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10 Characteristics of a True Employer of Choice

May 17, 2022

Jacqueline Barton

Building Blocks

Every organization these days – big or small – wants to become an employer of choice, and while many claim this status, few truly achieve it. In today’s marketplace, an increasing number of employers are adopting an employer of choice strategy, offering a variety of employee benefits to attract and retain quality staff. However, all too often, companies are doing this in a superficial way where image rather than substance is prioritized. Most employees are quick to spot this and are not influenced by employers’ claims of being “the best place to work”.

At Specialized Staffing, we believe that you become an employer of choice when candidates choose you and employees continue to choose you every day. To truly be an employer of choice, it is necessary to create a culture that is based on a new employment relationship where collaboration is valued, and the old “us vs them” culture is eliminated. This new employment relationship is based on the changing needs and interests of employees and organizations.

There are 10 characteristics that define an employer of choice and must be present to achieve and maintain that status.

  1. A Performance Culture. Everyone wants to be associated with a winning organization. When you assess the companies that have impressive track records of growth, profitability, and social responsibility, you invariably find that they all have a culture that supports and expects individual accountability for producing results.
  2. A Strong Reputation. A highly respected organization with a strong brand is naturally a place where people want to work. This reputation is built and sustained by having a solid track record of delivering on employee expectations. It is simply a matter of keeping your promises, seeking feedback, and listening and acting on that feedback.
  3. Values and Involvement. Potential employees want to know that the organization they are considering has an involved leadership team with a compelling vision for the future. It’s hard to get excited about taking a role with a company whose leadership is nowhere to be found and there is nothing to shoot for (think Jim Collin’s BHAG). Equally important are the values to which the organization aspires. Are they just words on a piece of paper or does the company live them internally as well as externally?
  4. Trust. A significant factor supporting real empowerment is trusting employees to be responsible for their contributions to the company. An environment of bureaucracy and micromanagement forces good talent to leave and everyone else to do only the bare minimum required.
  5. Growth Opportunities. One of the key reasons that talent leaves a company is a lack of future growth opportunities. Employees want to continue to be challenged by accepting more responsibility or learning and using a new set of skills. People naturally evolve and they have this same inclination in their work roles.
  6. Employee Engagement. Everyone wants to be engaged in work that they feel is truly important and contributes to the organization’s higher purpose. It becomes important to understand not only the “what” of the work but also the “why.” Simply completing tasks without seeing the bigger picture makes it difficult, if not impossible, for employees to be deeply involved in the mission of the organization.
  7. Employee Recognition. Recognizing the contributions of employees is essential! No one wants to feel like they, or their work, are being taken for granted. Even though there is an intrinsic reward for great performance, formal acknowledgment goes a long way to show employees that you appreciate them.
  8. Fairness and Equity. People have a keen awareness of what is fair and what is not. They will choose to work where they believe equity exists and is an important, strongly held value. A work environment where policies are disparate, or favoritism is evident creates discord and leads to endless turnover.
  9. Job Security. While no organization can promise lifetime employment, employees need to know that the company doesn’t constantly shuffle people in and out at the drop of a hat. When changes in staff happen frequently and seemingly without reason, employees are left constantly wondering if they could be next.
  10. Communication. One of the most challenging areas for companies to master is communication. Those that effectively manage the flow of information within their company tend to share a certain outlook — and a certain set of practices. They adopt communication methods that enable them to get closer to employees. They put systems in place that promote dialogue, as opposed to monologue. They engage employees by allowing them to become active participants in the communication process.

As you can see, becoming an employer of choice takes a great deal of planning, a strategic approach, and follow-through. It all comes down to your culture – are you fair, honest, and respectful? Do you trust employees to make solid decisions and to empower them to own their jobs and outcomes? Are you value-driven and consistent in treating people and circumstances? These are the driving factors that potential employees look for when deciding where they want to invest their futures. Master these 10 characteristics and your organization can become the employer of choice.

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