Several of Evonik’s predecessors established a systematic employee suggestion program for the first time. This was at the initiative of or under pressure from the German Labor Front, which believed that introducing employee suggestion programs on a broad scale would provide opportunities to enhance the efficiency of the war economy. In May 1942, Hermann Schlosser, chief executive officer of Deutsche Gold- und Silber-Scheideanstalt vorm. Roessler (later Degussa) called on staff to get “inventively involved” and laid down implementing rules for this. In the same year, Chemische Werke Hüls GmbH also set up its employee suggestion program. The first idea, a protective device for lead shears, was awarded a prize of 40 Reichsmarks. However, at a consultative council meeting on August 11, 1942, Th. Goldschmidt AG learned the sobering truth that in spite of the calls made no suggestions whatsoever had been received. It was not until 1949 that the efforts to establish an employee suggestion program in Essen had more success.
Prior to 1942, systematic quests for improvement in industry were fairly rare. One exception among Evonik’s predecessors was Röhm & Haas in Darmstadt. Here, in December 1939, mailboxes had been hung on various gates of the company in Darmstadt so that employees could submit suggestions in writing to improve “facilities, processes, equipment or the work system.” Röhm & Haas paid a bonus for all proposals that were implemented in practice. In 1942, Röhm & Haas then stepped up its efforts to get employees to make suggestions for improvement. Under the slogan “Alle denken mit!” (Everyone contributes!) there were articles in the employee magazine, posters, brochures, and announcements on the plant radio. The large numbers of female staff members during the war were also specifically called on to get involved.
Within the scope of “idea management,” the employee suggestion program is now a well-cemented process worldwide that ensures that not a single good idea from employees gets lost and that helps Evonik save millions of euros each year.