Talent acquisition includes the finding and securing of perfect candidates in an organization can be a challenge. When competing for the best talent employers need to stand out to potential employees, they need to offer opportunities that will steer them away from the competition, make them feel valued, and ensure they stay for the long haul. The question then becomes, what can employers offer that will drive employee loyalty and make workers never want to leave?
Common characteristics among Best Companies to work for
Based on previous research and surveys it has been found that organizations that stand out have certain common characteristics. These common characteristics are what draw talent to them and make it possible for the companies. In a review by Glassdoor in which the focus was on employee feedback, the following were some of the leading traits.
Mission and Values-Led
It is not surprising that a lot of companies look first for candidates with the right values, sometimes even above experience; candidates who share the same overall goal will be bought in from the outset. Companies that are values or mission-led have a common understanding of who they are and what they are striving for. When employers make their values clear and promote them - not just through what they say but also what they do - employees are more likely to buy into them from day one. A company with values at the core of everything it does makes employees feel they are part of something great, also promoting a vision that every person in the company can invest in and get behind.
Empower and Reward
We all know that good talent isn’t always easy to find, so it’s counterproductive for employers to stop putting in the effort after candidates have started the job. Employers should invest as much effort into the onboarding process as the recruitment one. Investment in people needs to be part of the fabric of an organization; employers that focus on employee engagement and empowerment - and reward them suitably for hard work - demonstrate that they care about their employees’ development and job satisfaction and show them that they are valued.
That means empowering employees to develop professionally through a range of learning and development opportunities, training, and new responsibilities. It also means allowing them to have a say in how the company is run - through regular communication a focus on feedback and involvement in decision-making. The best employers also demonstrate their appreciation through incentives and benefits, including social benefits, financial incentives, and a physical workplace that is a fun and engaging environment.
The best places to work are managed by exceptional leaders. Having quality leaders at every level in an organization is paramount to making an organization attractive to work for; employees often cite poor management as a reason for leaving a company.
The best places to work are driven by leaders who empower their people, lead by example, and value their employees’ contributions. Many leaders, therefore, show themselves as approachable by physically placing themselves amongst their staff; there’s evidence that employees feel more comfortable asking questions to leaders when they are not hidden away in separate offices. Moreover, when leaders involve their employees in decision-making and are frank about any issues that involve them as a workforce, they are far more likely to earn their respect and trust.
All of the above points relate to wider company culture; ultimately, the best places to work are those where employees feel valued, work with good people, and enjoy their work. Building a company culture that works around the needs of every single employee is a challenge, but where companies get it right, employees stay. Candidates often ask about the culture of the company before accepting a job because so much of your time is spent at work, you need to know that where you work delivers more than just professional growth but is also the sort of place you fit into and are proud to be part of.
What the Best Companies to work for do differently?
Those companies that are ranked as best employers ultimately have something unique about how they do things, which warrants them to be called best workplaces. In a bid to explore the differences Michael O’Malley and Bill Baker, authors of Organizations for People: Caring Cultures, Basic Needs, and Better Lives, decided to take a much deeper look, putting 21 of the consistent performers on those lists under a microscope. Visiting a diverse selection of companies, they interviewed executives, conducted focus groups, and toured facilities. In their piece in Harvard Business Review (2019), O’Malley summarized their findings. Here are some of the things the authors believe these companies do differently from their peers and why they are successful:
Put People First
“The best places to work provide people with life satisfaction as opposed to job satisfaction alone. Almost all of the corporate founders and CEOs we spoke with told us that they built their companies with people in mind. To them, a healthy culture is as important as a healthy balance sheet. Their benefits go far beyond minimum wage,” O’Malley wrote.
Help Workers Find and Pursue Their Passions
“The companies we studied find ways to rejuvenate employees by helping them identify their ‘calling,’ or the area of work that provides them with the greatest fulfilment,” O’Malley wrote. “Doing so not only increases productivity, it makes people feel happy—lucky even—to be at work. … The surest way to improve performance is to give people something they like doing.”
Bring People Together on a Personal Level
“Before beginning this project, we considered life events, rituals, and rites of passage—such as marriages, birthdays, and anniversaries—as trivial to the work environment. However, the companies we visited gave us a new perspective. They made a big deal out of significant dates. Why? These social extracurriculars may appear contrary to real work, and to some, as senseless wastes of time. However, forming meaningful relationships is real work. The best companies realize that personal affinities and deep social bonds are failsafe measures against team breakdowns and are essential for top team performance,” wrote O’Malley.
Empower People to Own Their Work
“The executives we interviewed repeatedly told us that they want their employees to think and act like owners. Allowing them to control aspects of their work, we learned, is the key to accomplishing this. Employees who have the leeway to rearrange, modify and improve their assignments feel possession over them, and once this happens, their mindsets begin to change,” wrote O’Malley. “Instead of focusing on what cannot be done, they become preoccupied with what can. As a result, they are more easily able to grow, innovate, and push their companies forward.”
What you can do to be the best company to work for?
It is not easy to create a business and culture deserving of a "Best Companies to Work For" award. The good thing is that with enough goodwill it can be achieved. Below are some of how organizations can improve and adapt to become the best companies to work for.
1. Make sure culture has a seat at the executive table.
Maybe you have the resources to dedicate an individual (or team) to building the culture you want. Alternatively, maybe building that culture is the responsibility of your HR department. Alternatively, best of all, your founder recognizes the importance of building a unique culture. No matter what, senior leadership should not just recognize but embrace the importance of culture. Not only is that good for employees; but it is also good for business. Studies show that lower job satisfaction foreshadows and even predicts poorer bottom-line performance. Most companies wait to hire an HR person since they see HR as a necessary evil but it’s good to hire one as soon as a company’s doors are opened. Every company has a culture; make sure yours is intentional and not accidental. Make sure culture has a meaningful seat at your leadership table.
2. Make rewards personal, not universal.
Every employee responds differently to recognition. Know your employees and your different teams so you can tailor your rewards to produce the greatest impact for each individual. The corporate mentality about rewards is to make them universal so that they are "fair," but that means few people find those rewards--and that recognition--meaningful. There is a need to collaborate with department heads to determine how to reward employees since what is meaningful to some is irrelevant to others. Also, what people value tends to change over time. Rewards are only rewards if your employees feel rewarded. The only way to ensure that is to truly know your employees and to recognize that what they think matters.
3. Make sure open doors swing both ways.
Most companies have an open-door policy, but most employees will not walk through that door first. If you want employees to feel comfortable coming to you, you have to go to them first. Get out, make the rounds, ask questions, ask what people are working on, and ask what they need to do their jobs better. When people realize you are comfortable coming to them for input and advice that is when they will start feeling comfortable coming to you.
Related: How to implement an open-door policy
4. Hire with a cultural fit as a key requirement.
Skills, experience, background, etc., are important, but first, you need an overarching idea of what you want your company to stand for then you can find people who fit within the larger framework.
An overall framework should be built around hiring friendly, positive, and helpful people. And while each department has slightly different cultures they hope to build and nurture, as long as those cultures fit within our overall framework, that's great. When you cast a wide net and hire for skills, aptitudes, and culture, diversity tends to take care of itself. You will naturally find people with diverse skills and diverse perspectives. Moreover, do not forget to include culture as a required attribute when you promote people into leadership positions.
5. Highlight the positive impact of your company's mission.
PlentManyies show that employees are highly motivated when they feel they are making progress toward a meaningful goal. In each company, there should be a lot of talk about how its work contributes to the overall improvement of the sector they operate in. There is a need to look for people who want their work to contribute to the greater good. When employees buy into what they are doing when they feel they can utilize their skills to do what they enjoy and make a difference for other people that is when employees not only do their best work but also gain a sense of personal fulfilment and gratification. Then everyone wins.
6. Let your employees play an active role in building your culture.
The person in charge of the culture who sits at the executive table cannot do it alone. Employees want to participate, and that is awesome, but that also means you have to give up some control. Since employees can voluntarily make certain events happen, that ensures a company’s culture is more organic than forced. One person can promote a great culture, but it takes everyone in the company to build a great culture and to build a company where people want to work.
Wrapping it up...
In conclusion, no workplace will get everything right, but there is a lot to be learned from companies that consistently rank high in employee reviews. Employee satisfaction is dependent on several distinct factors and, whilst trying to tick every box may not work, there are key areas that should be prioritized when making your company more attractive for your staff. It is also clear that whatever way you choose to do it, working to meet the wants and needs of your employees will pay dividends in the long term.