"Changing times in the labor market – and we're right in the middle of it". We recently gave you an insight into the changing labor market in our magazine. For employers it is becoming more difficult by the day to recruit and retain good employees. thyssenkrupp is also increasingly feeling the effects of these developments and is positioning itself for the future.

Kathrin Dennler, Head of Corporate Center People, Legal and Compliance at thyssenkrupp AG, talks to us about the changes in the labor market, what they mean for us at thyssenkrupp, and how we are responding.

Ms. Dennler, the whole world is talking about the shortage of skilled workers. To what extent does this affect thyssenkrupp?

Kathrin Dennler: The labor market has changed completely in recent years. We're seeing a real turnaround, from the employer market to the employee market. It's no longer potential employees who apply to us. Instead, we sit on the applicant side and try to convince people to join us.

We notice: There is already a shortage of skilled workers in almost all areas. Where new technologies and innovations are concerned, the pain has been great for some time. We have seen an increase of 70% in our IT vacancies, and for engineering professions that increase is even higher – more than 100%. At the same time, applications are dropping massively and there are positions for which we are already no longer receiving any applications.

But it's no longer just about tech and IT. The trend is affecting all occupational groups, at all levels including commercial activities, in all our companies. One in three of our current 2,000 or so advertised positions is currently unfilled. In addition, Covid has fostered a general willingness to change jobs, and we are feeling the effects: We have had a 40% increase in voluntary resignations globally over the last two fiscal years.

Together, this is an uphill battle and means change – both for our HR work, but also for the managers.

Can you tell us more about that?

Kathrin Dennler: We are working hard on the issues. But we have to be honest: Many competitors come from a more stable economic situation and have used high budgets to position themselves as best as possible in the recruiting environment. We can see this, for example, in the fact that there are currently over twice as many recruiter positions advertised on the market as there were before the pandemic. Finding a good recruiter has never been as difficult as it is now. We have to be able to explain all the better why it's worth joining thyssenkrupp.

And speed is more important than ever. Job interviews are held in the morning, and the contract is signed the same week or even the same day – that's what we see at many of our competitors. We have to get there, too. In my opinion, we still get bogged down too often in the search for the perfect applicant. Others, on the other hand, say that 70 percent is also enough, because skilling is the new recruiting. In other words, applicants who do not fullyfit the job are developed in a targeted manner.

So what are our responses to that?

Kathrin Dennler: There's a lot going on at our company, too. A number of our businesses have strengthened their recruiting organizations in recent months or are working flat out to do so. And our active sourcers, our in-house headhunters, so to speak, are efficient and more in demand than ever. And they are successful! This enables us to actively compete for potential employees and significantly increase our speed.

And what we notice: Especially in times of high levels of technology, it is becoming increasingly important to be in direct contact with applicants. We can often score more points with a face-to-face conversation than with a well-designed process. At the moment, we live on commitment and heart and soul, not digital state-of-the-art processes.

But the market also shows very clearly that if you really want to be successful in finding employees, you have to stand out. It's not just about pay. Today, it's about how we work together – about our culture. Good leadership and a good working atmosphere are the be-all and end-all.

And this is exactly where thyssenkrupp has something to offer: Our values, which we live together. These include reliability, respect, fairness and trust. But also the way we treat each other. We look after each other at tk. For example, our management of health and safety – also and above all during the Corona pandemic. All this makes thyssenkrupp stand out, as our annual pulse checks clearly show, and thus also attractive to potential employees.

And: We offer our employees a good overall package. For example, with our Hybrid Working agenda. With it, we are creating more flexible working hours – also in production with the help of innovative shift models. Approaches like these help us score points with parents, for example, and strengthen the compatibility of family and career. In doing so, we take the wishes and needs of our employees in the industrial sector just as seriously as the way they work in the office.

So you rely heavily on our brand when competing for employees?

Kathrin Dennler: Our brand continues to be a strong asset. When I recently asked a job applicant why she applied to work for us, her answer was: "Simply because it's thyssenkrupp." But of course the thyssenkrupp brand alone is not a self-perpetuator. We have to show ourselves with the right messages so that we are also successful as an employer brand on the market. And that's what we're doing: Our employer branding campaign #GENERATIONTK, for example, was launched in the middle of the pandemic. And it is well received because it is honest. The way we treated our employees during the Covid period and also the major health campaigns, most recently #bettertogether, have set clear exclamation marks and received super feedback from inside and outside the company.

And we have a good story to tell. Where, if not with us, do you have the opportunity to drive the green transformation with such great leverage? We have an incredible amount of expertise on board for this, but we also continue to train people and create new job profiles.

And what specifically can employees do?

Kathrin Dennler: We are all not only employees but also ambassadors for thyssenkrupp. Talking to family, friends, and acquaintances to make them curious about our group of companies may ultimately lead to an application. We also try to promote this engagement on the company side by offering tips for the LinkedIn presence. Some of our companies are also now successfully using employee referral programs, and it's not just in the training area that "trainees recruit trainees" is going down very well.

If employees are looking for a change, it's worth taking a look at our JobCompass. It's our internal career site where employees can find all the information they need about changing jobs internally - and also apply directly. thyssenkrupp offers so many opportunities to develop, there's no need to go far afield.

And all this is not just about recruiting, but more than ever about retaining good employees at thyssenkrupp. This is the major joint task of our managers and HR. Being close to our employees, understanding what motivates them, that's what matters. Unfortunately, it is far too common for employees to say what motivated them to take this step only after they have resigned. That's why I'd like to call on everyone to enter into a dialog timely. When the shoe pinches, so to speak. Even though there is always room for improvement in speak-up, thyssenkrupp offers many opportunities to address critical points. In addition to the 1:1 management dialog, feedback tools such as our regular pulse check also help. HR and co-determination can assist as well.

Looking ahead - what is particularly important?

Kathrin Dennler: It's not for nothing that it’s said ‘people work for people’. Because in the end, you don't just leave the company, you also leave the manager. Inspiration and appreciation, the question of how our employees can feel better and perform better, are becoming increasingly important. New Work, New Leadership – how do we want to work, how do we want to lead, how do we deal with young people's completely different expectations of the world of work – these are topics that keep us very busy.

And one thing is certain: The labor market will remain challenging for us. We will have to understand, apply and offer new technologies. Rapid adaptation and regular questioning will be our daily business.

Ms. Dennler, thank you for the fascinating insights in our interview.

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