Being an employer of choice helps you keep hold of your best people and gives you your pick of the talent that’s out there. But how can organisations without millions to spend compete? We’ve got 6 simple steps to do just that…
The rise of remote working has changed everything. One of the most significant of these changes is that many of us are no longer limited when it comes to where we work geographically. For organisations, that means there’s a bigger talent pool to choose from. But the other side of the coin is that there‘s also more competition for the best candidates—putting them firmly in the driving seat.
On top of that, now that many people have experienced truly flexible working, we all have a better idea of what we want from our work. More and more people would consider leaving their current employer if they don’t get their preference; research shows that 74% of people would quit their job if they’re offered more flexible options elsewhere. That puts a huge emphasis on making culture and employee experience the true standout benefits of the modern workplace.
What makes an employer of choice?
The term “employer of choice” might have become another business buzzword (or buzz-phrase), but it represents what should be a crucial part of every organisation’s recruitment and retention strategy. The key to becoming an employer of choice is your employee value proposition (EVP)—the benefits of working at your organisation, financial or otherwise.
Every year, Glassdoor compiles a list of the 50 best places to work in the UK, based on anonymous survey feedback from employees up and down the country. Unsurprisingly, the list is always dominated by big names who’ve made big investments into their EVP. But most organisations simply don’t have the resources to spend money on fancy offices, unlimited time off and shiny benefits to match those big names and even bigger budgets (especially when they don’t have enough employees to really take advantage of bulk-buying).
So how can the rest of us stand out from the crowd to attract and retain the top talent without breaking the bank?
How to become an employer of choice
1. Create a working environment that inspires and soothes
It can be easy to overlook the small things when you’re thinking about the big picture (to not see the trees for the wood, if you like). But whether it’s an old-school office or a WFH setup, those small things—like comfortable desk chairs, quality equipment, or a clean space—can have a huge impact on retention.
So what about recruitment? Well, these days, the research candidates do prior to their interviews extends to social channels like LinkedIn and Instagram. These represent an opportunity to give people a peek behind the curtain and showcase the things that make your organisation a great place to work. Make the outside world think “wow, I’d love to work there”.
And when you do get to the face-to-face or screen-to-screen stage, remember that an interview is no longer just an evaluation of the candidate, but also a chance for you to sell them on your organisation. So carefully select the best setting and think about which features of your working environment you want to highlight in the conversation.
2. Offer mutually beneficial benefits
This one may seem obvious, but the benefits you offer are a reflection of the value you place on your employees. We know, a generous benefits package can rack up a pretty hefty bill, so make sure to prioritise the employee benefits that are also employer benefits.
Think of them as a double investment; the benefits package as a whole is investing in retaining and attracting talent, but the individual benefits can also be a way for you to invest in your people’s personal development and wellbeing (like a Headspace subscription or development allowance), which will ultimately benefit the organisation as well. By focusing on those areas, you’ll end up with a more knowledgeable, more capable and healthier workforce. And the message you will send to your people is:
“We want to help you progress your career and we care about you.”
To figure out exactly which benefits will mean the most to your people, why not start with a survey? That’s what we did—and we followed it up with a short pulse survey to see how our new benefits landed, which revealed that they went down an absolute storm!
Once you’ve nailed a stellar benefits package, make sure you shout about it on every job ad you put out.
3. Iron out your internal processes
It’s not all about what you can give your people so they enjoy their work; it’s also important to identify where you can remove the obstacles and frustrations that most of us are all-too familiar with in our careers.
How many times have you found yourself cursing the hoops you have to jump through or sign-offs you have to get before you can mark a task as “done”? Not only is it a waste of time that could be better spent on the next project, it’s also an emotional drain.
An entirely frictionless employee experience can seem like a bit of a pipe dream, but by smoothing out some key processes, you’ll get a few steps closer.
If you keep in mind that everyone in your organisation acts as an ambassador (especially with the popularity of platforms like Glassdoor), then you can see the role that smooth internal processes can play in becoming an employer of choice.
4. Encourage open and honest two-way feedback
An individual’s trust in their leaders and belief that their opinions are valued are key components of a great employee experience—and they’re so easy (and cheap) to build.
Leaders who are trusted achieve that by getting three simple things right:
When employees have access to their leaders (even if it’s just through regular business updates), are well-informed about what’s going on and the plans for the future, and see the leadership following through on their promises (or explaining why they couldn’t), they trust them.
But that has to be a two-way street; we all want to know that our voice matters and we have a say on the decisions that affect us. So make sure your people have an outlet (we can help you with that!) and they know how to use it. And once you’ve gathered that feedback, use it to inform your decisions and, critically, tell them how their opinions played a part.
5. Forge your own culture
Creating and sustaining an authentic company culture could be one of the biggest factors on whether people consider you an employer of choice or not. Your culture is made up of your values, vision, beliefs, and habits, so look at where your organisation came from, where and why it started and what you do best to help you better understand both culture and purpose.
But don’t treat another organisation’s successful culture as a blueprint that you can just replicate. For a culture to be truly embedded and sustainable it has to be unique and authentic. No one wants to work for a company that’s trying to be something it isn’t!
Ideally, your culture shouldn’t just be internal; it should be reflected in your brand and external comms, too. So make sure that you shout loud and proud on social media and on your careers page about who you are as an organisation, why you exist and what you stand for.
Not only will a strong culture help you attract talent, but it will help you attract the right talent—the people who will fit perfectly into your organisation.
6. Inspire from the top down
People follow people. Like we covered earlier, trust in leaders is born through visibility, transparency and honesty. But to inspire a workforce, the message itself is just as important as how they send it. And it’s even better if they can send it out to the world through public events; do it well, and people will take notice and want to work for that inspiring leader.
It may all start at the top, but it’s department heads, line managers and team leaders that hold the keys to organisational culture. These people are responsible for relaying and reinforcing that message to make sure it sticks. A study by TotalJobs revealed that around half of UK employees have previously left a job because of their manager, which shows the influence they have when it comes to retention.
So why not upskill your managers so you hold onto more of your talent, and then advertise the quality of your managers in your job ads? Remember, nearly half of the people who’ll read the job description will have previously left because of a bad manager, so they’ll value the assurance that good managers are part of your EVP.
When you break it down and focus on the details that you can address without splashing the cash, it becomes much simpler for any organisation to become an employer of choice.
If you want to see how Hive can help you gather that all-important open and honest feedback, just give us a shout and we’ll give you a rundown of exactly what you could get out of our platform.
Becoming an Employer of Choice with a Powerful Employee Voice Strategy
A 5-Step People Science Approach (With Survey Questions!)