Appreciation and fairness are part of the recipe for success in dealing with employees.

Appreciation and fairness are part of the recipe for success in dealing with employees. (Photo: © GFT / Robert Weise-Prüß)

Small companies also have good prospects


Good employees are hard to find; the lack of skilled employees in the lift sector is a major problem. There is probably no ready-made solution for this. But there are companies that manage this problem better than others.

One example of this is Grädler Fördertechnik GmbH in Thyrow in the state of Brandenburg near Berlin. Frank Grädler employs over 35 people in his company and is very familiar with the skilled labour shortage, "We can find trainees, that’s no problem. The question is: how can I keep them?"

Trainees naturally do not just fall from the sky in Brandenburg either: Grädler-Fördertechnik invests a lot in searching for and training them. For example, the company has developed an app via which new recruits can submit applications. International internships with the Netherlands are just as much part of looking for new recruits as well as word of mouth in the region.

News of the quality of the training has got around, "If you want to learn something, go to Grädler," was heard a lot in the region, reported the 60-year old company boss.

"School marks are not that important"

What is the secret of success? "School marks aren't that important, we also take people who've fallen through the cracks elsewhere. In addition, we offer trainees work experience periods. Here you can quickly tell whether you fit together," according to Grädler. What was important was that someone took care of the trainees in the company.

Unexcused absence is a no-go. Photo: © GFT / Robert Weise-PrüßUnexcused absence is a no-go. Photo: © GFT / Robert Weise-Prüß

And what about the skilled workers who have finished? In his view, things were easy for big company groups: they could pay high wages and offer expensive employee programmes. But small companies still had a chance, emphasised the trained machine fitter.

According to his observations, the Corona pandemic had not changed anything about the lack of skilled workers in the sector. However, the crisis of mechanical engineering and the automotive subcontractors might result in skilled workers once again applying for jobs in small companies. However, the latter would have to show the applicants that there was more to a good job than just a high hourly wage.

"I don’t want any lazy employees"

In addition, the entrepreneur also gave the handicapped, school dropouts and career changers a chance. As trainees, they also got remedial instruction. "I’m a firm believer in people, everyone has potential," explained Grädler. But he also expected performance, "Unexcused absence is a no-go, I don’t want any lazy employees."

Marketing and social commitment were very important to him. For example, this included the support of regional sport clubs and the fire brigade or taking part in competitions. In this regard, Grädler Fördertechnik GmbH was honoured as one of the best employers in Berlin-Brandenburg.

In 2017, it reached the finals of the competition "Grand prix of the SMEs". In mid-September 2020, the company was even awarded the "Grand prix of the SMEs". The company has also appeared in television (DMAX and RTL). All of this helps in finding employees.

Employee retention is just as important. For this, what was needed was a good management and company culture, "You have to include people in your decisions. Handing down decisions from on high – that’s not an option." This evidently works, "My workforce gets together once a month, they go out for meals together in their free time, help each other, e.g. when they move – as an employer, that makes me proud."

Recipes for success: "appreciation and fairness"

The new recruits can also apply via app. Photo: © GFT / Robert Weise-PrüßThe new recruits can also apply via app. Photo: © GFT / Robert Weise-Prüß

Grädler-Fördertechnik also provides flexible working hours, home office, regular training courses, treatment at an osteopath, Kieser-Training, infusions from non-medical practitioners as well as a weekly medical massage.

The company in Thyrow has a fitness room, managers can choose their company cars, there are events and company parties, kindergarten fees are assumed - the list goes on and on. For example, in future with the offer of getting a flat or house at a fair rent. "We’re planning to erect single- and multi-family homes, only 25 light railway minutes from Berlin."

This costs money. "Of course, the company has to make a profit," emphasised the managing partner, "but the profit will be lower. "And it takes time. Grädler has withdrawn from day-to-day business. "Growth is only possible if I transfer responsibility." This fits in with the two most important recipes for success he cultivates in dealing with his employees, "Appreciation and fairness."

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