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Our approach to health and occupational safety

Our contribution to the SDGs

We take our obligation to ensure the health and safety of our employees very seriously. The Board of Management assumes overall responsibility for occupational health and safety, and environmental protection. We combine and control our occupational health and safety programs at Group level; health and safety managers (H&S managers) are responsible for implementing these programs locally. The general responsibilities, duties and programs for health and safety management are outlined in the Management System Manual for Quality, Health, Safety and Environmental Protection. The handbook serves to harmonize and align our management systems with common targets across the Group.

Occupational health and safety is firmly anchored in our structures through certified management systems and related policies and guidelines. We are now aligned with the ISO 45001 standard: In 2018, we were one of the first DAX-listed companies to have our H&S management system certified according to the standard. Before that, we had been certified by OHSAS 18001 img since 2011. By the end of the reporting year, 94 German and international locations were audited according to ISO 45001 and ISO 14001. Their certification was renewed in all cases.

We support our employees in maintaining and promoting their health with target-audience-specific measures and extensive programs. At the same time, safety at the workplace is our highest priority. We view occupational health and safety legislation as minimum requirements. Awareness-raising, prevention, and personal responsibility are of particular importance to us. Our portfolio of occupational health and safety measures also includes many voluntary measures to promote health within the company.

These include, for example:

  • An annual, comprehensive health check by the company doctor
  • Vaccinations and hygiene measures
  • Bowel cancer screening
  • Exercise/fitness activities
  • Programs for recovery and resilience, mindfulness, health-oriented leadership,
  • and increasingly digital training exercises.

Effectiveness of our health and safety measures

We systematically analyze and gage the effectiveness of our measures. This includes reviewing the results of our employee survey, evaluating stress prevention measures under collective agreements, competitor analyses, and other indicators. We analyze this information on a yearly basis and use it to derive measures that promote the health and well-being of our employees.

Different indicators reflect the effectiveness of our corporate health management activities:

  • At Deutsche Telekom in Germany, the health rate for 2020 (including long-term illnesses) was 95.0 percent (prior year: 94.0 percent). Excluding long-term illnesses, the health rate in 2020 stood at 96.5 percent (prior year: 95.5 percent). We have thus achieved our Group-wide target for 2020 (95.9 percent excluding long-term illnesses). The health rate is reported to the Board of Management at the end of each quarter.
  • The total number of work-related accidents declined in the reporting year in comparison with the previous year. The accident rate in Germany for 2020 was 3.8 accidents (resulting in over three days of absence) per thousand employees.
  • The Group-wide health index – last calculated in 29 countries as part of the employee survey in 2019 – stood at 3.6 (on a scale from 1.0 to 5.0). The next health index will be measured in 2021.

Measures during the Covid-19 pandemic
To protect our employees during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we provided the opportunity to work from home whenever possible. Together with the Bonn Hygiene Institute, we also developed a comprehensive hygiene concept. After the first wave of infection subsided, some employees were able to return to their jobs at the company in May. When the second wave emerged in the fall, we again severely limited on-site work. Our Chief Human Resources Officer Birgit Bohle regularly informed employees about our extensive safety measures. Our approach to handling the pandemic received very strong approval from our employees, as confirmed by our pulse survey.

New “My Health Journey” program
Despite the pandemic, we were able to launch the internal health program for emotional resiliency “My Health Journey” in Germany in 2020. In addition to a series of workshops on developing emotional resilience, it provides science-based mindfulness training for executives. Its aim is to promote self-reflection and self-organization. In addition, our employees have access to digital tools for diving deeper into the content.

More awards
2020 marked the fourth time that Deutsche Telekom in Germany received the Corporate Health Award as the most socially sustainable employer in the information and communications technology sector. The award is organized by EuPD Research and the Handelsblatt newspaper. The award honors employers who demonstrate an above-average commitment to employee health and who pursue a forward-looking, sustainable human resources strategy. Winning the award is a special recognition for our H&S management, especially in 2020 with the economic and HR-related challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We also won international recognition in 2020: OTE Group Greece received six awards for individual health or safety topics.

Psychosocial counseling as part of change management

It is very important for Deutsche Telekom AG that the Employee and Executive Advisory Service (MFB) provides psychosocial support for various transformation processes Group-wide. The goal is to help affected employees, managers and teams deal with professional and private changes, and prevent psychosocial crises.

To this end, we offer free and anonymous individual counseling and consultation hours in Germany. After registering, employees can receive personal advice from experts. Immediate telephone advice is available through the “SPRECHZEIT” hotline from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. If necessary, employees seeking help are referred directly to local experts or specialist agencies. The counselors have a duty to maintain confidentiality and are familiar with the specifics of the company. Due to the immense changes in 2020 caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we have expanded the range of services: SPRECHZEIT counsels on the impact and handling of reduced social contacts, and stress caused by closed care facilities and schools. In addition, a selected team of occupational physicians answers specific questions related to coronavirus.

We have supported experts and executives for many years with appropriate tools, such as presentations and workshops on the topics of “Healthy leadership: possibilities and limits in leadership behavior”, “Shaping change successfully” and coping with psychological stress factors.

Courses on virtual leadership are also part of these offerings. Working in hybrid or distributed teams has long been part of everyday life for some segments of Deutsche Telekom. Nevertheless, the shift of workplaces to home offices due to Covid-19 – combined with severely limited personal contact – poses an additional challenge: Executives have to be sensitive to changes in teams and individuals and provide enough time for personal exchange, for instance, by planning regular video conferences.

Digitalization and health – joint project launched with health insurer BARMER

In 2017, together with one of our health partners, BARMER health insurance company, we launched the “Digitalization and Health” model project; the University of St. Gallen and IfOS in Cologne, among others, are lending us scientific support. In the context of digitalization, we are developing solutions that can improve employee health and enhance motivation and performance. Over the past three years, we have introduced various measures as part of the cooperation project and tested them together with Deutsche Telekom staff.

In 2019, our employees also tested the “Digital Health Guide”, an online platform that helps employees select suitable health services and simplifies their use. Employees were also able to try out the NutriAssist app, which analyzes individual requirements for micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids, and provides appropriate nutritional tips.

The pilot project “Healthy and mindful leadership” was also launched in 2019. This is a multimodal course designed to improve the digital health literacy of employees. The project was initially aimed at managers as important multipliers. In the course of the pilot project, we were able to scientifically demonstrate the positive training effects on health, stress perception, and mindfulness. Therefore, in 2020 we expanded the project nationwide as part of “My Health Journey” and offered executives a total of ten units comprised of 50 days each. So far, 90 people in senior management have taken part. In the meantime, additional positive effects have been demonstrated. Participants have also shown improved capacity to work, ability to cope with their work, and enhanced performance. As a result, the program will gradually be made available to other executives in 2021.

With support from BARMER, we also continued to address the topic of nutrition in 2020. As part of a pilot project, nutritionists and two well-known top athletes offered virtual lectures on various key topics such as comfort food and food preparation. Team workshops and additional services such as Weight Watchers Online were also available. The nutrition pilot project will be continued in 2021 with more campaigns and activities.

Health rate KPI

Nationally, the health rate for the Deutsche Telekom Group in 2020 showed a slight improvement of 1.0 percent year-on-year, and stood at an average of 95 percent (including the long-term sick). Musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory diseases, and mental health problems account for the bulk of illness-related absenteeism at Deutsche Telekom AG.

The health rate is reported to the Board of Management at the end of each quarter. The 2020 health rate excluding the long-term sick is 96.5 percent. We aimed to bring the Group-wide health rate up to 95.9 percent by 2020 (excluding long-term illnesses).

Targeted health protection programs were implemented in the individual companies. Across all segments, management training courses on the topic of “healthy leadership” were either introduced or continued. The aim is to raise managers’ awareness of this issue and train them accordingly. Additionally, a structured absence management system will be put in place to ensure that employees and managers regularly communicate about illness-related absences so that appropriate action can be taken early on.

  Data assured by PwC. 

You can find further information in the HR Factbook.

Reporting against standards


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 403-2 (Occupational Health and Safety)

German Sustainability Code

  • Criterion 15 (Equal Opportunities)

Work-related accidents in Germany KPI

The number of work-related and commuting accidents was lower than in 2019. The accident rate is well below the average at comparable companies.

Deutsche Telekom has a health and safety management system in place to reduce the number of work-related accidents. This certified system makes it possible to map the entire health and safety process and to develop sets of measures to further improve employee safety.

You can find further information in the HR Factbook.

Reporting against standards


Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

  • GRI 403-2 (Occupational Health and Safety)