Our Human Resources Strategy and HR Organization

  • GRI 401
  • GRI 401-1
  • GRI 102-7
  • GRI 102-8

In addition to our general, overarching strategy, our Access and Applications divisions and the individual segments within them require specific human resources strategies. We have established core centers of competence for specific issues, allowing requirements and staffing levels for the Group and the divisions to be coordinated. Examples include People & Organizational Development, and HR Marketing. This ensures a coordinated approach and equal treatment throughout the Group, while freeing up the segments to focus squarely on their operational business.

Responsibility for key elements of human resources development has been transferred to the segments concerned so as to guarantee this operational focus and ensure the HR development strategy is implemented as closely to the business as possible. This has already been completed to a large extent. The People & Organizational Development department focuses mainly on diversity and learning, in order to provide a framework for creativity and productivity. This encourages new ideas and innovation, enhances our Company’s competitiveness, and offers opportunities for all.

Examples of overarching goals and targets are our aim of offering tailored staff development formats, recruiting managers from within the organization, and retaining employees for the long term. Metrics used to track effectiveness include the number of management positions that have been filled internally (2020: 73.65%; 2019: 70.19%; 2018: 65%)(1) and staff turnover (2020: 6.70%; 2019: 8.96%; 2018: 8.90%)(2). In addition, we have set ourselves the goal of appointing more women to management positions.

(1) Active core employees, i.e., employees including apprentices and trainees, but not including staff with inactive employment contracts (mainly employees on parental leave), interns, student workers, school students, thesis students, or temporary staff.

(2) Annual average headcount (active core employees).

The following tables give a breakdown of the workforce by location (Germany or abroad) and segment.

Employees by location(1)




In Germany








Total employees




(1) Figures refer to our active employees as of December 31 of each fiscal year.

Employees by segment(1)




Consumer Access




Business Access




Consumer Applications




Business Applications




Corporate HQ




Total employees




(1) Figures refer to our active employees as of December 31 of each fiscal year.

(2) The increase in headcount is due to organic growth in all areas.

A multiyear overview, broken down by country, is given in the “Employees” section of the Annual Report.

Our Values and Corporate Culture

  • GRI 102-16

Our corporate values and management guidelines comprise our Company’s value system. Our Code of Conduct shows how to act in line with these values. All employees receive a bound version of our values and the Code of Conduct when they join United Internet, and these are also discussed during the onboarding process.

We prepare our managers for their responsibility as role models and have also anchored this as a core element of our management guidelines, so to ensure we are walking the talk with our values. Our two-monthly (virtual) manager onboarding meetings use small groups to discuss our values and management guidelines, and gain a firm understanding of what this means for our day-to-day work. Management Board members from the individual segments kick off and introduce the topic, and actively reach out to our new managers on it. It is then discussed in more detail and put in an operational context in the obligatory three-part leadership training course, which all new managers have been required to take since the first quarter of 2020.

A Learning and Feedback Culture

Learning should be an option for, and accessible to, all staff. In keeping with this principle, all training courses, networking events, and personal and professional development offerings that could sensibly be translated into digital form were recast during the reporting period and offered in a variety of unit lengths, from full-day to hour-long formats. As soon as the current pandemic permits, we intend to use a judicious mix of virtual and classroom offerings and modular training courses of different lengths, to guarantee flexible learning in the future, too.

In addition, we developed a comprehensive intranet offering on the subject of virtual communication in 2020. Managers and staff also discussed numerous examples of best practice to ensure we are all learning from and with each other even in these extraordinary times. As a result, we have built strong digital working formats as an organization and worked together more closely across borders. We intend to expand these activities in future. New formats such as online brown bag lunches and other short training sessions are also helping us to build this continuous virtual sharing and learning process.

Our new office building in Karlsruhe, “Hinterm Hauptbahnhof,” also aims to encourage shared learning, room for personal and professional development, and creative freedom. The multi-space concept we have implemented there represents a major step towards state-of-the-art, forward-looking working. It facilitates and promotes creative, dynamic, and flexible working. The various different areas within the new offices cater to the different requirements of daily work. Staff will find the right setting for everything – team sessions, focused individual work, brief meetings, confidential phone calls, creative workshops, or short breaks. This simplifies working and in particular makes teamwork easier, more flexible, and more efficient. Not only does the new building offer workplaces for 2,500 people, it also provides a wide range of additional spaces that encourage staff to development and grow. This also includes the use of collaborative working tools as a standard.

In addition, flat hierarchies permit unbureaucratic communication channels and rapid decision-making – and not just at our new Karlsruhe location. This allows us to be agile and react flexibly to new challenges. Our open feedback culture is another essential foundation for working together and helps foster a high-performance and respectful environment. We can only actively practice values such as openness and fairness in an environment in which colleagues provide feedback to one another respectfully and constructively. Only such an environment allows continuous improvements that benefit individual employees, teams, and the Company alike. This is why high-quality feedback play a key role for us in establishing an open, supportive corporate culture.

Staff and managers assess each other directly in our annual feedback and performance reviews. In addition, employees can obtain digital 360-degree feedback on themselves at any time, both from their direct superiors and from colleagues. This takes the form of a documented, uniform process and can be used in relation to project tasks, for example. This option raises awareness of the need for openness and reflection throughout the entire organization, and makes staff more confident about giving and requesting feedback. As a result, the latter becomes a natural part of everyday work and can be used for continuous improvement.

Other feedback methods are described on our intranet and can be as needed in specific situations by deployed by both teams and individuals. We offer training for both employees and managers to assist teams in creating and maintaining a strong feedback culture, increasing the assurance with which they give and receive feedback. In addition, obtaining feedback from colleagues is a mandatory part of the process used when employees want to take on positions with greater responsibility.

Employee Communication

Ensuring we listen to our employees and providing them with appropriate communication channels are challenges for a rapidly growing company such as United Internet. At the same time, there is an increasing need to provide them with information about our strategy and how the Company is developing. This is why we have developed a variety of successful employee communication channels over the years. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic means that many events are being held in digital form, which has changed the nature of communication.

  • The Management Board members responsible for the individual segments hold staff meetings and roadshows several times a year to provide information on the course of business in their areas and allow staff to ask questions. Since many employees also own shares in our Company, this ensures that they are kept informed in the same way as investors. These events were held virtually during the fiscal year.

  • Our “Ask the Board” format facilitates open, direct dialog between the Management Board members responsible for the individual segments and the employees concerned. It permits employees to ask Board members directly, informally, and face to face about the Company's current performance, management issues, and other important topics. The events take place every eight weeks at all German locations. In fiscal 2020, a total of 11 (2019: 14) sessions of this type were held. The virtual format this year made them independent of specific locations, allowing many more staff to register and ask questions of the Board.

Employee Satisfaction

  • GRI 102-12

We started conducting employee surveys in 2009 in order to obtain their feedback and identify room for improvement, after which we take appropriate measures to implement our findings. The surveys have been a regular fixture since 2016.

The most recent employee survey was held in October 2019 and confirms the topics from the previous survey. Departmental meetings to communicate the results internally started in December 2019.

Due to the ongoing pandemic the focus in fiscal 2020 was on measures to protect the entire workforce and comply with all necessary safeguards, and to achieve a work-life balance. Nevertheless, work continued in parallel on individual overarching initiatives that had been identified in the last employee survey. The measures mainly relate to the following topics, whereby the different segments may focus on different aspects:

  • Information and internal processes

  • Fairness and appreciation

  • Respectful dealings with one another

Employees’ survey responses are an important indicator of whether our human resources work is a success.

To obtain as objective a view of ourselves as possible, we evaluate assessments by external institutions and independent sector rankings as well as internal surveys. In 2020, the Top Employers Institute again recognized us as a “Top Employer” – an accolade we have held every year since 2008. This certification is given to companies that offer their employees attractive working conditions. Criteria used in the evaluation are career opportunities, employer benefits, working conditions, and training and development opportunities.