Family businesses in the employment market

The ongoing digital transformation is one very important reason that family businesses need highly skilled workers. When recruiting new workers, they have an ace up their sleeves: their good reputations. Jobs with family businesses are considered to be safe and family-friendly, and the working environment and career prospects there are also judged to be positive, as corresponding surveys by the Foundation for Family Businesses show.

Skilled workers for digital transformation

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Labour-market situation and opportunities for shaping digitalisation When people talk about digital transformation in Germany, they often think about start-ups in cities like Berlin. But innovation takes place everywhere in Germany. Family companies, which are often not in big cities, are the real drivers of digital transformation. And when it comes to the Internet of Things or Industry 4.0, these companies have a special need for skilled workers at every level, from trainees to experienced specialists. Analysis of situation for skilled workers The present study is the most comprehensive and detailed analysis thus far on the situation as regards skilled workers in four occupational fields of importance for Germany’s digital transformation: mechanical and automotive engineering; mechatronics, energy and electrical technology; IT; technical research and development. An analysis of 389 online job advertisements showed that the occupational fields examined are of particular relevance when it comes to the personnel sought by family businesses. Our explanation video shows where this shortage of skilled workers is worst and ways to address it.


Family businesses as employers

Family businesses enjoy a good reputation with young specialists and managers. Potential employees generally rate them more highly than non-family businesses, for instance as regards working environment, career prospects and work-life balance. These are the results of a series of studies entitled “Germany’s next generation of business owners”. Commissioned over the past ten years by the Foundation for Family Businesses, the studies are based on surveys conducted by the Technical University (TU) Munich at the biannual Family-Business Careers Day. The studies are among the most comprehensive scientific analyses carried out in the German-speaking countries. The Foundation for Family Businesses and the Entrepreneurs Club launched the Family-Business Careers Day in 2006. It is held on the premises of a different family business twice a year.

On the whole, family businesses are ranked better in nine out of 14 criteria:

Work-life balance

Work-life balance is a topic raised more and more often in talks between HR staff and applicants. A survey carried out by the TU Munich reveals that it is a decisive criterion, regardless of the applicants’ gender or age. Over 95 percent of those surveyed at the Careers Day consider this aspect to be important or very important.

Wie soll der Arbeitgeber die Vereinbarkeit von Berufs- und Privatleben konkret fördern und sicherstellen?

Family businesses can offer more personalized solutions to finding a balance between work and family life. For example, Trumpf, a mechanical engineering company, has abolished a set number of working hours per week, replacing it with hours per year. That offers employees greater flexibility as to when they work. In consultation with management – and depending on the needs of the company – employees can choose to work as few as 15 hours a week or as many as 40.

B. Braun, a pharmaceutical and medical technology company based in Melsungen, Germany, allows its staff to take sabbaticals lasting up to five years. This time off work can be used not just for parenting, but also to assist spouses, parents or parents-in-law in need of nursing care. Employees who reduce their working time by half for reasons like these are still paid between 65 and 75 percent of their salary.