dm drogeriemarkt

Its central office in Salzburg functions as pivotal point to serve locations in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and lately, Serbia. dm has more than 4000 employees working for them in these countries.

Hildegard Frühwirt: dm drogeriemarkt's guideline is based on two principles: "Here am I man, here, I shop" and "Man is the measure of all things." "Employees can only pass on values they experience themselves," says Mrs Frühwirth, dm drogeriemarkt's human resources manager. Günter Bauer (Austria) and Prof Götz W.Werner (Germany), founders of the company, are still in direct contact with their customers and live the values they represent.

Growth and development of potential rank high at dm. The three pillars on which dm is based are brand development, organizational development and personnel development. All three of these principles have to be supported in equal measures.

dm drogeriemarkt operates locally, but is organized with central aspects. "As a retailer you have to act locally," Hildegard Frühwirth says. dm Austria has a head start of fifteen years on its locations in the new EU countries. Therefore, newly founded locations adopt their central offices' instruments of strategy and personnel policy. Afterwards these instruments are adapted locally.

According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs all people have the same needs, but what varies from culture to culture is the point when a certain need has been satisfied. People from former communist countries have other demands of self-actualization than citizens of Western European countries. Communism was a time of self-restraint, and people "learned to live within these restraints", explains Mrs Frühwirth. Creativity and fantasy aren't lived in equal measures as in Western European countries when it comes to the range of the product line. Take as example dm's internal self-responsibility which is an important factor of dm's philosophy: "We see that taking on responsibility for one's own actions and redefining boundaries is a tendency rated lower in Central and Eastern European countries." These cultural differences are met by adopting several instruments of personnel policy.  

Another important difference is the higher number of women on the executive boards, which is nothing to be surprised about, considering that communism supported gender equality.

In 2002, dm Austria was awarded the EUCUSA award for the most customer friendly commercial enterprise. For Mrs Frühwirth there's no contradiction between customer and employee orientation, on the contrary, she thinks of it as a necessary symbiosis. To make sure that this symbiosis functions in every part of the company, so called 'joint meetings' are held twice a year. These meetings allow the exchange of operational interfaces to identify problems and expand strengths. The continuous recording of a value-added chain is part of the internal customer orientation, because "output justifies costs."

In 2005, dm drogeriemarkt has been declared one of Austria's best employers and therefore has been benchmarked internationally. "dm believes in development, not only in growth," says dm's human resources manager.

When asked how dm drogeriemarkt's employee orientation is different from that of other companies, Mrs Frühwirth answers by comparing the development of her employees to the growth cycle of a plant. From an organizational point of view, recruiting new personnel can be compared to the sowing of seeds. Implantation strikes roots. The moment the employee takes over a task they start to grow. This phase takes about a year. Three years later the employee can give back something from the skills they have learned. The employee is in bloom, he's able to support not only his own development but also that of the company. Finally, the plant yields fruits - the employee makes a career for himself or herself, profits from a promotion, manages his or her own projects or is a mentor for the junior staff.

There are two ways to proceed from there: Either, the employee leaves the company to retire and the employment contract ends with a conclusive interview, or the cycle starts anew and with the new task the employee has taken on, new roots start to grow. All of these phases need time. "I believe that our commitment to consider this cycle in everything we do sets us apart from other companies," explains Mrs Frühwirth.

The local organization can be felt especially in employee surveys: Every country decides whether or not and how to conduct the survey. dm Austria has been conducting surveys about employee satisfaction in regular intervals since 2002.

The company is very concerned about its junior staff education. During the 3-year apprenticeship for commercial salesmen, hairdresser and cosmetics the young trainees learn to act independently and responsibly, skills they can prove at the annual project days. The motto of the first trainee year at dm is "Diving into the World of dm". The second year encourages trainees to "understand" dm, and a final exam ends the three-year apprenticeship. Afterwards, a profile of the employee and their perspectives is developed. Only ten percent of the trainees drop out of the trainee program.

Every year in January, young people interested in dm are encouraged to apply for an apprenticeship. About 1000 adolescents seize this chance every year.

Upon completion of an assessment program, an applicant profile is developed. Finally the applicants meet their instructors and an interview decides whether or not the applicant will be admitted to the trainee program. For its so-called "Apprentice Casting" initiative, the company has received the award "Life-long Learning - Focus Trainee Program". At present, about twelve percent of dm's employees are in the trainee program - a figure that puts into stone the importance of young people's education at dm.

In countries in which dm drogeriemarkt is already represented, dm strives to further enhance the quality market leadership. Possible future markets are Bosnia and Serbia - locations are currently scouted.

To celebrate dm's 30th anniversary a campaign for "Easy Living" has been created - its goal is to raise awareness for and prevent health issues and sponsor health projects. This kind of social engagement, just like the dm women's run, shows that the company's focus is on the human being.