Making Your Company One of the Best Places to Work
The employer of choice (EOC) is an increasingly common term for a company for whom people want to work. In Competing for Talent, human resources consultant Nancy S. Ahlrichs describes the recruitment and retainment strategies that enable companies to become employers of choice.
Recruiting New Hires
One focus of EOCs is to reduce the cycle time and increase the user-friendliness of the recruitment process, Ahlrichs writes. Companies that have heavily bureaucratic recruitment procedures are less likely to attract top performers than those who understand the importance of what Ahlrichs calls speed-to-hire. "Every day, quality candidates - including internal candidates - are being hired away by faster, more time-sensitive EOCs," she writes.
EOCs are also focusing on competencies (for example, initiative or the ability to solve problems) rather than hard skills when they interview and hire new employees. The best employers, writes Ahlrichs, develop job descriptions that contain both the competencies required in the job as well as the personal characteristics of superior performers in the position.
The recruitment process also does not end with the hiring of the employee. As Ahlrichs explains, EOCs also put extra effort into their orientation processes, which allows them, among other things, to give new hires a favorable impression of the organization and its culture and to integrate new people into work groups.
In addition to tips and suggestions for the recruitment process, Ahlrichs offers chapters on related issues, such as e-recruiting and "finding new hires in unlikely places."
Another section of Competing for Talent deals with the retention strategies that can put your company on the path to becoming an EOC.
The first step, she writes, is to have tactics and processes in place that specifically address the issue of employee turnover. EOCs not only investigate, through exit interviews, why employees leave; they also take preventive steps to reduce turnover before it becomes a problem.
For example, EOCs might put in place cross-functional retention committees (with a mix of management and non-management members) to make objective recommendations at regular intervals. EOCs also add turnover questions to employee opinion surveys, for example: "Have you considered leaving the organization in the last six months?" "Have you taken action to leave the company?" and "Why have you been dissatisfied?" Of course, employees must feel that their answers will be kept strictly anonymous if they are to answer honestly.
Ahlrichs also addresses the management style and cultures that encourage employee retention. Companies that have self-managed teams or are not afraid to decentralize decisions, for example, will be more attractive to top performers. The leadership qualities of supervisors at all levels are also important. Finally, Ahlrichs explains the importance of the employee development plans and alternative compensation and benefits strategies that reinforce employee loyalty in EOCs.
A Comprehensive Overview
More than just a step-by-step toolbox, Competing for Talent is a comprehensive overview of employee recruitment and retention topics, including discussions of the bottom-line benefits of low turnover, the characteristics of EOCs as described in the current business literature (including Jeffrey Pfeffer's 1998 book The Human Equation, which is referenced throughout the text), and the importance of community involvement and other public relations efforts in gaining an EOC reputation.
While more real-life examples would have been welcomed, corporate executives will find this well-written, practical guide a valuable resource in helping their companies earn a slot on a "Best Places to Work" ranking.