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Success with family-friendly HR policies Kassel's mayor Hilgen: "Compatibility of family and working life at Wintershall is exemplary" / Company plans another day-care center

Kassel. The aim of the Work & Life Service of Kassel-based Wintershall Holding GmbH and WINGAS GmbH & Co. KG is to help employees balance their professional, family and private interests with the needs of the company. Kassel's mayor Bertram Hilgen found out more about the service, which deals with all aspects of the compatibility of family and working life, and the child-care possibilities offered within it. While visiting the company's own day-care center, called KIWI, Hilgen spoke to Dr. Rainer Seele, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of Wintershall, and employees about the opportunities and advantages of family-friendly HR policies. "We need companies like this that support their employees in balancing the needs of family and working life," Hilgen said praising Wintershall's efforts. "The company has created the conditions for attracting future specialists and executive managers and for retaining these skilled staff long-term." The concept also enhanced the appeal of Kassel, he added. 

"A favorable working environment is a great advantage in the industry-wide competition for qualified specialists such as drilling and reservoir engineers or geoscientists, Wintershall CEO Rainer Seele underlined: "Crude oil and natural gas are our business, but our most important resource is our staff. It is the staff that makes our success possible. We attract skilled new personnel with the Work & Life Service and the child-care facilities, and by putting the conditions in place to ensure staff return after parental leave, we make sure that important know-how remains in the company," Dr. Seele explained. 

For these reasons Wintershall intends to extend its facilities in this area. The company is planning to set up another child day-care center for its employees' children at the company headquarters in Kassel. "Wintershall is growing - and in order to cater to our needs and those of our staff, a second KIWI day-care center will be built in the Marbachshöhe neighborhood of Kassel," Seele announced at a visit with the city's mayor. Around 70 new places for employees' children aged from 6 months to six years will be created in the technology park there. The Wintershall Group already uses additional child-care places in the neighborhood in the GlücKSkinder day-care center of K+S AG.

In addition to the child-care offered by the KIWI center set up in 2001, Wintershall offers its staff flexible working schemes such as part-time work, teleworking and job-sharing, parental leave, returning to working life and company sports activities via its own "Work & Life Service" - everything from a babysitter pool to a cleaning and ironing service. "Family-friendly HR policies are an asset for all," Dr. Axel Bode, Director of Human Resources at Wintershall explained. They not only enhance motivation and job satisfaction within the company; they also bring financial rewards, for these investments certainly pay off. "In addition, staff turnover and sickness levels decrease and the atmosphere in the company has become more family-friendly," Bode explained.

Another effect of the policies is that more than 50 % of mothers at Wintershall already work part-time during maternity leave, which eliminates the costs of re-training. And since the day-care center was opened in 2001 a much greater number of female employees are returning to work full-time after maternity leave than previously. "It is encouraging to see a company in a sector usually considered the male domain not only advocating and promoting the employment of women in technical professions, but also accomplishing this," Birgit Böl, Chair of the Wintershall Works Council, said.

KIWI day-care center

Child-care is one the key services covered by the HR policy: the 'KIWI' day-care center, where more than 60 children aged between 6 months and 12 years are looked after, is located just 300 meters from the Wintershall headquarters at the company base in Kassel. Since the introduction of parental benefit in 2007 more fathers have been taking advantage of the opportunity of taking parental leave. Experienced and qualified staff at the KIWI day-care center are available all day from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to take care of the children in mixed-age groups. In cooperation with the Gesellschaft für Kinderbetreuung und Schule e.V. (GFKS), an external provider, the KIWI offers a flexible child-care system that caters to the individual needs of the employees. One special feature of the center is that when employees are sick, have to go on work-related trips or in case of emergencies, child care is guaranteed at all times. The Work & Life Service also supports employees in finding childminders, babysitters or the right school for the children. 

Work & Life Service: a wide range of services 

The Work & Life Service offers parents-to-be comprehensive information on current legislation, e.g. maternity/parental leave and child benefit as well as internal company agreements and how they apply within the organization. An important part of its work involves implementing flexible working schemes, e.g. part-time work, teleworking and job sharing. The service also helps employees with school-age children to select a suitable school in the Kassel area. The company helps its employees to manage their time by providing household services such as a cleaning and ironing service, and working together with agencies which arrange home helps. It also organizes company sports activities (soccer, rowing, volleyball and basketball) and the BEFIT@WORK fitness program to maintain health and long-term productivity with yoga, aqua-fitness, spinning or back fitness. Endurance equipment which is also available for use at weekends provides another way of keeping fit and unwinding after a day at work. 

Wintershall was awarded the certificate of the berufundfamilie® audit ('work and family audit') in May 2003, an initiative of the non-profit-making Hertie Foundation, for its family-friendly and long-sighted HR policies. 

Wintershall Holding GmbH, based in Kassel, Germany, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BASF in Ludwigshafen. The company has been active in the extraction of natural resources for 120 years, and in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas for over 80 years. Wintershall focuses on selected core regions where the company has built up a high level of regional and technological expertise. These are Europe, Russia, North Africa, South America, and increasingly the Middle East region. The company wants to expand its business further with exploration and production, selected partnerships, innovation and technological competence. Wintershall employs some 2,500 staff worldwide from 40 nations and is now Germany’s largest,internationally active crude oil and natural gas producer.

Wintershall. Shaping the Future.
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Contact: Stefan Leunig