Doing business in a post-pandemic world still means that it’s harder than ever to recruit and retain top talent. Discussions about how to address this challenge often feature the term “employer of choice.” But what does becoming an employer of choice really mean? Below, our team of expert consultants share their thoughts on what makes an employer of choice stand out from the pack.
What is an Employer of Choice?
Doing business in a post-pandemic world still means that it’s harder than ever to recruit and retain top talent. Discussions about how to address this challenge often feature the term “employer of choice.” But what does becoming an employer of choice really mean?
To put it simply, an employer of choice is an organization that has a great deal of success in attracting candidates that want to work there. But it’s important to recognize that the talent needs of every organization vary, as does their culture; so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. In the final analysis, an employer of choice has mastered the ability to attract – and keep – the right employees.
Employers of choice inspire loyalty in their employees, and not just because they offer competitive salaries and benefits. Just as importantly, they offer many of the intangibles that we’ll touch on below. These employers already have a known reputation as great places to work, and perhaps they’ve even won formal recognition as a “best place to work.”
What the Experts Say
We asked our team of expert consultants, each of whom has decades of experience serving in HR leadership roles in a variety of industries, what makes an employer of choice stand out from the pack. Below you’ll see key themes that organizations should consider in their quest to become employers of choice:
In my experience, a fundamental element to being an employer of choice is supervisors and managers creating trusted relationships with the employees on their team. This requires a recognition that both parties – employer and employee – have needs that must to be met for mutual success. This also requires a two-way dialogue regarding expectations and results where the employee feels expected and welcome to provide input and there is a mutual expectation for collaboration.
Jon Binder, Senior Consultant & Compensation Practice Leader
An employer of choice reflects a united leadership team, leading with a spirit of integrity, enthusiasm, exceptional communication, unified and cascading goals across the organization, and a culture of respect for all. All employees have the opportunity to grow, to be innovative, and to understand they are a part of the organization’s overall success through a spirit of collaboration, yielding much greater results by working as one team. A choice employer recognizes the multi-generational workforce and the importance of providing a work environment, compensation, and benefits offerings that are flexible and representative of today’s broad employee base. Choice employers operate with a lens of contributing within the communities in which they work.
Ann Cripe, Senior Consultant
The best motivational theories recognize that a manager cannot “motivate” an employee – motivation comes from within. Instead, a manager can create an environment that allows the employee’s internal motivation to engage. Virtually every person wants to know they are doing valued work, they want to know that they are doing that work well, and they want to be recognized for doing so. That recognition could come from an increase in base salary; but more importantly, it comes from a trusting personal relationship with supervisors and coworkers, and from sincere recognition and appreciation of a job well done.
Rewards are wonderful, and few people will walk away from a bonus or a gift, but what they will remember is that heart-felt thank you. That recognition might be public or private, and the supervisor needs to know what the employee prefers. That appreciation might be memorialized in an email, a proclamation, or on a plaque; but at the end of the day, looking the employee in the eye, shaking their hand, and sincerely telling them thank you, may be the best employee recognition program around.
Roger Dusing, PhD, Senior Consultant & Higher Education Practice Leader
An employer of choice offers a working environment and culture where all employees – from CEO to frontline workers – can be their authentic selves. They can bring the whole person to the office, whether virtually or in person, knowing they are welcomed and valued for their skills, experiences, expert knowledge, ideas, prior successes – and failures – with the ability to focus on their strengths while their teammates do the same.
An employer of choice allows team members to practice their profession, earn a living for themselves and their families, encouraging everyone to be “the best version of themselves.” In this environment, everyone is a leader, creating a space where teams work together to overcome challenges, take risks, and try new things to disrupt the status quo.
At the same time, team members can be honest, present, and considerate – with themselves and one another – while having the freedom to express concern when they aren’t seeing the best version of a teammate. People want to show up to give their all while they are there – in good times and in bad – because they want to be better. They rally around the mission of the organization to reach higher and create the best solutions for their team, customers, clients, and patrons.
Tiffany Fercho, Senior Consultant
People have a strong desire to work for an employer of choice because of the appealing employee value proposition: the reasons people choose to work for an organization and what they get in return. Recent experience has demonstrated to me that employers must respect and foster work-life balance to retain current employees and entice an even broader and more diverse talent pool of candidates. Organizational support of this balance can make-or-break an employment relationship. Providing work-life balance helps create an open, collaborative culture that responds to employees’ changing needs. The focus shifts from how much time is spent in the office to how well results are delivered—what a modern concept!
Ask your workforce what they want, listen, and offer programs and practices that support their needs. Flexible schedules, hybrid arrangements, remote work, generous paid and unpaid time off, and leadership modeling work-life balance are but a few of the possibilities. The arrangement is mutually beneficial: employees can minimize stress, be more productive and satisfied; and employers can make gains in profitably, overall success, and retention. Never underestimate the value and power of happy employees.
Nancy Miller, Senior Consultant
Being an employer of choice starts with leadership. We all know great leaders when we see them, hear them, observe them. They inspire others to take the right actions for the right reasons. You know when you are working for a great leader, and you know when you are not. Great leaders can get extraordinary results even in difficult situations. When filling a leadership role, think about whether the candidate is trustworthy, approachable, inspiring, relatable, and is overall a good communicator in what they say and how they say it. If you are going for extraordinary results, you simply must have an extraordinary leader.
Keli Tuschman, Vice President of Consulting
OMNI Can Help
Does your organization need help in any of these areas? Our expert team of senior consultants can offer you the support you need to become an employer of choice. Contact Keli Tuschman at 913.653.8066 or email@example.com to schedule a free consultation.
Jennifer Gross-Statler, Marketing & Communications Manager, comes to us with over 20 years’ experience as a nonprofit professional. Her background includes four years as Executive Director of a Connecticut nonprofit with a state mandate to evaluate state-funded mental health programs, assess strengths and unmet needs, and make recommendations for improvements. She brings valuable expertise to OMNI in community and media relations, marketing and branding, project management, and strategic planning. Jennifer is a graduate of The College of William & Mary.