BERLIN -- Employees at the German railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB) will soon have an opportunity to give their bosses an earful. And you can bet the companys big wigs will be listening: from now on, what they get paid depends in part on employee satisfaction.
DB plans to send out questionnaires in November to the approximately 300,000 who work either directly for the company or for one of its foreign subsidiaries. The document, which Die Welt had an opportunity to examine, gives employees plenty of leeway for letting off steam.
According to Dr. Rüdiger Grube, DBs chairman and CEO, the questionnaires aim to give employees a vehicle for recording -- anonymously -- exactly how they feel about their place of employment and the problems they perceive.
Questions range from Do your superiors recognize exceptional performance and give fair feedback in general about your work? to Are the chances for career development and advancement at DB good? Other questions deal with the quality of internal information, whether or not relations between co-workers are deemed collegial and respectful, and if working for DB allows for a satisfactory work/life balance.
The endeavor is not without dangers for Grube and other top managers. The last time DB asked questions to a much smaller group it was a disaster. Results in early 2010 showed that 70% of DB employees were unhappy with their jobs, with large numbers saying they lacked motivation and felt frustrated. Since then, management has come round to the idea that its not just enough to ask. This time there will be follow-up actions such as workshops, at which managers and staff will work through the issues together.
And starting next year, DB bonuses for top managers will be established on four sets of criteria, with the level of employee and customer satisfaction accounting for one half. In the words of big boss Grube: As of now, managers will feel the degree of employee and customer satisfaction in their wallets.
DB employee representatives, who have been somewhat skeptical of the idea of questionnaires since the previous fiasco, are supporting the move. It could really turn out to be a viable way to bring about improvements, said one. The representative added, however, that employees shouldnt get their hopes up too. DB, he explained, wants to keep efforts to improve things as low-key as possible.
*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations