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Henkel AG und Co KGaA (Worldwide): "Work-Life Flexibility Platform"

Company Description


Henkel AG und Co KGaA


Consumer and Industrial Business (Laundry & Home Care,
Beauty Care and Adhesive Technologies)


Worldwide – country specific adaption in each operating country

Company size:

Number of employees: about 47,000
Turnover: EUR 15,605 million


Contact person


Kirsten Sánchez Marín
Corporate Director Human Resources
+49 - 211 797 3141

Project Description

Key Facts

Project Title:

"Work-Life Flexibility Platform"

Start of activities:

April 2012

End of activities:

ongoing (to be continued)

Henkel AG und Co KGaA operates worldwide with leading brands and technologies in three business areas: Laundry & Home Care, Beauty Care and Adhesive Technologies. Founded in 1876, Henkel holds globally leading market positions both in the consumer and industrial businesses with well-known brands such as Persil, Schwarzkopf and Loctite. Henkel employs about 47,000 people and reported sales of 15,605 million euros and adjusted operating profit of 2,029 million euros in fiscal 2011. Henkel’s preferred shares are listed in the German stock index DAX.

Main goal

The project aims to further advance Henkel's transition from a culture of "presence at work" to one of trust and performance. This involves incorporating and actively promoting work-life flexibility (WLF) in Henkel’s corporate culture. The project started in April 2012 and is still ongoing.

Group of employees in focus

All current and potential future Henkel employees are targeted.

Initial situation

Henkel already offers options regarding personal work arrangements giving flexibility in working hours, place of work and scheduling -- arrangements, however, which are not available in all countries and which are not sufficiently known to all employees. Moreover, these options are not accepted equally throughout the organisation, by either employees or line managers.

Project goals

Management decided to launch a charter of work-life flexibility accompanied by a range of communication measures designed to bring home to all staff throughout the company that such flexibility benefits both management and employees.

By showing that this flexibility is a win-win measure, the goal is to further improve employees’ already excellent performance and to counter the trend for women’s careers to stagnate while they are caring for children or other family members.

Project activities

The "Charter of Work-Life Flexibility" was signed by the Board and by top management to demonstrate their personal support for such arrangements and their commitment to a culture of performance orientation.

While signing the charter is voluntary for all managers, the company issued a personal video appeal on the company intranet in which Kathrin Menges, Executive Vice President Human Resources, called for managers to take part. Managers are also invited to make a personal statement on the intranet setting out their attitude towards work-life flexibility.

As regional ambassadors, selected employees have actively been involved in instituting local measures to promote work-life flexibility.

The company is monitoring the number of signatories to check on the progress of the programme.

To drive home the message, Henkel has instituted a worldwide 360° internal awareness campaign involving individual discussions with decision-makers in every country where Henkel operates. Consultations are conducted with all Henkel HR departments, and country-specific guidelines on implementing flexibility policies are provided.

A global competence platform serves as single source of information for the scheme.

The project includes a programme of self-assessment for employees to identify where employees are ready to adapt more flexible arrangements, how such arrangements might affect the requirements of their jobs and impact on others with whom they work in a team.

An evaluation matrix establishes the applicability in a given country of the work-life flexibility concept and managers are encouraged, where appropriate, to adopt flexible work arrangements for a trial period.

As part of the project, Henkel has set up a role model database showing examples of "Good Practice" with employees around the world telling their personal success stories of working flexibly. Their stories, in some cases, are paired with those of line managers. The database seeks to value personal commitment and foster transparency concerning possible and existing WLF arrangements.


Within less than a year, more than 20% of those in management positions globally have signed the charter and a third of signatories have taken up the option of making a personal statment on the issue through the company intranet.

More flexible working patterns have been implemented throughout the company with flexible working arrangements newly agreed in a number of countries.

New working practice policies have been developed and established in many countries and active discussions on work-life flexibility have found their way into the agenda of management meetings.

Role models have been identified in order to raise the profile and visibility of best practice examples.

Challenges encountered during the project

One size does NOT fit all: matching the measures to the varying legal, cultural and company backgrounds in different countries is a challenge.

Another challenge is to gain acceptance for and sustained commitment to changes in corporate culture and the implementation of measures that enhance WLF, such as working from a home-office.

Lessons learned

Top management

Getting top management on board is crucial to implant WLF in a company’s corporate culture, while communication is a vital tool for raising awareness and generating interest and commitment throughout a company.

An essential element is the gathering of information on the specific legal and cultural circumstances of a country to ensure that any measures taken meet local requirements.


  • Winner of the award "Top Employer in Germany" (2012)
  • Holder of the certificate Audit "Career and Family" (2011)
  • Signatory of the "Local Alliances for the Family" (2011)
  • Nominee at the "Stevie Awards for Women in Business" (2010)
  • Signatory and sponsor of the "Diversity Charter" (2007)


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