How to Become an Employer of Choice

As a small to midsize business, it can be easy to get discouraged about posting your open role when there are countless similar positions across multiple job boards. How do you stand out amongst other businesses competing for top talent? Differentiating yourself as an employer of choice is the best way to stand out in the talent market and could be the deciding factor as to why a candidate accepts your job offer over a competitor. Let’s explore what it means to be an employer of choice and positioning your employer brand to attract qualified candidates.

What is an Employer of Choice? 

Being an employer of choice means people actively want to work for you and they will choose to apply for a role at your company over another company, even if the two positions are similar. These companies create such a unique and positive employee experience that their reputation is known outside their organization. It’s easy to see how companies like Google become an employer of choice with their swank campuses and over-the-top employee perks, but smaller organizations can successfully compete in the same talent market through building their employer brand.

Employer brand is different from product or service branding because it is focused on your target employee rather than your target customer. What you are selling can be completely different than who you want to hire, so don’t rely solely on product marketing to attract talent. Your employer brand is unique to your business and encompasses your core values, mission, and overall employee experience. While larger organizations can pay over-market salaries, small businesses can use a competitive employer branding strategy to attract candidates by focusing on what they can offer via employee experience over their large competitors. The ability to make an impact quickly, more opportunities for career growth and development, and greater access to leadership are all perks small businesses can use to build their employer brand.

Your employer brand has a significant impact on your ability to attract top talent. A strong employer brand can help you stand out from your competitors, increase employee engagement, and attract passive job seekers to apply. Communicate your employer brand in job descriptions, on your company website, and in social media posts. These three places are where potential employees will be exposed to your business for the first time, so clearly communicating your employer brand in all three areas can influence more candidates to hit the apply button.

Qualities of an Employer of Choice 

Many business leaders think paying inflated salaries is what attracts candidates to an organization. These days, it is easy for employees to get paid a larger salary or receive greater office perks somewhere else. While competitive salary does play a part in many people’s decision-making, it is far from the only thing they take into consideration when accepting a job offer. It is expected for a job to meet an individual’s basic needs such as a steady paycheck, healthcare benefits, and safe working conditions. Once these needs are met, they no longer influence an employee’s decision to stay with an organization because these factors are not unique to one specific company.

Intrinsic motivators influence the employee experience and set a business apart from its competitors. How your business recognizes employees for their accomplishments, what growth and learning opportunities you offer, hybrid or flexible working schedules, and how employees feel about the work they are doing are considered intrinsic motivators. It is not uncommon for a candidate to accept a job offer with a lower salary because the intrinsic motivators the company offers are more aligned with their personal needs. Intrinsic motivators help small businesses build their employer brand and attract candidates as an employer of choice.

The Competitive Advantage of Being an Employer of Choice

When you set your business apart as an employer of choice, you’ll find it easier to attract and retain talent. Whether job seekers discover you through a job posting or through employees sharing your business is a great place to work, standing out as an employer of choice accelerates the recruitment process by attracting a larger candidate pool. Additionally, employers of choice experience greater employee engagement which leads to less employee turnover. By focusing on the intrinsic motivators of your workforce you create a culture where employees feel valued and therefore they are more likely to stay with your organization long-term.

Steps to Take to Become an Employer of Choice 

Attracting top talent and increasing employee engagement and retention all sound great, but where do you start? Here are four steps to take to build your employer brand to become an employer of choice.

1. Set Clear Goals 

Identify why you want to become an employer of choice and what you need to do to get there. Work with your internal HR department or an outsourced HR partner to administer an employee engagement survey, analyze the responses, and identify areas of improvement. Make an action plan on what steps need to be taken to put these changes in place. This could include additional training for people managers to better support and recognize direct reports or creating a professional development program to increase learning opportunities for your workforce. Becoming an employer of choice isn’t just about offering above-market salary packages. It’s about improving your employees’ experience, which contributes to a positive employer brand.

2. Emphasize Work/Life Balance

Work-life balance has become one of the most important things job seekers look for in a new role. When the world shifted to a remote-first work environment during the pandemic, employees saw the positive impact this new way of working had on their personal lives. Many people were able to use the time they would have normally spent commuting to the office to do things that fulfilled them outside of work. Remote work isn’t something you have to offer to promote a healthy work-life balance, there are other policies that show employees their wellbeing is a priority for your organization. Hybrid work models, flexible scheduling, and summer Fridays are all great options to promote work-life balance if your company isn’t in a position to offer 100% remote work.

3. Encourage Two-Way Feedback

Performance feedback is generally part of the employment lifecycle and most employees expect to receive feedback from their manager regularly. Level up your feedback by allowing space for employees to provide feedback directly to their manager. Through two-way feedback, you increase your employee engagement and satisfaction by allowing employees to provide feedback directly to their manager. This allows managers to understand the different levels of support each employee needs and turns feedback conversations into a dialogue rather than a one-way conversation. When employees’ voices are heard they are more likely to communicate job-related concerns with their manager. Two-way feedback allows you to get in front of employee issues that may have otherwise resulted in a voluntary employee exit.

4. Provide Opportunities For Growth

In addition to work-life balance, the opportunity for career growth has shifted towards the top of the list of what employees look for when searching for their next role. Provide employees with a variety of growth opportunities such as training and development programs, mentoring and professional development reimbursement programs. It is also important to provide promotion opportunities to employees by having a clear and defined path for promotion within your organization. By conducting regular performance reviews, you identify what skills an employee needs to achieve the next step in their career and work with them to create a development plan to support their growth. When you promote employees internally you show your workforce that growth is achievable within your organization. This promotes retention and fosters a positive work experience to help build your employer brand.

An HR Consultant Can Help You Become an Employer of Choice

While many small businesses would agree that attracting talent is difficult, it doesn’t have to be. Through Recruitment Process Outsourcing, a skilled team of HR consultants can help define your employer brand and position you in the talent market to attract, hire, and retain high-performing employees. Working exclusively with small businesses across a wide range of industries, the team at Red Clover are proven experts when it comes to creating an employer brand that is unique to your business. Reach out to us today to unlock your hiring potential!

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