Becoming an employer of choice

Becoming an employer of choice

For many companies the emphasis in all their communication material is about their company as a sales entity, a service or product provider and of course a profit generator. These qualities are of course crucial but what often does get missed is the company’s attitude towards its employees.

Let’s take an example. Yours is a successful company and is experiencing fantastic growth. The shareholders are happy, the bank is happy, things are going well and the company is growing. We need more people! One of the hardest things about this kind of success is that there is often greater competition for the best staff – it can often come down to a "salary war" between two companies looking to hire the same person.

If you can adopt a strategy that develops your reputation as an "employer of choice" then you will find people are coming to you, wanting to work for you and putting the choices in your hands. This can put a company in a powerful position!

Consider your own impressions of a few well-known companies. If you are the kind of person who wants intellectual creativity in your working environment, you might think of joining a company like Andersen Consulting. How about a company with a youthful attitude and culture – maybe Pepsi? I am sure you can all think of many others, some that would appeal to you and some that wouldn’t. Why is it that people want to work for these companies? They get thousands of requests for job applications and really have an opportunity to select from the best.

Getting your company known as an employer of choice
Many major public companies spend a fair slice of their marketing budget in building their reputation as an employer. Not all of us have that sort of money at our disposal, but there are some simple things you can do quite readily:

  • When you next review your company brochure, read it as if you were a potential employee. What messages would you get from it? Does "the company" sound as though it supports development of its staff? Does it sound like an aggressive employer? (That is not a bad thing, it just attracts individuals who function well in that environment)
  • Do you ever let your customers know that you value your staff? They are potential marketers for you and it can only help if they have a positive view of you as an employer
  • If it suits your business, something like computers or sales, go out and market yourself as an employer. There are hundreds of opportunities to do this, at universities, career fairs and even exhibitions. Doing the rounds of undergraduates – or the "milk run" as it is known, can be a great way of both marketing yourself as an employer of choice. It can also backfire if the primary reason for being there is forgotten – that is, marketing your organisation as an employer of choice. Graduates will often say they would never work for a couple of major companies because of the way they were treated at these kinds of events. They did not have the academic results that the employers were looking for and were subsequently "cold shouldered" – one of those graduates is now the CFO of a major public company and can influence a lot of people!

It is more about communication. Having a communication strategy in any company gives you a definite advantage over the competition. The "tone" is often set by the CEO or Managing Director as they are invariably the people who drive the culture of a company. We are not talking about a passive mission statement or set of corporate values, more like a working reference document that can be applied to any situation. This means that every piece of paper that goes out with your logo on it whether it is a letter to a customer, a communication with employees (e.g. a payslip) or documents for suppliers has a consistent message being delivered no matter who is preparing it.

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