Becoming an Employer of Choice

Many organisations set out to be recognised as employers of choice, an aspiration that requires ongoing commitment and effective leadership in support of a genuinely ‘people-focused’ organisational culture.  In this piece, we’ve explored what it really means to be an employer of choice and the critical areas of organisational design that employers need to consider in pursuit of this objective.

What separates the most successful organisations from their peers – in a people sense – is the capability of their people, the degree to which those people are engaged in their work and the environment in which they operate.  By considering the organisational imperatives we can begin to establish a business case for meaningful, strategic investment in people in the knowledge that high engagement levels have proven to correlate with better organisational performance and outcomes.

The key considerations for your organisation in developing this kind of environment as part of a strategy to be considered an employer of choice are outlined below.  Our thinking is based on our knowledge of the people-related principles and practices of consistently high-performing organisations (see right for more insight to the shared traits of these high performing organisations).

The Shared People Principles of High Performing Organisations

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Purpose and Direction

Your first objective should be to ensure that the organisation’s common purpose is defined, well-articulated and reinforced at every opportunity in order to provide a reference point for all your people programs that enables alignment to the organisation’s objectives.

Look inside any high-performing organisation or team and you will find a clear and present common purpose that unites its people, providing a source of inspiration and focus that endures short term challenges.  This clear purpose provides the foundation and energy for a resilient, outcomes-focused organisational culture.

A major study showed 90% of organisations with a strong sense of purpose also reported a history of strong financial performance, compared to only 60% of organisations without that sense.

Measuring and reviewing progress can provide a source of inspiration and motivation in itself as well as providing an early indication of objectives that are at risk.  Best performing organisations utilise intuitive metrics to maintain focus and provide insights that guide decision making, investment and resourcing.

Before we go into the people practices that add up to an organisation that individuals clamour to work for then, it’s worth considering how well your current arrangements support the current and future needs of the organisation which can provide great input to the process of developing your ’employer of choice’ strategy.  The following questions provide a basis for a workshop with your key stakeholders to explore the current state in regard to the people aspects of organisational design.

Our Cause

  • How well is the organisation’s vision, values and mission articulated and communicated?
  • Who would you consider to be your customers and do you know what they want from you?
  • Do you have internal customers within the organisation?
  • To what degree do you believe you are delivering against the expectations of your customers?

Our Capability

  • What are the critical capabilities and behaviours required for the organisation to be successful?
  • How do current capabilities “stack-up” and to what degree is this information available?
  • Does the organisation do a good job of developing capability from within?
  • How effective is the current recruitment strategy in attracting talent to the organisation?

Our Culture

  • Are the leadership expectations and capabilities required for success clearly identified?
  • How effective is the reward offering in enabling the organisation to attract good employees?
  • How well does the organisation recognise and reward good performers?
  • How well is individual capability development & career progression supported at present?

Values and Culture

Our next objective is to foster a positive working environment.  The ways in which people within an organisation engage with one another, along with the specific employment and reward propositions offered by the employer, define the organisational culture which in turn directly impacts both the desire and ability of the team to deliver success.

High performing organisations identify the ideal culture and share several underlying traits, including; effective team working, clarity and openness in communication, a commitment to safety, social and environmental responsibility, along with a strong customer focus and ethical approach to all they do.

If the organisation’s stated values are to live and breathe, they must be demonstrated at the very top of the organisation & be reinforced at every opportunity.

Effective Leadership

The impact of those with leadership responsibility cannot be overstated.  Effective leaders create high-performance teams by building engagement, driving accountability and leading by example.  Strategic thinking is translated into action and progress is reviewed and celebrated.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see why striving to ensure that the organisation has great leaders at every level of the organisation is a key input to positioning yourself as an employer of choice.  Our advice is to start by ensuring the capabilities, styles and structure of your leadership team is well articulated as a basis for holding leaders accountable for their impact and performance.  From there you should be seeking to recognise and promote good leadership, using positive reinforcement to highlight the behaviours you want to encourage.

Building an Effective Leadership Framework

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In today’s world, one of the most important roles for leadership teams is to demonstrate excellence in change management and dealing with ambiguity.  Effective organisations embrace change and actively seek new and better ways of doing things.  Change is managed proactively, progress is monitored and all stakeholders are appropriately engaged in the process

Organisational Structure

An effective organisation structure is one designed around the value chain of the organisation; ensuring resources are focused in the areas that they are needed most.  The structure also supports effective information and workflows reflecting operational processes.

In reviewing the organisation structure we recommend ensuring there is clarity in regard to lines of responsibility and authority, reducing unnecessary layers of management and considering whether the structure is supporting the workflows of the individuals and teams that need to work together to deliver great outcomes for your customers and community.

Capability and Capacity

Your organisation can only be successful if people with the required skills and experience are identified and brought together.  Sustained competitive advantage is realised when organisations commit to the ongoing development of critical capabilities from within.

Without adequate capacity, no organisation can sustain long term high performance and protect the health and wellbeing of its employees.  Frameworks and systems must support effective recruitment, ensure individuals see opportunities for career advancement and drive accelerated learning & development aligned to the needs of the organisation.

Beyond human resourcing, organisations that equip their workforce with best of breed tools and resources outperform their peers and enhance the employer brand.

Performance Discussions

Organisations that discuss progress towards individual and organisational goals most often generally outperform their peers.  Constructive dialogue between colleagues and collaboration within and between teams drives success.  There’s a lot that goes into ensuring that your performance planning and review practices add value rather than disenfranchise employees which can often be the case with traditional approaches.  So much so that we’ve written a whole separate guide to contemporary performance management practices!

Salary Systems, Reward and Recognition

Fundamentally, individuals seek fair pay levels reflecting the contribution they are required to make.  Getting your salary system in shape then is a critical requirement if you want your organisation to be considered an employer of choice.  You can check out our guide to designing effective salary systems here.  Well-designed incentive programs can help to ensure focus on what matters the most and provide a basis for celebrating success.

Beyond financial reward, alternative recognition and benefits programs can also support the desired organisational culture and help ensure that employees feel that their contribution is valued.

Individual Experiences

Its imperative to also think about the experiences of each individual in the organisation as part of your quest to establishing your organisation as an employer of choice.  How individuals feel about their role, their colleagues and the relationship they have with their line manager can be a critical driver of their experience and likely levels of engagement with the organisation.

My Job

  • Are the expectations of the role to employees?
  • Do your people believe that can contribute to success?
  • How well can people balance their work and personal commitments?

My Colleagues

  • How well do people within the organisation collaborate and support one another?
  • Are the teams within the organisation set up to support effective workflows?
  • Are there positive social connections between employees?

My Manager

  • What is the strength of relationships between leaders and their direct reports?
  • Do line managers effectively engage the teams in reviewing work practices and organisation change initiatives?

Assessing Your Progress

We believe employee insights can help leadership teams discover where best to focus their efforts to achieve organisational growth by probing the various aspects of the employee experience discussed in this piece.  You might also be seeking to identify if there are certain teams or sections with specific needs or whether opportunities for improvement are widespread; this allows you to take a more targeted approach to your people-related initiatives.

You can find out more about our recommendations for conducting employee opinion surveys here.  If you think your organisation is ready however why not get in touch with our team to discuss participation in our employers of choice program and take the first steps towards getting your organisation the recognition you deserve for your commitment to maintaining and world-class employee experience.

Deciding where to start with your journey towards becoming and employer of choice can be a daunting prospect – we’re here to help.

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