• Expert Tips

Employer Branding — Part 11: How Employee Retention will be convincing — and will work

  • Expert Tips

Employ­ee reten­tion is more impor­tant than ever, espe­cial­ly in the construc­tion indus­try: current figures1 show that vacan­cies in this sector remain vacant the longest. Howev­er, many employ­ee reten­tion tools are expen­sive — too expen­sive, espe­cial­ly for small and medi­um-sized compa­nies. This makes it all the more impor­tant to success­ful­ly commu­ni­cate what is possi­ble … which is often not even very expen­sive. That’s why this time in the Valdivia Expert Tips we want to go into more detail about what we already addressed in episode 3 of the series: Well-mean­ing words alone are not enough. They must also be reflect­ed in action.

Employ­ee reten­tion — almost — for free

Not every compa­ny can afford a cornu­copia of tempt­ing extras to retain employ­ees. Accord­ing to a recent Hays study2 , it does­n’t even matter: Even before appro­pri­ate remu­ner­a­tion or flex­i­ble work­ing hours, the work­ing atmos­phere is the most impor­tant factor for employ­ee reten­tion — in other words, a posi­tive, co-oper­a­tive atmos­phere in your company.

The study also lists the most impor­tant behav­iours that manage­ment can use to promote this: At the top of the list are recog­nis­ing perfor­mance (73%), treat­ing employ­ees fair­ly (61%) and taking time for them (54%), followed by regu­lar feed­back (44%) and remov­ing hier­ar­chi­cal barri­ers (32%).

Honesty as factor no. 1

Recog­ni­tion, fair­ness, feed­back — all of these are combined in the concept of sincere, person­al appre­ci­a­tion. As we described in the previ­ous arti­cle, praise is best received if you spec­i­fy and justi­fy it: “Your idea for X has real­ly helped us! Very well done!” Other signs of appre­ci­a­tion include, for example

  • Listen­ing and having a say instead of hand­ing out gifts
    Most employ­ees certain­ly have an idea of how their work­ing life could become more attrac­tive. Howev­er, the success of such bene­fits does not come from the fact that every­one wants some­thing and the boss then hands out the gifts. You can achieve real employ­ee loyal­ty if you involve your employ­ees in the devel­op­ment and imple­men­ta­tion process, e.g. through round tables, work­shops or bar camps. The goal is a commu­ni­ty that moti­vates itself. At the same time, those involved recog­nise the limits of what is feasi­ble in your compa­ny. In this way, you achieve broad accep­tance of the measures and at the same time show sincere appreciation.
  • Open­ly admit­ting unavoid­able hardships
    Work­ing life is not always pleas­ant; some “pain points” are unavoid­able. Howev­er, most people know the basic condi­tions of their job and accept the inevitable unless it is exac­er­bat­ed by avoid­able hard­ships. There­fore, you should not try to ignore such points or even cover them up with unten­able promis­es. Speak open­ly about unavoid­able hard­ships and the limits of your options — both inter­nal­ly and externally.
  • Promot­ing the inner atti­tude of employees
    People get used to gifts. This is why many well-inten­tioned employ­ee reten­tion measures lose their effect after a certain amount of time. In contrast, it is far more effec­tive to promote inner loyal­ty. This can be done, for exam­ple, through a regu­lat­ed sugges­tion scheme with bonus­es even for minor improve­ments or through campaigns that specif­i­cal­ly promote a sense of commu­ni­ty among the work­force — for exam­ple, a notice board on the intranet for joint activ­i­ties and help (“Who would like to go on a bike ride togeth­er to …?” or “Who can help me next Satur­day with …?”).
  • Seeing redun­dan­cies as an opportunity
    There are many reasons for redun­dan­cies — and often the illu­sion that things are better else­where. Show under­stand­ing when some­one resigns. Be open about the reasons: They often contain sugges­tions for improve­ment. Some­times this leads to inter­est­ing busi­ness rela­tion­ships, for exam­ple if some­one becomes self-employed. And last but not least, offer a possi­ble return. Because “else­where” is often by no means better …

With tools like these in your tool­box, the promise of honesty and respect­ful treat­ment becomes a real factor for employ­ee loyal­ty in your employ­er brand. This means that lead­er­ship is not about constant pres­sure and control, but about creat­ing a contem­po­rary, moti­vat­ing envi­ron­ment for employ­ees. Then they will — all by them­selves — be happy to deliv­er their best perfor­mance and feel much more connect­ed to your company.

1 Feder­al Employ­ment Agency: Regis­tered jobs, Septem­ber 2023

2 2 Hays HR Report 2023 “Employ­ee retention”


(Image source: new office GmbH; Daniel Bauer, Valdivia Consult­ing GmbH)