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When The Rank And File Decide What The Big Bosses Earn

Like other workers, those at the German railway company Deutsche Bahn have clear opinions about those running the show. Now, employee satisfaction will actually weigh on the compensation of senior executives.

Deutsche Bahn's executives should be looking there too (Comrade Foot)
Deutsche Bahn's executives should be looking there too (Comrade Foot)


DIE WELT/Worldcrunch

BERLIN -- Employees at the German railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB) will soon have an opportunity to give their bosses an earful. And you can bet the company's big wigs will be listening: from now on, what they get paid depends in part on employee satisfaction.

DB plans to send out questionnaires in November to the approximately 300,000 who work either directly for the company or for one of its foreign subsidiaries. The document, which Die Welt had an opportunity to examine, gives employees plenty of leeway for letting off steam.

According to Dr. Rüdiger Grube, DB's chairman and CEO, the questionnaires aim to give employees a vehicle for recording -- anonymously -- exactly how they feel about their place of employment and the problems they perceive.

Questions range from "Do your superiors recognize exceptional performance and give fair feedback in general about your work?" to "Are the chances for career development and advancement at DB good?" Other questions deal with the quality of internal information, whether or not relations between co-workers are deemed "collegial and respectful," and if working for DB allows for a satisfactory work/life balance.

The endeavor is not without dangers for Grube and other top managers. The last time DB asked questions – to a much smaller group – it was a disaster. Results in early 2010 showed that 70% of DB employees were unhappy with their jobs, with large numbers saying they lacked motivation and felt frustrated. Since then, management has come round to the idea that it's not just enough to ask. This time there will be follow-up actions such as workshops, at which managers and staff will work through the issues together.

And starting next year, DB bonuses for top managers will be established on four sets of criteria, with the level of employee and customer satisfaction accounting for one half. In the words of big boss Grube: "As of now, managers will feel the degree of employee and customer satisfaction in their wallets."

DB employee representatives, who have been somewhat skeptical of the idea of questionnaires since the previous fiasco, are supporting the move. "It could really turn out to be a viable way to bring about improvements," said one. The representative added, however, that employees shouldn't get their hopes up too. DB, he explained, wants to keep efforts to improve things as low-key as possible.

Read the full story in German by Nikolaus Doll

Photo –Comrade foot

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Migrant Lives

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

An orchid rehabilitation project is turning a small Mexican community into a tourist magnet — and attracting far-flung locals back to their hometown.

They Migrated From Chiapas When Opportunities Dried Up, Orchids Brought Them Home

Marcos Aguilar Pérez takes care of orchids rescued from the rainforest in his backyard in Santa Rita Las Flores, Mapastepec, Chiapas, Mexico.

Adriana Alcázar González/GPJ Mexico
Adriana Alcázar González

MAPASTEPEC — Sweat cascades down Candelaria Salas Gómez’s forehead as she separates the bulbs of one of the orchids she and the other members of the Santa Rita Las Flores Community Ecotourism group have rescued from the rainforest. The group houses and protects over 1,000 orchids recovered from El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, after powerful storms.

“When the storms and heavy rains end, we climb to the vicinity of the mountains and collect the orchids that have fallen from the trees. We bring them to Santa Rita, care for them, and build their strength to reintegrate them into the reserve later,” says Salas Gómez, 32, as she attaches an orchid to a clay base to help it recover.

Like magnets, the orchids of Santa Rita have exerted a pull on those who have migrated from the area due to lack of opportunity. After years away from home, Salas Gómez was one of those who returned, attracted by the community venture to rescue these flowers and exhibit them as a tourist attraction, which provides residents with an adequate income.

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