In 1977, more than 5,500 staff participated in Bertelsmanns first employee survey - this represented about three quarters of all who were eligible: a far greater participation rate than seen in similar surveys at other large companies. The anonymous survey, jointly drafted by the management and works council, was designed to examine to what extent the company had achieved its objectives - creating a balanced work environment, employee job satisfaction and opportunities for self-development - and where there was still need for action. In addition, the survey served as an instrument for management development.
Since then, the employee survey has been among the most important elements in Bertelsmann's corporate culture of partnership. Every five years, employees are asked to assess their direct work environment in particular, as well as aspects beyond this area. In 2002 the survey was expanded beyond Germany for the first time: More than 70,000 people in 46 countries were invited to participate in the survey that year. And 78.7 percent of them completed it, providing a sound basis for discussion and improvement measures in the participating companies departments.
Since 2002, the global employee survey has taken place every four years, most recently in September 2006 when approximately 80,000 people in 47 countries were surveyed - in a total of 18 languages. Participation was even higher than in 2002: 84.5 percent of all employees handed in their completed questionnaires, or filled them out online. The 2010 employee survey was held in June; the results will be announced in the fall.