Ever wondered what it takes or what qualifies other companies to be the best employers and others failing to meet the mark. Year after year fortune 500 the top employers' list. Companies such as Google and Apple have featured on this list. Many employers desire to be an employer of choice (Sutherland, Torricelli, &Karg, 2002). What then really sets the best employers from all other employers? Is it their remuneration packages or how engaged the employees are. Many studies have been done to try and examine what makes other companies a company of choice. Many are divided into factors that contribute to being the best employer. Others have sighted money as the reason for companies being the best employer or employer of choice. However, this has been debunked by researchers showing that money mainly correlates to the poor review of employers. Evans, Pucik, & Barsoux, 2002 concluded that ‘there seems to be general agreement that the bundle of low wages, low investment in human capital, and little career mobility lead only to lower than average financial performance. It is surprising that the most agreed factors to be the best employer come back to the basic needs of a human being.
Firstly, best employer is defined as an organization that manages, ‘To effectively attract, motivate, and retain talented employees, many firms try to become employers of choice defined as firms that are always the first choice of first-class candidates due to their status and reputation in terms of corporate culture and HR practices’ (Sutherland et al., 2002). A best employer organisation is an organization that is able to bit its competitors by attracting, developing, and retaining the best talent. The major aim of best employer organisations is to achieve a good reputation through innovative and compelling HR practices that benefit both employees and organizations. According to Gubman (2004), employees of the best employers have a higher level of engagement or a heightened emotional connection to the job and organization. Being considered an employer of choice can provide a firm with various advantages, ranging from better recruiting to stronger community relations. Over time, this may result in outcomes such as improved customer service and stronger relationships with customers (Hannon & Milkovich, 1996).
Having defined what the best employer looks like one is brought to question; what does it take to be the best employer? It is surprising that the most agreed factors to be the best employer come back to the basic human needs. When we talk about the basic needs of a human being Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs seems to be the most referred to theory, Maslow (1943, 1954). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, highlights that humans have five basic needs which are physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. Similarly, researchers agree that the degree to which employers actively invest in meeting the multidimensional needs of their employees leads to being an employer of choice. Four major needs in the workplace are sighted which include physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs that an employer has to satisfy for it to be the best employer. These are further explained below:-
The physical attributes refer to an organisation’s ability to fulfill the monetary needs of its employees so that employees can adequately survive. However, what distinguishes good-paying employees and best employers is the ability of best employer organisations going further than just fulfilling the monetary needs of employees’ but also being mindful of employees’ wellbeing and health. For instance, Google invests in its employees’ health by providing great nutritional meals at work, gyms, onsite medical care and the unique and trendsetter napping pods. Employers invest a lot of money and time in maintaining machinery and avoiding break downs neglecting their most valuable asset which is the workforce and the employees’ wellbeing.
Secondly, the best employer needs to offer security to its employees. Employers can achieve this by showing employees that they are valued, recognizing their efforts and appreciating their efforts in executing their duties. Appreciation by employers to their employers has been linked to more productivity this is because if employees feel that they are not valued they spend more time and energy trying to get recognition from their superiors instead of generating value for their employer. Best employers make sure that employees know that their hard work is valued, and this leads to higher motivation and employees proudly hype the organization as the best employer. Emotions are an important determinate of performance.
Best employers recognize that people are unique individuals and hence need to be given freedom of self-expression. When employees are let to express themselves fully it breads a ground where employees bring up innovative ideas, they are able to use their unique skills and talents. Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do, we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Employers who allow self-expression enable employees to figure out the best way to get their work done and in the process discover new ways of achieving the same goal that might even be cost-effective. When employees are micromanaged they lose confidence and focus on following the commands given to them and offer no innovation in the process. So, Best employers trust their employees to do a good job and give employees some level of power and control over their work.
Similar to Maslow’s self-actualization needs which are realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. A desire “to become everything one is capable of becoming”(Maslow, 1987, p. 64). Best employers are explicit about their goals, values, mission and vision. Best employers are clear on each employee’s role or significance to the organisation’s ultimate goal. Employers that make their employees feel that the work they do really matters are able to be the best employers.
In conclusion, for an organization to be the best employer it needs to ensure that all the survival needs of its employees are met and far above this that their mental wellbeing is also catered for. Best employers go far beyond attaining the best talent but also take it upon themselves to develop current skills and investing in their employees.
Evelyn Gumiso Nyahando is a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. Phone +263 4 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or email: email@example.com or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com