How to be an attractive employer

If your talent attraction and retention strategy isn’t delivering the human capital your organisation needs, you might want to focus on your employer branding efforts — specifically your employee value proposition (EVP).

During these skill-scarce times, many companies are struggling to develop a compelling EVP that helps them to win candidates and reminds employees why they joined the business in the first place.

It’s one of the most effective ways to enhance talent strategies and stay one step ahead of the competition, but it can also be one of the most challenging because knowing what resonates with workers can be difficult.

In today’s highly competitive and transparent labour marketplace, workers are increasingly clear about what they seek in an employer. A rewarding compensation is of course always important, but companies cannot simply seek to outbid competitors for every role they need to fill.

There are many other considerations that aid talent attraction, many of which go beyond monetary value; they are directly related to your employer branding strategy.

While you may increase budgeting to enhance these qualities, some aspects require changes to your company culture and practices to increase your appeal as an employer.

This is apparent from the 2018 Randstad Employer Brand Research, an exhaustive survey of 175,000 working-age adults in 30 countries about their employment preferences.

An annual study now in its 18th year, we have been tracking what workers desire in an ideal employer over nearly two decades, accounting for differences by country, gender, generation and sectors.

While some company qualities are universally desired, we also see some traits valued more according to age, gender and industry. What the research shows is that to attract and retain the talent they seek, organisations should create an employee value proposition most aligned with the workers they are targeting.

Traits we all love.

The company traits most important to workers around the world are often the same year after year, but we do observe variances in how much weight workers place on them. As in 2017, this year’s top three attributes sought out by workers are:

  • Good salary & benefits (cited by 60% of respondents)

  • Long-term job security (48%)

  • Comfortable work-life balance (45%)

It’s no surprise that a good salary & benefits remained the most desired attribute among all workers globally. Your employees and candidates will always value compensation more than any other offers you may bring to the table.

Surprisingly, job security rose in value from last year by 2%, despite a stronger global employment market. Typically when demand for talent is high and the market is skewed toward workers, job security is less critical.

However, it is worth noting that at 48%, job security is lower than the 52% we saw in 2015 and 2016.

The importance of work-life balance remained unchanged from the year before, which indicates that workers still want their employers to respect their time away from the office.

In fact, this aspect of the workplace is attracting more attention from lawmakers around the world who want to promote a better balance in an age of being constantly connected (one proposal in New York recently called for banning emailing after work hours). In Japan, the Abe government has been pushing labour reform to restrict long work hours.

But it’s not just the hours that workers care about; they also want a pleasant work environment, which was ranked fourth among the most important employer attributes.

This was just 1% lower than work-life balance. It was also a more important consideration for women — 47% of whom valued the work environment, compared to 40% for men.

It’s not surprising as the recent #MeToo movement has shed light on hostile environments for women in the workplace and may be a wakeup call for them to demand an end to harassment.

Other important employer attributes voiced by survey respondents include career progression, the employer’s financial health and flexible work arrangements. Among the least important were an employer’s use of the latest technology, its charitable contributions and workforce diversity and inclusion.

Retention a challenge among Millennials

While you might want to focus on the attributes most important to attracting talent, don’t forget to also strengthen those that help to retain workers.

Fortunately, the top three qualities that job seekers want in an employer are the same ones that motivate employees to stay with their companies, our research shows. However, workplace location turns out to be the fourth-most important factor for retaining workers, followed by work atmosphere.

A more significant determinant of turnover is age. During the past year, 28% of workers younger than 45 changed jobs, Randstad’s research shows, while just 10% of older employees did so. This is somewhat expected as studies have shown that recent grads are job-hopping more than in previous years. The top reasons for this are:

  • Low compensation (cited by 44%)

  • Limited career path (43%)

  • Insufficient challenges (30%)

The data tells us that companies need to focus their employer branding efforts on two key areas: ensure they offer a competitive salary and demonstrate to their workers opportunities to move ahead in their careers.

For companies seeking to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce, career growth is especially important as a higher percentage of women than men (45% vs. 42%) value career opportunities.

How does your sector rank?

The Randstad Employer Brand Research also reveals the most attractive sectors. With technology critically important to everyone’s life, it’s not surprising IT & communications emerged as the field in which the largest number of workers would like to work in (cited by 53%).

This was followed by automotive, fast-moving consumer goods and life sciences (all at 50%). Which are the least attractive? Hospitality ranked 13th (36%), followed by public services (37%).

Sector rankings are helpful in that it demonstrates the inherent advantage or barrier employers in different sectors face. As you consider your employer branding strategies, keep in mind how you can leverage your industry’s traits into your employee value proposition.

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