Project peak? Audits? Staff downtime?

Companies and the staff shortage - challenge or opportunity?

By now, everyone should be familiar with the term "shortage of skilled workers". We have also discussed this topic in detail in a previous article. In the light of the shortage of skilled workers and personnel, the balance of power between companies and applicants is increasingly shifting in favor of the applicants. Whereas a few years ago applicants made every effort to present themselves to companies in the best possible way and accepted minor compromises here and there, nowadays it's the other way around. Companies now have to make a great effort to attract new employees. More and more potential applicants have very specific expectations of what an employer should be able to provide.

This means new challenges for companies and forces many of them to rethink their approach. But companies can also see this as an opportunity to question their own HR policies and bring them up to date.

Shortage of skilled workers or shortage of applicants?

There is no doubt that the shortage of skilled workers is a problem for today's economy. Some industries are also more affected by it than others. However, it is not always directly a shortage of skilled workers, because often the filling of a vacancy also fails due to a lack of applicants. Therefore, a distinction must be made: A shortage of skilled workers actually means a lack of trained personnel, while a shortage of applicants means that there are sufficient potential candidates, but they do not apply for a position for various reasons.

One of the reasons for the decline in the number of applicants is that employees have changed the demands they place on their employer. This is a great challenge for companies and their managers, who have to meet these changing demands while at the same time keeping an eye on the interests of the company.

In this context, it is not only potential applicants, especially young professionals, who have increasing demands on their future employers. There is also a risk that internal employees will change their employer due to a better offer. Accordingly, many companies are forced to come up with a suitable strategy for greater brand attractiveness. At the same time, this means that companies have to dedicate more resources to HR policy overall.

However, employers should not be intimidated by this. In fact, they should see this as an opportunity to change their own HR strategy and adapt it to the needs of candidates and employees.

Young professionals as a popular target group

For many companies, the focus of personnel recruitment is on young professionals, a target group that is in high demand on the labor market. The term "young professionals" is still relatively new, which is why there is still no standard definition. In summary, we are talking about university graduates with first work experience who are highly motivated and career-oriented. This target group in particular places high demands on potential employers.

Although salary continues to play an important role, it is no longer the only thing that matters. This target group is primarily interested in flexibility, opportunities for advancement, and developing both personally and professionally and learning marketable skills over the long term.

In addition, the working atmosphere, work-life balance, job security and the meaningfulness of the activity are decisive criteria when selecting an employer.
So the applicant no longer just has to fit the company, the company also has to fit the applicant.

A concrete example is the compatibility of family and career. Flexible working hours and the option of working from home are essential for many candidates. If a company does not offer the option of working remotely for reasons that cannot be explained, this is already a rule-out criterion for some applicants.

While this was unthinkable a few years ago, it is now reality. Companies have to meet criteria in order to reach the shortlist of applicants. To do this, companies need to know exactly what employees want, because that's the best way to attract and retain staff.

Employer branding as solution

Employer branding is a concept that is becoming increasingly important for companies in this context. It is a marketing strategy for the human resources department to create an attractive employer brand. Using suitable marketing concepts, it aims to position the own company as an attractive employer and outshine competitors.

However, successful employer branding is not just about marketing and communicating externally; the measures must also be directed internally. A direct exchange with employees and applicants is particularly important. Constructive feedback helps to eliminate weaknesses and position the company on both sides: What do employees appreciate? What bothers them in the workplace? What did applicants find convenient - what was not okay? On the one hand, this allows companies to tap into optimization potential, while on the other hand it shows appreciation for employees, which in turn has an extremely positive effect on the company's image.

By the way, anyone looking for clues to good employer branding can take a look at the corporate cultures of Ferrero Germany, Adidas and Lindt & Sprüngli Germany. According to Stern and Statista, these are the top three companies with a modern and attractive corporate culture in Germany.


The balance of power between employee and employer has shifted. There is clearly a trend toward applicants no longer competing for jobs. Instead, companies must place themselves in the market in the best possible way to recruit candidates. Even if the required professionals are available, they may consciously not apply for a company. The reason: young professionals in particular are increasingly making demands on their future employer. What used to be salary and a secure job are now meaningfulness, work-life balance and flexibility at work.

These values have changed, and companies are increasingly being forced to adapt their own corporate culture to the younger generation. However, managers should see this less as a challenge and more as an opportunity to rethink their own HR policies. After all, this is the best way for companies to attract and retain new employees over the long term.

Learn more about the shortage of skilled workers in the life science industry and its impact on the entire labor market in our article about the lack of specialists.

Personnel consulting as support 

As a personnel consultancy, we support your company in the competition for the best talents. Due to the direct communication with our candidates, we always know what is important to the potential applicants. Not only do we help you fill your open vacancies, but we also give you open and transparent feedback on request as to why applicants have decided against a position or the company.  In this way, you will not only benefit from our large talent network, but also from our extensive knowledge of what applicants expect from their new employers.


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About Vality One

We support companies in the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical technology sectors in their search for highly qualified personnel on a permanent basis and via contracting. In doing so, we cover the entire value chain of your company and the entire product life cycle of your drug or medical product.

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