Annual Report 2023

Recruiting and retaining employees

Not audited

Strategic measures

Staff recruitment continued to be a major challenge in the 2023 financial year. The ongoing scarcity of managers and experts with highly specialised skillsets, as well as demographic change and the challenging market environment, led to a further heightening of the competition for suitably qualified employees. In light of this trend, it is all the more important to take target group-specific, strategic and, above all, long-term measures to retain employees within the company on the one hand and, on the other, to find and attract new employees. On account of the situation on the labour market, highly skilled workers, in particular, are virtually free to take their pick. Companies must therefore put in place suitable conditions to meet the requirements and preferences of job applicants.

At present, the particular focus of recruitment is on highly specialised employees and managers with several years of professional experience and profound knowledge of project management, in areas such as digitalisation, logistics and IT. However, those starting out on their career path and people with some initial experience are also being sought and hired.

In order to attract talents in a fiercely competitive market and retain them in the company, HHLA took innovative approaches to recruitment and the strengthening of its internal and external employer brand in 2023, e.g. interactive social media formats and a pilot project “Using AI to write job ads”. This enabled more precise communication with the existing target group and opened up new target groups – not only regionally, but also beyond the borders of Hamburg. The increased use of specific digital channels for recruitment and employer branding proved particularly effective and efficient.

New hires and turnover

A total of 157 new employees were hired in the 2023 financial year. The following table provides an overview of the age distribution and the percentage of women among the new hires at the HHLA companies in Germany.

Recruitments 2023





thereof females


thereof females

< 30 years






31.3 %

30 – 50 years






32.9 %

> 50 years






42.9 %

HHLA Germany






33.1 %

Since 2013, HHLA has been employing a self-developed structured selection process (assessment centre) in Germany that not only considers the applicant’s personal and professional suitability but also diversity aspects. The employees in the selection panels are specially trained for this. In addition, the selection panel must include at least one woman for all selection processes in which the pool of applicants includes women.

401 employees were hired by HHLA’s foreign subsidiaries during the reporting period. 83.0 % of new hires were in the Intermodal segment. The proportion of women among the new employees was 24.2 %, while the proportion of under-30s was 34.2 %.

At 5.6 %, the staff turnover rate (excluding internal transfers within the Group) in Germany increased slightly year-on-year (previous year: 5.4 %). Of the 206 people who left the company, 33.0 % were retirees (previous year: 38.7 %). The staff turnover rate at our foreign subsidiaries was 9.3 % in the reporting year (previous year: 10.0 %). By comparison, the proportion of people leaving the company as retirees was comparatively low at 0.4 % (previous year: 0.5 %).

Contracts, remuneration and additional benefits

Collective bargaining agreements

Collective bargaining agreements governed pay and working conditions for 80.8 % of employees in Germany (previous year: 82.9 %). The proportion of employment contracts of indefinite duration (excluding apprenticeship contracts) was 96.3 % (previous year: 96.3 %).

Collective bargaining agreements governed pay and working conditions for 25.7 % (previous year: 26.0 %) of employees in the foreign subsidiaries. 91.5 % of all employment contracts were of indefinite duration (previous year: 89.6 %).

Appraisal and remuneration systems

The appraisal systems at the German companies contain both bottom-up and top-down components. Some of them are laid out in collective bargaining agreements, comprise variable remuneration components and are linked with training requirements for the company and staff.

The management assessment system at HHLA was realigned in 2020 and transferred to a performance management system that has been applied since 2021. In addition to the existing variable remuneration components, such as ROCE (return on capital employed), EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) and individual targets, department- and company-specific KPIs were adopted as new target categories.

The realignment of the variable remuneration system aims to promote cross-functional cooperation alongside increased networking and interdepartmental process orientation in order to provide long-term support for the cultural shift at HHLA.

Flexible working models

Part-time employees in Germany

as of 31.12, part-time ratio in %

Developments in HHLA’s part-time employees in Germany (bar chart)

A growing number of people across all employee groups and hierarchy levels in Germany are taking up the option of working part-time to tailor their working hours to different life stages. Offering part-time work is therefore an important way of retaining staff at the company. Allowing staff to adapt their working hours helps them to reconcile their professional and family commitments, look after close relatives or do charity work.

In 2023, a total of 329 employees took up the option of working part-time (previous year: 308). At the end of 2023, the share of part-time workers at HHLA in Germany increased to 8.9 % (previous year: 8.4 %) The percentage of men in part-time employment rose to 40.1 % (previous year: 39.3 %). At the holding company, where most roles are administrative, the percentage of part-time workers (excluding apprentices) was 17.8 % (previous year: 17.4 %). At HHLA’s foreign subsidiaries, the share of part-time working was 1.1 % during the reporting year (previous year: 1.0 %).

Company pension scheme

Since the complete reorganisation and further development of company pension schemes in 2018, employees in Germany now have more flexibility in terms of shaping their working lifetimes. Both individual early retirement solutions and various options for lump-sum payouts upon retirement boost the appeal of company pension schemes for employees.

Existing claims from models such as the working lifetime account and what is known as the “port pension” have been transferred to the HHLA capital plan. By pooling these provisions within a single system, HHLA is addressing rising employee needs with regard to transparency. In 2023, 70.9 % (previous year: 69.3 %) of eligible employees were already taking advantage of this pension system.

Earnings before interest and taxes.
Intermodal/Intermodal systems
Transportation via several modes of transport (water, rail, road) combining the specific advantages of the respective carriers.
ROCE (return on capital employed before taxes)
EBIT / Average operating assets.

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