Why employer branding is so important and how it works

As demographic change intensifies, effective recruiting strategies and target group-oriented employer branding are becoming more important than ever. If companies want to ensure that they do not run out of the most valuable resource of all - their workforce - they need to invest in their image as an employer.

Recruiting increasingly copies sales processes: employers today have to sell themselves at their best in the employee market, highlight their USP, build trust and develop an employer brand with recognition value. In addition to appropriate recruiting strategies and employee retention measures, cleverly thought-out communication also supports companies in the battle for talent. So let's go to the show!

Skills shortage: baby boomers reach retirement age 

The German Statistische Bundesamt counted around 46 million people in employment in Germany in 2023. At just under 77%, the employment rate is at its highest level since reunification, which is also due to the high number of women working part-time or full-time - although there is still plenty of room for improvement here (keyword: pension gap, but that's another topic).

By 2036, however, around 13 million workers will have passed retirement age in Germany - that is more than a quarter of our current workforce. The subsequent generations with lower birth rates will not be able to compensate for this loss and migration policy is not picking up speed quickly enough. If we do not succeed in using immigration as an opportunity for the labor market, we will have lost a third of our workforce by 2060. That is up to 16 million workers who will then be missing. 

The shortage of skilled workers is already affecting many sectors of the German economy today. The STEM sector is particularly affected, i.e. the scientific, mathematical and technical professions, as well as the healthcare sector. According to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, 352 out of 801 professions already have a shortage of skilled workers. Some have recently stopped talking about a shortage of skilled workers and are now referring to a general shortage of workers - regardless of qualification level.

What companies can do now to combat the skills shortage

So how can we counter demographic change and the associated shortage of skilled workers? And whose taxes should ensure the pensions of the highly populated senior citizens in the future? The magic word at the moment seems to be "migration policy". Unfortunately, when it comes to migration policy, a lot depends on precisely that: politics. The federal and state governments must create the framework conditions for modern immigration law. Being an attractive employer for qualified foreign specialists is a completely different task. In addition to the hurdles of a language that is difficult to learn, a sincere welcoming culture and a broad "Yes!" to more diversity play a major role here.

Unfortunately, most companies do not have the time to wait for this turnaround in migration policy. Neither do you? Then take action now. You can - and should - do the following to address your hiring or staff rentenion issues:

1. Expand the circle of potential applicants

It is no longer the rule that employees must necessarily live at or near their place of work. Certainly, in manufacturing, trade or customer-oriented services, people are needed locally. At the place of business. In the factory. But for around 55% of employees who mainly work in the office, the situation is different. If you want to attract them, you can put out feelers further afield and expand your geographical recruiting radius thanks to the digitalization of many business and work processes. There are also considerable opportunities for expansion and support to make employment more attractive for women. So:

  • use digitalization to expand the possibilities of mobile working and recruit across regions
  • offer part-time jobs and job-sharing options to specifically target women with children or relatives in need of care
  • sound out the extent to which a lateral entry into your company could be possible and
  • set up the necessary training courses to attract applications from outside the industry.

2. Strengthen your own employer brand

Make employer branding a C-level task and look at it from all perspectives. Ideally, HR managers, executives and communications teams should work together to define and strengthen your employer brand. You can achieve a number of quick wins if you address these points together:

2.1 Increase employee satisfaction and thus your retention rate 

  • clearly defined career paths for all employees, so that personal development is possible in your company and no one leaves out of a lack of prospects or boredom
  • suitable, individual training opportunities
  • increased appreciation of employees through non-financial and financial recognition (praise, fair salary, benefits, etc.)
  • the possibility of part-time options, e.g. for a better work-life balance - also for fathers! - as well as within the framework of partial retirement
  • increased opportunities to identify with your company, for example through a strong culture of values or team-building measures

2.2 Adapt your recruiting measures to the changing requirements of the younger generations

for example, by

  • improving your job advertisements in terms of transparency, language, recognizability of your USP
  • optimizing your website, especially your careers page, in terms of SEO performance
  • optimizing your application processes
  • testing new recruiting channels, e.g. social media

2.3 Create more visibility for yourself as an employer through good communication


  • communicating corporate messages and unique selling points clearly to the outside world
  • showing presence in the right language on the right channels
  • providing thought leadership on specific industry or job market topics
  • using corporate influencers as brand ambassadors

Authentic employer branding starts with insights and thrives on dialog

Don't start head over heels. As with any good communication measure, you should also start with employer branding by really understanding your target group - i.e. existing and future employees. What motivates them? What do they dislike? What ideas do they contribute? Proceed step by step and get a picture of what employees really want and how they actually see you. From the insights gained in this way, you can derive all the measures that will sharpen your employer brand, communicate it to the outside world and make the employee and applicant experience with your company a success.

Step 1: Establish status quo & sharpen employer image

In the first phase, you discuss the status quo with your HR managers and employees and define the desired corporate image and the intended appearance of your employer brand.

  1. Inventory: Ask management and HR managers about their staff requirements and existing challenges. Which measures are already being implemented? Which of them are working well, which are not? How are recruiting and onboarding processes defined? What about training opportunities, career development and team building? What culture is practiced? Which communication channels are maintained?
  2. Staff survey: In a survey of your entire workforce, you compare the self-perception of management and HR with reality and gain insights into employee satisfaction and wishes, degree of identification, motivation and media usage.
  3. Planning: Together with selected C-level and HR managers and representatives of your workforce, you define the basics of your employer branding - for example in a workshop based on the knowledge gained. The most important aspects include
  • your corporate values and USP as an employer
  • important future topics in your industry that you should talk about
  • HR topics that you can fill
  • attractive descriptions of the areas of responsibility and career prospects in your company
  • internal process optimization needs, e.g. in recruiting or HR 
  • communication channels for internal and external communication
  • the role of the management team & the HR team
  • the involvement of corporate ambassadors

Step 2: Create platforms & set up infrastructure

Now revise existing processes, platforms and channels - and add what is missing. Train your employees and create the basis for ongoing employer branding. Take a concrete look at

  • revising and optimizing the career page/website
  • improving your job advertisements & use of job portals
  • quality assurance of your recruitment process
  • the maintenance of Kununu, LinkedIn & Co.
  • involving media work and partners such as universities or vocational schools
  • social media
  • your internal communication
  • job fairs & event formats

Step 3: Ongoing employer branding

Ongoing employer branding generally include tactics such as

  • a carefully planned LinkedIn editorial process
  • media work and cooperation with partners
  • presence at job fairs & implementation of own or visiting external event formats
  • internal communication via e.g. intranet, newsletter or meeting formats
  • use of own media such as brochures, image films and the like

Employer beauty comes from within

Does it all sound sensible, but is far too much work for you and your team? The good news is that you don't have to do it all at once - and you don't have to do it alone. Get external help to support you in planning and structuring your employer branding and, if necessary, to take over the implementation of individual measures.

Good employer branding does not fall from the sky. It is a process that begins with the mindset of the C-level management to consider manpower and talent as perhaps the most important resources. Building on this, an employer brand must be developed that is authentic and actively lived in the company - and thus proven to be true. Once this step has been taken, you as a company will know who you are to your team and what makes you attractive. This gives you a solid foundation on which you can build the appropriate measures.