Between work-life balance and labor shortage: What employees want and companies need

The world of work has changed – and so have the demands placed on companies. While some are fighting for a work-life balance, others are suffering from a shortage of skilled workers. What needs do both sides have? And above all, how can employees and employers find their way back together? 

Table of Content

The labor shortage and its consequences

The shortage of skilled workers is omnipresent – around 85% of companies (DIHK) fear experiencing negative effects as a result. This is because the lack of personnel has long since affected not only the skilled trades, but also service providers and retailers. 

The consequences are serious: employees initially have to cover the staff shortage themselves – this leads to longer working hours and a general increase in workload. At the same time, labor costs for recruiting employees and positioning the company as an attractive employer are rising.

If the shortage of skilled workers cannot be remedied, orders will fall away. Around 43% of companies therefore expect to lose orders. Innovation and competitiveness also suffer as a result. The problem is that employees’ expectations of their company are rising in parallel with the demand for personnel. 

What employees want today

The demands employees place on their own jobs have changed, and work itself has a completely different status than it did just a few years ago. And this by no means only affects the younger generation – the “old” have also changed their attitude to work. 

The relationship level

Wages have had their day as the sole basis for evaluation: immaterial things such as individual perceptions, evaluations and feelings are much more important to employees today. Recognition, appreciation, trust and a good working atmosphere are particularly important to them. Transparent corporate communications are also crucial, so that employees can understand the goals and the planned course of action. Open communication also ensures that even unpleasant decisions are supported by employees.


In addition, employees want their individuality to be recognized and supported; they want to work more flexibly and actively participate in shaping things – instead of silently following orders. For many employees, work itself is much more than a means to an end. They are looking for jobs that are meaningful, involve ethical issues and want flexible working models. 

Expectations of employers

The increased expectations of employers are therefore primarily reflected in intangible values, as the study by the German Association of Communications Agencies (GWA) also shows. Men and women were surveyed separately, and the results were similar, albeit with minor differences: salary is no longer the decisive factor when it comes to choosing a new employer.

The TOP 10 expectations of men:

  • Fun/fulfillment 

  • Work climate 

  • Attractive starting salary

  • High income in the future 

  • Work-life balance  

  • Further development opportunities 

  • Flexible working hours 

  • Location 

  • Job security 

  • Flat hierarchies

The TOP 10 expectations of women

  • Work climate 

  • Fun/fulfillment 

  • Work-life balance 

  • Attractive starting salary  

  • Further training opportunities 

  • Flexible working hours 

  • High income in the future

  • Location 

  • Job security 

  • Overtime pay/compensation

What companies need

But companies also have demands on their employees – because the modern working world brings with it many challenges.  Certain key qualifications are crucial – especially when it comes to co-decision-making and flexibility:

  • Being able to cope with uncertainty

  • Open communication

  • Creative, analytical and critical thinking

  • Self-motivation

  • Self-reflection

  • Ability to work independently

  • Competent media handling

The good news is that open leadership is an excellent way to develop these skills. The crux of the matter is that employees and managers have to work together to achieve this. After all, no employee will openly admit to making mistakes if he or she has to fear severe punishment for doing so. No one likes to contribute creatively to processes if they are never considered. But together, companies and employees can create a working environment that benefits both.

How companies can attract employees

So it’s clear: To attract new employees, it’s crucial that companies position themselves as attractive employers – and also deliver what they promise. But what can be measures and criteria that attract potential employees? Tip: The fruit basket is not it.

  1. Positive work climate: If all employees pull together and build each other up – then there is an encouraging work climate. This also includes: As a manager, encourage the ideas of his employees, strengthen cohesion with team events and set common goals. 

  2. Good communication: Conflicts can only be resolved or even avoided with transparent communication. This can be achieved with feedback rounds, honest praise and transparent communications when it comes to changes or decisions.

  3. Fair salary: Even if salary is no longer the sole deciding factor when it comes to choosing a company, no one sells themselves short. Bonus programs or additional benefits such as childcare or fitness subscriptions can also help.

  4. Job security: Companies cannot always guarantee secure jobs, that is clear. But the key is whether managers openly communicate the financial situation and whether contingency plans and financial reserves are in place.

  5. Freedom: Remember that feeling when your teacher looks over your shoulder while you’re taking an exam? No one likes that – not even employees. Provide autonomy within a defined framework. 

  6. Work-life balance: flexible work hours and remote work solutions not only make employees happier, they make them more productive. If possible, give your employees these freedoms.  

  7. Training and development: Put financial resources into high-quality training opportunities and help employees make the right choices. Also important: Treat continuing education as work time. 

  8. Advancement opportunities: If you can’t move up in your company, go somewhere else. Define the criteria for advancement, don’t make false promises. And above all, promote talent.

The right strategy

In addition to the general conditions in the company, the right recruitment strategy is also crucial. It can look like this, for example:

  1. Target group analysis: An exact employee persona is crucial – because not everyone automatically fits into your team. So define exactly which employee you are looking for. 

  2. Communication analysis: You have your employee persona – now it is crucial how and where your target group communicates. Define platforms, budget and time period in which the campaign should run.

  3. Post creation: create the job ad for job portals or social media. Do not underestimate this task – and if in doubt, get competent help. An optimal job ad will pay for itself faster than you initially think.

  4. Placement: The job ads go online. Now it’s time to keep an eye on performance and adjust if necessary. 

  5. Application process: The applications have rolled in? Then you can get started with your application process and hold the first interviews. 

triangility: Good leadership is attractive

Good leadership is crucial when it comes to attracting and retaining competent employees. So why not invest in high-quality leadership? At triangility, you’ll learn everything you need to know about modern leadership in workshops and seminars. Professional, qualified, up-to-date. Book your meeting now!


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