How skilled workers don't leave: Top 8 measures for internal employer branding

If you don't make an effort, I'll leave you! This is not a scene from a failed love affair, but reality in the labour market. According to a Gallup study, the willingness to change jobs in Germany is even higher than in the USA. Every fourth worker is on the point of leaving. The motivation: a better job with a better employer.

According to softgarden's "Job Change Study 2022", 57 percent of all applicants are looking for a new job out of an existing employment relationship. 12 percent quit without having anything concrete in sight. The employer could have prevented 47.9 per cent of the terminations, but did not react. A devastating result in terms of employee retention.

The solution: Internal employer branding that shows sincere interest in the workforce and social competence. Here we present eight effective measures that every employer should know about.

When people hear employer branding, they usually think of attention-grabbing external campaigns to attract employees with innovative career websites and cutting-edge recruiting strategies. What is overlooked in the process: In times of a shortage of skilled workers, talent must not only be successfully recruited, but also retained in the long term. Internal employer branding measures keep the turnover rate low and increase employee engagement. They have a positive effect on employee satisfaction, loyalty and thus productivity. Positive side effects: An attractive external image and recommendation recruiting come all by themselves. But many companies underestimate internal employer branding and implement internal employer branding measures only half-heartedly. The common misconceptions are that expenses can be saved, that a strategy would be too much effort, that internal employer branding is only employee events. We prove the opposite and help you become a better employer!


1. Employee surveys

Did you know that Germans stay with the same company for about 11 years on average (cf. study by the Institute of the German Economy)? How long people stay with a company depends on many factors, such as the industry and qualifications. For example, academics and low-skilled workers change companies more often. As a company, you can hardly influence these external factors, but you can influence employee satisfaction and the prevailing mood in the company.
According to the "Job Change Study 2022" by softgarden, the top reasons for quitting are: too little salary (62.6%), poor career prospects (52.7%), dissatisfaction with the manager (38.4%), lack of identification with the company's purpose (35.8%), too little holiday (26.3%), pointless work and dissatisfaction with the home office arrangement (20% each).

These and many other aspects can be recorded with anonymous surveys. They should be repeated at regular intervals to get an authentic picture of the current situation. This allows critical developments to be noticed and gives you the chance to react in time. Employee surveys thus serve as a basis for developing a successful employer brand strategy with corresponding retention programs, because for this you need to know the needs and wishes of your staff. In addition, the employee feedback is a success control of your internal employer branding measures. But feedback alone is not enough. Facing up to the opinion of your own employees requires courage and the will to permanently develop your own corporate culture. Only in this way can you remain attractive as an employer in the long term and keep your skilled workers in the company.

2. Corporate culture

A positive company culture is an essential component of a successful employer brand: it strengthens employee loyalty, commitment, satisfaction and thus productivity. It also acts as a competitive advantage by improving your reputation in the labour market and differentiating you from other employers. Most companies are perceived as team-oriented (28.6%), performance-oriented (22.6%), bureaucratic (12.7%) and highly hierarchical (10.4%) (cf. Appinio survey 2022).

How do you appear and how do you want to appear?   

In order to clarify these questions, management needs a clear idea of the culture that is to be lived. This is individual from organisation to organisation and includes common beliefs, norms, attitudes and values according to which all company members orient their actions. Owners and managers in particular should be aware of their role model function. Because if the top of the company acts contrary to the propagated values, the entire corporate culture quickly becomes untrustworthy. Authenticity has top priority.

What values do workers appreciate?

An open feedback culture, flat hierarchies, the involvement of workers in processes and the promotion of diversity and inclusion. Cooperation should be characterised by respect and appreciation. There is a need for training for managers so that they can implement modern leadership styles and are able to deploy and support their employees according to their competences. It also says a lot about the corporate culture to what extent the soft skills of managers are promoted and value is placed on a gender balance.

For young talents in particular, the idea of sustainability and the social commitment of their employer are becoming increasingly important.

3. Benefits

In addition to a positive corporate culture, relevant benefits are a decision criterion for employees to feel permanently at ease in the company. In addition, the fringe benefits offered, i.e. voluntary additional company benefits, reflect the corporate culture - by underpinning what is particularly important: Working atmosphere, health, further education, sustainability, etc.

When companies communicate benefits externally or internally, they should make sure to focus on real benefits. So-called pseudo-benefits or hygiene factors are seen as a matter of course and therefore do not need to be emphasised separately: free water/coffee, home office option, flexible working time models, modern workplace equipment or fruit baskets.

A healthy work-life balance has become increasingly important for talents in recent years. Therefore, benefits such as sports offers for preventive health care are very popular. This way, stress can be reduced and a balance to mental work can be created. Large companies like Google, Facebook and others have been doing this for a long time, which is why they are considered particularly attractive employers. At the search engine giant, an in-house fitness centre is part of the basic equipment. Many locations also offer massages, medical checks, chiropractors, basketball courts or a bowling alley. Snack bars and canteens are free of charge and offer delicious and healthy food around the clock. At Facebook/Meta Platforms, young families are supported by giving new mothers and fathers four months off with full pay and even paying "baby cash". Yahoo has its own day-care centres. The offspring are even transported to the facilities free of charge, and there are also discounts on amusement parks or short holidays.

Of course, smaller companies cannot offer many of these options. Nevertheless, they can score points with individual benefit packages that are tailored to the life situation of their employees and are regularly updated. It is ideal if the benefits offered facilitate the everyday life of the employees and are seen as real added value. This can and should be advertised.

4. Internal communication

The importance of internal communication is unfortunately very often underestimated. However, the consequences of missing or inadequate communication can be devastating. If employees are not sufficiently informed about current developments and corporate decisions then have to be read up on in the internet out of the blue or learned from third parties, the workforce rightly feels that they are not taken seriously and appreciated. Companies alienate talent through thoughtless non-communication and failure to announce or explain important decisions.

Employees prefer clear and open communication of relevant issues. Transparent communication is important to gain and maintain the trust of employees in the long term and to increase their satisfaction. Internal communication should be regular, timely and limited to the essentials. Excessive internal communication leads to disgruntlement just as much as insufficient communication. In the worst case, too many internal messages are simply ignored because they are considered irrelevant.

However, well thought-out internal communication is an opportunity for companies not only to communicate their corporate culture and values, but also to involve employees in shaping the culture. Internal initiatives can be made known and strengthened, which appreciates and promotes employee engagement. New fields of activity, job profiles and staff members can be introduced and outstanding achievements can be recognised. All this fosters a sense of community and team spirit.

The channels for internal communication are diverse and include more than the now antiquated notice board: staff newsletter, staff newspaper, staff meetings, intranet or social media groups, wikies, staff app, audio or video podcast, etc. The point is not to cover all channels, but to find the ones that work for the particular company.

5. Staff development

Employees go through different phases in the company. In each one there is the opportunity to present the employer brand attractively with internal measures.

The Employee Life Circle starts after the successful job interview with onboarding. Here it becomes clear to what extent the promises and the positive first impression are fulfilled. An onboarding checklist is helpful so that no questions remain unanswered. Employee brochures or internal wikis can be used to provide information on all relevant points. In addition, a mentoring programme, company tours and get-to-know-you appointments not only help with the induction process, but also with the mental arrival in the team and company.

Managers and mentors in particular should be trained on the employer brand with workshops and internal training so that they can internalise and exemplify the corporate culture.

Once the new talents have established themselves in the company, further training and personal growth are important aspects for achieving sustainable loyalty. Overall, 34% of northern Germans and 30% of western Germans see no or too few opportunities for advancement within the company, shows the current study by Forsa (in January 2023, just under 5,000 Arbeitnehmer:innen from the DACH region were surveyed, source). Workers want to have the opportunity to expand and improve their skills and competences. This is the only way to offer them lasting career prospects. Companies can offer personnel development programs and participation in internal as well as external trainings for this purpose.

Regular stay-interviews such as staff appraisals, annual performance appraisals or target agreement meetings show interest in the workforce and appreciation. They can provide suggestions for career planning and point out opportunities for development. This creates future perspectives and subsequently increases motivation and loyalty.

If employees leave the company prematurely, the causes should be investigated. Exit interviews can provide valuable information on grievances in the company or inadequate leadership skills. Moreover, false vanity and the scorched earth principle are counterproductive in times of digitalisation and a shortage of skilled workers. Talents who leave the company in resentment can also act as brand ambassadors - only as negative ones - and damage the employer's reputation.

6. Programs for employees

Over time, all employees, not just managers, should be involved in employer branding initiatives or have the opportunity to participate. Every employee can be a brand ambassador for their company.

Engagement programs

Companies can initiate programs to encourage their workforce to get involved and actively participate in initiatives. Examples include employee clubs (foreign language clubs, hobby clubs, etc.), voluntary training to become a company fire brigade, company paramedic or first aid officer, and support for internal projects that improve the quality of breaks (greening projects, reading circles, office fish, etc.) or support employees (sponsorships, explanatory videos, etc.) as well as social responsibility (donations to kindergartens, child sponsorships, etc.).

Recognition programs

Unfortunately, appreciation is often neglected in everyday working life. How about establishing recognition programs to honour staff members for their achievements and commitment? These can be monetary or non-monetary rewards such as bonuses, vouchers, public recognition or career opportunities.

Referral programs

Employees can serve as a valuable source of potential new recruits. Companies can initiate employee referral programs to encourage their workforce to suggest qualified candidates from their network (referral recruiting). Their own employees act as ambassadors for the company: "employees recruit employees". In this way, vacant positions can often be filled in a more timely and personal manner than through official recruiting.

7. Internal employer branding campaigns

Internal employer branding needs a strategy and clearly defined goals. Internal employer branding campaigns are one way of working towards the respective goals with temporary actions. The interaction of several actors is coordinated and planned. For example, a campaign could focus on internally promoted training opportunities and publicise them via an employee event, a special landing page or eye-catching notices. A campaign on preventive health with courses offered by external specialists on the company premises or online would also be conceivable. This could be flanked by optimising workplaces or health posters and cards.

8. Internal employer branding events

In times of home office and remote work, the sense of belonging and the team aspect often suffer. Regular employee events can help to strengthen the sense of belonging within the company, promote teamwork and increase employee retention through social networking. For example, companies can organise events such as company outings, family days, company runs, annual celebrations, internal competitions or hackathons. Another possibility are targeted team-building events such as Escape Rooms or outdoor sports activities.

We will be happy to advise you on which events fit your employer brand and support your internal employer branding: [email protected]


The focus of all internal employer branding measures is the employee experience. This refers to all the experiences your employees have with and in your company. If these experiences are positive, this not only has a positive effect on the satisfaction, employee engagement and loyalty of your skilled workers. According to HR-today, companies that invest in employee experience make 4 times more profit. Almost 40 percent observe an increase in productivity and just as many report that customer satisfaction increases due to engaged employees. So it makes double sense to plan and implement internal employer branding measures.

The current study by the Qualtrics XM Institute also shows that the strategic importance of employee experience is growing. According to this study, three quarters of HR managers stated that managers are focusing more on experience management.

All internal employer branding measures presented in this magazine article are to be understood as examples and inspiration on how companies can strengthen their internal employer branding strategy. Ultimately, the selection of the appropriate measures depends on the needs and values of the company and its employees.

As a full-service employer branding agency, we are happy to advise you on all aspects of internal employer branding and support you in all matters.

Your contact:

Katrin Jetter
Senior Consultant
0711/ 925388-10

[email protected]

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