In their book entitled How to Become an Employer of Choice, Herman and Gioia define an Employer of Choice as an entity, whether in the public, private or not-for-profit sector, that can attract, strengthen and retain top talent for long periods of time. CEB’s Q3 2012 Global Workforce Insights report has identified the top five qualities that matter to employees. Companies that meet these expectations have a good opportunity to become an Employer of Choice.

Quality #1: Stability

During the economic crisis, seemingly unassailable companies like Lehman Brothers as well as many smaller companies folded, creating a large wave of newly unemployed workers. Today’s employees want to know that their companies can deliver long-term financial stability.

Example: Colgate-Palmolive. Colgate-Palmolive makes hygiene products including toothpaste, soap and deodorant, a product mix that customers will undoubtedly always need. Since 1895, Colgate has delivered uninterrupted dividends. Almost 25 percent of its 40,000 employees have worked at the company for over 20 years.

Quality #2: Compensation

As the economy strengthens and previously hesitant employees have more options, employers will have to provide competitive compensation if they don’t want their top talent dusting off their resumes.

Example: Nordstrom. Retail is not known as a high-paying industry, but Nordstrom employees make almost $19 per hour, which is nearly 60 percent above the national average. A recent Glassdoor survey found that 75 percent of Nordstrom’s employees rated the company favorably.

Quality #3: Respect

The economic crisis made many workers fear for their jobs, and massive layoffs made even long-time employees feel dispensable. Now that times are better, employees want to be shown again that their contributions are valued and that they can continue to grow with the business.

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Example: Starbucks. When Fortune chose Starbucks as one of its 100 Best Companies to Work For, they noted that employees who work only 20 hours per week can still receive stock rewards and benefits. More importantly, employees who were interviewed repeatedly cited the company’s upward mobility and opportunities for advancement.

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Quality #4: Health Benefits

According to a joint survey from the EHealthBody.com, the Futures Company and Aon Hewitt, 74 percent of employees now fear that they will be unable to afford health care costs. At work, employees want not only paid benefits but also programs that will help them to be more fit and healthy.

Example: Zappos. Zappos offers 100 percent coverage for primary, routine and preventative care. They fund two free dental exams per year, and they provide an onsite fitness center, employee reimbursement for endurance events, an onsite Weight Watchers program and healthy food options in their cafeteria and in break rooms.

Quality #5: Work-Life Balance

Employees struggle to manage work, family and personal commitments. Innovative employees are learning to provide an atmosphere that encourages balance.

Example: Edward Jones. In addition to a culture that supports work-life balance with flexible scheduling, Edward Jones offers adoption assistance, full health benefits and paid time off for volunteering in the community. As a result, 94 percent of Edward Jones employees surveyed said that they were proud to work for their company.

Conclusion

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has written that a company that creates value for its employees will ultimately create value for its shareholders. Instead of creating flashy recruiting campaigns, companies need to get back to basics if they want to recruit and retain top talent in today’s market. Follow these five best practices to become an employer of choice!

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