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Benefits & Employer Branding: The Right Recipes to Combat the Shortage of Skilled Workers

Benefits & Employer Branding: The Right Recipes to Combat the Shortage of Skilled Workers

  • Lurse study: Employees primarily want benefits in the area of flexible working time models, mobility and security
  • Balanced mix of additional benefits increases satisfaction with employer

Germany’s economy is suffering from the worsening shortage of skilled workers. To counteract this shortage, companies are increasingly relying on a mix of different benefits. The aim is to help attract capable employees and retain them in the long term. The most effective ingredients in this recipe are to be found in the areas of vacation/working time and mobility. But many employees also find the company pension plan attractive. This and more is the result of the current Lurse study “Benefits & Employer Branding”.

For its recently presented study, the management consultancy Lurse surveyed HR managers of German companies of all sizes last summer – from DAX groups to small medium-sized companies. It turned out that almost all participating companies are currently working on the design of their additional benefits. They have recognized that an attractive, needs-based benefits portfolio is a key element of employer attractiveness and therefore essential for attracting, retaining and motivating employees. More than half of them rely on feedback from the workforce itself. Their needs have changed in recent years and become more diverse.

Choice is in demand

“In order to appeal to as large a proportion of the workforce as possible, it makes sense to create a balanced portfolio with different benefits. In practice, this often requires an expansion of the existing range of benefits”, says Philipp Dienstbühl, manager at Lurse. “In doing so, it is important that the benefits work in terms of the company’s objectives, HR and compensation strategy, and in consideration of the workforce structure or individual target groups.”

In its salary satisfaction study from last year, the employer rating portal Kununu concludes that there is a direct correlation between the number of benefits and employee salary satisfaction: the more benefits a company provides, the more satisfied employees are likely to be with their salary (see Kununu Salary Study 2022: Salary Satisfaction).

In order to obtain as holistic a picture as possible, the Lurse study surveyed the top benefits – both from the perspective of employees and applicants. For this purpose, data was collected on the most frequently requested benefits and summarized in thematically related clusters.

What are the most attractive benefits?

From the perspective of employees, the “vacation/working time models” cluster proved to be the clear favorite. Within this area, in turn, the offer of mobile work respectively working in a home office was mentioned most frequently, accounting for almost two-thirds of all individual responses. Overall, across all clusters, this is also the most popular benefit. “Since 2020, nine out of ten companies have revised their corresponding regulations or are in the process of doing so,” explains Philipp Dienstbühl. “The fact that Germany’s employers have become much more flexible in this respect than before the Corona pandemic is one of the positive consequences of the crisis. This is unlikely to change significantly in the future.”

In second place among the benefits most frequently requested by employees are perks such as free drinks, meal allowances, etc. Behind them, in third place on the popularity scale, are mobility offers. Bike leasing takes the top spot within this cluster, with half of the mentions. “However, this does not necessarily mean that bikes are now more popular than company cars or job tickets,” explains Philipp Dienstbühl. “Bike leasing was named more frequently as one of the top 5 benefits, but in many companies only a small portion of the workforce is entitled to a company car anyway.”

Ranking No. 4 among the most sought-after benefits are those from the “coverage” cluster. Among them, the company pension plan is by far the most popular, with 8 out of 10 mentions. Just under one in two companies named the company pension plan as one of their top five benefits for the workforce. This puts it in second place in the overall rankings, just behind the offer of home office or mobile working. “However, opinions about company pension plans are very divided,” says Philipp Dienstbühl. “After all, if you ask employees about benefits that are seen as less attractive than in the past, company pension plans are also far ahead.”

The expectations of applicants in terms of benefits differ only slightly from those of the existing workforce. There is less demand for perquisites, but otherwise the ranking remains the same. Companies that want to use benefits as a recruiting tool are therefore well advised to rely on a formula consisting of attractive vacation and working time models, mobility offers and a company pension plan.

Benefits are an absolute must

Both the Kununu and Lurse studies show: Benefits make a significant contribution to employee satisfaction and are actively sought after by applicants. “Especially topics such as mobile working and home office, which have not traditionally been considered benefits, have gained immense importance for the perception of companies as attractive employers,” explains Philipp Dienstbühl. “The expectations that employees and applicants have of companies in this regard were already rising steadily before Corona – and this trend has intensified as a result of the pandemic.”

Even though benefits often involve administrative effort and costs, there is a lot to be said for expanding the corresponding portfolio. “However, this should not be done in a blanket and arbitrary manner,” says Philipp Dienstbühl. “Holistic, strategic concepts are more important than ever. It’s a matter of analyzing one’s own benefit offering and aligning it with the company’s goals as well as the structure and wishes of the existing and targeted workforce.”

The bottom line: a well thought-out benefits portfolio is an absolute must for any company that wants to remain successful in the future and stay ahead of the competition for employees.