At Zalando, employee participation is the acclaimed foundation of our work culture and a key lever of our success. Our workforce of currently around 14,000 employees is our most valuable asset, and our company is what everyone of us makes of it. To provide an environment where everyone is heard and able to participate in shaping Zalando’s future is our top priority. That’s why we encourage and enable our employees to voice their opinions, ask questions and get involved. Today, Zalando has numerous employee representation bodies and well-established participative formats, some of which are mandatory and regulated by law and some that have been initiated and put into place voluntarily by the employees. All initiatives across our company, statutory or not, work closely together and nurture an active exchange between the company and its employees.
Our Founding Mindset: A Declaration of Participation
One of the best ways to increase employee participation and engagement is to create a culture of open communication, shared responsibility and transparency. To achieve this, we ingrained those cultural values in Our Founding Mindset (OFM), a framework and unifying mindset that guides all Zalandos in their daily work and decision making. One of those OFM principles is “act like an owner”. We want every employee to take personal responsibility for their role and, more broadly, for the success of the company as a whole. Anyone at Zalando can and should be a leader, by spreading knowledge, helping others grow through feedback or clarifying what matters to us and our customers.
Know What’s Going on: Discussions and Dialogues
In order to truly care about the quality of their work, employees have to understand the bigger vision they’re working towards. That’s why we frequently host dedicated fireside chats and “Ask Us Anything” events. Employees get the chance to join in person or tune in via livestream to ask their burning questions and discuss what's on their mind with the Zalando leadership team. Open to everyone, these Q&A sessions cover a wide range of topics from company direction to organizational culture.
Voice Your Opinion: Feedback and Surveys
Established in 2015, zBeat is Zalando’s online survey that we conduct every quarter. Since its beginning, the results have actively contributed to shaping and refining how we operate for success and develop our culture and engagement over time. zBeat questions cluster into dimensions which have been identified as key drivers of engagement. Participating in the survey is highly encouraged, yet voluntary. The results become available a few weeks after the survey closes, and can be viewed online. After every zBeat survey, teams come together to discuss the results, as collecting feedback can only add value if it is followed by action taking. Many of the recent improvements of our business processes, products and work culture have been initiated by and based on the result of these surveys.
Make Your Voice Heard: Employee Representation Bodies
We are a very diverse company with different talents, backgrounds and expertise. Despite of their different purposes, each of these bodies aims to reflect that diversity to makes sure the views and needs of our entire workforce are taken into account.
Across the Zalando Group, we have more than one works council to represent the different concerns of employees in their respective Zalando subsidiary or company. By law, the formation of a works council is voluntary and has to be initiated by employees. Once formed, a works council’s responsibilities and scope are regulated by the law of its country. We are proud to say that the logistic sites in Erfurt, Lahr and Mönchengladbach, our Zalando Studios and Customer Care International have a workers councils already. Next to this, the process of forming a works council for the Zalando SE in Berlin and Dortmund has been kicked off.
Zalando Employee Participation (ZEP) is a voluntary employee participation committee which is not covered by legal regulations, but is a Zalando institution established in 2015 by employees. This initiative enables employees to participate in business decisions related to their work and company culture. It also functions as an unbiased point of contact and the platform where employees and the business can discuss and resolve issues. The ZEP is not a co-decider but rather an advisor to the Management Board.
It is not unusual for young companies to create customized solutions, and we are proud of our engaged employees to be pioneers in this area. The ZEP defined its own regulations and aligned them with the Management Board. The ZEP closely collaborates and exchanges with the other employee representation bodies at Zalando.
The International Employee Board (IEB) is a permanent committee and employee representation body. The legal structure of the Zalando Group is a ‘Societas Europaea’ which is why the company also complies with the standards set up by European law. This law requires that these companies set up an IEB which consults and discusses the latest developments across the entire group with their Management Board twice per year. In addition, the members of the IEB choose the three employee representatives to sit on the Supervisory Board. Next to that, it is fair to say that the three employees on the Supervisory Board are another representation body in itself.