We continue to promote the professional expertise of our apprentices through numerous regional and global project activities. In 2016, these included supporting a center for homeless children in Ghana.

Furthermore, through our “Start in die Ausbildung” program, we help young people to find an apprenticeship. In 2016, the ­number of participants was higher than in the previous year, with a total of 22 young people between the ages of 16 and 25. Although they have a school leaving qualification, they had been searching for an apprenticeship for at least one year without success.

In 2016, we established a similar program for refugees for the first time. Through linguistic, technical, cultural, and job-specific training, the “Integrating refugees through training” initiative is preparing twelve young people who were forced to flee their home countries for vocational training and thus for the labor market.

Our advanced training program for all employees comprises a range of globally aligned classroom training courses on 18 selected subjects. In 2016, more than 5,700 employees participated in these courses to prepare themselves for new opportunities and challenges. In addition to classroom training courses, we also offer digital solutions in the form of 200 e-learning and language courses. At workshops designed specifically for teams, employees are taught how to make effective use of individual skills to enhance productivity and collaboration. To enable our employees to realize their full potential, we also provide local business- and function-­related offers. All of these measures are documented in globally available development plans.

Moreover, we offer our high-potential staff and senior executives a range of advanced training programs. One of the aims of the six-month International Management program is to promote global thinking among young junior executives and to strengthen their leadership competencies. In cooperation with top international universities, the Merck University has been offering a multi-­regional, modular program since 1999. To date, 373 members of top management have taken part. Furthermore, Merck cooperates globally with universities in order to support employees who wish to study for an MBA. In 2015, we launched the Growth Markets Management program for local executives in India and Latin America, which focuses on business management and Merck-specific topics. This program is also offered in China and Turkey, with participants from a variety of countries and regions such as Africa, the Middle East, Japan, and Russia. Moreover, in 2016 we ran the Managerial Foundation Program in 20 countries with 739 participants and the Advanced Management Program, which was attended by 99 experienced executives in four countries.

Shaping the future through innovation

Innovation plays a particularly important role at Merck. In order to further enhance the preconditions for innovation, in 2015 we opened the modular Innovation Center in Darmstadt. This gives employees the possibility to focus on their ideas and work on projects in an environment that stimulates creativity and collaboration. After all, innovation calls for imaginative employees with adequate scope for creativity and appropriate support, which includes a suitable working environment. Offering our employees various training courses on topics such as innovative methods, creative techniques, and visualizing and testing business models is an important element of the Innovation Center. Internal project teams, start-ups from the Merck Accelerator program as well as many other interested colleagues from various areas throughout Merck benefit from this offer. Recently, the training courses were digitalized, making them available to all employees worldwide.

Driven by inspiration

Furthering the performance culture at Merck to optimally support the company in its transformation and growth program is another focal point of our human resources work. In this context, differentiated compensation and advanced training opportunities are important incentives. Establishing a culture of inclusion and inspiration in which managers set an example through their attitude and behavior, as well as selecting and positioning the right employees, are crucial.

Leading by example

New ideas change the world. That is what drives us. We study things in detail, ask questions and think a step further. This approach is supported by our executives. They recognize and make use of opportunities to drive our innovation-based business model and set their sights on clear goals. At the same time, our executives set an example, for instance by living the Merck values and taking responsibility for their own decisions. In doing so, a differentiated feedback culture is essential in establishing a common vision through effective management. Our competency model supports our executives in further developing our business model and the related culture. The strategic competencies according to which managers and employees are to behave are purposeful, future-­oriented, innovative, results-­driven, collaborative, and empowering. They enable our executives to build a strong culture of collaboration based on curiosity and trust.

Fostering the skills and potential of our employees

We want our employees around the world to enjoy working at Merck. We want to excite them and retain them. We therefore consider it an important part of our managerial responsibility to identify employee potential early on and foster it on an individual basis. We want to offer our employees interesting career opportunities, continuous personal and professional development as well as prospects within the company. We are thus continuously strengthening our performance and development culture to encourage a curious and innovative attitude among our workforce.

Through intensive analysis of our personnel data using a new software introduced in 2016, we can now more quickly recognize the potential of talented employees, allowing us to fill internal positions even more efficiently. We map our talent and performance management process uniformly for all employees worldwide according to the same principle and via a common IT system. We systematically combine talent recognition with employees’ target agreements and performance assessments, since we are convinced that regular feedback helps all employees to grow in terms of their performance and potential. At the same time, regular individual assessments make it easier to identify employees with high potential and to further them accordingly. Clear objectives, differentiated and open feedback and individual development plans are thus important prerequisites for both personal development and business success.

In 2016, we further expanded our workforce pool to internally fill management positions when they become vacant. The vast majority of management position vacancies were filled by internal candidates again in 2016. In addition, we recruited external executives in order to add new perspectives to our long-standing in-house expertise.

Valuing performance

We value the individual contribution of each and every employee and reward them with an appropriate and competitive total compensation. For years, we have been doing this using global processes and programs that are supported by digital platforms. We also offer our executives flexible, market- and needs-oriented compensation instruments. These instruments help to make well-­informed decisions and thus continue to provide comprehensible, performance- and position-based compensation.

We aim to be an attractive employer. For this reason we do not only focus on monetary compensation components. Attractive fringe and social benefits also play an important part in motivating and retaining our employees. We have based our “benefits4me” offer on three pillars, namely company benefits including the ­company pension, health and well-being, and services. There are different benefit packages to meet the various needs of our workforce. Established steering mechanisms ensure that this is a well-made investment in our employees.

Culture makes all the difference

An open, dynamic and inclusive corporate culture and a diverse workforce contribute significantly to our business success. Therefore, promoting diversity and inclusion as well as motivating employees to embrace cultural change are special focal areas of our human resources work.

Unity in diversity

Together with a culture of inclusion, diversity promotes innovation and improves team and individual performance. One of the strategic goals is to recognize the strengths of such a diverse workforce and to appreciate individual differences. It is important to us to create an inclusive work environment in which all employees have the possibility to realize their full potential. With respect to three of our six values, namely respect, transparency and integrity, multi-­faceted ideas are furthered and perspectives strengthened in order to drive innovation and to add more value. By signing the Equal Opportunity Charter of the German Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE) in 2015 and the “Charta der Vielfalt” in 2013, we underscored our commitment to fairness and tolerance at the workplace.

In addition to the Chief Diversity Officer, who is responsible for strategically managing diversity within the company, Merck also established the Diversity Council in 2013, comprising high-ranking executives from all business sectors and select Group functions. Its aim is to build further active support for and progress in diversity and inclusion within the company. In 2016, the Diversity Council worked to operationalize our Diversity Framework, introduced in 2015, which bundles the diversity and inclusion strategies. It focuses on the following four topics: recruiting the right people to work for Merck, developing and retaining them, promoting efficient collaboration, driving innovations and improvements, and serving customers with diverse needs. In addition, we support specific employee networks in order to foster exchange among like-minded individuals.

In September 2016, we celebrated the Global Diversity Days with a campaign entitled “The Power of Diversity”, which aligned with “The Power of We” , one of our strategic corporate messages. The objective of this annual month of focus is to heighten awareness of diversity and inclusion among our workforce in global events. Globally, employees in 17 countries across six continents took part in events and shared experiences via employee platforms and social media.

People from a total of 129 different nations work for Merck. Only 23.1% of our employees are German citizens, and 75.3% work outside Germany. Women currently make up 42.8% of the workforce. Since the ratio of women to men varies widely across the different regions, businesses and functions, we have set ourselves the goal of increasing the percentage of female employees wherever they are underrepresented. Here we take into account the situation that is typical for the industry as well as regional differences.

In Germany as well as several other EU countries, Japan and the United States, we are preparing ourselves for demographic change. Since the average age of our employees is slightly more than 40, the need for urgent action does not yet exist; however, we assume that this figure will continue to rise in the coming years. Our focus lies mainly on “mindfulness” as a further step to sensitize the workforce to the limits of their own physical and mental resources.

Among executives, too, inclusion and diversity play a major role. We are convinced that balanced diversity among management enhances career advancement opportunities for talented employees while also helping to provide a broad experience base within the company. In addition, it allows for differentiated decision-­making, thereby making a significant contribution to the success of the company.

As a global company, we consider it highly important to have an international management team. Currently, 64.7% of our managers have a nationality other than German. Altogether, 70 different nationalities are represented in such positions. In 2011 we set our strategic goal to increase the percentage of women in management positions to 25% to 30%, which we reached in 2016. The percentage is currently 28.8% at Group level. The figures are steadily increasing across Merck as a whole, but not consistently across business units and Group functions. We have set ourselves the goal for 2021 to stabilize the overall proportion of women in management positions at 30%, but continue to work on increasing the proportion in senior management positions and business units where women are still underrepresented.

The report on stipulations to promote the proportion of women in management positions at Merck KGaA pursuant to section 76 (4) and section 111 (5) of the German Stock Corporation Act, including information on the achievement of the defined targets as of December 31, 2016, can be found in the Corporate Governance section of this report.

Safety in daily work

As a responsible employer, it is especially important to us to do everything in our power to prevent workplace-related illnesses and accidents. We apply the lost time injury rate (LTIR) as an indicator to determine the success of measures aimed at accident prevention as well as occupational health and safety. This key performance indicator describes the number of workplace accidents resulting in lost time of one day or more per one million working hours. In 2010, we had set ourselves the goal of reducing the lost time injury rate to 2.5 by 2015 – with 1.5, we considerably exceeded this target value in 2015. But this still is not enough for us. We believe that nothing is worth an accident. And we have been even more ambitious in setting our goal for the future: By 2020 we intend to sustainably lower the LTIR further. In 2016 we already reached this with 1.3.

The continuous rate of improvement in recent years can be attributed in particular to the BeSafe! program, which was launched in 2010. This is a global initiative with globally harmonized standards, but also local modules that help to meet the specific safety requirements at individual sites. The program focuses on engaging managers in the safety culture and building their buy-in; it aims to make safety an intrinsic value and empower our employees to take responsibility for their own safety. In 2016, we continued to sensitize our employees to workplace hazards through numerous awareness campaigns.

Since 2010, Merck has been presenting the Safety Excellence Award annually in order to underscore the importance of safety. It is granted to all production sites with no workplace accidents on record for the year; in 2016, it was awarded to 61 out of 91 sites.

Flexibility in every situation

As an attractive partner and employer, we endeavor to always provide future-oriented solutions. This also applies to the way in which we work. We want our employees to achieve a good balance between their professional and personal objectives and challenges. This maintains and strengthens their motivation and performance potential for longer, enabling them to better schedule their lives to suit their own needs.

That is why we offer our employees in Germany and the United States various flexible and innovative working models. The “mywork@merck” working model, initially implemented in 2013 at the Darmstadt and Gernsheim sites in Germany for all exempt employees, aims to strengthen a culture of performance and trust within the company. In agreement with their teams and supervisors, employees can choose their working hours and location freely. Since October 2014, non-exempt employees at these sites whose positions are suitable for this working model have also been able to make use of it. In addition, we also introduced “mywork@merck” for Merck Accounting Solutions & Services Europe GmbH, Merck Export GmbH, Merck Schuchardt OHG, Merck Versicherungs­vermittlung GmbH, Merck Selbstmedikation GmbH, and Merck Chemicals GmbH. Employees can best decide for themselves, together with their respective line managers, when and how often fixed physical presence in the office is necessary for all team members. Working hours are no longer recorded or monitored. Employees must only document their hours if they exceed their standard working hours within the agreed working time framework. At the end of December 2016, a total of 4,507 employees made use of this model. In 2016, 4.7% of our employees worldwide worked part-time, 10.6% of whom are men. We believe that with these flexible working models, we are on the right track – not only to more efficient processes, but also above all to higher levels of work satisfaction and employer appeal.

We also offer our employees throughout Germany targeted and independent information, advice and assistance in finding childcare and nursing care, as well as home and garden services. At various sites, employees benefit from childcare options that we subsidize. A daycare center, which meanwhile has capacity for 150 children between the ages of one and twelve, has been operating at the Darmstadt site for 49 years. Since 2013, we have been offering expanded, year-round opening hours from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., as well as needs-oriented daycare hour options of 25, 35 or 50 hours per week and, in the adjacent new building, a nursery for up to 60 children between the ages of one and three years. During the orientation phase, our employees can make use of additional offices for parents at the daycare center premises. In addition, a good ratio of staff to children is important to us to offer parents a safe period of supervision for their children while at the daycare center.

Ready for the future

A dedicated, satisfied workforce is key to succeeding as a global company. Only those who question structures and collaborate with others will develop positively. Honest and continuous feedback from our employees is thus absolutely essential so that we are aware of the factors that influence engagement and what the organization’s strengths and weaknesses are.

Between December 2013 and June 2015, we conducted the Organizational Health Index (OHI) survey in all business units and Group functions. Based on the results, strategic focus topics were identified and initiatives derived. In 2016 we continued to anchor these topics deeper into the organization.

In order to reach all employees, a global employee survey was conducted in 23 languages in November 2016. Approximately 42,500 employees (83%) took part. Our company-wide score, which measures how engaged our employees are, is 60%. This score is comparable to other companies in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. As of early 2017, we will be working with the results across the company.


Overview of employee figures

Overall Merck
Dec. 31, 2014
Overall Merck
Dec. 31, 2015
Overall Merck
Dec. 31, 2016 2
Number of employees global, total 39,639 49,613 2 50,414
by region Asia-Pacific (APAC) 9,488 11,096 2 10,754
Europe 20,537 23,429 2 24,438
Latin America 3,883 4,352 2 4,140
Middle East and Africa (MEA) 639 942 2 1,045
North America 5,092 9,794 2 10,037
Number of employees
( FTE – full-time equivalents)
global, total 39,012.4 48,911.1 2 49,652.7
by region Asia-Pacific (APAC) 9,474.4 11,068.2 2 10,725.3
Europe 19,946.2 22,785.7 2 23,727.1
Latin America 3,877.6 4,344.2 2 4,136.5
Middle East and Africa (MEA) 637.9 940.6 2 1,041.8
North America 5,076.3 9,772.4 2 10,022.0
Number of countries 66 66 2 66
Number of legal entities global, total 146 211 2 215
Number of employee nationalities global, total 122 122 1 129
Number of nationalities working in Germany 73 77 1 91
Percentage of employees with German citizenship 26.6% 26.1% 1 23.1%
Percentage of employees working outside Germany 71.8% 75.9% 2 75.3%
Percentage of employees with a global manager 5.2% 8.1% 2 9.7%
Percentage of women in the workforce global, total 41.3% 41.6% 2 42.8%
in Germany 37.5% 38.2% 2 38.6%
Percentage of women in upper
management positions (Global Grade 14 or higher)
global, total 26.3% 26.8% 1 28.8% 6
in Germany 26.1% 27.3% 1 28.7% 6
Percentage of executives (Global Grade 14 or higher) global, total 5.5% 5.9% 1 5.7% 6
Percentage of executives
who are not German citizens
60.3% 61.0% 1 64.7% 6
Number of nationalities 67 64 1 70 6
Number of apprentices in Germany 498 3 506 4 576 5
Vocational training rate 5.4% 3 5.3% 4 5.1% 5
Percentage of employees in the “mywork@merck”
model (Germany)
3,522 4,122 4,507
Percentage of employees working part-time global, total 5.2% 4.7% 2 4.7%
men 10.5% 11.3% 2 10.6%
Percentage of employees aged 17 – 29 years global, total 14.9% 15.2% 2 14.7%
Percentage of employees aged 30 – 49 years global, total 64.2% 62.6% 2 62.5%
Percentage of employees aged 50 + years global, total 20.9% 22.2% 2 22.8%
Average age globally 41 41.1 2 41.3
Average age by region Asia-Pacific (APAC) 36.6 36.7 2 36.7
Europe 42.5 42.4 2 42.4
Latin America 39.6 39.5 2 39.9
Middle East and Africa (MEA) 37.7 39.5 2 39.3
North America 44.9 44.2 2 44.3
Germany 43.2 43 2 42.9
Average length of service global, total 10.1 10.0 2 9.9
Average length of service in Germany 14.9 14.4 2 14.2
Excluding Sigma-Aldrich.
Including Sigma-Aldrich.
Merck KGaA sites Darmstadt and Gernsheim (around 24% of the workforce of the entire Group in 2014).

Relates only to Merck KGaA (around 19% of the workforce of the entire Group in 2015).
All Merck sites in Germany (around 25% of the workforce of the entire Group in 2016).
Not including Sigma-Aldrich legal entities in Germany or Allergopharma.