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Article by: Barbara Selmer Hansen, Director of Impact Business Consulting

The term “employer of choice” may have become a bit of a buzz term in recent years, but it really is a concept that many companies big and small strive for. They want to attract top talent, retain them and stand out from their competitors.  
Importantly, not one person within a company can make it happen, it is a team effort and it has to start from the top down. It is also important that companies focus on living their values and ensuring that their staff see purpose in their work or can create purpose as that is what will retain them for longer. While the “nice to have” employee perks are great, the shine does tend to wear off when staff have been around long enough to see them as part of their entitlements. So, don’t hang your hat on just employee perks, there’s far more to it. 
Below are some ideas that companies could consider when looking to build their reputations as an  “Employer of Choice”. These include:  

  • Having an enticing Employee Value Proposition on your website and socials – why are you great to work for? Why should candidates pick you as their employer?
  • Having a clear stance on Environmental, Social and Governance issues – it is not just for the “big companies”. 
  • Creating and living company values that are meaningful and relatable (based on Trust, Respect, Empathy and Accountability for example) and roll them out to the staff as a standard “this is how we operate”.
  • Work hard on creating a culture based on the company values.
  • Having a clear stance on important workplace issues (i.e. zero tolerance on bullying, supporting wellness and OH&S etc).
  • Introducing a strong onboarding and induction process, including a comprehensive training program with a 30,60 and 90-day plan and a buddy system.
  • Not micromanaging – supporting staff to feel empowered to do their jobs without the boss looking over their shoulder.
  • Offering flexibility, the old 9-5 model doesn’t work for everyone anymore. COVID has taught us a thing or two about flexibility.
  • Ensuring staff KPIs are clear, fair and measurable.
  • Hiring strong managers who are emotionally intelligent and empathic. 
  • Don’t tolerate poor behaviour, act in a timely manner when it is needed.
  • Giving clear feedback and embracing coaching as a form of employee development.
  • Rewarding and recognising good work via bonuses ($$ or additional leave), regular pay increases and salary sacrifice options. And, importantly, if you make promises, keep them!
  • Open communication – regular meetings, progress reports and transparency over decision marking. Transparency is important so staff understands where the business is headed and why.
  • Including staff in new hire decisions where possible “invite all prospective employees in to meet the team” as a ‘meet and greet’ and allow current employees to give their opinion.
  • Celebrating wins and learning from losses as a team.
  • It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Especially when you are giving feedback or making staff announcements.
  • Leading by example – if you live the values of the company, employees will too.
  • Supporting professional development for your staff to enhance their skills.
  • Using regular pulse surveys to gauge employee satisfaction and remember to use the feedback to make change if possible. (i.e. don’t ask for opinions if you have no intention of using that information to create positive change).
  • Offering career advancement opportunities so staff know you want to “invest in their careers”.
  • Celebrating birthdays, big wins and incorporate fun activities (casual Fridays, drinks or activities that are meaningful to staff).

With the above in mind, getting the reputation as an Employer of Choice takes time and a conscious effort even with the best practices implemented. It does not happen overnight in fact it can take years to get it right, but it won’t happen if your management team are not committed to making it happen. You cannot just call yourself an “employer of choice and it magically happens, it is a journey and certainly possible with the right attitude, staff, processes and procedures.