Social sustainability in manufacturing companies

The working group “Ecologically and socially sustainable production” met on the 13th of April, 2019 as part of the Transformation network neu/wagen of the Hanover/Hildesheim region at a manufacturing company that is known worldwide for the manufacture of starter batteries for cars and trucks.

The second business meeting focused on social sustainability. With a lecture held by Managing Director Hans-Peter Machwürth and consultant Jacqueline Pojer, MTI was able to provide impulses and insights into the various aspects of employee life cycles in companies and stimulate a discussion.

The neu/wagen project, sponsored by the Hanover region, is funded as part of the “Transformation Strategies for Regions in the Vehicle and Supplier Industry” directive of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK)”.The Hanover Region has commissioned the Institute of Process Engineering, Energy Engineering and Climate Protection at the Hanover University of Applied Sciences to organize and provide scientific support for the working group.

Three factors of sustainability

A survey of the working group participants on the priorization  of different sustainability factors conducted during the lecture showed, that social sustainability has a high priority in corporate decisions:

The basics of social sustainability

Social sustainability is one of the three supporting pillars of sustainability and consists of five fields of action:

  • Taking into account the needs of the employees
  • Supporting personal development
  • Treating the local environment (residents and municipalities) with respect
  • Taking project initiatives in the above areas and expanding them in the long term
  • (Financially) supporting foundations, associations, etc. with social, cultural or educational activities

In concrete terms, social sustainability includes social action on various levels.

  • Health and safety for employees and environment
  • Labor and social standards for the entire supply chain
  • Further training, personnel development and diversity management
  • Stakeholder management
  • Socio-cultural, community engagement
  • Informative communication with suppliers and customers

Sustainable procurement and retention of employees in production

The discussion showed that recruiting, onboarding and retaining production employees is an increasing challenge. Therefore, companies are forced to try new things.

Digital recruiting

The development from the labour market to the applicant market began years ago and presents companies with new challenges.

  • Companies compete for applicants, not applicants for employers
  • Low unemployment rate and passive willingness to change
  • The well-known application processes are no longer up-to-date

Modern Onboarding

A well thought-out onboarding process not only helps the organization to regulate processes for new employees, but also helps new colleagues to feel like fully integrated and enriching team members and to become satisfied employees.

Retaining employees – what modern leadership can achieve

What is inspirational leadership?

Inspirational leadership brings meaning and an attractive image of the future – the vision – to the fore, allowing employees to see the “why” in their work. It is also characterized by the consideration of relationships and values and aims to address employees individually and emotionally beyond the purely factual level.

Managers ask for ideas and solutions, show a vision/strategy/goals/`”why”, set team goals, challenge and encourage their employees individually, set ambitious goals and provide continuous feedback.

As part of modern leadership, the inspirational leadership style has been shown to have a positive impact on:

  • Capacity utilization
  • Productivity increase
  • Employee exhaustion and absenteeism
  • Employee engagement and retention

During the factory tour that followed, the participants in the working group experienced how two trainees devotedly explained the production process. Sustainability issues such as employee health, renewable energies, climate protection measures and, for example, a 99 percent recycling rate for old batteries played an important role.

During the event, the organizers and company representatives agreed on specific topics which should be explored in greater detail in the subsequent working groups. In addition to technology-oriented topics such as regenerative energies, a possible training concept to increase knowledge and awareness of the various aspects of sustainability among managers and employees was identified as an important project that needs to be deepened.

Actively shaping social sustainability

MTI project examples that contribute to social sustainability:

  • Healthy management (BMW, Miele)
  • 360° leadership training (Fima Maschinenbau, Ruhrpumpen)
  • Management feedback (Deutsche Bundesbank, Volkswagen Financial Services)

We would be happy to share with you the details of the mentioned as well as other project references.

Please feel free to contact us!

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