Employer of Choice

There is a fairly hackneyed saying that “people are our most important asset” … but in terms of the costs of running a business, it’s fairly true.

It costs an employer a great deal to recruit and attract a new member of staff. Getting the right person for the job is so important – and we rightly invest a lot in the process. It’s very satisfying to find someone who’s the right ‘fit’ for the job and the organization. The recruitment process is demanding: advertising, searching, shortlisting, interviewing, reference checking, skills testing, negotiating a contract.

But once a person is on board, it’s just the start of the employment relationship. It’s like a wedding; there’s a whole marriage to follow! Like investing in an important asset; you have to look after it, protect it, service it, upgrade it and so on.

Valued workers are the same. We start with providing a clear definition of their role, so they know what is expected of them. An annual set of goals and clear performance measures will keep them motivated. Regular feedback on performance is critical, and formally doing that at least once or twice a year.

Investing in your people also means discussing their training and development needs with them and agreeing on an annual training plan so they can keep their skills updated, whether through on the job training or attending more formal courses.

The culture, or “climate” of a workplace is a key reason why your workforce will stay or go. If there are examples of bullying, harassment or discrimination at work, unhappy employees will vote with their feet. Employers need to regularly talk to their workforce about how they are feeling.

Good communication is another key component of a good workforce. People need to share information up, down and across the organization and be encouraged to be open, honest and respectful of one another. It is helpful to establish and actively promote a set of corporate values that underpins the way a business operates; e.g. customer focus, respect for people, trust and integrity, accountability.

In a diverse workforce, it’s also important to offer flexible working arrangements if you want to be an “employer of choice.” Flexible hours respect the needs of workers with young families or ageing parents.

These days, it is tough to hold on to good workers if you don’t offer them the kind of workplace where they feel valued and appreciated. By investing in your people and treating them well you will be rewarded with a more stable and committed team, reduced costs in turnover and workplace health and safety.

So, yes, it is certainly possible to be an “employer of choice” with a great reputation for looking after your people. However, to get there you need to spend time on planning and investing in your “people assets.”


– Lyn Russell, Executive Consultant