Written by: Sirin Emre-Flender

“Sticking together in these times: That's what makes us special at Covestro”


War in Europe, the unrelenting Covid pandemic and business challenges – times are turbulent. Life is currently intense and demanding for employees, presenting each and every one of us with difficulties. This is why the Human Resources focus has to be clear: According to Sophie von Saldern, Global Head of Human Resources, supporting colleagues has to be the top priority. She talks about challenging times, appreciation and talent management.

Sophie-von-SaldernTimes are turbulent. So, let me begin with a personal question to Sophie von Saldern, Global Head of Human Resources: How are you?

Sophie von Saldern: On the one hand, I’m naturally as shocked about the war in Ukraine as everyone else is, and it’s affecting me emotionally. On the other hand, I’m drawing great hope from seeing the sheer amount of people who are willing to offer their help – from all across the world. This also applies without reservation to Covestro: Around the world, many of our employees are personally involved and active – even outside Europe. This strong cohesion and being there for each other – that’s what makes us and our culture at Covestro so special. I am proud to be part of this company. Covestro has made targeted donations of 290,000 EUR to aid organizations such as the UN Refugee Agency and local Red Cross organizations in Slovakia and Poland to help improve the humanitarian emergency in Ukraine and neighboring countries as quickly and unbureaucratically as possible. Furthermore, we are supporting those employees who want to volunteer by enabling paid leave for humanitarian support. Our colleagues in the USA, for example, started a collaboration with Central Kitchen and are supporting Ukraine. I think it is an important message that we are sending out.


This past year has been intense – even without the war. Covid has presented employees with many more challenges than ever before. Despite people working to their limits, the business has performed well.

Sophie von Saldern: That’s correct. This is why we have focused on staying close to our employees – even in difficult times. Many have shown an exceptional level of commitment at the workplace, carrying out their job under difficult conditions to ensure that everything continued to run smoothly. In particular, the colleagues who had to be on site, for example in the laboratory, in production or along the supply chain, faced numerous challenges. Their dedication deserves the greatest respect, and the Board of Management has recognized this special commitment. More than two thirds of the production sites have either already honored their employees with a bonus or will do so in due course.


Despite the challenging Corona year, we have still achieved a great corporate result. That is extraordinary.

Sophie von Saldern: What our employees have achieved is also extraordinary. And that's exactly why they are also sharing in this great company result. We act as a team and are rewarded as a team, across all countries and levels. Employees and board members alike, based on the published business results.

But financial matters are only one aspect. It’s also very important to us that our employees are well – both mentally and physically. And so, we have also invested in measures to promote wellbeing among the workforce.

To support its employees, the ENGAGE survey is held at regular intervals. This provides us with important clues regarding the health and wellbeing of our colleagues. For the next survey, we have expanded our catalog of questions to give us even greater insights. Especially in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, this expanded survey will help us identify ways of strengthening our employees’ resilience. At the same time, we have invested a lot into raising health awareness among the workforce.

Various initiatives have been launched internationally. These include, for example, a fitness platform in Germany, additional education and support programs such as "mental health workshops", as well as nutritional training and sports programs in the USA, or a digital platform in India on the topic of wellbeing. In China, we are providing our employees with psychological support via a hotline. In addition, there are various online support options in China, for example, to help employees cope with the challenges of the home office and also to help them stay physically active. And these are just a few examples. This is what the “We are 1” culture means to us. In times like these, it is particularly important that we take care of each other. Even when the going gets tough, we stick firmly together.


What can employees expect from HR in the future?

Sophie von Saldern: Due to the pandemic, we naturally had to offer a great number of activities in digital form, including in the area of training. The recently introduced Corporate Language Academy is a good example of what we have done globally to offer our employees digital training and professional development, even in times of working from home offices. Within only two weeks, more than 2,000 employees had already taken advantage of the offer. We have developed new processes, learning and management formats. Upskilling is also high on our agenda. HR is currently addressing two key questions: What skills will Covestro need in the future? And: How do we consistently prepare our workforce for this? That's why we will invest even more in people. As HR, we will focus strongly on people development and talent management and continue to make a major contribution to Covestro's transformation. Our world is changing fast, and we need to be prepared for it. We are currently developing a whole new package of HR activities. The goal is for each and every employee to enhance their skills and to head into a successful future. I’m certain that this will further strengthen cohesion and unity at the company.

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