(Bild: Pongsak -

Prior to the question of how companies can attract employees, there is also the question of how these companies can retain employees. After all, good employees are like customers. The effort to find them is much greater than the effort to keep them. It is not uncommon to have to bypass only the period of vacancy, but also to consider the training phase until the new employee becomes fully value-adding. And that's not even counting the risk of a miscast.

First of all, it is important to know why employees leave the company. There are numerous cases in which the supervisor or the environment play an unknowing but significant role. If the supervisor now asks about the reasons for termination, he or she will not always discover the true reasons, depending on the relationship with the employee. The Human Resources department has an important function here. It represents the company, of course, but many HR departments are trusted by employees. An interview conducted at the end of the service period can provide valuable insights. The mentioned motives for switching cannot be taken at face value without reflection, but they do provide suggestions that should be evaluated internally.

Retain employees at all costs?

Long before the loss of an employee, regular appraisal interviews should take place. This exchange should not be devoted solely to evaluating the employee or providing feedback to the supervisor. Questions about concrete suggestions for improvement or development requests quickly reveal how satisfied the employee is and whether there is a risk that he or she will leave. If the issues raised by the employee can be changed, the risk of losing the employee is reduced. If this is not possible or explicitly not wanted, the supervisor can evaluate the importance of these points, plan for the risk if necessary, and build alternatives.

If the employee has resigned, there is usually nothing left to do but to look for a new employee. Making counter-offers should be well considered and essentially have a long-term perspective. We know of cases where the internal salary structure was leveraged to keep a good employee. However, the sudden substantial salary increase often leaves a lasting bad taste - for the company as well as for the employee. In the end, trust is tarnished after all.
Finding suitable executives has become more challenging in recent years. This affects especially companies in rural areas. For highly qualified executives who are well positioned, the spatial question is of great importance, simply because these candidates have enough alternatives. Mobility among executives has steadily declined over the past few years. Commuting rises, as often both partners are fully employed. So it is precisely companies in rural areas that must create conditions that ensure that the "bait tastes good to the fish" and the candidate "swims" into the neighboring pond. A clear analysis of the company's competitive position with the aim of creating attractive conditions for employees is essential. This does not primarily mean compensation or employee benefits, but rather perspectives within the company. These perspectives do not necessarily have to be vertical, because that is often not practically feasible and would be a hollow promise. Medium-sized companies, however, often have the opportunity for flexible adaptation. There is the possibility to adapt and expand job profiles to the development of the employee. If the employee cannot grow vertically, but has the potential and will to take on additional tasks, then additional tasks can be transferred. For example, there are examples where a manager has additionally developed into the head of a completely different area through interest and competence. This does not fit into any strict job plan, nor should it be understood as a plea for job profiles according to gusto. But it does offer opportunities to give employees a development perspective and satisfaction beyond the hierarchy. Medium-sized companies - and there are many in rural areas - have bigger flexibility here.

Use (social) networks

Use professional social networks to increase awareness. Regular posts are marketing for clients, as well as candidates. They ensure perception in the market, even if they are not opened and read. In B2B, most followers are people from the market environment anyway, not customers. Participation in competitions/awards also ensures attention and raises the company's image. It always impresses candidates when an award is won for high quality or innovation.

The network of executives in the industry naturally has a major role. Many appointments are initiated and implemented through contacts in the industry. A good relationship with someone who works in the recruiting company provides security and confidence. The positive assessment of an acquaintance, who is happy at the company in the rural area, has more effect than the advertisement of the still unknown employer. The own network offers usually only a limited view of the candidates, of which one should be aware. The quick solution in this case is not always the best one in the long run.

Job advertisements are usually not sufficient in a narrow applicant market when it comes to conveying the advantages of the company and also the region. Evaluations show that the location is a frequent jumping off point, from which the advertisement is not considered more closely. If applicants respond to the ad, a quick reaction is required because qualified candidates often find new employment in a short period of time. Some companies complete the process within 14 days. Finding an appointment is a top priority and also signalizes the candidate that the company is interested.

If the above measures are unsuccessful, the outcome is too uncertain, or a covert search is necessary, investing in a recruitment consultancy enables successful staffing, not only for companies in rural areas. Candidates are approached by experts, who work in the industry, specifically and in accordance with the previous career, and are interested in the position as well as the region. What needs to be done here is individual and elaborate consulting based on the candidate's area of expertise, not mere placement, because the new employee should fit in with the company and gain a foothold in the region.

The recruitment of new employees remains a multi-layered challenge, not only for companies in rural areas, for which there is no patent recipe. Companies that are successful in this area, as well as personnel consultancies, show through the use of various instruments that the difficult task can be accomplished. Personnel work and recruitment are first and foremost an investment. You get the revenue by good planning and a targeted approach.   

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