How to Become an Employer of Choice

Steve Castino of Vestal & Wiler addressed this key challenge in an industry presentation in October.

Articles from Forbes & When I work

Do employers know what motivates their employees? Interestingly, the answer comes not from recent research, but from a survey that was initially printed in 1946 in the “Foreman Facts” publication by the Labor Relations Institute of NY. The organization surveyed both employees and employers, asking them to rank the following ten factors in terms of their perceived importance in continuing an employment relationship. The results – listed below – are quite surprising!

Employers Think Their Employees Want

  1. Good wages
  2. Job security
  3. Promotion/growth opportunities
  4. Good working conditions
  5. Interesting work
  6. Personal loyalty to workers
  7. Tactful discipline
  8. Full appreciation for work done
  9. Sympathetic help with personal problems
  10. Feeling “in” on things

What Employees Actually Want

  1. Full appreciation for work done
  2. Feeling “in” on things
  3. Sympathetic help on personal problems
  4. Job security
  5. Good wages
  6. Interesting work
  7. Promotion/growth opportunities
  8. Personal loyalty to workers
  9. Good working conditions
  10. Tactful discipline

There’s a significant disconnect between what employees want and what their managers think they want – a result that’s been duplicated in study after study. Similar research conducted by Ken Kovach; Valerie Wilson, Achievers International ; Bob Nelson, Blanchard Training & Development; and Sheryl & Don Grimme, GHR Training Solutions all came to the same conclusion – employees value the emotional aspects of their workplaces as much as their financial compensation.

So, as a manager, how can you use these results to structure employee benefits and retain top workers?

Make staff recognition a priority

Why should you spend time thanking your employees for doing the work you’re already paying them to do? The reality is that demonstrating appreciation for work that’s been completed consistently ranks as employees’ most desired perk – making this a simple way to retain top performers.

Be present. It’s hard to recognize staff achievements if you spend all day cloistered away in your office. Get out, interact with your employees and look for opportunities to say “thank you” for jobs well done.

Establish recognition systems. Institute systems that make acknowledgement a regular event. As an example, a “gold star” type of program recognizing one employee each week shows a commitment to recognition.

Delegate recognition to others. Ask your fellow managers or employees to notify you whenever something worthy of recognition occurs so that you can send a personal “thank you” to the staff member in question.

Don’t underestimate the impact of a simple “thank you” offered in recognition of work well done.

Encourage transparency in business decisions

There’s a reason that the desire to feel “in” on things ranks consistently high on lists of employee priorities. Your team members commit huge chunks of their lives to your organization. As a result, leaving them out in the cold whenever new policies are implemented minimizes their contributions and belittles their sense of commitment to your company.

And while it certainly isn’t realistic to bring employees into every decision that must be made, it’s important to at least clarify the reasoning behind any changes that will affect your working environment with your staff. They may not like the changes you’re making, but your employees will be more likely to understand and respect your changes if you make an effort to create a more open and transparent decision-making process.

Recognize the impact of personal commitments on job performance

Finally, take a look at #3 on the list of employee priorities listed above. “Sympathetic help with personal problems” might seem a bit touchy-feely for modern employees, but what your staff members actually want is for you to cut them some slack when they’re dealing with serious personal issues.

Obviously, there’s a big difference between a great employee whose work suffers temporarily due to a personal problem and a consistently low performer whose inadequacies can’t be traced to an underlying issue. By taking the time to understand what’s going on in your employees’ lives – as well as how you can recognize their accomplishments and help them feel like an important part of your organization – it’s possible to implement policies that increase morale and job satisfaction without just focusing on pay rates or benefits.

Read on to discover more ideas and resolutions on how to attract top talent and become a top choice as an employer, from Forbes Human Resource Council.

  1. Live by Your Values: It’s the day-to-day experiences that leave employees with a sense of purpose, pride, and commitment to achieving the company’s mission. Employers that bring their values to life will develop a culture that is irresistible.
  2. Revisit “How We Have Always Done It:” The new year is a wonderful time to analyze benefit offerings, pay scales, employee engagement, recruiting methods, training programs and retention programs. Resolving to take a fresh look at benefits, pay, engagement, recruiting, training and retention programs at least once per year will keep the company relevant in its industry, make job postings more attractive and generate positive word of mouth from existing employees
  3. Map the Employee Journey: Much like marketing departments map the customer journey to understand where the positive and negative experiences are, companies can benefit greatly from doing the same for employees. Start at the beginning as a candidate, and then go through the entire life cycle. Doing this as a group will generate surprising insights.
  4. Show Value in Work-Life Balance: Employees value work-life balance more than ever. Showing employees you value their dedication to their job and their life outside of work will make your company a preferred choice. Companies should consider offering a flexible work environment with a hybrid remote working option or a generous paid time off policy to attract top talent.
  5. Provide Purpose and Emotional Connection: Purpose is key. In the fight for top talent, employees want more than just a paycheck. It’s about their contribution, their role and the part they can play in your organization’s journey, and the wider impact this could have on the world around them. Employers should make sure their organization’s mission is clear and has an authentic, emotional connection with candidates.