Every employer wants to be an ‘employer of choice’ but not many really feel they have got there.  Our Recruitment, Career and Talent Portal systems all try and help organisations become more of an employer of choice so it's an area we know well.  There are a lot of things to consider, but within this post we have distilled down some key bite sized factors to help you.

Are your employees happy working in your organisation?

Are you worried they might move to other employers?

Are wondering how you can attract the ‘right’ sort of candidates to fill your vacancies?

We are hearing quite a few organisations voicing such concerns currently, especially given some of the survey data out there suggests many employees are keen to move job.  As was mentioned in previous blog posts, we don’t feel all the surveys paint an accurate picture in this regard.  However that does not mean they are completely wrong either.  So what is going on?

Most of the markets where we are active are seeing at least some areas where its getting harder to find good candidates.  Many markets are also seeing candidates having a higher propensity to change job than perhaps they did 5 or 10 years ago. Company loyalty is not what it was...  So it seems to boil down to the paradox of both; more movement but also less supply.

So, how as an employer can you improve things?  How can you position your organisation as one where your staff will loyally stay with you and where candidates (staff at other organisations) will be keen to join you?  To illustrate this best, we are going to give a plug to Glassdoor.com.  If you have not heard of them, they are very big in the USA and in essence they provide a survey/website that advertises jobs.  They also however, provide a forum for employees to say what they think of their employers.  Imagine - Tripadvisor.com but for doing 'ratings for employers' instead of hotels and you have Glassdoor.   It's very USA-centric right now.  But they publish the trends they see and earlier this month they published their findings on “how to become an employer of choice”.  They expressed it we thought very well.  In general terms we agree with most of it and believe it is broadly applicable for most countries.  So, we will refer to it here and gladly give them the kudos and recognition for the work they have done in the following points. 

1. People Matter

If your staff feel that they matter.  If prospective candidates feel that are joining a company that thinks “People Matter”;  then the findings suggest you will find things much easier in both holding on to both your current staff as well as attracting new ones.  

This may however feel a bit, as the saying goes: “easier said than done”.  The trick in our experience for generating a “People Matter” feeling is generally in the presentation.  Sure, if you have some real bas***ds or narcissists in your organisation - see blog post in 2011 - you will need to do much more than just worry about presentation.  However most organisations we see, don’t have fundamental problems in this regard and thus can really benefit from a focus on presentation.  If you have one of our Careers/Talent portal sites you will likely know what we mean.  However almost any careers site is a great place to articulate this message.  Hopefully this is quite obvious.  If you don’t bother in your websites, your staffing materials and recruitment information to articulate why staff matters.  Then don’t be surprised if people feel it doesn’t - and they also start to feel that the the organisation doesn't matter to them either....  

Glassdoor’s findings also put a big emphasis on hiring the right people.  The ones that enhance your culture and are “good quality”.  We very much agree with them on this.  Again we suggest - use your careers site to set the right expectations with candidates so you appeal to the ones you are after.  Our systems can both ask candidate questions and score their responses enabling you to more easily focus on what is important with your applicants.  Similarly we generally recommend adding career profiles and some staff case studies to your Careers Website.  In our experience, and from research we have seen, they really can make a big difference to perceived “quality” of candidates applying.  Surveys and our own experience shows that the better qualified candidates are more likely to apply if they can get a good feel for your organisation when they apply.  A good Careers Site may not cover all of this.  But it probably is the biggest single thing you can do that will quickly improve how you will be perceived by candidates.  

2. People feel Heard

This probably sounds self evident. People want to feel that their views matter and that they have a voice within their organisation.  In our experience almost all managers will say they have an ‘open door policy’ and that their staff feel they will be engaged and listened to.   However is that really true with all your managers...?   Sadly we see a lot of organisations where this is clearly not the case.  You can’t change your managers overnight of course.  However, you can put in place; cross organisational programmes to engage and pick up the feelings, views and suggestions of your staff.   

However please beware of a catch.  Many of these programmes end up failing because the people running them did not realise that it's the last step in these programmes is the most important.  It is also the one that is most likely to be left out.  And it is:  you need to show that you have heard what people have been saying.  That means giving them some evidence that their contribution has been recognised and that at least something is happening as a result.  Just doing a survey on its own is not going to work.  It's this last step that makes the difference.   For people to ‘feel heard’ by these programmes you need to allow for the time and resources to do something with the results and make sure that you quickly communicate what is happening with the employees who have participated.  Do this and you will find your staff at least FEEL engaged. 

If you are looking for an idea to engage staff - why not add an employee referral facility to your careers/talent portal.  It's a great means of letting staff advise you of potential candidates and it also provides facilities for feeding back on their suggestions.

3. People can grow

Most candidates who are going to leave one job and join another organisation are doing so with the ‘hope’ that they will be there for some time and can grow with the business.  Yes, you will get some who plan to work for only a short time.  Perhaps also some of your part-time workers may have other outside interests/commitments that make them less interested in growing their roles.   However, for the majority, it will be important.  The Glassdoor findings show that the perception around being able to advance and build skills and experience is important to both candidates and employees.  Glassdoor puts this as the number 2 reason people take a job - salary being number 1.  Other Surveys we have seen suggest much the same thing.  

As a suggestion; use your careers site to evidence the opportunities that might be available.  Take some time to evidence how people have developed within your organisation.  At the very least - use your internal vacancy portal/site to at show that you are keen to advertise roles internally and progress staff.  Most organisations we come across, actually do quite a bit to grow their people, they just don’t say much about it. It's an easy fix and makes a big difference.

4.  Leaders Matter

Not every business has a Richard Branson-type figure running it.  However, organisations where employees and candidates alike get a palpable sense of; mission, direction and leadership do better in staffing and attracting candidate interest.  Luckily you don’t need your CEO to grow a beard, dye their hair blonde and become a publicity seeker like RB.  Most organisations we come across also have a reasonably clear idea of what business they are in and what their objectives are - so that is a start.  Perhaps you have the occasional away days as a management team to plot the direction of the business etc.  If you do, here is a suggestion: take the key messages and put them on your website and on your Careers Site.  

We always try and get some of this sort of content when we build a Careers/Talent Portal for an employer.  If you are creating your own Careers Site here are some suggestions for you: put a video of your CEO talking about the business on the site.  You don’t need a TV company to do it - a webcam does the job fine.  Use your website to outline your mission and what the organisation is there to do.  Using some employee quotes and pictures can bring this to life if you feel you need it.   We have learnt is that it is more important to be authentic rather than provide a very polished message.  By way of example, we have a copy of great video done by Google on what it is like working there.  We all know they have more money than the rest of us put together.  But this one was done mostly on webcams - and you know what ?  It feels more authentic and real.  The real lesson is - you don’t need a really ‘glossy’ or designer crafted look, you also don't really need a big ‘budget’.  It's making the effort and making it real that counts. 

5. People Feel Appreciated

People appreciate perks and benefits.  It's not the be all and end all.  But they do like them.   It's also one of our pet subjects; why do organisations hide their benefits and perks...?  It seems many employers spend a lot of resources and money on benefits.  But they don’t tell prospective candidates anything much about them to until they ready to make an offer.   However in many respects it's then too late.  By that point, the candidate should be ready to sign their acceptance.   In our view, many employers would be better served by articulating on their Careers Sites the broad basics of their benefits and perks up front.  By doing this, they at least act as a motivating factor for you.  Likewise make sure that your own employees actually know what benefits and perks they can access.  Sounds obvious doesn’t it?  But you might be surprised how often employees are not aware of benefits available to them.  Especially given there are likely few materials around to tell them.  Use your Careers Site and sell this aspect. 

Its is not just standard perks and bonuses that can motivate.  If you want some evidence, and sticking with Glassdoor as being reasonably representative of the research out there; they found the motivators for employees were:  75% pay rise, 46% unexpected treats, 40% involved in decision making, 37% opportunities for career development and 35% recognition of accomplishments.    

So yes, pay is important - its 75%.  But if you look at the other factors they do add up.  E.g. providing staff with ‘unexpected treats’ and perks can go a very long way - some 46% of employees rated it as a high motivating factor.  The trick here is how these ‘treats’ are presented.  Note it says ‘unexpected treats’.  What that really means is;  things that people don’t just feel they are automatically entitled to.  As an example I remember being sales director of web company in London and we used to every now and then take all the staff out for an evening on the town, all paid for by the company.  It was never planned much in advance - we just did it now and again.  As such it did not become just another ‘expectation’ as would have happened if it had been e.g. a regular monthly event.   However when we did it. We really noticed that morale and team building went up immediately after.  There are all sorts of things you can do to make your staff feel appreciated - most don’t cost much.  In fact our overall view on this is that; if you want good morale and to hold onto your staff - you cant afford not to... 

You can get a copy of the paper “How to become an employer of choice” on the Glassdoor.com website.  It covers each of these 5 topics.  Or email us and we will sent it to you, it's well written and covers this topic in more depth and in a accessible way.  Hence the recommendation.