BMW Today for Tomorrow - People’s Insights Volume 2, Issue 37


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This week, we distill insights around BMW Today for Tomorrow - an initiative to prepare for an aging workforce.

For more about Today for Tomorrow and how BMW maintains productivity at its plants,read:

100+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on reputation, employee engagement and citizenship on the MSLGROUP Insights Network.

Every week, we pick up one project and do a deep dive into conversations around it -- on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web -- to distill insights and foresights. We share these insights with you on our People’s Insights blog and compile the best insights from the network and the blog in the People’s Insights Quarterly Magazine, as a showcase of our capabilities.

We have further synthesized the insights to provide foresights for business leaders and changemakers — in the ten-part People’s Insights annual report titled Now & Next: Ten Frontiers for the Future of Engagement, now available as a Kindle eBook.

For more, see:

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BMW Today for Tomorrow - People’s Insights Volume 2, Issue 37

  1. 1. Reputation | Employee Engagement | Citizenship BMW Today for Tomorrow People’s Insights: Volume 2, Issue 37
  2. 2. What is Today for Tomorrow? BMW launched the Today for Tomorrow initiative as early as 2005, to prepare itself for an aging workforce. In the early years of the initiative, BMW introduced health management programs for employees. By 2011 and 2012, BMW piloted and implemented ergonomic changes across plants in Germany and is now beginning to roll these out internationally. Source:
  3. 3. Aging workforce at BMW An audit on its workplace revealed the average age of BMW workers at its Dingolfing plant was 39 in 2007, and was projected to rise to 47 by 2017 (it’s currently around 42), raising questions like : How does the new age structure affect production? How can physical labour be organised more ergonomically and ageappropriately? Source: CSR at the BMW Group report (November 2011)
  4. 4. Prevention potential BMW identified four areas where they could slow down the effects of aging, and has introduced programs catering to all four: • Individual healthcare • Qualification and leadership • Ergonomics & individual working time • Social contacts Source: CSR at the BMW Group report (November 2011)
  5. 5. Why bother? There are more older people in the workforce today, as a result of aging and shrinking populations, higher life expectancy, individual aspirations and financial hardship. In addition to these external trends, companies like BMW, simply need experienced and high skilled workers. Source : UN Population Ageing and Development 2012 report
  6. 6. An ergonomic makeover In 2011, BMW simulated the predicted average age at a production line at the Dingolfing plant and piloted ergonomic changes to combat productivity loss. 70 changes were introduced, including: • barbershop chairs to allow alternative sitting & standing • orthopaedic shoes for comfort • magnifying lenses to reduce eye strain and minimize sorting errors
  7. 7. Return on investment The total investment on the production line was around $50,000. The return - the group increased productivity by seven per cent in one year, making it as productive as lines made up of younger workers. Source:
  8. 8. Achieving scale BMW launched similar programs at all Germanspeaking plants – over a few hundred sites. Source: Since 2011, 10,000 employees have benefitted from the program. An international roll out was launched in 2012, beginning with a production facility in Austria and a plant in the UK. In 2012, BMW opened a car plant specifically for older workers.
  9. 9. Rising trend: Flexibility BMW also supports its older employees with various flexible work options, including temporary part-time positions, intermittent parttime work, and job-sharing among several employees; a sabbatical program allowing employees an additional 20 days off a year; and a phased retirement program. Source:
  10. 10. Are employers prepared? The extent of BMW's support for older workers stands out in stark contrast in a world where few HR managers and boards are actively preparing for an aging workforce. For instance, surveys in the UK found that only 14% of managers believe they are well equipped to cope with an ageing workforce. Source: The Ageing UK Workforce by unum
  11. 11. Young vs old workers debate Lack of preparedness can be explained by the polarized view of the performance of older workers – some argue that older worker’s life experiences help them relate to customers better, more patient and more loyal; while others argue that physical and mental health interfere with the job. Source: and
  12. 12. Read People’s Lab insights & foresights The People’s Lab team shares the insights and foresights from the MSLGROUP Insights Network on the People’s Insights weekly blog , quarterly magazine and annual report. MSLGROUP INSIGHTS NETWORK 100+ MSLGROUP planners share and discuss inspiring projects on reputation, employee engagement and citizenship. PEOPLE’S INSIGHTS WEEKLY BLOG PEOPLE’S INSIGHTS QUARTERLY MAGAZINE We deep dive into conversations around one project to distill insights and foresights. Every quarter, we compile the best insights from the network and the blog into a magazine, as a showcase of our capabilities. For more, visit
  13. 13. People’s Lab: Crowdsourcing Insights & Innovation People’s Lab is MSLGROUP’s proprietary crowdsourcing platform and approach that helps organizations tap into people’s insight for innovation, storytelling and change. For more, visit
  14. 14. For People’s Lab solutions, please contact: