Corporate culture & the workplace

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Our corporate culture

A company’s culture is its DNA. As such, it influences not only its ways of working, but also its very success. Its culture is primarily shaped by the people who work for the company. Our goal is to promote a culture of belonging in which everyone gets what they need to capture their full potential. We are firmly convinced that this will contribute to our success as a global telecommunications provider and employer. That’s why we continually provide impetus for establishing and maintaining this kind of culture on our way to becoming the “leading digital telco”: for instance, by providing an environment where employees feel at ease and can perform their duties well in a working style that suits them. Our culture is characterized by mutual trust and respect, entrepreneurial thinking, and collaborative working. We give our employees room to grow personally and professionally and to make a positive contribution to our company and society through their work.

Our corporate culture is based on our values, which we have formulated in six Guiding Principles. The Guiding Principles are the basis for our cooperation with each other – and with our customers, shareholders, and the general public. Our Code of Conduct, which is founded on the Guiding Principles, makes our Guiding Principles come alive in tangible ways. It defines the rules for our daily work, including both internal and external work. As such, it acts as a bridge between the Guiding Principles and the many different policies and legal regulations within the Group. Another cornerstone of our corporate culture is our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Group Policy, which is intended to help us consider and promote these factors at all levels of our company.

In September of each year, we celebrate our Living Culture Day, which provides an opportunity to reflect on our corporate culture and to make it perceptible for all of our employees around the world. In the reporting year, our celebration had the motto “The Power of We: Connections”. This year’s hybrid live stream event was held at Deutsche Telekom IT Solutions Slovakia in Košice and focused on the importance of social relationships for corporate culture and business success. This year’s Living Culture Day was held as a full Living Culture Week for the first time, making it possible for the various departments to present their culture-related topics to a larger audience. Our diversity networks, for example, had the opportunity to present the results of their work and projects – some of which have been underway for years – and increase the visibility of ERGs img (employee resource groups) at the company. The event succeeded in recruiting new members for a variety of ERGs. Our corporate culture thrives on the commitment of our employees. This is particularly true of our ongoing culture dialog, which we invited our employees to participate in once again in 2023. The objective of this exchange is to integrate our Guiding Principles even more tightly in our everyday work. In the reporting year, it once again produced specific measures intended to make our culture tangible, such as the creation of several new ERGs. These new employee networks, together with the existing ones, serve employees as points of contact for all questions involving diversity in practice.

In addition, we once again recognized outstanding teams that exemplify our Guiding Principles through their actions and made an outsize contribution to our corporate culture in the reporting year with the Telekom Team Awards.


A new world of work

The workplace is changing rapidly, and the pace of the changes is constantly increasing. Chatbots support our customer service, videoconferences can take the place of business travel, and artificial intelligence helps out with data analysis. Not surprisingly, employees’ job profiles are changing as well. The half-life of knowledge keeps shortening, and core competencies for employees now include a readiness to change, and to learn.

At the same time, employees’ expectations with regard to their employers are also changing, in corresponding ways. Employees expect employers to offer them more personal freedom, greater flexibility, and less limitation to specific workplace locations. From such changes, a new balance between trust and responsibility is emerging. Strict controls and rigid office-time schedules will become things of the past. Today’s competent, committed, and entrepreneurially oriented employees are taking greater responsibility for their work than past employees did. They are also assuming greater responsibility for themselves overall.

As we become the Leading Digital Telco, the ways in which we collaborate are changing. We call it “New Work”. This is about more than simply whether employees work in the office or from their homes. It’s also about the essence of our work – about whether it is meaningful, and of use to society, and about how it helps take us, as a company, toward our common success.

Our journey toward a new, more flexible, more intelligent, more individual workplace began over a decade ago. Rather than focusing on structures, this journey emphasizes attitudes and relationships – including relationships among ourselves and with our customers – and is directed at a changed understanding of what leadership should be. Such topics are also at the heart of our corporate culture, which we are developing jointly, as a Living Culture. This culture supports a transformation process that calls on employees to be willing to change and acquire new skills. This, in turn, presents challenges – challenges that we are addressing with comprehensive skills management and precisely tailored training options. Our Guiding Principle “Act with respect and integrity,” for example, entails that everyone should feel like they belong and be given the opportunity to capture their full potential. To achieve this goal, we support our managers and employees, for example, with training courses on all aspects of diversity.

We examine the transformation of the workplace in detail with our “NewWork@Telekom” magazine, which we publish several times per year. One subject we addressed in 2023 was how we can succeed in creating and maintaining trusted personal relationships despite distance in this age of virtual and hybrid collaboration. We also pursued the question of how our job and our work environment can contribute to our well-being.

Our New Work podcast “Frohes Schaffen. Neues Schaffen” (“Pleasant work. New work.”) continued to examine changes in the world of work during the year under review. In it, we talked about what it means to work in a digital world, what new opportunities are arising in the labor market, and how competencies and job profiles are changing.

The virtual sessions of the talk series “Kopfsalat und Bauchgefühl” (“Brain turbulence and gut feeling”) give our employees in Germany regular positive impulses and practical assistance for strengthening their own resilience in a constantly changing world of work. The one-hour sessions are hosted by a neuroscientist and also give our employees a space where they can interact and share with one another. More information about our activities for promoting the mental health of our employees is available here.

Currently, the framework for our collaboration is defined by five pillars. We invite and expect our employees, in the context of their teams, to help flesh out the specific details of how this framework is applied. With this approach, we can combine the best of both worlds: the physical and the virtual worlds and the analog and digital worlds.

To this end, and working in cooperation with the Group Works Council, we have produced the New Work manifesto. It serves as the basis for interaction characterized by trust and respect.

Our “Digital@Work” program facilitates our employees’ collaboration – with suitable tools and technologies. In addition, we are still working on making the new world of work visible by redesigning and optimizing our office spaces. We want our offices to invite and inspire employees to collaborate, interact, and carry out hybrid meetings and workshops. Throughout our locations in Germany and abroad, we are setting up spaces for digital collaboration and creativity in which employees can work together on projects and across units.


Digital collaboration KPI

For effective collaboration in the new world of work, simple, fast and virtual communication is a fundamental requirement. Particularly for collaboration between different locations and to support flexible working models, digital exchange plays a pivotal role.

  2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Conference minutes (in mio.) 883.88 1 787.15 2 153.52 1 899.14 1 733.61
YAM UNITED (Number of created user profiles) 133 306 130 788 138 071 128 609 134 396

In 2023, our employees spent around 1.7 billion minutes in virtual conferences. Compared to the previous year, conference minutes decreased by 8.7 percent. The return to the office after the COVID-19 pandemic is probably one of the main factors behind this trend. As we resume normal interaction without social distancing, many employees can increasingly take the opportunity to attend meetings in person and on-site. This has reduced the demand for virtual meetings.

For global exchange, we also use our YAM UNITED intranet portal. In the reporting year, 134 396 users were registered here.

Further information about this is available in the HR Factbook


Systems Solutions segment: corporate culture, collaboration, and leadership

Cultural transformation and T-mindset
T-Systems launched its “#peoplemakeithappen” cultural initiative back in 2018. Since then, the segment has continued to evolve its corporate culture and formulate it as the “T-mindset” – the foundation for the culture at T-Systems, which defines what it means to practice this culture. To achieve this, the segment identified five attitudes as the keys to growth at the company and the personal development of its employees: accountability, care, and a focus on the team, customers, and performance. In the year under review, this practical approach was communicated within T-Systems as a simplification of the T-mindset and the “I own it” campaign. The objective was to permanently embed the T-mindset cultural program in the organization.

“I own it” is a campaign that enables employees to show how they take responsibility for their conduct at the company. To enshrine the T-mindset, management teams held 140 workshops in twelve countries and published 36 blog posts focused on internal communication. In addition, managers reported on how they embody the T-mindset every day in 23 top leadership stories on “I own it”. Activities were derived globally and continued at the local level by multipliers. Overall, T-Systems counted some 26 000 personal interactions with employees globally – at workshops, events, and the campaigns centered on the themes of the cultural initiative. The segment has also taken the first steps in integrating the T-mindset in the entire employee life cycle. The cultural program has become a fixture at global onboarding events for new T-Systems employees, for example.

To give the individual business units even better support for their cultural and transformation work, T-Systems has appointed “dual citizens” to assist them: colleagues who can spend up to 50 percent of their working time contributing to the cultural program on site, in close collaboration with the management teams.

To better balance the culture with the success of the company in the long term, the management team at T-Systems developed measures in 2022 that continued to be pursued in 2023. Accordingly, managers are expected to:

  • Provide time to make the purpose of their individual tasks transparent to employees
  • Organize regular “Let’s talk” sessions within the teams, ensuring that there is enough room and time for an open exchange regarding employees’ concerns
  • Set priorities and thus gain time for effective, customer-centric work

Culture and leadership have also become fixtures of all top leadership events. The culture team held four of these leadership events in 2023 to promote a management culture in line with the T-mindset.

According to the results of the most recent pulse survey, T-Systems continued to advance the cultural transformation in the year under review: Around 72 percent of those surveyed reported that the T-mindset is reflected in their daily conduct. This KPI img was established in 2021 and has increased by 14 percentage points since its inception.

Agile img collaboration
T-Systems continue to pursue its agile img transformation in 2023, increasingly relying on agile structures for collaboration. This enabled the segment to keep pace with rapid technological developments and growing customer demands. In the year under review, more than 300 agile coaches, or multipliers for the digital transformation, were active at T-Systems.

A cross-functional, 16-person team is responsible for scaling agility img effectively – ensuring a transformation of the culture of collaboration in the organization as well. They focus on an extensive range of training: By the end of the year under review, T-Systems employees earned or renewed more than 5 000 certifications for agile work – for example, as scrum masters, product owners, safe experts, agile coaches, and coaches for the OKR img (Objectives and Key Results) method. In addition, around 30 additional training formats were offered in 2023 to embed agility in the organization, such as workshops on business agility and agile coaching and consulting.


Flexible working models for a wide range of needs at Deutsche Telekom in Germany

In order to help our employees achieve a good work-life balance, and avoid burn-out, we explicitly promote flexible work models. We have set out this orientation in our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Group Policy. The options we offer our employees in Germany range from flexitime and part-time to lifetime work accounts.

These work models are based on the laws and regulations applicable in the individual countries. Working hours at Deutsche Telekom in Germany are governed by collective agreements and works agreements. We document the daily working hours of our employees covered by collective agreements by means of electronic time recording in MyPortal or via the EmployeeApp. This guarantees compliance with legal and company regulations; for example, it ensures that the weekly working hours for a specific flexitime balancing period are complied with. At a large corporation like Deutsche Telekom, regulations are diverse and cannot be fully specified for all the Group companies. The options we offer our employees in Germany range from flexitime and part-time to lifetime work accounts.

Promoting part-time work
We support the establishment of part-time jobs and guarantee employees in Germany the possibility to return to their original weekly working hours. Subject to operational requirements, employees are permitted to reduce their working hours as they wish. In addition, they may terminate their part-time work at any time, even earlier than originally planned. About 13.2 percent of employees covered by collective agreements, and 16.4 percent of civil servants, are making use of part-time arrangements (as of Dec. 31, 2023). In addition, a total of 44 executives are working part-time (as of Dec, 31, 2022).

Mobile working
Thanks to modern communications technology, in many different fields we can work when and where we wish. Mobile working has been firmly established at Deutsche Telekom. Our employees can organize their work locations flexibly, a right we enshrined in our collective agreement on mobile working concluded with the ver.di union back in 2016. Needless to say, they do not have to be available to the company at all times, meaning they do not have to stay reachable after working hours, during vacation, or on weekends. In November 2023, we also began offering our employees in Germany the option of working up to 20 days at a time from a different EU country. 

Lifetime work accounts and leave of absence
The majority of employees in Germany can set up a lifetime work account in order to implement their personal life plan. Such accounts can be used to accumulate credit by means of gross deferred compensation or by conversion of up to 80 overtime hours per year. Around 16 400 employees currently take advantage of this offering (as of December 31, 2023). The credit can be used for a sabbatical, earlier retirement, or a top-up for a part-time salary. Employees also have the option of taking unpaid leave – for example, in order to care for their children, or to accept paid work with a different employer.

Leave of absence for personal reasons
Employees have the option of requesting leave of absence at short notice for special reasons, after consulting with, and obtaining the approval of, their manager. This option is available, for example, for employees who need to serve as caregivers for family members or to take care of sick children. During the individually agreed period, employees are exempted from the performance of their duties. Pay is suspended after five days at the latest. All other aspects of the employment relationship remain unaffected.

Time off for education
Time off for education is based on the current offer of unpaid leave and makes it possible for employees in Germany to take up to four years off for a degree course or a doctorate. The employment contract is put on hold during this time and the employee does not receive any pay. Civil servants employed at the company can also take advantage of this offer in the form of a “leave of absence without pay for reasons of private interest.” This time does not apply to their pension and no remuneration is paid.

The 80:20 model
Since 2017, we have been using the 80:20 model to give our employees the opportunity to spend part of their working time on projects outside of their usual remit. This allows them to work with teams from other departments. Use of the model is voluntary and is tied to a specific Group project.

Phased retirement
We offer a phased retirement model to our employees in Germany who are 55 or older. Separate regulations apply to employees and to civil servants. There are two options for phased retirement: the block model or the part-time model. During the reporting year, a total of 1 872 phased retirement contracts were concluded with employees both covered and not covered by collective agreements. Among civil servants there were 431 such contracts (as of December 31, 2023).

Better quality of life through flexible working hours
Our The “FreiRaum” (leeway) working time model at T-Systems was continued to the end of 2023, but was not extended beyond that date. This model, offered since 2021, made it possible for all T-Systems employees who worked five-day weeks to take up to twelve additional days off per year. Employees who took advantage of this option had their salaries reduced proportionately, while T-Systems provided partial compensation for the reduction. Some 540 employees made use of the model in the year under review. 

Starting in January 2024, all employees Group-wide have been offered a new, voluntary working time model: “Urlaub kaufen” (Buy vacation) is an employee-financed model that enables employees to take additional days off and that is characterized above all by its flexibility. There are no application deadlines or savings periods, for example, in contrast to the lifetime work account, which has both. In addition, the number of days off that can be purchased is not limited.


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 2-7 (General Disclosures)


Our contribution to the SDGs


Achieving a good work-life balance at Deutsche Telekom

We offer our employees attractive solutions to help them achieve a better work-life balance. Our efforts in this area include providing flexible working time models, carrying out effective health promotion, and establishing work-life balance as a permanent part of our corporate culture. To customize their work environments and working conditions, employees can take advantage of offers such as:

  • Childcare: Employees throughout Germany can use parent-and-child offices at many Deutsche Telekom locations, for example, if their regular childcare is unavailable. We also support employees all year long in their search for childcare options, so they can rest assured that their children will be well cared for even during school holidays. In this context, Deutsche Telekom also offers activity days and a holiday camp during summer vacation.
  • Part-time training: Under certain circumstances, apprentices at Deutsche Telekom can take their training on a part-time basis. Dual students, including students who are single parents, have the option of completing their degree programs on a part-time basis.
  • Employee networks: Our employees in Germany can join and participate in a variety of networks. Expectant parents, for instance, can join the “Stay in contacT” network, enabling them to keep in contact with the company during their parental leave. This network also offers support for re-entering working life after parental leave. Our “fathers network” encourages the discussion and open exchange of experiences between fathers and provides information and tips for becoming more family-friendly. We also offer our Parental Leave App to employees, an innovative solution that gives digital support to expectant mothers and fathers on their journey to parenthood. This app img also enables interaction with other employees through the “Stay in contacT” network.
  • Learning and networking opportunities: We want to support the cultural transformation with regard to work-life balance through training and workshops, to improve chances for equal participation of women in the labor market. Examples include the “Working Dad” keynote and the mentoring program “Child and Career,” for managers, junior managers, and expert staff at Deutsche Telekom. You can find out more about our commitment to employing a higher proportion of women here.
  • Free advisory and referral services: To support our employees in dealing with personal changes, we offer free, anonymous advisory services in some countries. Through our cooperating partner “awo lifebalance GmbH” and an online service, we also support our employees in Germany in the areas of childcare (including emergency care), caregiving for family members, and household services.
  • Family Fund: In Germany, we fund employee projects aimed at improving their work-life balance.
  • Social fund: We provide fast financial aid to employees in Germany who find themselves in financial difficulties through no fault of their own. We also offer subsidies for recreational activities for children with disabilities.
  • Welfare service: Through this foundation, we support employees in Germany in emergency situations, such as deaths in the family, serious illness, social crises, and natural disasters. We offer courses for women with cancer, for instance. We also provide assistance for employees’ children who are studying at a university.
  • Recreation Service: Working through this service, we offer our employees access to reasonably priced vacations at attractive destinations in Germany and Europe – for example, at one of 18 company-owned resorts.
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  • Highlights

    We are working on behalf

    of an online world in which all people

    can participate and coexist in

    keeping with democratic principles

    We are working on behalf of an online world in which all people can participate and coexist in keeping with democratic principles

    Via our “No hate speech” initiative, we once again reached a great many people (about 865 million media contacts), including the many opinion leaders and educators (about 5.7 million people) we contacted directly.

    Our “ShareWithCare” campaign also reached a great many people – and it has played an important role, worldwide, in discussion about online sharing of photos of children. With over 250 million media contacts, ShareWithCare has successfully raised awareness about issues surrounding online sharing of children’s photos and data.

    Also, via programs such as Teachtoday and Scroller, we have continued working to promote media literacy in people of all ages, always with the aim of helping people navigate cyberspace safely, securely and with confidence.

    More than 200 000 people work at Deutsche Telekom – and every one of them is unique. This diversity is our strength. In keeping with our understanding of diversity, we offer our employees many ways to keep developing and growing professionally and personally. Thanks to such efforts, our employees’ satisfaction levels remain high: In 2023, our “engagement score,” which is calculated on the basis of responses in subject areas such as mood, employer attractiveness, brand identity, and inspiration, totaled 76 percent.

    Detailed examples of our progress in 2023, described from the perspectives of both the Group and our segments, are presented in the subsections.

    Highlight numbers

    Highlight numbers

    Progress of selected KPIs in  2023

    • 2022 2023

    • Community Contribution 2 346m. € 1 504m. €

    • Beneficiaries – Focus Topics 41m. 51m.

    • Reach – Focus Topics 2 070m. 1 734m.

    • Employee satisfaction 78% 76%

    • Proportion of women in middle and upper management 28.1% 27.9%

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