Ownership culture in practice

Employees become company owners

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To enable employees to share Siemens’ success and thus foster their loyalty to the company – that’s the aim of employee ownership and a key part of Siemens’ corporate culture today. Behind this approach is the conviction that employees who are owners of their company will identify with it more strongly. Employee owners are more motivated and committed, assume responsibility and act in the interests of the company’s long-term success. As of September 2021, there are more than 188,000 Siemens employee shareholders worldwide (Siemens AG and Siemens Healthineers AG) – or about 64 percent of the company’s total workforce of 293,000. Employees in Germany have been able to buy Siemens AG shares on preferred terms since 1969. But the history of employee participation goes back much farther.

Pioneers – Siemens employees have been able to share in the company’s success since the 19th century

Werner von Siemens aimed to make employees company owners already in his own day. The employees of Siemens & Halske had their first opportunity to share in the company’s profits as early as 1858. Eight years later, Werner von Siemens introduced a “stocktaking bonus,” which enabled employees to participate in the profits they had helped generate, above and beyond their regular pay. In 1927, his son Carl Friedrich, who by then was heading the company, lent new impetus to this component of the company’s employee-relations policy by establishing an annual “financial report premium” for non-management employees, depending on the company’s results. After the disruption caused by World War II and a transitional phase for reconstruction, the corporate management at Siemens decided in 1951, in view of the favorable business development, to reintroduce employee profit sharing, a decision that continues the tradition from earlier years.

If the outcome of a fiscal year makes it possible for us to pay out a dividend, we also want the employees, who have contributed to this favorable result, to take part in this success.
Hermann von Siemens, October 12, 1951

New ways of sharing in results – Siemens introduces employee shares

In the second half of the 1960s, profit-sharing was cut back because of general economic conditions, but it was agreed by way of compensation that the workforce would be able to participate in the company’s producing assets. In 1969, Siemens AG employees in Germany had the chance for the first time to buy employee shares at a preferred price of DM 156 – half the trading price on the stock market on the day when management’s decision was adopted (January 23, 1969). Under the guidelines of Germany’s Employee Shares Act, no social security contributions or other tax was payable on either the difference between the preferred price and the trading price, or on the purchase price itself. Since what was known as the noncash advantage could not exceed DM 500 per person per calendar year, this meant that each employee entitled to participate could buy no more than three Siemens shares. The law also prescribed a lockout period of five years during which the shares could not be sold.

With revenue volume rising steadily and the earnings situation improving, the company’s net value is increasing. In the future, company management wants more employees to be able to participate in this increase in value. The offer to enable employees to purchase shares is a powerful incentive in this regard.
Siemens News, February 1969

A much-desired offer – From employee shares to “Share Matching Program”

In the spring of 1969, 135,725 employee shares were issued, with a nominal value of 6.8 million D-Mark. This first program was such a success – 24 percent of Siemens employees in Germany took advantage of the “general offer” – that management was encouraged to offer common stock at preferred prices in the coming years as well. From the very start, there had also been thoughts about offering Siemens shares to employees outside Germany. Accordingly, all local companies were free to participate in the share programs if they wished; the local company would absorb the difference between the trading price and the preferred price. But even though a number of companies were interested in this form of employee participation, their acceptance fell through in the face of a great many local circumstances. In the end, Siemens in the Netherlands, which began offering employees stock at a preferred price in 1975, was the only local company to set up its own employee share program.

In Germany, the Siemens share program has established itself over nearly 50 years as an integral part of the company’s orientation to its employees. Due to the strong demand, company management decided in 2008 to expand employee and management participation in Siemens’ success by creating a share-oriented corporate culture.

 

All employees worldwide and across all hierarchical levels now have the opportunity to participate in Siemens’ success. Employee share programs are set up in accordance with the special conditions in each country. One particular success is the Share Matching Program, which was launched in 2008. After depositing their shares for three years in the account of a service provider chosen by Siemens, employees receive one matching share for every three shares they hold.

 

Today, the global Siemens share program offered annually is one of the largest employee share programs in the world: More than 100,000 employees and thus almost 45 percent of all eligible employees invested in their company in 2021. In addition, Siemens AG allocated around 490,000 free bonus shares to employees as part of the global share program in the past fiscal year. Siemens employees own a total of about three percent of all Siemens shares and are therefore currently among the largest Siemens investors.

 

 

Owning shares is a core aspect of the Siemens ownership culture. It is intended to motivate every employee to take personal responsibility for their own actions within the company, thereby ensuring the long-term success of the company.
Siemens Sustainability Information 2020

Sabine Dittler | Dr. Claudia Salchow