The successful efforts some organizations have made to create a great work environment and culture has led to the concept of becoming an employer of choice. But what does being an “employer of choice” truly mean? Is it about being listed as a best company to work for… or is it something more?
Some would say being a company people want to work for is rolled up in fairly obvious traits including great benefits packages, competitive wages, sufficient paid time off, job security, and room for growth. Going beyond that means thinking about the entire employee engagement journey. When someone joins a company that’s truly an employer of choice, within a few days they realize they didn’t just accept a job – they’ve taken on a calling.
Working for an employer of choice provides a level of satisfaction that few things in life can. “It is about aligning individual personal success with organizational success,” explains Kim Michel-Clark, Senior HR Consultant at Adept HR Solutions.
Do your employees enjoy their job and the company of those around them on a daily basis, or are they merely going through the motions? This is one of the most crucial questions to ask and a great starting point. Sit down and map out your company’s employee engagement journey. How are you communicating at every stage of that journey? Plan to evaluate progress through employee surveys at strategic points along that journey. Ideally, surveys should be conducted based on where the employee is in their journey, as opposed to a company-wide survey just because “we do this annually.”
These points are a great way to evaluate your company’s success in working toward the distinction of an employer of choice. But how do you know what to measure?. Important criteria shared by employers of choice may include the following:
By looking for traits such as those above and assessing the morale of an organization’s employees, a sufficient framework for evaluation should emerge. Beyond internal evaluation, you’ll want to assess how others who come in contact with the company feel – are they satisfied with how they were treated and served by employees?
“Another area that I think is critical is communication and transparency,” Michel-Clark continued. “Employees want to be involved and know what is going on, they need to have meaning in their work and be a valued member of the team.” Your company can get closer to this status with focused effort and evaluations regarding areas that can be used to improve employee satisfaction.
“It is about the relationship an employee has with his or her manager,” says Michel-Clark. “Did they feel a connection, did they learn with their manager, did they get stretched and prepared for their next assignment?”
For Michel-Clark, “being an employer of choice is about employee experience, if they leave for any reason, would that employee recommend your organization to others as a place to work?”
Balancing company goals with employee needs is a challenge in any organization. When a company is a true employer of choice, those two objectives become the basis for satisfaction for everyone involved. Employees know that their work is meaningful, and management takes the time to explain how the individual’s success supports the company’s growth and success. This can come in the form of OKR’s and celebrating individual, team and company achievements.
Once the company’s goals are woven into employees’ definition of success, the organization must also work to support employee needs. Beyond the basics of good benefits and working conditions, do the employees and the organization value the same things? Does the company support the communities in which it operates? Are there other ways the company can support the people that make success possible?
“It’s about getting to know what your employees value,” remarked Michel-Clark, “not what the hottest trend is. Flexibility is not why people leave , yet everyone thinks they need to allow remote work, etc. Get to know what will make your team flourish!”
Some tried and true methods to become a choice employer tend to focus on the relationship between employer and employee. Essentially, this will mean clearly defining your culture and the type of people you want supporting it. A significant effort should be made to attract the right cultural fit. Remember that skills can be taught – cultural fit cannot.
A method of quickly addressing any concerns as they emerge will also go a long way towards a favorable view of the organization. It is helpful if employees feel that their superiors actually care about them and want to solve the same problems. Certainly, train your leader to make sure that team member’s work is focused on both individual and organizational goals. As an employer of choice, your organization’s culture supports learning and growth while still achieving the agreed-upon objectives.
Above all, being an employer of choice is really all about providing the right tools for everyone in your organization to remain satisfied through positive reinforcement and relevant opportunities.
Train leaders to have the difficult conversations well. Michel-Clark says the most vital element of becoming an employer of choice is, “communication, tough conversations, being HONEST!”
With this knowledge in hand, begin by evaluating where you are now and craft a specific strategy for your company to become an employer of choice. Don’t neglect the cultural needs of your organization. In addition, make sure your strategy touches all aspects of the employee engagement journey. With that, you can begin the work of becoming a true employer of choice.
In over 25 years of helping companies connect with their employees, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of engagement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.