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Employer attractiveness - more than image

22/12/2022 2022/12

Origin of employer attractiveness

The concept of employer attractiveness has been around for decades. Its origins lie in the idea of the company founder as a benevolent patriarch who takes good care of his people. The first large companies in Germany, such as Siemens or Bosch, provided their workers with company-owned apartments, and the first company pensions were created. Of course, even then such measures served to recruit new workers; however, we can assume that the early company founders also felt a stronger bond with their employees, especially since people usually worked for a company throughout their entire professional lives.

The concept of employer attractiveness

Employer attractiveness is a measurement that reflects the attractiveness of a company on the labor market and thus has an impact on the likelihood of qualified job applications. Employer attractiveness encompasses the attitudes, behaviors, preferences, and expectations of professionals toward your company. Employer attractiveness refers not only to a company's image, but also to its ability to attract and retain qualified applicants; in this way, recruiting skilled workers is made much easier. Employer attractiveness also reflects the commitment and performance of employees that a company can offer its customers - those who feel they work for a 'good' employer where their own performance is valued are generally more willing to perform.

Employer attractiveness as a sub-area of employer branding

Today, the concept of employer attractiveness can be seen as a sub-area of employer branding. Companies and government agencies are constantly looking for new employer attractiveness measures to answer a question posed by candidates and existing employees: What do I get out of working for you? Some companies find these answers easier than others. Studies have shown that young people in particular like to work for companies that are known as a brand by consumers worldwide. An attractive location was also a good argument, at least before the triumph of remote work, and thus a contribution to employer attractiveness. The so-called hidden champions, often medium-sized companies that offer their products and services to business customers, have a more difficult time attracting the attention of the labor market due to their low profile among private individuals. Here, it is worth taking a close look at their own advantages and benefits and increasing their employer attractiveness.

Immanent factors of employer attractiveness

As already mentioned in the previous paragraph, there are intrinsic factors of employer attractiveness that cannot be easily changed by the company. In addition to the appeal of an established brand and an attractive location, the image of an entire industry can also attract applications. Twenty years ago, many young people preferred to "do something with media"; today, many like to say of themselves that they are "in IT." It is also becoming increasingly important to offer employees meaningful work in which they can find themselves and realize their potential.

But first and foremost, it is the concrete tasks that are important to people when applying for a job. Companies that stand for innovation and give their employees the opportunity to perform at their best in their jobs attract candidates who are particularly qualified and willing to perform. For many people, it is more attractive to be involved in the development of something new and of high quality than to be satisfied with "We do the same as the competition, only a bit cheaper".
However, not every company can be among the best in its field - nor does it make sense in terms of market diversification. So what can companies do that don't have a high profile, don't have a prominent location and don't see themselves primarily as innovators?

Employer attractiveness and corporate benefits

As we have seen, in the founding era at the turn of the century, company housing, company health insurance and company pensions were particularly popular benefits, even though they were probably more commonly referred to as employee benefits or fringe benefits at the time. Given the staggering rents in major cities, company housing could again be very popular with employees today - but the benefits of the Gründerzeit and the years of the economic miracle were based on employees staying with the same employer for their entire working lives. Today, a benefits program should have something to offer all employees at all stages of their lives, whether they have been with the company for a long or a short time. Ideally, the benefits offered should match the company and its values - if you stand for tradition and safety, you don't need to offer adventure travel vouchers to your workforce, and if you sell health-related products or services, you're not well advised to install snack vending machines across the board.

For companies operating in the B2C sector, the next most obvious corporate benefit is, of course, a discount for employees on their own products or services. If their own employees are familiar with the products or services, they will act as brand ambassadors (so-called corporate influencers) both privately and in their dealings with customers, and will be able to describe the benefits with conviction. In the case of high-priced products, such as those in the automotive industry, it is common to obtain special financing terms from the company's own bank.

Categories of corporate benefits

The large number of different possible employee benefits can be divided into categories for overview purposes: Equipment, Family, Health, Mobility, Security, Corporate Culture, Further Development, Work-Life Balance. If you want to analyze your own portfolio of benefits, the first step is to check whether there is at least one offer in each category. Of course, the division into these categories is not always clear-cut; for example, participation in a company run in which donations are made to a charitable organization could be booked under "health" or "corporate culture."

Employer attractiveness and work equipment

While researching employer attractiveness and benefits, we came across a few companies that list a "modern workplace" or a "work cell phone" in their job ads or on their careers page. Let's face it: basic equipment with everything necessary to perform the job in question does not constitute a benefit in the strictest sense. Or have you ever seen a skilled trades business, for example, boast about providing employees with the supplies they need? A real differentiator only exists if you offer something that goes beyond the usual. Perhaps you flesh out the point "company cell phone" by "including contract for private use" or by specifying a particular manufacturer / model. Particularly in the IT sector, it is becoming increasingly popular to proceed according to the "bring your own device" (BYOD) model, in which the employee additionally uses his or her own laptop or smartphone for work purposes and is financially supported by the employer when purchasing new devices. The cited "modern workplace" can also be described more concretely; perhaps you have height-adjustable desks and ergonomics consulting, a break room or work stations on the digital shopfloor.

Employer attractiveness increases company performance
©TOP JOB Studie 2021: Untersucht wurden die Auswirkungen von Arbeitgeberattraktivität unterschieden nach Generationen.
©TOP JOB Studie 2021: Untersucht wurden die Auswirkungen von Arbeitgeberattraktivität unterschieden nach Generationen.

Employer attractiveness and further development

Training, continuing education and professional development, similar to basic work equipment, are a given so that employees are able to perform their duties at all times; in addition, certain mandatory training is required in Germany, depending on the industry and job family. Again, get specific! A company's own academy may be mentioned here, as well as an internal development program to recruit junior managers from your own ranks. Perhaps your employees can be supported financially or in terms of time in a job-related course of study? Or do you offer all employees a certain annual budget for further training, which each employee can dispose of in a self-determined manner? Self-directed learning is considered to be one of the most important trends in personnel development for the next few years, and if it fits in with your corporate culture and values, employees will honor this trust.

Benefits in the area of family and work-life balance

This is where most progress has been made in recent years, not least through the establishment of the home office or working from home as part of the pandemic wherever possible. Making working hours more flexible is also a key contributor to work-life balance [link to blog post] or personal life and work. Some employers offer a so-called sabbatical account or lifetime working time account, on which overtime can be saved in order to then work less or not at all for a few months in agreement with the employer, without having to accept too much loss of salary. In this way, employees have the opportunity to adapt their work phases to their life circumstances, which makes a decisive contribution to employer attractiveness. Other companies cooperate with kindergartens to help young families find a place at a daycare center, or offer the option of taking additional months of parental leave beyond the statutory requirement.

Employer attractiveness for young people

It is also attractive for young people starting their careers, apprentices or dual students to be able to influence their own working hours - Generation Z in particular is said to prioritize their free time and their work at least equally. Many of them may have seen in their parents' or grandparents' generation what effects it can have when their own interests and even their health are repeatedly subordinated to work. When the younger generation has made "working to live" its agenda, additional financial incentives, for example for night and weekend work or as commission, become increasingly unattractive. In a work environment with shift work, it may instead be more important for young people to be able to submit desired shifts when creating the duty roster, so that the concert visit with friend:s is secured in any case. Instead of company cars and gas vouchers, twenty- to thirty-year-olds might be more tempted by an individual mobility budget that allows them to choose between public transportation, rental cars, cabs, bike sharing or e-scooters depending on the situation - booking and billing, of course, conveniently via a single platform using an app. Incidentally, there is also the option of tax-free subsidies for this form of benefit, similar to the popular job ticket and job bike benefits; the employer image is given a fresher, modern makeover as a result.

Strategies for establishing an employer brand

A complete list of all conceivable corporate benefits would go beyond the scope of a blog article; however, based on the categories outlined above, you can get an overview of which employee benefits are basically possible as a first step. By taking stock internally, you may find that your company already has a lot to offer that you can put in the right light as a benefit in job ads and on the career website - but stay realistic and authentic! If you try to sell a plate of cookies at Christmas time as a company party, disappointment is inevitable.

A good strategy for selecting suitable benefits is also to ask existing employees what benefits and offers they would like to see. This form of questioning can be carried out well online or through group discussions or sample interviews; the interview method is particularly suitable if you want to focus on specific target groups or company divisions that have benefited little from corporate benefits to date. As a rule of thumb, not every offer has to be aimed at all employees, but there should be something for everyone in the totality of measures for employer attractiveness. Researching within your own industry to see what others are actually doing to establish their employer brand will give you a good indication of what is now considered standard by job applicants. On the basis of this, you can also consider which benefits will help you stand out from the competition in the competition for the best talent.

Let's go?

Maybe you just felt like increasing your employer attractiveness with suitable corporate benefits, but you don't have the time or the overview? Are you still unsure which strategies for establishing employer attractiveness you want to tackle first? And do you really need to cover everything? No one needs to reinvent the wheel - as part of our HR consulting services, we are happy to provide you with our research and knowledge on the topic of benefits and work with you to analyze what best suits your company and your employees. If required, we will embed these results directly into your employer branding strategy. We look forward to your challenges!

About the Author
Valeska Szalla
HR Consultant
Since 2017 I have been writing my success story at ARTS, where I can always add a new chapter through the various projects I have been involved in.

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