The demographic shift and developments in the areas of digitalisation and globalisation are changing the world of work and confronting companies with new challenges. Committed and satisfied employees are the basis for long-term business success – promoting and retaining them within the company is more important today than ever before.
The focus on Employees is one of the four central pillars of the REWE Group’s Sustainability Strategy. Within this pillar, the group of companies has defined five areas of action: values and culture, training and development, health and safety, career and stages of life, and diversity and equal opportunities.
Overcoming challenges together: Coronavirus pandemic and flood relief
The year under review brought special challenges for the employees of the REWE Group – firstly, as in 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, but secondly also in relation to the disastrous flooding in Germany.
With regard to the coronavirus, the sales and logistics staff of REWE and PENNY in particular were exposed to high levels of stress during the pandemic. To express its appreciation and gratitude, the REWE Group granted special payments to its employees, as it did in 2020. During these challenging times, it was and is of great importance for the company to secure jobs, allay fears and strengthen team spirit – even more so since the employees of DER Touristik and toom Baumarkt DIY stores were temporarily on short-time work over the course of 2020 and the first half of 2021.
In the wake of the flood disaster, the group of companies supported affected employees with voluntary employer subsidies. These payments went to the victims of the flooding in July, August and, in smaller amounts, also in September. As a rule, the employees were granted 3,500 euros or 10,000 euros in financial support. Some employees received additional payments of more than 10,000 euros in December 2021 and January 2022. In the process, the employees of the REWE Group supported those of their colleagues who needed help during the floods with donations amounting to almost 500,000 euros.
GRI 401: Employment
The REWE Group creates an attractive and fair working environment for its employees. It does this, among other things, by offering fair pay, extended company benefits beyond the level of negotiated wages, flexible working models that can be adapted to the personal needs of the employees and individually tailored offers that make it easier for them to reconcile their professional and private lives.
The REWE Group welcomed the statutory minimum wage introduced in Germany in 2014 and always goes along with its annual adjustments. Abroad, the company is guided by the prevailing wage rates of the respective countries. The companies of the REWE Group make sure that any external contractors they work with comply with minimum social standards. Since 2011, the “Group Guidelines on the Deployment of External Staff” have been in force at the national level within the Group, both when working with temporary employment agencies and when deploying external staff through work or service contracts. According to these guidelines, the group only uses contract partners that guarantee to comply with minimum social standards as well as any collectively agreed minimum wages and the statutory minimum wage. To ensure that the contract partners comply with the standards, the REWE Group has worked with TÜV Rheinland, a leading international technical service provider in Germany, to develop an auditing process which is also carried out by this service provider. The audits are conducted in the areas of stock replenishment, order picking and cleaning staff, for example. In addition, the REWE Group implements a number of measures and projects (see section Measures and Projects) to ensure a good employment relationship.
Career and family audit certification
Since 2009, the sales lines of the REWE Group have been certified in accordance with the career and family audit by berufundfamilie Service GmbH, an initiative of the non-profit Hertie Foundation. With around 190,000 employees in Germany covered by the audit, the REWE Group is currently the largest company in the country to have received this certification.
REWE sales line
Under the REWE sales line, around 2,700 retail stores as well as six administration and six logistics sites have been certified for several years, with around 137,000 employees benefiting from this. The REWE sales line’s focal areas in 2021 included:
- Recertification in the first quarter
- Strengthening and definition of the role of career and family mentor, i.e. contact persons for the topic of career and family in the stores
- Mobile working for store managers (preparation for pilot)
- Inclusion of part-time store management in normal operations
- Preparation of a regional maternity leave brochure
In 2021, the “Career and Family” web page was published under the REWE career pages, featuring many best-practice examples on different stages of life along with other useful information. This is a place where employees from the stores can seek information digitally. Thanks to the close cooperation with our health management team, we were also able to include other topics – such as self-help skills based on different stages of life (for more information, see Occupational Health and Safety Management).
In 2020, the REWE sales line carried out a pilot project on part-time work in management, which led to the recruitment of part-time store managers. The general works agreement negotiated in 2021 has been submitted to the Works Council for a decision in 2022 in order to establish fixed regulations for part-time management in sales. These regulations will then be extended to the entire sales force.
PENNY sales line
PENNY, with 28,550 employees working in the stores, logistics and administration, was the first discounter in Germany to be awarded the career and family audit certificate in 2018 – for its strategically designed human resources policy that takes family and different stages of life into account. After several workshops and management discussions, PENNY was again awarded the career and family audit certificate during the financial year, valid for the next three years. In 2021, the PENNY sales line focused on the following topics:
- Communication of best-practice examples
- Development of part-time concepts in sales
- Continuous external communication through the new employer campaign
- Development of a national concept for part-time store managers in the regions and integration of this concept into its corporate communications
REWE Group headquarters
Since 2012, the REWE Group’s headquarters in Cologne – with its 5,200 employees – has had “career and family audit” certification, and it was recertified in 2018. During the financial year, the REWE Group headquarters focused on the following topics:
- Recertification of the headquarters audit
- Career and Family Reconciliation Week: In June 2021, employees at the Retail Germany headquarters, the holding company, REWE Systems and the national administration of REWE and PENNY were offered 20 events over three days to exchange ideas and provide impetus on the topic of reconciling work, family and their private lives. A total of 427 employees from the central administration sites took part in the Reconciliation Week.
- Employee survey (see also section Employee Satisfaction): The results showed that employees rate the work-life balance very positively. An especially positive rating was given in the category “My manager offers me the flexibility to do my job in the office or at a different place of work”.
toom Baumarkt DIY Stores sales line
The toom Baumarkt DIY stores, headquarters and logistics sites, which together have approximately 16,750 employees, have been certified since 2016 and recertified since 2019. A further recertification is scheduled to follow in 2022. The following activities were completed during the financial year:
- Production of a brochure on the topics of target agreement and performance
- Production of videos for internal and external communications
- Mobile working measures
- Conclusion of a company agreement on the option of working remotely for up to three days after the pandemic
REWE International Dienstleistung GmbH, Austria
REWE International Dienstleistung GmbH in Austria has held the certificate of berufundfamilie Service GmbH since 2013, as have the Austrian sales lines BILLA (since 2015), BILLA PLUS (since 2016), BIPA (since 2016) and PENNY (since 2018). The central units and BILLA PLUS were recertified in 2019 and BIPA in 2020. The certificate was awarded in 2021. As a result, about 44,000 employees in Austria benefit from the certification. Activities during the financial year included:
- Increased communication of work-life balance offers to employees and managers
- Piloting of part-time management in sales and discussion of the framework conditions for this among employees and managers
- Development of mobile working concepts for employees and managers on two days a week (or a proportion of that time in the case of part-time employees)
- Conclusion of written agreements on the number of remote work days after the pandemic
The REWE Group received the following awards during the financial year:
- REWE Group, PENNY, REWE: Top Employer 2021 (Top Employers Institute)
- REWE Group, REWE: BEST PLACE TO LEARN (certification of company training) 2019–2022
Employee satisfaction surveys
Regular employee surveys are a key component of the REWE Group’s respectful human resources management. They reflect company morale and identify problem areas. The survey is directed at different areas of the company each year.
During the financial year, 64 per cent of the more than 230,000 employees at the REWE Group’s stores, administrative offices and logistics sites took part in the survey. As a whole, they rated their satisfaction with the workplace and their job as good. They also rated their overall well-being positively, despite the changes in the way they work as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The aspects that received the highest ratings were identification with the company as well as transparency and clarity. The way the coronavirus pandemic has been handled, including the provision of information and introduction of hygiene measures, was also perceived as very good. By contrast, the work organisation was rated less favourably. Individual departments have been provided with differentiated evaluations so that they can develop concrete measures on this basis together with the employees.
At the REWE Markt GmbH sales line, the survey of sales staff and regional administrative staff, which was designed together with the HR departments, was carried out in two waves in a completely digital format for the first time in 2021 in order to identify developments more quickly and achieve a higher participation rate.
- The participation rate in the sales department increased by ten per cent compared to 2018, with 77,436 employees (59 per cent) out of a total of 130,445 taking part. The results of the survey were very positive on the whole. Overall satisfaction in sales has improved in all regions since the last survey in 2018 (score 2021: 1.85, score 2018: 2.03). In future, the survey will take place annually.
- At the regional administration sites, 2,143 employees (90 per cent) out of a total of 2,392 took part in the survey. The assessment was generally positive. Work-life balance, the working atmosphere and leadership were rated as very good (score 1.6). In comparison to 2016, there were improvements in the areas of work-life balance and creative freedom.
Measures and projects for a good working relationship
The REWE Group implements measures and projects that promote an attractive working environment and make it easier for employees to balance their professional and private lives. Employees are thus able to organise their working day more individually and flexibly – for example, through the possibility of working remotely, the elimination of core working hours and an expansion of working hour windows. They can also reduce accrued overtime more flexibly by taking several consecutive days of compensatory time off, even before or after holiday days. These measures have been incorporated in various company agreements to make them binding.
In 2021, the employees at the REWE Group’s central locations were asked to work remotely as far as possible until the early summer and again from autumn onwards. The basis for this is a digital platform that enables them to work together regardless of their location. Between June and September, employees were given the choice to return to the office thanks to an occupational safety concept that exceeded the legal requirements.
Coronavirus pandemic and the new working world: REWE DNA
Since 2020, the REWE Group has been looking into how mobile working can be optimised and institutionalised at its administration sites. For this purpose, it launched the “REWE DNA – Your New Working World” project, whose first step consisted in identifying concepts and conditions for the best possible implementation of flexible working. The results in 2021:
- Flexible working is offered up to two days per week (as an orientation). This is coordinated between manager and employee, taking the nature of the job into account
- Workshops were held with the managers in all Management Board departments
- Team workshops took place at various levels
- Virtual information and exchange formats for employees and managers were offered on a regular basis
- Learning opportunities were offered to make managers and employees fit for the new working world
- Hybrid meeting rooms were provided
- About 3,000 desks were replaced with height-adjustable versions in preparation for the introduction of desk sharing at the headquarters in Cologne
- Standardised technical equipment was introduced for work in the office and at home
- Digital signature tools, digital whiteboards and telephony via Microsoft Teams were implemented
Many of these things became part of normal operations at the central locations at the end of 2021. The project is continuing in particular as regards change support and communications on floor space planning and technology.
At DER Touristik, too, mobile working formed part of everyday business during the financial year, with remote work becoming compulsory again in autumn 2021. All employees are gradually being equipped with laptops. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the first half of 2022, but delivery bottlenecks may cause some delays. A company agreement on mobile working was concluded with the General Works Council of DER Touristik, offering all parties flexibility and security for the time after the obligation to work remotely.
To make it easier for employees to return to work after taking family leave, the REWE Group has expanded both its corporate childcare services and cooperation agreements for kindergarten places in individual regions over the past years. The REWELINOS company day care centres in Cologne, for example, have a capacity of 95 places. In Wiener Neudorf, twelve places are available to employees of REWE Group Austria. DER Touristik has 23 allotted places at a day nursery for children under the age of three. In individual regions of Germany and Austria, there are also cooperation agreements for public kindergarten places and/or places in private kindergartens at reduced prices. The REWE Group continuously works to expand this. What’s more, special parent-child offices at all central locations enable employees to take their children to work with them in an emergency.
In response to the lockdown from February to March 2021, the REWE Group also offered a digital emergency childcare service: via awo lifebalance (see next section), a free virtual childcare service with interactive programmes, sing-alongs or games was set up at short notice for employees who had an urgent need for it. This service was booked 471 times.
Accomplishing more through cooperation: awo lifebalance
The REWE Group has been working with awo lifebalance (formerly AWO ElternService) since 2008. This partner offers a wide range of advisory and referral services for childcare and nursing. Its services are available to all employees at central and regional locations, stores and logistics sites in Germany. During the financial year, REWE and PENNY employees used the advisory service just over 100 times, with the number of childcare and nursing enquiries evenly matched. In addition, the REWE Group offers holiday camps across Germany through awo lifebalance.
There are many other forms of support in Germany and Austria with regard to childcare during the holiday periods. Following the cancellation of childcare services due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, these subsidised offers were able to take place again during the financial year. The one- to two-week holiday camp programme during the summer holidays was attended by a total of 292 children in Germany and 317 children in Austria. Participants could choose between a kids’ camp, a sports adventure and an English action camp.
In addition, toom Baumarkt DIY stores support tutoring for the children of employees by offering a gross monthly salary supplement of 100 euros for a period of six months. The aim of this programme is to provide affordable support and ease worries about children’s grades. A total of 250 slots for employee children are available at the provider Studienkreis. However, the tutoring slots were not used in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In Austria, long-term courses are available at heavily discounted rates, in cooperation with the organisations Schülerhilfe and Lernquadrat.
Caring for relatives
It is becoming increasingly important for companies to provide support for employees who are caring for their relatives. As a supplement to the German Family Caregiver Leave Act, the REWE Group has company agreements in place that offer various benefits to employees. These include:
- Long-term care and family care leave for employees of all companies, regardless of the number of employees. This offer was taken up by 152 employees in 2021
- Two hours of paid time off from work to handle official business and process necessary applications
- The option for employees to return to their original jobs after the end of the care and family care leave, unless there are compelling operational reasons against this
The REWE Group offers a sabbatical from work and has met with a positive response: a total of 160 employees in Germany took advantage of this offer during the financial year (2020: 131). Employees can take a sabbatical for up to six months within a twelve-month period without having to give a reason. During the time off, they are paid a correspondingly adjusted wage, thus allowing for continued social insurance coverage.
In addition, the REWE Group provides its employees with a partial retirement programme that eases their transition from the work world.
Part-time management: Promoting job sharing and co-leadership
In 2021, the Retail Germany headquarters developed a concept for promoting job sharing/co-leadership in order to enable managers to work part-time (see section Career and Family Audit Certification). The concept was communicated to all managers by the end of the first quarter of 2022 to make them aware of this possibility.
In addition, part-time management (with and without a tandem partner) was addressed during the 2021 Career and Family Reconciliation Week by means of best-practice examples. The topic will continue to be discussed via suitable platforms and channels in the future. The company has also set up a regular virtual Tandem Café for tandem partners as well as interested part-time managers where they can exchange ideas and experiences. There are currently five job-sharing tandems and three co-leadership tandems at the REWE Group’s Retail Germany headquarters.
New employee hires and employee turnover
The turnover rate among REWE Group employees has been relatively stable for years, ranging between 17 and 22 per cent. It increased from 19.1 per cent in 2020 to 21.1 per cent in 2021. The German industry average in 2020 was 29.2 per cent.* The hiring rate of new employees at the REWE Group fell from 21.7 per cent in 2020 to 21.3 per cent in 2021. There were no mass layoffs during the financial year.
New hires and departures
||Up to 30 years
||31–50 years old
||Older than 50
||Up to 30 years
||31–50 years old
||Older than 50
||Up to 30 years
||31–50 years old
||Older than 50
Personnel turnover based on business segment in per cent
||Travel and Tourism
||Total (scope of the sustainability report)
Personnel turnover by gender and age in per cent
||Turnover – total
||Turnover – Women
||Turnover – Men
||Turnover – Diverse *
||Turnover – Not Specified *
||Turnover – age group up to 30 yrs.
||Turnover – age group from 31 to 50 yrs.
||Turnover – age group from 50 yrs.
Employees of the REWE Group receive support both before and during parental leave – for example, through information events on the subject of parental leave and returning to work.
The REWE sales line has a Stay-in-Touch programme for mothers and fathers working at its headquarters and stores, which is designed to support and improve their return to work after taking a family break. The role of contact person falls to the managers, with guidelines and a digital platform available as of 2022 to assist them in their tasks: for example, if an employee is pregnant, the store manager will receive an appointment reminder and a conversation guide, which can be used as the basis for a voluntary conversation. The guide will contain previously collected information on the desired scope of the contact. In a first step, the digital platform will be programmed, with a pilot project scheduled for the second quarter of 2022.
The headquarters of Retail Germany communicated the updated Stay-in-Touch programme in February 2022 via the intranet as well as via info sessions during the regular meetings between HR partners and managers. Furthermore, the “Maternity Protection & Parental Leave” brochure was updated, which provides application forms, checklists and other services for expectant mothers and their managers in digital form via occupational health management’s online employee portal “Gemeinsam.Topfit” as well as the app of the same name.
In 2021, toom Baumarkt DIY stores likewise announced and implemented a Stay-in-Touch programme for mothers and fathers at its headquarters and stores. Moreover, employees on parental leave can access internal learning programmes and register themselves in the learning management system in consultation with their supervisors.
In Austria, BILLA employees receive not only information material on pregnancy, parental leave and returning to work, but also a “BILLA baby box” with all kinds of information and baby products. During their parental leave, employees are invited to what is known as a “Karenzjause” – an informal meeting sponsored by the employer that gives employees on parental leave and their children a chance to meet and share a snack. Due to the coronavirus, however, there was no such event during the past financial year. At BIPA, expectant mothers are offered an information package as well as a personal conversation to discuss any further questions they may have. BIPA also supports the “dad’s month” and leave for fathers. Different part-time and job-sharing models support employees returning to work.
Return from parental leave
The REWE Group is an advocate of work-life balance and makes it as easy as possible for employees to return to their jobs following parental leave. In 2021, 12,354 employees in Germany and Austria took parental leave. The group consisted of 1,342 male workers and 11,012 female employees. During the reporting period, 4,498 employees returned to work. A total of 88.5 per cent of employees who returned from parental leave in 2021 were still employed by the REWE Group as of 31 December 2021. The right to parental leave is legally regulated in Germany and Austria.
Number of employees who took parental leave
|Total (scope of the sustainability report)
Number of employees who returned to work following parental leave*
|Total (scope of the sustainability report)
Number of workers who continued to be employed at the company 12 months after returning from parental leave (end of parental leave)