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Photo: Paderborn University

| Press release

When do employees recommend their employers?

Scientists at Paderborn University researched the contributing factors

The atmosphere and design of a workplace play a key role when employees evaluate their employers – as demonstrated by research findings from two economists at Paderborn University, Dr. Katharina Radermacher and Enja Marie Herdejürgen. Their study, entitled ‘Findings from employer assessments: the potential of working atmosphere and workplace design for willingness to recommend employers’, was supported by the Interior Business Association (IBA) and published by them this year.

The scientists examined employees’ willingness to recommend their employers using survey results from the ‘Best Workplace Award 2019’, awarded by the IBA and the online rating platform ‘kununu’. As well as showing recommendation rates, platforms like ‘kununu’ also contain numerous comments from assessors and thus serve as a vital source of information for potential applicants seeking jobs. ‘Working atmosphere has the greatest impact on willingness to recommend. An attractive working environment in the physical sense is also a key factor in companies’ success at obtaining and retaining employees’, is Radermacher’s summary of the research findings.

Factors behind a positive working atmosphere

The study shows that willingness to recommend is particularly affected by what are known as ‘soft’ factors such as working atmosphere, managers’ conduct, and communication. To optimise the atmosphere in a workplace, the research findings show that companies should for example promote aspects such as helpfulness, teamwork, friendliness and openness, which boost cooperation between colleagues. Conversely, competitiveness, mobbing and a lack of appreciation by managers result in a negative perception of the working atmosphere, as do physical and emotional stress caused by overloading, pressure and uncertainty.

Flexibility in the workplace

According to the study, workplace characteristics such as flexible working hours and locations or spatial design have a greater effect on employee recommendations than salary does. The flexible use of working areas also has a major impact on communications. Herdejürgen: ‘Workplace characteristics offer significant, as yet untapped potential for recommendations. Companies absolutely need to incorporate this into their employer branding strategy.’ In the Paderborn scientists’ view, workplace design should therefore also be highlighted to potential applicants. This could for example be presented using photos or 360-degree tours of the office on career websites or job portals.

Recommendations for employers: utilise your potential

Experts Radermacher and Herdejürgen recommend: ‘Employers absolutely must make use of publicly available information from rating platforms. The specific measures that should be implemented in a particular company should be determined via a company-specific evaluation of employees’ willingness to recommend the company and of comments on rating platforms. These may indicate any specific issues or grievances and highlight potential for improvement at a company. The next step is to introduce measures tailored to employees’ needs so as to viewed as a fair company that is committed to its employees.’

Further information about the study:

Dr. Katharina Radermacher, Enja Marie Herdejürgen: ‘Findings from employer assessments: the potential of working atmosphere and workplace design for willingness to recommend employers’ (in German), publisher: Interior Business Association (IBA), January 2022



Katharina Radermacher

Dr. Katharina Radermacher


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Enja Marie Herdejürgen

Enja Marie Herdejürgen


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