Creative advertising to attract good employees

In their efforts to find and retain the best staff, companies are making themselves attractive. Four Swiss companies show how it works – in different ways. Are they being true to the characteristics of Generation Z?

“Staff are the most important commodity of company” is a statement that we hear time and time again. Well-qualified employees are actually one of the key factors to the success of a company. Finding them, however, is by no means easy – because employers across all industries are wooing them. But how seriously do companies take the task of offering their staff ideal working conditions? What can the workforce expect from their employer? And what measures are companies resorting to in order to make themselves attractive? Is it the completely stylish office? The combination of work and family life? Or is it the financial incentives? Admittedly, it takes more than good architecture, a modern IT infrastructure or a high salary to ensure that staff are happy and are able to develop their performance potential. With ingenuity, an increasing number of companies are creating working conditions where work is fun.

Victorinox: deep relaxation is the route to success

Breathing deeply, relaxing and focusing on health – no, it’s not a yoga lesson but a normal working day at Victorinox. Two to three times a day, they have guided “balance time” for five minutes. Since 1884, the family-run company based in central Switzerland has shown how social company policy goes hand in hand with commercial success. “The credo of company founder Karl Elsener ‘Creating and keeping jobs’ is as valid as ever,” says HR Manager Robert Heinzer. In Ibach, the traditional company employs around 950 staff, 700 of them in the production section alone. They come from all four continents and from over 15 countries. One in five employees works part-time and 5 per cent are apprentices. Employees with disabilities are also welcome, with adjustments made to the infrastructure where necessary. Solidarity and an adherence to solid fundamental values are what has always characterised the Victorinox philosophy. The cherished collaboration is based on trust, respect, openness, gratitude, courage, responsibility and modesty. From this, a corporate culture has developed that enables productive cooperation across all operating divisions; a culture that – so the HR Manager believes – is felt by both customers and business partners alike. The fact that staff genuinely see themselves as members of a large “family” is reflected in their average length of service: 22 years!

myclimate: the good climate is bearing fruit

Tomatoes, pumpkins and courgettes are growing on the roof of Pfingstweidstrasse 10 in Zurich. Some of this produce finds its way straight into the pots of the company’s head chef, who creates fresh meals for the myclimate workforce four times a week. And it’s not only vegetables that are sprouting up out of the ground. On the terrace that is used as a meeting room, creative ideas are coming up – sometimes better than in the office. Most of the 60 employees do not have a desk of their own. They find a seat in the open-plan office, get together to work on projects or make themselves comfortable on the sofa. The fact that the Managing Director also doesn’t have a separate office creates a high level of transparency and an open culture. “Many people come to us because we offer them a job with a purpose,” says Press Officer Kai Landwehr. As a result, intrinsic motivation is high. The team is put together as an intentionally heterogeneous group supported by a broad base of expertise from which everyone should be able to benefit. Although the salaries of the non-profit organisation are lower than in the private sector – the overall package is attractive. Working hours are flexible. Part-time working is not an exception, even in management, and those employed on 60 per cent contracts or higher are also entitled to work from home one day a week. For commuters, working hours begin on the train – the half-price railcard (Halbtax) is paid for by the company, as is a proportion of the railcard giving holders free rail travel (Generalabo). Anyone who wants to take part in group events is able to do so three or four times a year. This summer, a walk on the Aletsch Glacier was on the schedule. Joint experiences like this bring people together – even when people are back in the office again.

With ingenuity, an increasing number of companies are creating working conditions where work is fun.

GGZ@work: people are allowed to have a laugh here!

Everyone working at GGZ@work has something to laugh about. “Humour and a certain tolerance of mistakes is important to us,” says Anna Schillinger, Deputy MD and HR Manager. A relaxed and respectful work atmosphere has developed among the 49 employees at the Zug-based non-profit organisation over the years. Hierarchies are flat and decision-making processes are short. Working on your own initiative is encouraged and, in return, the workforce enjoys a great deal of self-determination and the right to have a say in their area of responsibility. The channels of communication are simple. The Managing Director's door is always open – even for short-term issues, problems or a discussion. As much as operations allow, HR staff support home working, professional training and longer holidays. Sporty staff have free use of the sports facilities provided by the canton of Zug. “We credit our employees with a great deal of trust and deploy their skills and expertise in a targeted way,” assures Anita Schillinger. This is based on the conviction that satisfaction and health are better within an environment where staff feel good. In addition, this also has a positive impact on work performance, which can only be of benefit to the company.

Liip: who’s in charge here, then?

The management is searched for in vain at the Liip advertising agency. They got rid of the boss two and a half years ago. Since then, the 171 employees at five locations have been working in a holacracy they organise themselves. Anyone is able to make changes to their responsibilities and even the corporate structure in line with clear processes. They also have decision-making powers and can set their own priorities. The Liip workforce not only enjoys flexibility with regard to working hours, workload and location, but four weeks’ paternity leave and a fair and transparent salary system are also a matter of course. Free sports facilities and massages at all locations ensure that their health and well-being is taken care of. Liip is a family-friendly employer. If no other provision can be made, the kids, the dog and even a tortoise are welcome in the office. For the company’s founder, the key thought behind this – which he still believes today – is that where they are able, staff should be able to do what makes them happy. They should be able to earn enough to pay their bills, for example. Liip is 100 per cent owned by the “Liipers”. The company’s profit is shared among the workforce in the form of a bonus. Thus, everyone benefits from the company’s success and wants to take the company forward. Vera Lorenzi from Liip confirms that the concept is on the rise: “The distribution of responsibility is working well and has increased our efficiency.”

Generation Z wants to turn its own passion into a career.

Generation Z is wired differently

Generation Y saw the first digital natives enter the world of work. The most conversant with digital technologies, people born between 1980 and the mid-1990s have turned the world of work completely upside down. But the next big change is now imminent. Over the next few years, Generation Z, those born after 1995, will begin their professional careers – and they are wired totally differently from their predecessors. “Employers are finding it difficult to understand that Generation Z is not like some people expect,” says Christian Scholz, Professor at Saarland University and author of the book “Generation Z”. If the previous Generation Y was striving to find self-discovery and personal development at work, Generation Z has recognised that this plan doesn’t always work out. For today’s 30- to 40-year-olds, work and free time merge seamlessly into each other.

It is different for Generation Z, where people want clear duties and boundaries as well as a strict separation of work and private life. After 5 p.m., people can no longer be contacted for work. “What the people of Generation Z absolutely don’t want is work-life blending – where a job encroaches on one’s free time. They are rejecting all of the things that are supposedly mandatory in terms of work-on-demand and flexibility on the part of the employer. And that’s also a good thing!” says Scholz. The people of Generation Z are demanding a secure job with clear structures, preferably with a “feel-good atmosphere”. According to the expert, many people misjudge Generation Z: “People assume that Generation Z is the flexible and mobile generation – willing and able to work practically anywhere. But that is a dangerous misconception. For them, having a fixed place of work and their own desk is generally very important. Desk-sharing and open office initiatives are being emphatically rejected.

Scholz’s investigations have shown that Generation Z is keen to turn its own passion into a career and seek fulfilment from it. It wants to identify with the work but not with a company. Similarly, Generation Z shies away from taking on responsibility and is especially reticent when it comes to managing staff. “This attitude creates problems and is an example of how we cannot accept everything that Generation Z wants,” states Scholz.

Christian Scholz, “Generation Z. Wie sie tickt, was sie verändert und warum sie uns alle ansteckt” (only available in German) ,

Wiley-VCH, ISBN 978-3-527-50807-5

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Creative advertising to attract good employees

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