14.5.2022 • Behind the scenes
Monday afternoon, 2 p.m. There is a buzz of activity. Several camera operators and sound engineers make final adjustments to microphones, cameras and spotlights. The protagonists, the members of Dr. Oetker's international executive board, have already arrived and taken their places in the "studio" at the Bielefeld headquarters. All of their faces are quickly powdered. Because it's almost time again: In one hour, the next Q&A session with the employees will begin.
And action! Once in each quarter – always on Mondays at 3:00 p.m. Central European Time – the Board invites everyone worldwide to the Q&A session. All Dr. Oetker employees can follow the session with interpretation via livestream. If you can’t watch live, you can watch the recording on the intranet and employee app after the event.
PR manager Janina Sturm hosts the Q&A session as an in-house moderator and questions the management as the employees’ representative.
In the Q&A session, the management provides information about new developments and at the same time, answers employees' questions – sometimes on a focus topic, sometimes completely open to all topics that concern colleagues around the world. With this variety of topics, one thing is always the same: The management takes position and transparently describes where Dr. Oetker stands and where it sees the company in the future. In addition, the respective management members also provide personal insights into their work. The sessions are also attended by speakers from other functional areas, who, depending on the main topic, are connected virtually.
"We want to enter into a dialog with you and find out what drives you."
Dr. Albert Christmann, chairman of the Executive Board, at the first Q&A session in July 2019.
The one-hour Q&A session was launched as a test in summer 2019 and has since become established. As early as two weeks before the event and up until the end of the live session, employees – from trainees to heads of departments – can use an online tool to ask their questions. These range from "When will our packaging be 100 percent recyclable?" to "Will we still work from home after Corona?" to "What are our digitization goals?" The order in which the questions are asked and answered is determined by the votes of all employees. If the management cannot answer all questions live in the session due to time constraints, the answers will be published transparently on the intranet for all to read afterwards.
During the session, colleagues on screens around the world are involved, too: They can submit their questions live, take online surveys, and provide feedback on how they liked the event.
At the first Q&A Sessions in 2019, between 250 and 300 colleagues were live at the Bielefeld headquarters – in addition to the colleagues around the world who were connected digitally. With the onset of the Corona pandemic, Q&A sessions for all employees were offered exclusively virtually. This means that only the management board members and the moderator were in the studio each time – tested, of course, and in compliance with all AHA security measures.
The conclusion: As a result of the corona pandemic, the importance of this direct exchange between employees and management has increased significantly. This can be seen, among other things, from the increased number of questions submitted. It is important to Dr. Oetker's management to accompany employees through the current changes in this way, among other things. And so, on another Monday in the next quarter, the question will once again be: "What would you like to know from us today?"
„I would particularly like to say thank you for what you have done over the past few months. Thank you for your willingness to pull together with all of us."
Dr. Albert Christmann, Q&A Session in October 2020