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Staff turnover: How can employee retention be strengthened?

How have the pandemic and other upheavals affected employee retention in the mechanical and plant engineering sector? Initial studies also show for Germany that more employees are thinking about changing jobs. This is why ProduktionNRW organized a virtual event for manufacturing companies in NRW on June 24, 2022, to take a closer look at and discuss the topic of fluctuation and employee retention for the industry.

Evaluation of the flash survey on the subject of fluctuation

Andrea Veerkamp-Walz, Human Resources and Innovation Management Officer from VDMA Business Advisory, first presented the interim results of the VDMA flash survey. In this case, the survey focused on employees’ own resignations.

Even though the interim results do not claim to be representative, they confirm the trend. At just under four percent, the self-termination rate has the highest value ever determined via the VDMA HR benchmarks. It also shows that self-termination is primarily carried out by employees under the age of 45. The main reasons, according to those completing the survey, are rational (for example, dissatisfaction with pay or development prospects) and personal (for example, family planning, relocation due to partner’s job change). Three-quarters of the participating companies are taking measures to reduce fluctuation within the company – these include, for example, better integration within the company or improvements in compensation. In summary, the survey results make it clear that employee retention should once again become a stronger focus of HR work.

In the subsequent discussion, the participants discussed, among other things, the offers for mobile working. It is precisely the location-independent options for work that promote the intention to change jobs, since in some cases it is no longer necessary to move to the new employer. In order to increase employer attractiveness, the expansion or introduction of home office options can also be discussed – in this area, however, it is then also necessary to train managers accordingly and, in some cases, to jointly define new management roles.

Workshop to strengthen employee loyalty

With the help of the collaborative IT tool Mural, the participants then worked out three key questions in a workshop to strengthen employee loyalty in their own company. The three questions related to the areas of leadership, working conditions and material benefits. Challenges and possible solutions were identified for each of the questions.

For example, in connection with leadership, a lack of leadership skills and disruptions in corporate communications were described as challenges. According to the participants, the challenges can be addressed with targeted further training programs for managers and more open corporate communications. When asked about general working conditions, for example, the desire for more flexibility was expressed – possible solutions relate to more flexible working time models, for example. With regard to material benefits, the increased sense of entitlement among the workforce or the lack of knowledge about company performance were highlighted more critically. The solutions mainly revolved around further material benefits such as gas vouchers or a public transport ticket.

In the concluding discussion, it was also emphasized that there are still reservations about mobile working among many managers in the mechanical and plant engineering sector. At the request of one participant, there was also a comprehensive exchange of views on the advantages and disadvantages of the employer rating platform kununu. The overall conclusion was that material benefits alone do not reduce the number of employees leaving the company – it is much more a question of strengthening emotional opportunities, such as fulfilling work content or social integration in the company.


The event was offered by ProduktionNRW. ProduktionNRW is the competence network for mechanical engineering and production technology in North Rhine-Westphalia and is run by VDMA NRW. ProduktionNRW sees itself as a platform for networking, informing and marketing companies, institutions and networks among themselves and along the value chain. Significant parts of the services provided by ProduktionNRW are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).