Guest article: Attracting and retaining skilled workers

Julia Bernert

Published on 20.12.2022

In times of a shortage of skilled workers, knowledge of changing values and the new world of work is crucial. The Zukunftsinstitut with advice for professional personnel management.

The shortage of skilled workers has become a real problem in Europe. Many companies are currently struggling with finding good employees – including in the promotional products industry. Either the company does not manage to attract the people who would meet the requirements, or there are hardly any applicants with the right specialization and expertise. A third difficulty is retaining employees who have already been recruited for the long term. Because if there is no loyalty, fluctuation is high.

Skilled workers have the freedom to pick and choose

The demands of employees have changed in recent years in the context of an overall change in society. Today, young professionals in particular have a free choice on the labor market: which profession they choose, which work model they pick, and how they basically earn money. They are more financially secure and can choose their work voluntarily – rather than out of necessity. However, this also increases people’s personal expectations of their work. It should no longer be a means to an end, but a meaningful activity that offers quality of life. Leisure time and family compete with work and often take on greater importance. Accordingly, a shortage of applicants is often related to the attractiveness of the working conditions.

Reversing roles

It’s no longer enough to post jobs and wait for the perfect candidate to come along. Roles have changed and today employers need to apply to workers, not the other way around. Active sourcing and employer branding – new methods in human resources – demonstrate the increased awareness of the need for corporate self-marketing. However, measures to enhance the employer image must be planned and implemented in a sustainable manner. Targeted corporate advertising and relationship management are essential not only to attract skilled workers, but also to retain them. In the future, not only the applicants will have to meet the criteria of the company, but also the company will have to meet the criteria of the applicants. Self-reflection and critical questioning will be an important task for every employer.

Finding motivation through fulfilled values

According to the experts at the renowned Zukunftsinstitut, in order to prevent dissatisfaction and high fluctuation, it will be essential to create a working environment in which people feel comfortable and can fulfill their work in a meaningful way. This includes aspects such as open communication, respectful interaction and the opportunity to contribute one’s own ideas. Career, salary and incentives alone no longer define the attractiveness of a company. Values are playing an increasingly important role in the choice of employer. Employees find their work meaningful when they can act in accordance with their values, i.e., in line with their convictions. Only then do they feel emotionally involved and are willing to make a personal commitment to the company.

Only lived values are good values

However, companies should never just adopt arbitrary values as their slogans. Because the actual values that prevail in a company become apparent at the latest in the corporate culture that is lived. Young employees in particular have grown up in a world of advertising and very quickly see through its mechanisms. Identifying a company with values that sound good but then fall by the wayside can quickly lead to dissatisfaction among attentive employees. HR managers should therefore take a close look at their company’s core values and get an idea of what the company has to offer and who might be interested in the company’s profile.

About the Zukunftsinstitut

The Zukunftsinstitut was founded in 1998 and has played a key role in shaping trend and futurology research in Germany from the very beginning. Today, the institute is considered one of the most influential think tanks in European trend and futures research and is the central source of information and inspiration for all decision-makers and forward thinkers. The question that the Zukunftsinstitut deals with on a daily basis is simply posed: What changes – which trends and megatrends – are shaping our present and what conclusions can be drawn from them for the future of society, companies and culture?