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- Press Review

Talent Journey Meets Work Culture: "Retain and Develop"

"New Hiring" encompasses not only employee recruiting and signing a contract, but goes far beyond onboarding and probationary periods. All measures here should pay off in terms of long-term employee retention.

79 percent of IT professionals and software engineers are currently thinking about changing jobs. This was identified by the Boston Consulting Group in a 2021 global survey of IT professionals. If we look at knowledge workers as a whole, as a more recent Forsa study commissioned by New Work SE (formerly Xing) does, the figures are also high: According to the study, more than one-third (37 percent) of employees in Germany are considering a job change in 2022 - or have even already taken concrete steps. Compared with the previous year, this trend is up by four percent. Among 30- to 39-year-olds, the proportion of those willing to change jobs is currently almost half (48 percent) of all respondents.

According to the Forsa Society study, the level of willingness to change jobs and the actual turnover of knowledge workers can be attributed primarily to company culture, ahead of hygiene factors or the search for meaning in a job. "Despite Corona, it is easier than ever to find a new job in many industries. More and more employees are questioning their work situation during the pandemic. They are taking a closer look at whether their employer is still a good cultural fit for them," is how Xenia Meuser, Senior Vice President Attract & Retain, Brand & Marketing at New Work SE, sums it up.

Inspiring corporate culture in demand

If you want to grow, you have to address the impacts of employee turnover. Organizations should create catalysts for a benevolent, inspiring and trustworthy - in short, positive - corporate culture. To avoid misunderstandings, however, culture cannot be imposed on an organization "from above"; it emerges from within itself. Through adaptable structures, however, the organization can exert a positive influence on the culture, making it and the company more transparent. In times of VUCA - i.e., Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity - companies can respond quickly and purposefully to changing requirements, including from within the workforce. They engage employees in an intrinsic way and thus help to reduce workforce fluctuation (see info box).

"Showing what you can do" as a hiring tool

Even before the pandemic, IKOR developed its employer brand from within itself and its workforce, according to the guideline: The values must not comprise a management wish-list. Instead, they should reflect how employees actually feel about and live the work culture: Based on qualitative surveys within a selected, diverse "circle of employees," IKOR derived company values that are actually lived.

This gave rise to the employer brand "Be who you are. Show what you can do!" Authenticity was particularly important right from the start of recruiting communications in 2018. That's why the associated campaign deliberately works with real "role models," i.e., IKORians who, by the way, will all still be working for the company in 2022. The campaign gives applicants an authentic impression of how IKOR works and an ability to see themselves as a fit with the company culture - and vice versa.

For this reason, the technology consultancy IKOR, headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, aims not to recruit new developers and consultants ad infinitum. The credo is to retain them, to develop them into "IKORians" and to inspire them in such a way that they stay with the company for as long as possible and grow there.

This "New Hiring" concept stands (and stood even before the pandemic) for continuous process improvement in the areas of "new work culture," recruiting, onboarding and further collaboration. The HR team takes the lead in reviewing the associated process and regularly adapts it. This begins with recruiting itself and continues through other phases.

Application process: Speed is essential

Because knowledge workers can more or less choose their jobs in the technology sector, IKOR involves both the respective team leads and all associated team members in the process for new appointments at an early stage. As a result, applicants and new hires quickly gain insight into the work culture as well as professional and technical topics. This raises the professionalism of the interviews and signals to candidates how important authenticity and empathy are to the company.

To ensure that the employees involved in the application process, in whose team the new talent is to dock, are "interview fit," they attend in-house HR seminars. There, they learn how to structure job interviews and use questioning techniques. A comprehensive recruiting manual gives standardized, iterative processes the necessary tempo: Recruiting tries to inspire candidates over two, at most three interviews until a decision is made and, if they like each other, to bring them on board straight away.

The discussions along the way are not classic top-down interactions; in addition to technical aspects, the team members involved encourage applicants to pose questions on cultural topics. Incidentally, in the two pandemic years to date, the recruiting dialog has also worked very well via video.

Recruiting doesn't end at the signing of the employment contract

Ideally, recruiting under a long-term lens includes a continuous improvement process that goes far beyond onboarding. To ensure that newcomers integrate well despite the strong growth of the company, the HR team has developed a binding process guideline covering up to six months of onboarding: The core idea is to integrate many players in various departments into this process at an early stage and to bring all process-relevant players into continuous dialog.

New IKORians, for example, are each assigned a mentor - someone to look after them who accompanies the newbies as a permanent contact person. In the teams of the specialist departments, permanent team members also provide support in HR matters. They mediate between the HR department and the business units in which the new talents work.

This networking of employees and managers makes it possible to exemplify the company's own culture and make it tangible for new colleagues. At the "Welcome Days" held three times a year - a professional and cultural get-together - or the monthly centrally organized onboarding days on the first day of work, new colleagues learn more about the company and its culture. And they get to talk to other colleagues, managers and leaders across the company.

Stefan Alfermann is a Recruiting Manager at IKOR, a European technology consultancy focusing on platform integration and digitalization of business models for insurers, banks and public authorities. With more than 300 employees at eight locations in Germany, Austria, Serbia, Poland and the UK, IKOR experts have been connecting all participants in the digital and interface economies for 25 years.

Continuing education is mandatory

One of the ways IKOR has succeeded in retaining colleagues’ long term is through the company’s transition to an agile matrix organization four years ago. This was originally on the agenda in order to better align itself with the market from the customer's point of view. But it also automatically means that core teams remain manageable in terms of numbers: If the company grows, the team sizes grow modestly at best; usually new teams are created instead.


In addition, individual colleagues can develop into a management role early in their IKOR career journey; it is also possible to change the professional focus. In this case, however, the talent should have the appropriate strengths. And those involved should attest to the person's relevant development potential. An adaptable organizational form should always offer scope for positive cultural development.

Continuing education is a top company priority and for IKORians, continuing education is mandatory. Every employee is expected to regularly select topics relating to specialist, technical, methodological or soft skills from our extensive catalog of seminars. Each year, every employee is allotted around two weeks for further training. Most of the seminars are determined by the employees in their annual target agreements with their manager - and the selected seminars are booked by agreement via the HR department for further training.

– Conclusion

All measures pay off for culture

"New Hiring" should always be designed as a continuous improvement process. The HR team must take the lead in regularly reviewing and adapting this process. New hires should be able to immerse themselves in the culture through networking. In this way, new colleagues build not only their professional but also technical competence. Additionally, they can discover / learn new things and profit from benefits - such as support for dual studies, childcare costs, care for relatives, sabbaticals or even a company bicycle for their own fitness.

Many of these offerings are hygiene factors; in sum, however, they all pay dividends in terms of culture, togetherness and ultimately corporate value - which helps companies with the appropriate culture and processes to stay one step ahead of the competition as an employer brand.


The article appeared in "IT Karriere Magazin" in November 2022. To the PDF of the German language text.

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