Responsibility for employees

 The success of Swiss Life is based on the skills and performance of its staff. That is why Swiss Life wants to find the most suitable employees, get them interested in working for the company, retain them and support their further development.

The corporate culture of Swiss Life is based on respectful interaction and responsible team-based cooperation. Since we operate in a dynamic environment, we attach great importance to lifelong learning and the ongoing professional and personal development of all employees. Readiness to question the status quo leads to new ideas.

The success factors of this performance culture at Swiss Life include open dialogue and a cooperative management style. The leadership priorities contain binding principles for collaboration between managers and employees in day-to-day activities. These priorities help managers achieve their goals and deliver on their promises to customers, partners and investors.

The Swiss Life Group leadership priorities are as follows:

  • We act as if Swiss Life were our own business
  • We communicate openly and clearly
  • We trust, motivate, empower and support people
  • We develop efficient teams – across the company as well
  • We deliver results on time
  • We accept accountability – follow through and act consistently

Swiss Life regularly conducts employee surveys in cooperation with an independent research institute.1 The 2015 results show that employee engagement in the Swiss Life Group is above average:

  • 86% of all employees took part in the survey (+5 percentage points over the 2013 survey); the global engagement value is 85% (+10 percentage points over the European financial industry external benchmark)
  • 90% of all employees are proud to work at Swiss Life (+13 percentage points over the European financial industry external benchmark)
  • 94% of employees say they would go the extra mile for Swiss Life (+14 percentage points over the European financial industry external benchmark)
  • 88% of employees support the strategy and direction of their unit

1 Source: Global Employee Engagement Survey, IPSOS (Suisse) SA 2015

Group-wide standard processes are used to provide optimal support to managers and employees:

  • Employee performance reviews (all)
  • Performance assessments with all employees (setting of objectives and subsequent performance assessment)
  • Professional development interviews and measures
  • Decisions on salary and promotions
  • Strategy and value-oriented behaviour – as per the Group-wide competency model
  • Assessment of employee risks

Training & development

Swiss Life continuously invests in the internal and external training and development of its employees. True to the motto of lifelong learning, employees, specialists and managers are offered a range of learning opportunities on specialist topics as well as modules on social and methodological skills.

Young employees with potential have the opportunity to undertake all sorts of vocational courses, apprenticeships, placements, graduate programmes and combined university degrees. Around 300 employees took part in one of these training opportunities in 2015. The Swiss Life Group employs these measures to ensure its future management and professional requirements.

Expenses for staff training and development within the Group in 2015 amounted to CHF 14.7 million – about CHF 1749 per employee. As a proportion of total personnel costs, the outlay for training and development is 1.8%. The investment is earmarked for a varied, needs-based training offering.

In addition to the traditional training options, a digital learning platform offers managers the opportunity to learn about leadership and management competencies in an efficient way, independently of time or place. The platform provides rapid access to standardised management processes, skills-oriented further training and other management topics. Where necessary, a manager can select and combine a learning sequence from an extensive pool of learning resources including brief videos, checklists and learning programmes. The learning platform provides the basis for integrated learning architecture. In addition, a number of tailored training, advisory and coaching modules are available for managers and teams.

Talent development

Swiss Life attaches great importance to the ongoing development and motivation of its employees and therefore provides target-oriented support to junior staff with potential. Employees displaying a high level of performance and potential are nominated each year for the talent programme. The initiative supports efforts to open up career paths within the company – in management, project management or specialist functions – with a view to filling key positions with qualified young staff from within Swiss Life.

The divisional talent pools help to prepare future first and second-level managers (team leaders and department heads) as well as project managers and specialists for their future roles through training modules and project work. All divisions conducted programmes, tailored to the particular requirements of each unit, at all locations during the reporting period.

The Key Persons Programme (KPP) implemented at Group level in 2015 is based on the Senior Manager programme, which proved a success over a number of years. Now, in addition to line managers, professional experts or project managers already in a key position or who have the potential for such a role are eligible for the programme. The aim of the Key Persons Programme is to prepare people who show the desire and ability to help shape the company’s future in their own areas for a key position so they can live up to their role as a decision maker. The programme also plays a role in employee and succession planning. Within a 12-month period, the participants acquire a detailed insight into the Swiss Life Group, give and receive new impulses and directly apply what they have learnt to their daily work. The programme is based on the following four modules:

  • Leadership (communication)
  • Finance
  • Innovation, including dealing with competition and trends
  • Corporate strategy

Alumni meet the participants every year at the “Shaping the Future Day” when there is in-depth analysis of the Group’s strategic orientation, as well as an update and ensuing discussion on the progress of the Group-wide programme with the Corporate Executive Board.

Health & safety

Mutual respect across all hierarchical levels is part of the Swiss Life DNA. Respect fosters trust and helps create a comfortable working atmosphere for employees with conditions conducive to carrying out their everyday work.

Wellbeing is a part of the employee survey, which also asks about such issues as diversity and inclusion, work-life balance, mutual respect, workload and workplace atmosphere. 82% of employees rate these factors as positive (+9 percentage points over the European financial industry benchmark) 1.

The principles by which we work together at the Swiss Life Group are set out in the Group-wide Code of Conduct. Among these is our zero-tolerance policy regarding mobbing and discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, confession, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, physical or mental handicap, marital status, political views or other attributes. Swiss Life undertakes to offer its employees a work environment characterised by respect and mutual recognition, and to uphold such an environment.

In explicit terms that entails behaving responsibly and adhering to the compliance standards, laws, risks etc. The competency model is applied to the Group-wide management processes for all employees. Employees are regularly informed about the legal framework in which they operate, backed up by training courses to ensure they behave with integrity.

In the 2015 financial year, there were no cases of discrimination or other complaints (e.g. mobbing) via the established management processes or other informal channels (e.g. an Ombudsman managed by a third party).

1 Source: Global Employee Engagement Survey, IPSOS (Suisse) SA 2015

In accordance with valid national and international law, the Swiss Life Group follows fair employment procedures free of discrimination. Recruitment or promotion is based solely on ability, competence and potential in view of the requirements of the position in question. Fair and equal compensation for all employees is ensured by the Group-wide Group Compensation Policy. Swiss Life uses instruments in all its major national companies to review and ensure equal pay for men and women. In Switzerland, for example, Logib software based on data provided by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office is used for that purpose. The insurance sector is not subject to any collective agreements.

Occupational health management is a priority at Swiss Life. Good working conditions influence employee health to the extent that:

  • a comprehensive workplace concept is provided,
  • diverse requirements are met,
  • social interaction is promoted,
  • autonomy, freedom to act, learning and development opportunities are facilitated,
  • meaningfulness is ensured and
  • employees and their contributions and performance are valued.

The measures to maintain employee health, promote good working conditions and prevent incapacity to work are based on three pillars:

  • Prevention
  • Early intervention
  • Reintegration

In 2015, an online offer of text, brief videos, checklists and learning programmes was put together on the subject of “Health and wellbeing” and placed on the intranet for employees in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Austria and the Czech Republic. It will be rolled out to Germany, France and the UK in 2016.

Besides the “Health and wellbeing” platform, the divisions – plus their social partners – provide additional services in movement and sport, massages and therapy, relaxation rooms and all types of consulting (nutrition, social counselling, prevention etc.).

Social partnership

The employee representatives and Corporate Executive Board maintain close contact with each other. Since 1996, Swiss Life has had a European Works Council (Art. 13 of Council Directive 94/45/EC of the European Parliament and Council). The nine-person “Europa Forum”, a committee comprising delegates from four countries, meets regularly with representatives of the Corporate Executive Board at ordinary and extraordinary meetings. It deals with transnational information and consultation on topics which affect all Swiss Life employees. There was, by way of example, an in-depth discussion in 2015 on the Swiss Life 2015 Group-wide programme.

The Group-wide initiative “Health” launched in 2014 was brought to a successful conclusion during the year under review. The market units have already formulated many offers in recent years geared towards this field. Current offers were reviewed, consolidated and extended as part of the initiative. The jointly managed working groups (employer representatives of Swiss Life and representatives of the local works councils) were responsible for the implementation in the divisions.


In Switzerland the interests of employees of Swiss Life Holding in Switzerland and its subsidiaries are represented by the staff committee. The staff committee works to promote mutual trust and understanding between the Executive Board or Corporate Executive Board and the employees. It is entitled to early information targeted to the situation by the Executive Board committees and is subject to the duty of confidentiality and loyalty. The staff committee has nine members each selected for a four-year term. In autumn 2015 new elections were held for staff committee representatives.


In Germany the sales force works council had to be restructured due to the new sales structure for intermediary distribution. This realignment resulted in a structural simplification. Instead of five individual works council committees for the five organisational offices, there is now one committee for the entire salesforce, comprising seven members.

In 2015 the works council participated in the German Works Councils Prize for the first time. In the “Innovative works council work” category the “Whistleblowing” works agreement and “Talent pool” internal agreement were nominated, and the “Occupational reintegration” works agreement was nominated in the “Good work” category.

The reduction of about 200 jobs organised with the works councils in 2013, involving a reconciliation of interests, social plan and voluntary programme at the Munich, Hanover, Bremen, Hamburg and Cologne locations, was completed by 31 December 2015.


In France, the close cooperation between the social partners progressed further during the reporting period. Negotiations and agreements are conducted and concluded on an ongoing basis on the basis of “good partnership”.

In 2015, there were a total of nine negotiations on the following subjects (with an average of five meetings per negotiation topic):

  • An agreement on the union law establishing the number of hours for union representatives, the works council and the Committee for Health Protection and Security to fulfil their role is ready for signing (the unions have already signed);
  • An agreement on a forward-looking employment and qualification policy (obligatory in France) is ready for signing;
  • A company-wide agreement on psychosocial risks is ready for signing;
  • Annual mandatory salary negotiations: Two agreements for commercial employees and inspectors and one agreement for administrative employees are ready for signing;
  • An agreement about equality in the workplace has been signed by all the trade union organisations;
  • Agreement on carrying over days off (signed);
  • Agreement on health insurance for employees (signed);
  • Agreement on flat-rate hourly fees including the right to be “incommunicado” when not at work.

My Annual Report

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