"Thank you very much for the help you have offered. When I first contacted you through email, I was really surprised at how quickly you got back to me. The position you found for me fits me perfectly well, and I like it very much. Throughout the process, you have been so helpful, liaising very professionally and efficiently. Thank again for all you have done."Underground Production Geologist, South Perth
What do your staff want, exactly?
(February 2012)If you look at some of our past blogs, you will see that we at Skye Recruitment have talked about how to retain the staff you have engaged. And we make no apologies for raising the subject again, because it is such an important topic, affecting the most precious and fickle asset you will ever have.
We all know that it's getting harder, and not just here in Australia, to get good, reliable, well-trained people to fill the ever-increasing number of vacancies that are opening up. Once we have got the people we want, we need to try as hard as we can to keep them, because there are always other businesses out there who will snap them up in a flash.
Traditionally, the approach has been to seduce potential employees with the promise of good wages, generally 'spiked' with a few add-ons such as corporate housing, free trips back home, generous holidays, etc. But these cost significant amounts of money and impact on the balance sheet and on the price of the product. Also, when you pay an employee three times what he or she can realistically spend in a year, what is the real attraction to them of being offered, say, four times that amount?
Well, have a think about increasing the job satisfaction element. We admit that this is, perhaps, a harder option than offering more money, but it can pay serious dividends in both reducing employee wage expectations and increasing the chance that they will still be with you in 12 or 24 months time.
Over the last ten years or so, a number of organisations have emerged, such as Employer of Choice, Excellence for Diversity@Work, Best Place to Work and so on. They all have, in common, a desire to help companies improve the workplace by improving the way in which management of a company looks at its staff, sometimes with a particular slant towards minority groups, but always with the idea that people who want to work for a company are more likely to stay with that company.
So, to start with, a company should look at its brand image. Every company, we suspect, will have done this as far as its intended customers are concerned, but what about having an employer brand?
According to the book 'Employer of Choice', by Herman and Gioia, an Employer of Choice is one that people will choose to work for, who will choose to dedicate themselves to your success and who will choose to stay with you, even if they are being approached by other companies offering better pay and/or benefits. An Employer of Choice will inspire talented people to work for them and stay with them.
In 2001, the University of Sydney published a report into Australian workplaces ('Simply the Best Workplaces in Australia'), which identified 15 main factors that set the excellent workplaces apart from the rest. Amongst these factors are the quality of working relationships, clear values set by the company, a feeling of personal safety, and a sense of having responsibility and control over your own work, and that position being respected and accepted by others.
Recently, The Defence Force was nominated as a 'Dream Employer' in a national survey, after years of struggling to attract good quality staff. It turned itself around by examining how it marketed itself – in other words, looking at the image it was 'selling' to potential recruits – and found that only 38% or so of applicants were motivated by self-interest. Surprisingly, some 56% were attracted by the prospects of training and development, indicating that potential employees are valuing longer-term stability and security more highly than simple remuneration.
This leads us back to the matter of employer branding. We would suggest that companies who want to engage more staff should move away from the traditional approach of advertising for what they, the companies, want and look more at advertising what they can offer to successful applicants. Of course, you have to follow through, so that this approach requires a company to properly understand what employees really want, in today's economic climate, and to make good on their advertising promises by creating the environment for which the employee signed up in the first place.
And that is how you create an employer brand. Once you can be seen to keep your word, and create an environment in which employees aren't turning over at a rate of knots, then your reputation will spread before you, the awards will follow (which of course can then form part of future advertising campaigns) and, who knows, you may end up with more good applicants than you can take on!