Their achievements, skills, and dedication help our business segments to hold leading positions in their respective markets. We want to continue attracting, retaining, and developing talent at Fresenius. That is why we offer employees a wide range of development opportunities. Furthermore, we promote international and interdisciplinary cooperation as well as diversity in our business segments and regions. The importance we attach to employee matters is also reflected in our corporate structure: the member of the Group Management Board responsible for Legal, Compliance, and Labor Relations has central responsibility for all employee concerns.
Reporting on personnel matters covers the following key topics: personnel structure and diversity, employee participation, profit sharing, attracting, retaining, and developing talent, as well as occupational health and safety. The business models of our four segments set different standards for the management of material topics at an operational level. In the following section, we therefore report on Group-wide as well as segment-specific personnel concepts and measures.
Personnel structure and diversity
At the end of fiscal year 2019, the Fresenius Group had 294,134 employees. That was 17,384 or 6% more than in the previous year (December 31, 2018: 276,750). Based on FTE (full-time equivalents), the increase was 7% in the Fresenius Group.
The regional picture shows that 31% of our employees are based in Germany, while the rest of Europe accounts for 25%. 26% of our staff were employed in North America at the end of 2019.
Our employee structure by function remained largely unchanged in 2019: Around 14% of our employees work in production, while 71% are in services. The high share of service personnel is mainly due to the number of nurses in our health care facilities.
The proportion of female employees in the Fresenius Group was 68% as at December 31, 2019 (December 31, 2018: 68%). The proportion of females in services or care is higher than in the area of production. This is reflected in the proportion of female employees in our business segments on page 124. The number of female participants in the Group-wide Long Term Incentive Plan (LTIP 2018) is a good indication for the share of women in management positions worldwide. According to this, the ratio of women among the 1,500 top executives was 31.6% as at December 31, 2019.
The average age1 of Group employees was 41.0 years (2018: 41.0 years). The majority (55%) of our employees are between 30 and 50 years of age. We aim to maintain a well-balanced age structure within our Group. The distribution reflects the demand for a high proportion of skilled and experienced employees in our business segments.
The length of service1 within the Group can vary due to acquisitions in the business segments. In 2019, it was 8.1 years on average (2018: 8.2 years).
In 2019, the voluntary turnover rate1 was 11.0% (2018: 9.8%), due to various reasons. At Fresenius Medical Care, we encounter increased rates especially in emerging countries due to the economic growth there, for example. At Fresenius Helios, the competition for talent in the hospital setting has led to various activities to attract new personnel. We also intensified the dialogue at Helios with our employees to decrease the voluntary turnover rate. Further information is included on the Non-financial Report.
The rate of new hires1 in relation to the overall number of employees in each business segment provides proof of our efforts.
1 Fresenius Medical Care’s data 2017 reflects country data representing 96% of all employees. Prior-year information, and 2018 Group data respectively, were adjusted to conform to the current year’s presentation to reflect coverage of 100%. Helios Germany’s data for 2016 and 2017 includes the post-acute care business in Germany. Fresenius Vamed’s data for 2017 also includes temporary staff and, as of 2018, the German post-acute care business transferred from Fresenius Helios to Fresenius Vamed.
Here we provide an overview of key figures relating to the personnel structure and diversity in the different business segments.
Fresenius respects and promotes a culture of diversity. We are convinced that the combination of different perspectives, opinions, cultural backgrounds, and experiences enables us to tap the potential that makes us successful as a global company. The knowledge and social skills of our employees and their different ethnic, social, and religious backgrounds help us to develop a particular sensitivity for the local needs of our customers and patients. The foundation for this company culture characterized by collaboration and mutual respect is the Fresenius Code of Conduct, which is binding for all Fresenius employees.
For further information on our diversity concept for the Management Board and the Supervisory Board, please see our Corporate Governance Declaration and Report.