The key points in brief:

  • A strong employer brand helps to attract highly sought-after skilled workers.
  • Invest in your employer branding with measures that go beyond the basic needs of the workforce.
  • Familiarize yourself with the aspirations of the youngest generation of workers – the skilled workers of tomorrow.

Are you too experiencing first-hand the skilled labor shortage in Switzerland? Are you having difficulty finding the right skilled professionals? Or are you finding it hard to keep qualified coworkers at your company long-term? Then it is high time to boost your employer attractiveness with targeted measures. Our tips will help you get started.

Tip 1: Create a good basis

As a Swiss employer, are you attractive to skilled workers? Most prospective employees still base their decision for an employer on the usual satisfaction factors, such as:

  • Salary
  • Working conditions (number of working hours, overtime set-up, leave, social benefits, occupational pension scheme)
  • Long-term job security
  • Work location
  • Company image (in the sector and society)

Consequently, if you want to attract the best skilled workers, you have to perform at least in line with the market on all these decisive issues. Are you lagging behind your Swiss competitors in any of the satisfaction factors listed? Then we recommend that you start by investing in a good basis. Because no matter what you offer your employees, if you, as an employer, can’t keep up with your competitors in terms of the basic requirements, you will always have trouble attracting good skilled people and, above all, retaining existing ones. The higher people assess your employer attractiveness, the easier it is to attract good staff. 

Tip 2: Stand out with fringe benefits and a good pension scheme

You already offer a good basis and your employer attractiveness is essentially good, but you would like to set yourself apart from the competition even more? Then make the small but decisive difference: with measures such as fringe benefits, a good BVG solution or through participation models (ESOP models).

ESOP stands for Employee Stock Ownership Plan. This collective term covers the various participation models that allow the workforce to participate in the capital of a company.

Fringe benefits, on the other hand, are forms of non-monetary compensation. Examples of this are subsidies for public transportation passes or mobile phone contracts, the provision of a company car or subsidized meals. It is important that both the participation models and the fringe benefits are a match for your company and the workforce. Because only then will they also have genuine value.

Not all SMEs in Switzerland attach enough importance to occupational pension provision – and this despite the fact that pension provision has been one of the biggest concerns of the Swiss for years. We recommend that you choose a pension fund that performs well and then actively use it as an argument for your employer branding. Continue to offer your well-paid employees the opportunity to work with a 1e solution and pursue an individual investment strategy for their pension fund assets. 

You can find out how to assess the health of your current BVG collective foundation here (in German).

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Tip 3: Create development potential and long-term perspectives

Promote your employer branding not just to the outside, but within the company as well. Many employees no longer want to spend their whole working life in the same position. Accordingly, opportunities for personal development have become a decisive factor in making a company attractive to employees and keeping them loyal to the company in the long term. It is not always easy for SMEs to offer their employees new, attractive positions. However, ongoing personal development can also mean:

  • being entrusted with new customers,
  • switching departments,
  • being given greater responsibility in the team,
  • the opportunity to pursue continuing education or learn new skills,
  • or supervising apprentices.

It is important that, as an employer, you proactively encourage long-term perspectives. Think specifically about what opportunities for development you can offer employees at your company over the years and to whom you can offer what in terms of personal development. 

Talk to your people regularly and ask what they need to stay motivated. Of course, you can’t always offer everything, but the better you know the needs of your workforce, the more likely you are to find a mutually satisfactory solution. This is the only way to keep your attractiveness as an employer at a consistently high level and to be able to count on good and loyal staff despite the shortage of skilled workers. 

Tip 4: Recruit good leaders

Managers make a significant contribution to the corporate culture and so also to employer attractiveness. Ultimately, managers are a relevant factor in attracting employees to a company – and in retaining them. Did you know that line managers are often the reason that people leave? This makes it all the more important that you take a strategically clever, considered approach to filling management positions.

It is important to know what your strategy is and where you want to take your business in the next few years. Do you have a management team working on this?

Select people for management roles who are not only technically expert, but also

  • are empathetic and want to lead people,
  • able to motivate people,
  • fulfil a role model function (live corporate culture, act strategically),
  • have good communication skills,
  • are able to give transparent and relevant feedback
  • and have an interest in accompanying employees in the long term and supporting them in their ongoing personal development. 

Read also the article on the topic skills shortage (in German).

Tip 5: Offer flexibility – where you can

A healthy work-life balance is a must for many employees today. Flexibility – of time and location – is the key: It is no longer just appreciated nowadays, but downright demanded. Of course, not all companies are equally able to let their staff work when and where they want.

All the same: If you can offer flexibility, you should. Abolish rigid working hours. Give your associates the freedom to do a certain percentage of their work from home, a café, a co-working space or even from abroad. Also offer them the opportunity to take unpaid leave. If you actively support the work-life balance of your workforce, you strengthen their loyalty to the company and enhance your attractiveness as an employer. 

Read the article on the topic of New Work (in German).

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Tip 6: Invest in your work and team culture

As Aristotle once said: “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” People who enjoy going to work perform better, are more committed to their work and the company than average, and are more loyal to their employer. This cannot fail to have a positive impact on the work result. But how can you encourage your employees to enjoy their work?

In addition to the points already discussed, a positive work and team culture contributes significantly to employee satisfaction. It helps your employees feel that they belong, as well as sending a positive signal to the outside – and is therefore a good measure for employer branding. When defining a corporate culture, the most important thing is that it matches your company and your workforce. A culture must be authentic, otherwise it will not have any effect and will not be successful in increasing your attractiveness as an employer.

We recommend that you think carefully about how you define your individual culture and how you want to actively live it out in your everyday work. Here are some examples from practice:

  • “We live a ‘big family’ corporate culture”: All staff are on first-name terms. We promote informal exchange between staff with regular events and team-building measures. Staff are encouraged to support each other.
  • “We live a performance-oriented culture”: We empower our staff to deliver top performance in their field. This is why we constantly invest in training and financially support staff in their education and training. Successes are prominently communicated and earn monetary rewards.

“We live a culture of innovation”: Staff have the opportunity to contribute innovative ideas. We offer enough scope for people to develop their personal creativity. Failures are not considered a disgrace, but are looked on as an opportunity to learn.

How to win over Generation Z

By definition, Generation Z includes people born between1995 and 2010. As employees, they function somewhat differently than Generation Y or the Millennials (1980 to 1995), for whom above all self-fulfillment and flexibility are important. Generation Z wants more. This is what you need to offer to boost your employer attractiveness towards Gen Z:

  • Diversity and inclusion: Diversity encompasses a whole spectrum of characteristics such as age, ethnicity, gender, social origin, sexual orientation, neurodiversity, physical and mental impairment, education and so on. If, as an employer, you want to make yourself more attractive to young skilled workers, you should employ a wide diversity of people in your company. And here it is crucial that you value and promote the individuality of each and every staff member.
  • Purpose: Young people in the labor market are increasingly looking for meaningful employment. Meaningful work makes an employer attractive. In your business, your raison d’être should be clearly defined and ideally even visible. Why do we exist as a company? What do we want to achieve and for whom? And what contribution can each individual employee make to this?
  • Sustainability: Sustainability is a big issue for the younger skilled workers. Not only do they consciously seek to live sustainably in their private lives, but they also want to work for a company that operates sustainably. To cater to this, have the sustainability of your business analyzed, have your carbon footprint certified and develop measures within the company to promote sustainability. Incidentally, UBS clients benefit from a 20 percent discount on the esg2go sustainability analysis. With esg2go, you get detailed insights into your sustainability in terms of the ESG criteria. 
  • Feedback culture: For Generation Z, personal development is very important. This also means that members of this generation would like to receive regular feedback on their work performance. It is also important to review their objectives on an ongoing basis. Do you want to recruit more young professionals, but don’t yet have a well-developed feedback culture? Then it’s time to introduce one.

The final tip: Be honest

In the battle for the best of the skilled workers – and in the attempt to position themselves as an attractive employer – companies tend to gloss over the reality of everyday working life or make promises they cannot keep. This is counterproductive. It is obvious that SMEs in Switzerland cannot offer the same benefits as major international companies. Own up to what you can’t do and highlight what you offer instead. Many employees are grateful for precisely this kind of honesty. The bottom line is that honest communication helps to boost employer attractiveness. 

Disclose to applicants what is going well in the company and what challenges you are facing. Present the vacant position and your business realistically. This is the only way to find the right person who will also stick with the job long-term and who will help you get to grips with the challenges you face.

Portrait of Sara Meister

Sara Meister

Head Employer Branding

Sara Meister has been working in the field of recruiting, employer branding and talent attraction for more than 15 years. Working with her team, she carries out numerous marketing activities to position UBS as an attractive employer among the relevant target groups and to help the company to set itself apart from the competition overall in the labor market.

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