Photo Source: U.S Department Of Agriculture
By EVA CHRISTODOULOU
What makes a good employer? Six signs of a good boss, and Five common characteristics of good bosses!
Many studies have found that the key to being a great employer is employee-engagement. Every year, thousands of fresh graduates enter the labour force. By joining the already existing workforce, these fresh graduates are trying hard to make the right decisions; decisions that may well shape the rest of their career as well as their future and that of their family.
One such decision they need to make is which potential employer to approach. In addition to determination and resilience, a good employer is the key to having a successful career. What makes a good employer is a bit hard to know for sure. It is even harder to judge an organisation before even working there. However, there are tell-tale signs that we can look for. William Kalmar gives six indicators of a good employer:
- A good employer makes people feel that they are part of a team, or, even better, a family.
- They encourage open communication, informing their people of new developments and encouraging them to give feedback, suggestions and complaints.
- They promote from within, giving their people the opportunity to progress on the career front.
- They stress quality, enabling people to feel pride in the products or services they provide.
- They share profits with their employees through profit sharing and/or stock ownership.
- They reduce the distinctions of rank between top management and those in entry-level positions, and they bar exclusive perks for high-level people.
Many studies have been conducted worldwide, asking employees or even fresh graduates about what they consider as crucial measurements of a good employer. Increasingly, salary and benefits do not constitute the basis on which an employer is thought of as great. Instead, many of these studies have found that the key to being a great employer is employee-engagement.
AON Hewitt’s Best Employer study in Malaysia 2012, found that employees thought of three key drivers of engagement: career opportunities, recognition and brand alignment. Career opportunities – in terms of what the organisation can offer in terms of career progression. Recognition – in terms of how much it recognises the employees and their contributions to the business/division. Brand alignment – in terms of how much employees share the same values as the company and its brand.
A study by Towers Watson in the same year looking at sustainable engagement, found that drivers for sustainable engagement of the workforce are work life balance, performance management, image, and less so, pay and benefits. What the two studies indicate is the importance, increasingly, of non-monetary aspects of employment. The workforce no longer looks at salary and benefits as the reasons for staying in a company. Instead, career opportunities, performance management, brand alignment and worklife balance seem to be the key drivers of keeping employees engaged to the organisation.
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As a result of a global study by Hewitt Associates, there seem to be five common characteristics among best employers around the world. Let’s look at these five in detail:
- Inspired leadership
Best employers around the world tend to have leadership teams that set the example for commitment to their people. The leaders of the organisation truly believe that their greatest asset is their people and they are personally involved in developing talent, interviewing potential employees and communicating with their employees on the direction of the company. Even though at times taxing and frustrating, they ensure that they maintain visibility (leaders of companies considered as best employers talk to the employees on average three times more than the leaders of the rest, resulting in trust development); they provide clarity and focus (they communicate clearly and frequently on the company’s direction, business strategy goals and progress, providing a clear direction and defining the role of each employee); and they encourage openness and involvement (they shape an open company culture, one that allows employees to provide suggestions and be involved, reinforcing behaviours that generate success).
- Unique company culture
Best employers around the world articulate and maintain a unique organisational culture, ensuring that all new hires have a “cultural fit” to the organisation. They create a unique employment experience and emphasise on promotion from within the ranks of the organisation, ensuring in this way they attract people who see the benefit of furthering the success of the company. Best employers embrace a culture of high performance, they stress company values, and have systems and practices designed to inspire their workforce to do their best.
Reinforcing a unique company culture entails a job-person fit (they ensure that new hires are made based not only on the competencies and qualifications of the applicants, but whether their character and values align with that of the organisation), home-grown talent (to ensure that future leaders of the organisation remain aligned with the company’s values, they promote from within and nurture their own talent), and a celebration culture (they ensure that successes are celebrated and recognition is given to those that deserve it).
- Focus on growing talent
Best employers provide more opportunities for their workforce to develop and grow professionally and personally. They place much attention on identifying high potential talent and ensure they receive the right accelerated training and development, as well as provide them with frequent opportunities to meet the senior leadership. More time and resources are spent on training and development by being committed to training, providing access to more training programmes, putting more employees on assignments or job-rotational roles and providing a robust mentoring system.
Training provided should include leadership and technical skills, but also education on the company culture and values. Furthermore, best employers have a robust talent pipeline, providing programmes to help people manage their own careers, accelerated learning, strong mentoring, and, to ensure that all goes according to plan, they are likely to tie managers’ compensation to how they manage the talent pipeline and develop their people.
- Strong sense of accountability
Holding employees accountable for results and recognising achievements instil a great sense of responsibility. Employees in turn have a clear understanding of what is expected of them because of the frequent communication from leaders on the business direction and company goals. Their roles are therefore constantly aligned in order to keep up.
Best employers are successful in conducting performance management, something that helps solidify the alignment between employees, company goals and performance expectations. A strong sense of accountability is created by setting clear expectations, a rigorous performance management programme, putting emphasis on fair play, and through pay-for-performance and ownership opportunities.
- Aligned HR practices and excellent execution
The HR programmes and practices at the best employers are aligned with business strategies and are executed effectively. These programmes and practices are relevant to the business, as well as valuable to the employees. High value programmes are identified and promoted in order to drive employee engagement and business success. Such programmes are executed effectively, through careful planning, dedicated resources, excellent communication, and effective allotment of time.
Going back to where we started, a good employer is one that provides the right foundations for strong, sustainable employee engagement. When you are out job-hunting, ensure that you look out for signs and information that indicate how well they engage their workforce.
There are many studies out there that provide information on what makes a great employer. Most of them provide similar results, indicating the importance of employee engagement.
An employer that provides the aforementioned structures, processes and opportunities is likely to be more cherished by its workforce than one that doesn’t.
Eva Christodoulou is the Digital Learning Design & Development Leader at Leaderonomics. To connect with her, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eva is the Research & Development leader at Leaderonomics. She believes that everyone can be the leader they would like to be, if they are willing to put in the effort and are curious to learn along the way, as well as with some help from the people around them.