© Tobias Tanzya


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Talent scarcity is an issue that no company can ignore anymore. 1,900,000 vacancies were recorded by the German Institute for Employment Research (IAB) for the first quarter of 2023 in Germany – two-thirds of which are jobs for skilled workers. In addition, 45% believe they will change jobs within the following year. (Gallup Engagement Index 2022)

But how can companies find new talents? And how can they retain employees? Appreciation plays a key role. Professor Sabine Einwiller of the University of Vienna and Dr. Michael Preuss, Head of Communications at Bayer, shared insights of appreciation and employee loyality at the Leadership Forum 2023.

Six ways to express appreciation

Leadership Forum 2023 - Prof. Dr. Sabine Einwiller - Appreciation and employee loyality

“Companies need to focus more on appreciation to find new talents and to retain good employees.”

Professor Sabine Einwiller, University of Vienna

For over a year, the University of Vienna has researched the importance of appreciation to retain employees within the company and boost their satisfaction and engagement. Further empirical studies will follow. Sabine Einwiller, Professor of Public Relations Research, presented first findings at the Leadership Forum 2023.

“In our interviews and studies, we’ve seen six ways of appreciation that matter to employees,” says Sabine Einwiller. These are:

  1. Monetary and material incentives include an appropriate salary, bonuses, extra offers, and perks. Sometimes, also a personal gift can go a long way in expressing appreciation.
  2. General conditions: That means flexible working hours, possibilities for remote work, or offices that are attractive.
  3. Purpose – a meaningful job – is essential as no employee wants to spend time on unnecessary tasks. Companies should also invest in talent development and create opportunities for employees to grow.
  4. Expressing thanks and praise are two aspects that employees expect from their superiors. This includes striking the right tone, celebrating successes, or the visual recognition of victories in the company – e.g., sharing success stories on the intranet. However, communicators should keep in mind intercultural differences. Sometimes an individual wants to stand out; in other cultures, it’s the team that wants to be appraised. And: Don’t give praise deliberately. Otherwise, it has no effect.
  5. Employees want to be seen and taken seriously by their superiors. They also appreciate it to be able to contribute to corporate success.
  6. Health prevention and psychological support in bullying or discrimination cases are also important.

How Bayer leads the way to staff loyality

Leadership Forum 2023 - Dr. Michael Preuss - Appreciation and employee loyality
Dr. Michael Preuss, Head of Communications at Bayer, explains how appreciation is practiced in his company.

After years of high application figures, the pharmaceutical company Bayer faces a new reality: The number of applicants has declined, and the company needs to join the war for talent. Traditionally, Bayer has put a lot of emphasis employee satisfaction. Dr. Michael Preuss, Head of Communications, shares five theses on how Bayer promotes staff loyalty and attracts new talents.

“Appreciation has long since ceased to be purely an HR issue. Communication is becoming increasingly important.”

Dr. Michael Preuss, Bayer

Thesis #1: Get the basics right.

These include remuneration, bonuses, or, for example, current inflation compensation. “Not all employees are aware of the benefits we offer at Bayer,” says Michael Preuss. “That’s why we share a benefit statement with all colleagues once a year.”

Thesis #2: Employees want to do something meaningful and contribute to the company’s mission.

“I’m thrilled that our employees at Bayer see a purpose in the work they do.” In an internal survey, many colleagues confirmed that their work positively impacts people’s lives, adds value, and is vital to them. But it is also important to openly address dissatisfaction and take countermeasures which are actively monitored at Bayer.

Thesis #3: People make the difference!

Colleagues are the company’s soul and a critical success factor in job satisfaction. That’s why Bayer pays attention to inclusive, diverse teams and a neutral application process. It also promotes an open feedback culture. “At Bayer, employees’ work is evaluated by other colleagues. Because you can fool your boss but not your peers.”

Thesis #4: Training is essential.

Bayer places great value on continuing education, and helping employees to develop their skills. Training has become a vital element or career development.

Thesis #5: Work and personal life must go hand in hand.

Flexible work arrangements are extremely important to attract new and highly qualified talents. “Offering flexible working conditions also expresses trust that our employees accomplish their work independent of the location or the time during the week.”

Dr. Sabine Einwiller is the professor of Public Relation Research at the Department of Communication at the University of Vienna. Her research in the area of corporate comunication focuses on employee communication, crisis communication and complaint management. Starting January 2023, Sabine Einwiller serves as a member of the Academic Society’s Executive Board and its Scientific Advisory Board.

Dr. Michael Preuss is Head of Communications at Bayer since 2016. He is reponsible for internal, external, and digital communications, including the divisions Crop Science, Pharmaceuticals, and Consumer Health, as well as for the overall Bayer brand.