Working world

Strategic HR management

HR strategy

People and the organisation are at the heart of our personnel work. Highly competent and hard-working managers and employees form the foundation of our success. Long-term qualitative and quantitative personnel planning and development strategies for the entire company have been established in Hamburg. The ongoing development of specialist, management and project careers, and the permeability between different career paths are the central aims of our HR strategy. The numerous options to create a work–life balance according to the employee’s current circumstances and the ongoing development of working-time systems form the cornerstone for long employee service at HHLA.

Organisation and control

HR management is established as a central division at Executive Board level. This organisational structure ensures that strategic HR guidelines can also be implemented throughout the Group. The specialist department provides suitable HR and organisational development programmes for staff on all career paths and at all levels of the hierarchy within the German companies. The performance of both specialist staff and managers is systematically enhanced and developed and continuously overseen by the HR management team. The same applies to all organisational development measures.

Diversity management

Diversity management has been an integral part of strategic HR management for many years now. HHLA believes that a balanced mix of cultures, genders and age groups forms the foundation for commercial success. The company strives to achieve such diversity in all of its companies. This applies in particular to temporary cross-company working and project groups.


HHLA had a total of 6,296 employees at the end of 2019. Compared with the previous year’s total, the number of employees increased by 359, or 6.0 %. In addition, HHLA employed an annual average of 753 people of Gesamthafenbetriebs-Gesellschaft (previous year: 760).

The three-year average headcount trend is one of the targets agreed with the Executive Board and is taken into account when determining Executive Board remuneration. Achieving the agreed target range triggers the payment of a corresponding bonus. Corporate governance, remuneration report

Further details on headcount development can be found in the management report. Employees, staffing levels

Personnel development

HHLA invested a total of € 4.6 million in educating and training staff at its locations in Hamburg in 2019 (previous year: € 4.6 million).

As of 31 December 2019, 66 apprentices and 18 students were receiving training in Germany in six different professions and seven dual study courses. 32 % of the 84 apprentices and students were female. The ratio of female students in 2019 was 50 % (previous year: 54 %).

Further details on the employee structure can be found in the management report. Employees, employee structure

The three-year average of the annual trend in expenditure for initial training, in-company training and continuing professional development in relation to headcount is one of the targets agreed with the Executive Board and is taken into account when determining Executive Board remuneration. Achieving the agreed target range triggers the payment of a corresponding bonus. Corporate governance, remuneration report

Continuing professional development (CPD)

All CPD activities at HHLA are designed to develop the professional, methodical and social skills of specialist staff and managers in line with demand. There is a particular focus on management training which, in turn, concentrates on providing the skills to manage increasingly complex systems. Agile methods and equipping staff to work on complex projects are at the heart of most offerings.

All internal seminars are open to staff from various departments and companies. These seminars also help foster an understanding of the diverse tasks, roles and functions in the Group’s various business fields.

Based on the Qualification Opportunities Act, the “Pilots of the Future” in-house training programme was designed in cooperation with the Maritime Competence Centre (ma-co) to provide specific training for specialist staff and managers which will enable them to support innovation processes and digital transformation within the HHLA Group. 18 employees are among the first intake. The training programme will be systematically expanded in order to strengthen the ability of our workforce to adapt to change during the digital revolution.

The need for container handling operators is met via in-house training. Much of this training is delivered on a one-to-one basis using the handling equipment or live IT systems within operations. As the operational handling processes are constantly evolving, there is also an ongoing need for hands-on continuing professional development with practical relevance. The training opportunities for operative managers are geared towards development within the organisation via a change in the leadership culture and teaching professional and methodical skills.

In total, over 641 events lasting one or more days were held in the reporting period. These included more than 509 internal vocational courses conducted by HHLA’s own trainers over 2,899 training days. In addition, 132 events lasting one or more days with 1,075 participant days were organised as part of the company’s cross-segment seminar programme. 38 % of the participants were women (previous year: 36 %).

Vocational training and studying

HHLA offers a range of apprenticeships and dual study courses based on human resource planning at the companies in Hamburg. The focus is on technical and commercial occupations.

Cooperation agreements with vocational colleges, specialised grammar schools and secondary schools were further intensified to maintain a steady flow of suitable candidates for professions with a focus on mathematics, IT, science and technology. To further increase the proportion of female apprentices within these fields, technical internships were offered in particular to schoolgirls. The careers in which the company offers apprenticeships are presented at training fairs and schools by the respective departments with the aid of current apprentices. In 2019, the company participated in ten fairs in the greater Hamburg area.

Training is enhanced by supplementary offerings to prepare for future demands within HHLA’s operating environment. In addition to subject-based instruction, apprentices and dual study course students learn about interdisciplinary collaboration right from the start of their training. In these supplementary courses, the apprentices and students take on responsibility and learn about solution-based work approaches. Digital expertise is also fostered as part of agile project management and by evaluating new technologies, such as augmented reality and 3D printing.

The “Intercultural skills in day-to-day work” seminar, designed in cooperation with the Maritime Competence Centre (ma-co), has now been firmly integrated into apprenticeships at HHLA. It aims to strengthen the social skills of apprentices and dual study course students, and to promote their personal development and their understanding of other cultures. Two dual study course students also did internships at the in Odessa and Tallinn. Furthermore, eight apprentices and dual study course students took part in volunteering projects in various countries around the world organised by the international student organisation AIESEC.

Contracts, remuneration and additional benefits

Collective labour agreements

Collective labour agreements govern pay and working conditions for 87.2 % of employees in Germany (previous year: 88.9 %).

In May 2019, the parties to the labour agreement – the Association of German Seaport Operators (Zentralverband der deutschen Seehafenbetriebe e.V, or ZDS) and the trade union ver.di – agreed wage table increases of 2.7 % from 1 June 2019 with a twelve-month term for port workers at companies that operate at German seaports. Similar deals have been reached for further wage agreements of the HHLA Group in Germany.

Appraisal and remuneration systems

The appraisal systems at the German companies contain both bottom-up and top-down components. Some of them are laid out in collective labour agreements, comprise variable remuneration components and are linked with training requirements for the company and staff.

– return on capital employed – is also a significant parameter for determining variable remuneration components for executives and employees not covered by labour agreements. Performance-related remuneration components at executive level are calculated over a period of several years. This further enhances the focus on sustainable, long-term targets.

Flexible working models

HHLA employees working part-time in Germany

as of 31.12 / part-time share in %

Developments in HHLA’s part-time employees in Germany (bar chart)

A growing number of people across all employee groups and hierarchy levels in Germany are taking up the option of working part-time to tailor their working hours to different life stages. Offering part-time work is therefore an important way of retaining staff at the company. Allowing staff to adapt their working hours helps them to reconcile their professional and family commitments, look after close relatives or do charity work. In 2019, a total of 245 employees took up the option of working part-time (previous year: 191) – 54 more than in 2018. At the end of 2019, the ratio of part-time workers at HHLA in Germany increased to 6.8 % (31 December 2019: 5.5 %). The percentage of men in part-time employment rose to 33.5 % (previous year: 30.9 %). At the holding company, where most roles are clerical, the ratio of part-time workers (excluding apprentices) was 18.6 % (previous year: 16.8 %).

HHLA employees working part-time in Germany

as of 31.12 / part-time share in %

Developments in HHLA’s part-time employees in Germany (bar chart)

Company pension scheme

With the signing of the labour agreement on company pension schemes under the HHLA capital plan, the HHLA company pension scheme has now been completely reorganised and further developed. Since the introduction of the new system in 2018, employees have even more flexibility in terms of shaping their working lifetimes. Both individual early retirement solutions and various options for lump-sum payouts upon retirement boost the appeal of company pension schemes for employees. Existing claims from models such as the working lifetime account and the so-called “port pension” have been transferred to the HHLA capital plan. By pooling these provisions within a single system, HHLA is also more closely aligned with rising employee needs with regard to transparency. In 2019, more than half of entitled employees benefited from this pension system.

More detailed information about the workforce can be found in the Employees section of the combined Group management report.


In maritime logistics, a terminal is a facility where freight transported by various modes of transport is handled.

ROCE (return on capital employed before taxes)

EBIT / Average operating assets.