How to Become an “Employer of Choice”
What can employers do to encourage their best employees to become long-term stakeholders?
By David Cox, SHRM-SCP | June 19, 2018
Some companies are considered an “employer of choice.” This term refers to a company that has carefully developed an environment where people want to work and have long-term careers. It is a place where people choose to work over other organizations because they believe the company will offer them a “whole experience” — compensation, benefits, training, “perks,” opportunities, development, and a sense of purpose.
In Roger Herman and Joyce Gioia’s book titled, “How to Become an Employer of Choice,” they define the term as “any employer of any size in the public, private or not-for-profit sector that attracts, optimizes and holds top talent for long tenure … because the employees choose to be there.”
There is a good deal of research that offers a clear description of what an employer of choice looks like. It goes beyond having an onsite gym, cafeteria, or daycare center. These companies strive to provide their employees with a truly satisfying work experience on all levels. The result is an engaged and more energized work force.
In 2008, Towers Perrin (now Towers Watson), a professional services firm specializing in HR and financial services consulting, conducted a Global Workforce study of more than 90,000 employees. The study’s results identified what employees received from their employers that resulted in their feeling more engaged and motivated. It noted the following ten items that drive employee engagement around the world:
- An employee’s relationship with his or her supervisor
- An employer’s sincere interest in employee safety and well-being
- Career advancement opportunities
- Competitive salary and benefits
- Opportunities for employees to improve skills and capabilities
- The organization’s reputation for social responsibility
- Challenging work assignments
- Opportunities for employees to have input in their departments’ decision making
- The organization’s ability to quickly resolve customer concerns
- A workplace environment with expectations of high standards
These ten items are considered the keys to employee engagement and are directly correlated to an employee’s level of satisfaction with his/her employer, which is a key factor in becoming an employer of choice. Strategies recommended for integrating these items into a company’s culture include the following:
Offer meaningful work with a sense of purpose
Prospective employees want to know what’s important to the company and how those principles align with their own personal values. Younger employees especially environmentally conscious are looking for companies committed to “green” operations. They also want to know where they fit into the company’s big picture or vision for the future.
Other important components include opportunities to collaborate with others, flexible work schedules, interesting projects, organizational commitments to community and social responsibilities, and opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Provide training and development
Fortune’s top 100 best employers typically offer more training and development than companies that don’t make the list. The top 10 companies provide 32 to 135 hours of training each year per employee. ome companies will identify discrete roles or projects that help employees develop new skills. Some companies will send their people to external management training programs to prepare them for future roles. Successful talent management motivates employees, particularly when they see a career path and feel the company is invested in their progress.
Reward employees with fair and competitive compensation and benefits
Compensation is a basic foundation that companies need to get right so it doesn’t become an issue. How do you know if you are paying competitively? Get data and find out where you stack up against your market and especially among your competitors. Align your total rewards strategy with your business strategy. Ask your employees what benefits are important to them and design programs around the demographics and desires of your employees.
Inspire employees with great managers and leaders
We hear it so often because it’s true: Most employees don’t quit their company; they quit their manager. Don’t allow this to be your company’s story. Take the time to invest in hiring, training, and developing great managers. They, in turn, will develop great employees. These key people must include individuals who communicate well and are committed to the best interest of all company stakeholders.
Create the culture you want
Unfortunately, in too many companies, culture just happens. However, with employers of choice, management intentionally builds and nurtures a culture of engagement. Satisfied employees produce good results, and in return, are more likely to generate the operational results that are being sought in productivity, safety, quality, customer relations, financial outcomes, and more.
Employers of choice reduce recruiting and replacement costs because of their lower turnover rate. This higher level of engagement also typically results in greater productivity and long-term customer relationships. Moreover, employers of choice keep and develop employees as long-term stakeholders in the company. As such, these employees become valuable assets as they learn to think and act in terms of the company’s best interests.
Up next: Courage in the Workplace