Employees field of action

Our mission: We support our employees in all life situations. We give our employees’ careers a jump start, offer them opportunities to grow and climb the career ladder, and provide them with support in difficult circumstances in their lives.

A company can only succeed if it has motivated and committed employees. Accordingly, it is Real’s top principle to support and encourage its employees as best it can and to offer them an attractive work environment. From giving their career a jump start to offering them opportunities to grow and helping them in difficult circumstances in their lives, the company provides its employees individual support.

Currently, Real has some 34,000 employees in all different kinds of professional fields of commerce. The company moreover places great emphasis on offering training for talented young employees. In addition to the classic jobs requiring training such as retail sales assistant, butcher and administrator for office management, since 2017, Real has also offered training as a retail sales assistant with the additional qualification ‘freshness’. Here, the apprentices are taught not only commerce-related content but also manual skills.

Focused human resource development

The continuing professional development of employees is crucial in the competition with others. Real supports its employees with focused human resource development in many different ways and encourages them to act on their own responsibility. For example, the company offers some 300 seminars, workshops and more than 100 e-learning programmes to inform employees, amongst other things, about sustainability measures as well as their significance for Real and for society.

Day of Sustainable Food

Day of sustainable food (photo)

For the first time, selected Real suppliers and producers presented their products and talked about their engagement for sustainability on the ‘Tag der nachhaltigen Lebensmittel’ (Day of Sustainable Food) in early July 2018 under the motto of ‘Acting responsibly’. The attendants included numerous employees from Sales as well as representatives of the press, NGOs plus various guests from the region. In addition to an in-house trade fair, lectures were presented on industry-related topics concerning ‘Sustainability in the food sector’.

In his welcoming speech, Real’s CEO Patrick Müller-Sarmiento pointed out how important it is to set oneself clear goals and to pursue them with a strong focus. He specifically emphasised that the company has already accomplished its target of generating 30% of its revenues with sustainable products by 2019. He also welcomed the inclusion of Demeter products in the company’s assortment and announced that this range was going to be expanded rapidly. On the Day of Sustainable Food, Dr Simone Helmle, Director of the Demeter academy in Darmstadt, offered insight into the Demeter concept and the biodynamic form of agriculture on which it is based. In addition, Tankred Kauf, Managing Director of Campo Verde, offered sales-specific information on ‘Demeter product knowledge’.

Industry-related lectures and in-house trade fair with sustainable food

In his lecture entitled ‘Nachhaltigkeit? Gutes Leben! Strategien und Ansätze für einen gesellschaftlichen Wandel’ (Sustainability? Living well! Strategies and approaches for a transformation of society), Stephan Schaller from the Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP) argued that people want to grow but that it is difficult to change their behaviour and it requires stamina to provide concrete assistance. This was followed by a lecture by Udo Gattenlöhner from the Global Nature Fund (GNF) on ‘Biologische Vielfalt und die Lebensmittelbranche’ (Biological diversity and the food industry), before Georg Abel from the Verbraucher Initiative e. V. Berlin took a closer look on the consumer’s point of view in his paper on ‘Gewohnheiten, Kaufverhalten, Erwartungen … Verbraucher und Nachhaltigkeit’ (Habits, purchase behaviour, expectations: consumers and sustainability). During a subsequent panel discussion on ‘Zwischen Umsatz und Unternehmensverantwortung – Herausforderungen und Chancen bei der Förderung des nachhaltigen Konsums’ (Between revenues and corporate responsibility: challenges and opportunities in promoting sustainable consumption), the external lecturers discussed the issue of sustainability and profitability with Real representatives from the Sales division.

The visitors also had the chance to gather information about the available sustainable food items and sample them at various trade fair stands.

Sustainable projects of trainees

Real teaches its young employees not only traditional training content but also how to assume responsibility early on and to engage on behalf of society. One example of this is the ‘Junges Gemüse verkauft Obst’ (Spring chickens sell fruit) in-house project which took place for the second time in 2018. As part of the project, which placed a special focus on Real’s sustainable product range, 22 trainees managed the fruit and vegetable department at the Markthalle Krefeld for 4 days. Their main duties included supply management, incoming goods control, inventory management and labelling as well as sales presentation and customer advice. The young employees moreover created a raised bed in order to draw the customers’ attention to the permaculture product range and the diverse organic products. The trainees were assisted by members of the in-house team leader development programme.

Inclusion in everyday work

Whether in administration, in the store or in the warehouse – a disability is no handicap at Real. The company promotes the disability-friendly and accessible design of workplaces and the work environment as well as the permanent preservation of jobs and trainee positions for disabled persons or those threatened by disability. The employment rate for people with severe disability is 8.36%, which is considerably above the legal requirements.

Hardship fund

To give financial support to employees facing an emergency, Real set up a so-called hardship fund in 2012. It comprises donations from the employees and employer contributions, and is for the benefit of employees who have made donations and their relatives and partners. The General Management and the Works Council decide jointly on how the funds are used.

Diversity at Real

Real employs individuals from 95 different nations. The company respects the cultural differences and benefits from this diversity. After all, thanks to its employees’ broad range of cultural and linguistic competencies, Real is able to address different customer groups. Experience shows: outstandingly trained and motivated applicants can be found in all nations. For this reason, the company’s expectations are the same of all applicants, regardless of their origin, religion or other belief, gender or sexual orientation.

Equal opportunities

Advancing female employees and offering women attractive career perspectives has been an integral part of talent management at Real for many years. Its main focus is on individual arrangements and measures that take the specific situation of the respective employees into account. As a consequence, the compatibility of family and career, part-time training, parental leave and women in executive positions are an actual reality at Real. In 2017, the company was the first retailer in Germany to be awarded the golden ‘top4women’ signet for this exemplary commitment.

Work–life balance

If you want to feel good and be physically fit, you must find a healthy balance in life – especially between career and private life. To make sure its employees can master this challenge, Real supports them in this effort. It was one of the first companies in Germany to introduce a family care period in 2015. The company allows its employees to reduce their number of working hours so much that they can continue to work while also taking care of relatives.

Security of employment

For decades, Real has been one of the few companies in the food retailing sector that has adhered to pay scales agreed through collective bargaining. In contrast, in recent years more and more retailers with a cooperative structure have broken away from binding regional collective bargaining and thus undermined it. This development has led to personnel costs at Real that are up to 30% higher than those of competitors not bound by collective bargaining agreements. For this reason, Real in 2015 switched to an HDE membership (association of German retailers) without a collective agreement and then tried to find a collective agreement solution for new employees with ver.di. However, ver.di did not agree to this, which led to a compromise in the form of a future collective agreement. With this collective bargaining agreement, Real has in principle again recognised the regional collective bargaining agreements of the retail trade. However, exceptions have been defined, including the requirement that a new competitive remuneration structure be negotiated by the end of March 2018, either through a reorganisation of the regional collective agreement or alternatively through an in-house pay scale at Real. In the end, it was not possible to find a concrete joint solution with ver.di for the current challenges facing the company and its employees. For this reason, in March 2018, Real began to create the conditions for a collective bargaining partnership outside the HDE structures. This includes the exercise of a special termination right agreed in the future collective agreement. With the termination of the future collective bargaining agreement, the management of Real also deliberately made the decision to adjust the remuneration for Real employees to the level of the regional collective bargaining agreement for 2018. This also means full vacation and Christmas bonuses already in 2018. The planned increase in wages for 2018 took place in several steps. Accordingly, existing employees will not have to accept any losses. This is ensured by an overall commitment from the Real management.

In addition, since the beginning of June, Real has been using the collective bargaining agreements negotiated between the employers’ association AHD – Unternehmensvereinigung für Arbeitsbedingungen im Handel und Dienstleistungsgewerbe e.V. and the trade union DHV – Die Berufsgewerkschaft e.V. for all new hires. These have been in force for some time at METRO SERVICES GmbH (now real GmbH), to which the business of Real was spun off. The fact that Real is an attractive employer for new hires despite the new remuneration structure is demonstrated by the more than 2,400 new hires in the months since the changeover of the collective bargaining model. Only with a sustainable remuneration structure can the company remain competitive. In recent years, considerable investments have been made in Real’s future viability. The step-by-step reduction of structural wage cost disadvantages compared with competitors through a new remuneration structure for new hires is a measure that makes a significant contribution to safeguarding the jobs of the approximately 34,000 employees.