Becoming an Employer of Choice

A practical view, with real-life examples, on how to attract top talent.

In our experience, one of the most difficult challenges facing organisations today is attracting and retaining talent. The millennial workforce almost expects companies to woo them, and indeed wow them. Gone are the days where the potential candidates must sell themselves to the employer; today, organisations need to sell themselves to candidates. This is not only true for the recruitment phase; recruiting talent is merely the first step and retaining talent becomes key.

The choices and opportunities available today mean that organisations have to work harder to retain their talented staff and ensure that they are not attracted elsewhere. This is even more prevalent in the current and post COVID-19 working world where almost anything can be virtual and employees are no longer bound geographically – they can almost work from anywhere in the world.

“Employer of Choice” refers to becoming an organisation that talented candidates WANT to work for and the organisation in question is therefore able to choose from an array of quality candidates suitable for the positions they require. Becoming an Employer of Choice is therefore key in attracting talent because such organisations are usually inundated with applications and it is key in retaining talent because these organisations are offering their employees opportunities and working environments that they cannot get elsewhere.

The question therefore becomes: How does an organisation become an Employer of Choice? There are 6 things a company can do to attract and retain talent.

  1. When advertising for a position, get creative - It is important to spend time designing the recruitment advert so that it appeals to your target audience. Your advert needs to be eye-catching; it must have a very clear and concise outline of what the position entails and it needs to sell the benefits of working for the company. From some of our client experience we have seen businesses offering an array of benefits to try attract talent. These include things like birthday leave so you can spend this day with your family or friends or book a long weekend; giving mental health days when you have had a lot on the go and need time off; offering long term incentive schemes which ultimately means more than one annual bonus; flexible working hours and whereabouts; giving people the opportunity to dedicate 20% of their work time to special high impact projects at work; and access to world class global conferences.

  2. Make a great first impression - First impressions are lasting. What kind of experience does the candidate have when coming for an interview? It is ideal to have them exposed to the best parts of the building and ensure that everyone that encounters them is friendly and professional. If a candidate is impressed by what he/she sees from the very first interview and they can see themselves working in the environment, you have already won half the battle. One of the clients we have worked with conducts all interviews in the boardrooms in the entrance of their building - this space has a basketball court, 3 swings, a Motherland Coffee shop and even a slide from the first floor which they ask candidates to use before leaving the building. It is these kinds of details which makes an organisation stand out. We have also seen some clients delivering “welcome gifts” to new recruits who are still at their current employers - imagine the look on your current co-workers face when you receive a bunch of flowers and champagne and balloons with a note saying how excited your new business is for you to arrive? That kind of brand awareness is very unique and enables huge attraction of talent.

  3. Induction is your best tool - Once you have hired your desired candidates, it is important that they are inducted into the company properly. Too many times we hear from talented individuals that they were hired and practically left to their own devices, were not really given proper training, did not get exposed to the company’s values and ethos and didn’t really know where their role fitted into the bigger picture. Invest in developing a thorough induction and training program that is designed to “hook” your new recruits from the first day. Ensure that they are shown all the positive aspects pertaining to working for the company, that they feel welcomed, informed, taken care of, and proud to be part of your brand. Some of our clients do desk drops on their first day at work, with all their favourite snacks and treats which they asked the candidates to complete in their welcome pack. We also see the teams sending “day 1 selfies” on team WhatsApp groups to show the excitement on their faces for the new joiner to be arriving. Often something as simple as a coffee date with the CEO or Founder of the business is really inspiring for new joiners too.

  4. Culture is key - Company culture drives the company. It is crucial that companies take the time to define the culture they want and then ensure that this culture is driven in everything that they do, from every employee within the business. Employees want to work in environments that have strong, positive cultures and values that are aligned to their own. In family like cultures, where there is a lot of love and care for the employees in the organisation we have seen some amazing things - from the CEO messaging people when they are sick, to the business delivering care packages when employees are having a hard time, to giving extra paid paternity leave when new babies arrive. In cultures driven by competition and innovation, we have seen on-going company wide initiatives for people to come up with the next best business idea and when successful win trips around the world. Regardless of the culture, it is important to ensure that the values are instilled into everything that is done and that when people are living those values that they are held accountable to it.

  5. Make a real difference - Embarking on do-good initiatives shows employees that you care for the greater good and are not all about making money. When organisations take the time to invest in their communities or the environment and allow their staff to get involved in these activities as well, employees feel like the company is contributing positively to the broader community and this makes them feel like they are too. This makes employees feel a sense of pride, purpose and doing good which in turn enhances their commitment to the company.

  6. Let them grow - Everyone wants to know that they are working towards something bigger and better, that the daily grind is going to pay off and give them career advancements. One of the most common reasons that we have encountered for talented individuals leaving their jobs is that they do not feel that they have growth opportunities or even worse companies see the potential in them but never communicate it to them directly. Sadly, people often only hear about it when they resign, which is too late. Companies need to actively identify talent, communicate this with their employees, understand their goals and dreams and support them in working towards them, and if need be, create more opportunities for employees to grow.

This is all good and well, but how do employers remain competitive in a post COVID-19 world? The answer is simple. Promote and encourage flexibility. Allow employees to work from home but give them a base where they can go into an office environment when they need to, to have a change of scenery and some human interaction. Ensure that you are touching base with them consistently and implementing initiatives where you promote interconnectedness and increase morale and culture, even when everyone is working from home.

Becoming an Employer of Choice is no longer really an option; it has become imperative in order to attract and retain staff. It is worth investing the time and money into becoming an Employer of Choice - the rewards speak for themselves.

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