Munich Startup: BARMER is certainly well known as the second-largest health insurance provider in Germany. It’s perhaps less well known as a driver of innovation. Please tell us more about this aspect of Barmer!
Dieter Weber, Barmer: Many years ago, we established Barmer.i, a kind of think tank and hub for many digital projects at Barmer. The mission of Barmer.i, which is located in Berlin, is to get Barmer employees excited about digital projects, to optimize processes for users and to establish a culture of innovation in the entire company. I’ve been in charge of the Barmer Hub for Startups and Relocation in Munich since October 1, 2021. Due to my passion for innovative companies, I’ve already attended to the local startup scene for many years. Our team supports rapidly growing companies, recruiters and relocation agencies and is specialized in meeting their needs.
Munich Startup: What exactly do you look for in that context?
Dieter Weber: At Barmer, we work closely with many startups to detect and understand important innovations and trends as early on as possible. We’re always looking for cooperation and network partners in order to offer our corporate customers and policy holders first class service and outstanding benefits. That often results in win-win situations.
“It’s important to be open to change”
Munich Startup: But you could do that much better yourselves!
Dieter Weber: The needs of our corporate customers and policy holders have changed a great deal in recent years – and the pandemic has additionally accelerated many processes. Regardless of whether it’s a matter of remote work or digitizing the healthcare industry, it’s important to be open to change and to quickly adapt to new conditions. We’re experts in all subjects involved in social insurance and see ourselves as part of the strong startup ecosystem in Munich, from which we’ve also benefitted quite a lot in many areas.
Munich Startup: What startups have you worked with so far?
Dieter Weber: In Munich, we’ve already worked with Westwing, Flixbus, Stylight, Proglove, Limehome, Userlane, Magazino, Alasco, Talentry, Tado, Shore, Blickfeld, Inveox, Studysmarter, Voltstorage, Internations, Presize, Wellabe and many others.
Munich Startup: And how do you collaborate with these startups? What do you focus on?
Dieter Weber: At the Barmer Hub for Startups and Relocation in Munich, we support startups and scaleups with occupational health management and in the relocation process for international newcomers. We have a wide variety of services that we use to promote health in the workplace, which in turn provides added value to employer branding. For example, we offer support in the form of mental health workshops, health checkups, ergonomic workplace consultation and many other programs. When onboarding international newcomers, we take the load off of founders and HR heads by providing brochures and videos in English and also offer consultation in ten languages. Our goal is to provide orientation in Germany for international newcomers and to explain as simply as possible which steps need to be taken to be able to work in Germany. We’ve also already conducted HR workshops on a broad variety of subjects in collaboration with Internations and Personio.
How Barmer takes care of startup employees
Munich Startup: What stage should startups ideally be in when they contact you?
Dieter Weber: There are health promotion campaigns that can be implemented for teams starting with just ten employees. Regardless of whether they’re a startup, SME or major corporation: We create a concept in collaboration with founders and HR heads that is custom-tailored to suit the needs of the employees.
Munich Startup: What’s next for startups after they meet with you?
Dieter Weber: After we’ve presented the areas where we can offer support, we often conduct short employee surveys. Using an online check, we’re able to determine employees’ needs, and discuss with HR heads and founders which measures should be implemented to specifically promote health. When it comes to planning and implementing the campaigns, our health management consultants are available. They then book service providers that implement the campaigns together with Barmer and who are all experts in their fields, such as sports and healthcare professionals, physicians or psychologists.
Assistance in the war for talent
Munich Startup: What’s the best advice you can give a startup?
Dieter Weber: The customer journeys that we’ve conducted have shown that it’s extremely important to provide orientation in Germany for new international employees, especially in the beginning. The bureaucratic obstacles should not be underestimated and can initially cause a sense of disillusionment for newcomers. We absolutely need to avoid these negative experiences in the war for talent.
Munich Startup: As an established company, what have you learned from startups?
Dieter Weber: The speed at which startups respond to changing conditions impressed us from the very beginning. We quickly learned that processes needed to be designed more efficiently in order to keep up and be able to offer first class service.
Munich Startup: Last but not least: Whom should startups contact if they would like to meet up with you?
Dieter Weber: You can find us on LinkedIn, so feel free to contact us directly if you’re interested in our programs for feel-good management or if we can help you with onboarding international newcomers. Another option is to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.