It’s gratifying to know that a skills shortage isn’t specific to your industry – but it doesn’t make it easier to deal with.
So, as HR leaders and talent professionals, from some of Germany’s biggest companies gathered to debate ways to solve the country’s skills shortage, they did so knowing that it’s a critical issue that needs addressing sooner rather than later.
Six talent professionals and two of AMS’s client services team struck up an energetic conversation about talent issues in the country, sharing experiences, ideas and strategies to solve this most pressing of HR issues.
Here are just some of the challenges facing German employers:
- Approval of qualified workers
- Top talent learning the language and integrating
- Opportunity card bureaucracy (similar to a visa)
But, Germany is breaking down these barriers and becoming more welcoming, so the future is looking good. Although as one talent leader pointed out, “just because we have a talent scarcity doesn’t mean we can pay a premium for a graduate.”
Salaries rocketed during the pandemic and globally, markets have struggled to keep up – especially in Germany. As one attendee shared, “it’s not like it was 10 years ago. People will not come begging to be hired. We have to be aware of the changes. The whole package is different than it was before.”
Aside from acquisition, what other talent challenges are German companies experiencing? Within the talent retention issues of the nation as a whole, businesses also struggle with the question of effective hybrid work policies. Does young, top tech talent REALLY want to make the journey to the office in a city not traditionally regarded as a metropolitan hub?
As the pushback on fully remote work continues, this is something businesses the world over – not just Germany – need to contend with. And one way is to deal with it is to make those moments together meaningful. “We don’t monitor show up rates, but it’s important to give people a sense of belonging. We try to create events that make collaboration purposeful.”
As the session continued, other members shared their successes for recruiting the best talent, with methods including:
- Creating employers of record elsewhere to save recruiting in Germany where the talent market is tighter and more difficult.
- Working closely with universities EU-wide in other countries where unemployment rates are different.
- Consolidating the employer brand across different markets, leveraging reach on Instagram and Tiktok to reach younger audiences.
A developing commonality across all attendees as the roundtable progressed was the need to develop a common employee value proposition among your brands. Employees appreciate a consistent message from the start, and not only that – once they’re part of the team, there are suprising ways in which you can retain your best, too. As another talent professional in the session shared that some of her top talent responded best when they were given “visibility and responsibility for bigger global tasks as opposed to one off payments or compensation – which don’t do that much for retention”. Surprising? Perhaps, but it seems obvious that employees see their value, and the value of their organization in different ways.
Towards the end of the session, AMS’s Brett O’Connor shared a startling fact: 40% of apprenticeships went unfulfilled in Germany in 2021 (as per federal government statistics). There’s clearly plenty of work to be done, and the better you plan the easier you can weather the storm – “strategic workforce planning needs to be not just for the next five years, but for the next 20 years”, as one participant added.
And, if you do find that your top talent has decided to move on, all may not be lost; one attendee shared how their organization maps those who are a regrettable loss and “keeps them warm”, staying in contact and tracking their careers after leaving. Sure, it’s extra admin work but worth it in the long term if they come back.
Key session takeaways.
- Compensation is still important – especially in an ongoing cost of living crisis.
- Look at your flexible work arrangements.
- Think about untapped talent pools.
- Tap into the neuro diverse workforce – while understanding and appreciating your own biases.
- Consider geographical location – your potential employees certainly are.
- Unify and develop your brand.
We live in challenging times, and while Germany’s market appears under more strain than elsewhere in the EU, it’s heartening to see how talent leaders are approaching these skills and talent challenges. UNLEASH Roundtables are just one way of keeping that conversation going and learning from others.
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