At the end of the financial year, the Group had 112,037 employees worldwide (previous year: 111,099). In 2014, there were 1,312 people (previous year: 1,304) serving in trainee positions in Bertelsmann companies in Germany.
Implementing and developing a partnership-based corporate culture is one of the top priorities of human resources (HR) strategy. This is why the Employee Survey has been an important management tool at Bertelsmann for many years. In the reporting period, the Group focused on implementing the measures derived from the employee survey in 2013. Across the Group there was a greater emphasis on the topic of strategy, i.e., its implementation and communication as well as developing measures for optimizing talent management. The identification of high-potential employees throughout the divisions and their targeted development is an essential prerequisite for economic success and the implementation of strategy. This resulted in a core initiative in 2014 to pilot talent pools at senior management level that specifically prepare participants to take over various top positions within the Group. The aim is to expand talent management to other target groups in the medium to long term. The multiple-award-winning employer initiative “Create Your Own Career” and the associated careers website have also been revised in order to better position Bertelsmann in the talent market.
Continuous employee training is vital to a company’s economic success. This prompted Bertelsmann to introduce peoplenet, an IT platform that makes it easier for employees to access all training courses and programs offered at Group, divisional and individual company level. By the end of 2014, peoplenet was available to some 40,000 employees in Germany. The aim is to roll out peoplenet to all Group companies worldwide.
The international HR Country Coordination Meetings were also redesigned in order to encourage the interdivisional exchange of personnel. The HR managers of those businesses with the largest number of employees in a particular region meet regularly to discuss, among other things, the implementation of divisional or Group-wide HR initiatives. The Bertelsmann Group Dialog Conference is another forum that promotes continuous and constructive dialog between employer and employee representatives. The topic of “demographic change” has now been on the agenda at the conference in Berlin on two occasions. Consequently, in 2014, diversity management in Germany again focused on developing strategic measures and pilot projects such as age structure analyses.
Bertelsmann has been one of the pioneers in profit sharing since 1970. Thus, a total of €101 million was distributed to employees worldwide in 2014 thanks to the positive operating results for the previous year.
Taking responsibility for employees and for the impact of corporate businesses on society and the environment is an integral part of Bertelsmann’s corporate culture. For decades, the Bertelsmann Essentials have specified corporate responsibility as one of their main goals and as a basic value for all of the company’s employees, executives and shareholders.
Since 1974, the Group has regularly published an account of its commitments and activities in addition to the financial performance targets. To satisfy the growing demands of its stakeholders in relation to social and ecological topics, Bertelsmann publishes facts and figures about corporate responsibility and compliance on its website. In 2014, an online index based on the principles of the Global Reporting Initiative was published. Since 2008, the Company has participated in the UN Global Compact and, as part of annual progress reporting, provides information about the measures that have been realized and those that are planned.
In accordance with the partnership-based principle of delegating responsibility, specific corporate responsibility projects are implemented in a decentralized way in the individual divisions. Key action areas are employee responsibility, promoting local media literacy and social commitment aid as well as appeals for aid and donation through the media, responsibility for content and environmental and climate protection.
Across the Group, the GMC addressed the topic of corporate responsibility. An internal stakeholder dialog conducted with the divisions made an important contribution to this. The systematic process, involving many high-ranking executives worldwide, is an important component in the analysis of key corporate responsibility topics at Bertelsmann.
Businesses traditionally invest in research on and development of new products in order to ensure their long-term competitiveness. The media sector has a similar imperative to create innovative media content and media-related products and services in a rapidly changing environment. This means that rather than traditional research and development activities, the Company’s own innovative power is particularly important to Bertelsmann. The long-term success of the Group depends heavily on using flexible business models, investing in growth markets and integrating new technologies. Innovative expertise is also a key driver of Bertelsmann’s organic growth.
Bertelsmann relies on innovation and growth in core operations and new business fields. The key factors of Bertelsmann’s innovation management include continuously following cross-industry trends and observing new markets. At a Group level, Bertelsmann works with the divisions to continuously identify and implement innovative business strategies. Alongside market-oriented activities, support is given to Group-wide initiatives that actively promote knowledge transfer and collaboration. At regular innovation forums, such as the first State-of-the-Art Forum entitled “Creativity and Innovation,” held in London in 2014, executives meet with internal and external experts to examine success factors for innovation and creativity.
RTL Group’s innovation management is focused on three core topics: developing and acquiring new, high-quality TV formats; using all digital means of distribution; and expanding diverse forms of marketing and monetization. Further developing nonlinear and mobile TV services is a particular priority. Besides the popular ad-financed catch-up TV services, such as RTL Now in Germany and 6Play in France, RTL Group’s TV channels are also working to establish pay models in the on-demand business. Fremantle Media produces content specifically for digital platforms and operates its own YouTube channels. RTL Group strengthened its position in the aggregation and marketing of online videos on global platforms such as YouTube, especially with the acquisition of the majority shareholding in the US multichannel network StyleHaul. In addition, the acquisition of a majority shareholding in the US company SpotXchange, one of the largest global marketplaces for online video advertising, represents a big step forward. Online video advertising is the fastest-growing segment in digital advertising at this point, driven by programmatic video advertising. Synergy Committees are used for exchanging information and knowledge at RTL Group.
Penguin Random House is focusing on a variety of innovative initiatives – from supply-chain enhancements to metadata analysis – as well as the integration of Penuin and Random House. Penguin Random House benefits from its scale and reach as well as the creative and innovative potential of its publishing and sales teams and releases around 15,000 new titles per year. In digital, the company is introducing new applications, enhanced e-books, and so-called verticals to bring together communities of readers around shared interests. The Penguin Hotline, a book-gift recommendation service in the United States, and My Independent Bookstore, a recommendation and discovery website in the UK, are two examples of how Penguin Random House is fostering a passion for reading and using new ways to discover and nurture authors as well as enabling them to reach the widest possible audience.
Gruner + Jahr is further expanding its publishing business along all media-based platforms and value chains. This includes, in particular, the revision of existing brands as well as the establishment of new brands, the launch of new titles, the transformation into digital media formats and channels, and the establishment and expansion of complementary additional business in the defined target groups (Communities of Interest). Furthermore, in advertising marketing, G+J has successfully strengthened its position and has expanded its business through participations in Trnd (word-of-mouth marketing) and Veeseo (content recommendations), further offers in cross-media marketing and international performance marketing and through the Prisma Media participation in Advideum. G+J EMS has also resumed its position as the leading mobile advertising company.
Arvato adapted its internal structures in 2013 and organized itself into seven Solution Groups (CRM, SCM, Financial Solutions, IT Solutions, Digital Marketing, Print Solutions and Replication). Since then, the Solution Groups have been responsible for Arvato’s global development in the respective business segments. Their primary aim is to develop and market innovative services. Arvato is also increasing its innovative power by investing in new technologies, establishing an Innovation Sponsoring Program and taking over companies and businesses in fast-growing service segments. In 2014, for example, it acquired the leading European e-commerce service provider Netrada and took over the IT outsourcing company for a key German customer, including BSI-certified employees and high-security research centers, from a competitor.
Be Printers focused on the innovation topics of technology and product portfolio in 2014. At the end of the year, the gravure printing subsidiary Prinovis installed two offset printing presses at its location in Dresden. Thanks to this investment, the company can offer a wider range of printing formats and speeds and is responding to the trend toward smaller print runs and customer demands for greater flexibility. The creative agency mbs developed a system for virtually supported photo shoots for catalogs. In the United States, the offset printing subsidiary Be Printers Americas significantly expanded its product portfolio. Using high-quality finishing processes, the company manufactured growing volumes of packaging and inserts for customers in the health-care, home-entertainment, cosmetics and confectionery segments in 2014 in addition to its core product, book printing.