Family as a success factor

Brugger GmbH has systematised and enhanced its tools for making work and family compatible by introducing its company check-up called "Family as success factor."

Since then, opportunities to talk about these family issues include the employee's annual performance review, the annual company meeting and the annual employee survey. “Work and family balance has always been a top priority at Brugger, but we wanted to address it systematically and give it greater structure within the company,” explains Heiko Merz, head of quality and environmental management and also a member of the Executive Board at Brugger GmbH in the Swabian town of Hardt. 

With 86 employees, of whom 41 work part-time, the manufacturer of magnet systems has taken a decisive step in this direction by implementing its "Family as success factor" company check-up. The owner-run and operated company addresses concerns or problems with a personal touch. For the last few years, everyone addresses everyone else, regardless of position, informally by first name. Both managing directors do a round of the entire company once a day and are able to address personal concerns during this time if needed. The company offers flexible working hours and different part-time models. For example, Managing Director Georg Brugger-Efinger – who has four children – works at 80 percent working time, and some of that time from home. Merz: “As a rule, no one at this company works more than 40 hours per week.” Everyone has time for the family. “In fact, this was the actual reason why the company was founded. After having to work every Saturday, which interfered with his passion for mountain climbing, Brugger decided that opening his own business was the only way to truly pursue it. The company check-up allows its managers to reflect first on the many practices at Brugger, and then to enhance them. Heiko Merz reports that prior to doing anonymous data collection, they hypothesised in advance that five percent of the workforce had family members to care for. However, the data analysis showed that it was actually 16 percent. Despite the "worry-free environment," as the 38-year old put it, some members of the workforce had not discussed their personal family situations. As a result of the analysis, the company has now firmly anchored the issues of family care and health into the annual employee performance review. Another step was including the issue of work and family balance in the quarterly general company meeting during which the company check-up was announced and introduced. Members of the Board regularly presented interim steps during these meetings and established the issue of work and family balance as a permanent discussion item of this forum. Also, in the annual employee satisfaction survey, three new questions were added and received a grade of two plus for 2012. Brugger does not have a corporate communications department. Internal communication is and has always been done through official and unofficial office channels and via the company bulletin board – and now, as the examples have shown, it is much more controlled and intensive.

As to the question of tips he would give to other companies, Merz mainly highlights patience: "Constant internal communication with a lot of patience concerning this topic – it's the only way to make progress.”