What makes employers attractive to young professionals?
Recruiting employees in the employee market is challenging. What do young professionals look for when choosing an employer?
The world is subject to constant change – including the world of work, where demographic and digital developments are having a major impact. Nevertheless, people are still the most important factor for any company – no robot or machine can replace the creativity of a designer or the conciliatory words of an employee in complaints management. That’s why well thought-out employer branding is still essential.
Finding the right and qualified employees is difficult for many companies and presents them with the task of participating in the “war for talents“. Young professionals in particular – well-educated and motivated to make a difference – are the target group for many recruiters. But with a few flyers at the trade fair stand and tired slogans on the company homepage, it is highly unlikely that very few employees will be recruited. But what really makes employers attractive today? What values should companies represent in order to appeal to potential employees? And how can these values be conveyed through effective employer branding? A very specific call is echoing through the world of work here!
Empathy before profit
Empathy is the magic word. Appreciation, diversity and sustainability – and this in an emphatically authentic way – are factors that are extremely important to young applicants in particular when it comes to their employer. A study on employer attractiveness conducted as part of a bachelor’s thesis provides supporting results. With the help of qualitative research methods, students were interviewed who were about to enter professional life or who had already gained some professional experience. When analyzing the results from the interviews, it quickly became clear that monetary incentives have significantly less influence on the choice of employer than those corporate values that relate to interpersonal and socially relevant issues. Without question, aspects such as salary, bonuses or job security also influence how attractive a company appears to potential employees. Here, many career starters consider, for example, the cost of living in different cities or see the financial factor as compensation for years of further training. Benefits such as a fresh fruit basket at the desk every day or a Pilates class after work tend to be seen as a “nice to have”. In fact, other factors make the difference.
Give me appreciation!
Appreciation is at the top of the list of attractiveness attributes. People want to feel well looked after and supported. For career starters, appreciation is mainly reflected in mutual trust with the supervisor, but also in the enabling of personal development and training on the part of the employer. Young employees in particular attach great importance to the company pointing out possible future paths right from the start and perhaps even providing mentors at their side who can also support them in finding their way in the professional field. Empowerment on the part of superiors is highly valued here. This shows that the company is interested in its employees and wants to help them on their way. Potential and further training opportunities should be actively highlighted here. Trust between employees and their supervisors also creates an appreciative relationship. The following applies here: Communication is everything. Open discussions and transparency – e.g., when it comes to critical feedback or a financial low in the company – are essential.
Appreciation on the part of the employer also plays a major role in terms of diversity. A positively regarded employer should not differentiate between the origin, age or religion of employees. Companies with multinational teams are viewed very positively by career starters. One factor that stands out is how the ratio of female to male employees is in the company. Thus, gender equality and women empowerment play a decisive role in the choice of employer. Salary differences for the same position, more difficult salary negotiations or hiring criteria for female applicants are a thorn in the side of career starters.
Do something for our planet!
Sustainability is booming. In the world of work, too. In addition to its own employees and society, an attractive employer should also treat nature and the environment with consideration. Young employees in particular see it as the task of companies to actively promote sustainability and make the world greener instead of more polluted. Expectations of employers here include, for example, reducing the vast amount of business travel to the bare minimum and switching more to digital alternatives. The past year, with a sudden pandemic, has shown that such developments can be implemented more quickly and easily than expected. A no-go for applicants are negative associations with companies in relation to social or environmental issues. So if a potential employer is associated with greenwashing or morally questionable practices, for example, the attractiveness level drops enormously.
Authenticity is everything. All of these insights are of little use if companies have not internalized the listed values into their culture. So if an employer is more concerned with marketing themselves as an environmental savior than actually contributing to conservation and minimizing their negative impact on the environment, they come across as untrustworthy. This strategy is easy to see through and spreads very quickly, especially on social media. As a company, therefore, you can save yourself elaborate employer branding measures if there is not much truth behind all the corporate values. More energy should then be put into building an authentic corporate social performance. Brand and corporate communications are unthinkable today without answering questions about sustainability and social responsibility. This also applies in the area of recruiting. Sustainability communication can be understood not only as a duty, it also offers companies and brands many opportunities. Take advantage of them! Organizational activities that are seen as positive, important and meaningful increase the identification of (potential) employees with the company many times over. What is the best way to communicate this? Authenticity is best achieved through storytelling. Credible stories from the life of the founders, experiences of employees or updates about developments in the company let applicants get a feeling for what values the employer represents and how one can imagine working life there. Employees recruit employees. So demonstrate externally, but also internally, how you as a company create a culture that lives diversity, equality, appreciation and sustainability.
Why the effort?
Sounds like work, but it is. Anyone who subsequently sues for omission has simply slept through all of this. The discussions about new flexible forms of employment, social business models or “Work 4.0” show that the active examination of one’s own work culture is increasingly becoming a yardstick. Corporate crises are always also employer crises, and in the future they will require close networking with HR communications more than ever before. Social networks are an opportunity, not a risk.
In any case, communicative lethargy is a serious sign of impending reputational damage on the labor market.