Child care à la Krones – a success story

It’s 2006. Krones AG is employing around 4776 people in Neutraubling. A not inconsiderable number of them draw up a shared plan – and it has nothing whatever to do with the machinery manufacturer’s core business.

“The idea of a child day care centre originated in a dialogue between the Human Resources Department and the Executive Board,” relates Brigitte Hertrampf, who was actively involved in the project right from the start as part of the HR team. “After we had done some research, we quickly realised that we didn’t want an off-the-peg concept from an outside provider. We wanted our child day care centre to be more flexible, to be perfectly matched to the company itself, and to offer the parents an opportunity to get their own ideas adopted.” So one thing was clear: the development work had to be handled by committed employees. The child day care centre was to be financed by an organisation called “Kroki Neutraubling e.V.”.

The first steps

“The levels of interest and commitment were really huge right from the start. Very many staff – understandably enough most of them parents – got very. very meaningfully involved in the project. And all of it outside their jobs in their free time,” says an enthusiastic Daniela Giehrl, nowadays a member of the organisation’s executive committee, who still recalls those early days with affection. Then the work really got started: in several project groups, with approximately four to ten members each, the Kroki was finalised within two years. “Construction work, finances, the pedagogic concept …,” Brigitte Hertrampf and Daniela Giehrl begin to enumerate the issues being tackled back then. And they concur: “There was a lot of work involved in the first few years. But this meant the founding members had an opportunity to give the child day car centre the face they wanted and to match the concept perfectly to their needs.”

The first “Krokis”

2008 saw the inauguration: the Kroki opened its doors for the first 23 children. By the second year, the number of places had already increased to keep pace with demand, to its present-day 44. “The children are divided into three groups”, explains Stefanie Wellenhofer, who has been in charge of the facility since 2012. “We have two groups for the children aged between four months and three, and one group for kindergarten children aged three and over.” By the way: each child usually has at least one parent who works for Krones. But that’s not mandatory: “Basically, children of outside parents are welcome as well. However, every year we receive many more applications than we can accept. Needless to say. Krones’ parents and their children have priority when it comes to allocating places,” explains Daniela Giehrl. Talking of parents: they meanwhile, of course, no longer have quite as much to do as the parents in the Kroki’s initial years. Nonetheless, it’s important to all those responsible that the parents of the current Kroki kids continue to get involved and help to design the programme. “The whole concept is based upon getting the parents actively involved,” concur my interviewees. “But it wouldn’t be possible, either, without all the staff in the company who repeatedly help out. There are some departments that even donate their coffee kitty, but also colleagues who assist us with DIY, or lend a helping hand when it comes to organisational matters. Besides the financial support from Krones, it’s above all these kind souls in the company who are crucial for ensuring that the Kroki concept has worked so well over what is meanwhile ten years.”

The first decade

On 7 July it will now be time to celebrate this ten-year success story. Invitations have gone out to Kroki children of recent years, together with their families, and to those among Krones’ staff who with admirable commitment are repeatedly prepared to help out. With a Punch and Judy show, a bouncy castle and a brief pictorial retrospective, the celebrations will last all day – reliable sources suggest that the children, too, have prepared a small surprise.

In conclusion, while we’re about it: not everything has become easier in the past ten years – finding open-minded, qualified staff has never been more difficult. Currently we’re looking for a new carer (m/f) to support the Kroki team as from next September. Anyone interested is more than welcome to get in touch directly with the day care centre’s management; you’ll find the relevant information on the website.