Employer of Choice, or, Employee of Choice?

To many businesses and Human Resources Leaders, becoming an Employer of Choice is an important step toward effectively planning your workforce.  According to EREMedia, an online gathering place for Recruiters:  “Becoming an employer of choice means that applicants are eager to work for you, that people envy your employees, that you receive unsolicited resumes, and that your most talented workers stay with the company throughout their careers. It’s the holy grail for every employer.” 

The ERE suggests employers have a few things in place to become an Employer of Choice.  These are:

  1. Have Interesting work.
  2. Provide Career Advancement.
  3. Exhibit Social Responsibility.
  4. Give Recognition

Sounds like an easy enough task.  Do that and the unsolicited resumes will come flooding in.  You’ll have so many that you won’t be able to handle the volume.  Everyone will want to work for your company and you’ll have your pick of the hundreds or thousands that will apply.

I don’t think so.

This large volume of applicants, possessing and not possessing the Knowledge, Skills, Abilities and Mind-set (KSAM”S) that your business requires will overwhelm your recruiting function.  This will take valuable time, energy and resources away from the critical function of strategic talent management.

Employee of Choice – Built on a unique brand for your business that focuses on differentiating between the best candidates in the marketplace by having them self-select even before they apply.  That is the more focused approach that will ensure your business both attracts and retains the very best employee.  These employees in turn will provide you with the necessary KSAM”S to successfully execute your business strategy and in turn, make your business outperform its competitors.

How you do that, while seemingly simple, takes effort and skills.  It will involve your leadership, your line management and if you have it, an appropriately skilled HR team.

You want to develop and communicate a new brand for your business.  A brand that clearly states you are a high-performance organization.  That you value exceptional talent and that you provide them with exceptional pay and development opportunities.  Further, you communicate clearly that you are not for everyone, don’t want to be for everyone and are not interested in employing anyone.


You cannot be all things to all prospective employees – and you don’t want to be.


This effort requires working with 5 key areas for both you the employer and also the potential employee:

  1. Motivation
  2. Satisfaction
  3. Engagement
  4. Culture
  5. Other Factors

This will take your workforce or HR processes out of the stereotypical policies, practices, administrative efficiency, employee advocacy and compliance mode they are accustomed to operating in.  Instead, your HR Team and your Line Management must be focused specifically on workforce performance.  In order to do this you must, of course, identify those KSAM’s that drive successful strategy execution in your business and then develop components that will:

  1. Select
  2. Develop
  3. Reward and
  4. Motivate the workforce in your business.

The outcomes of this must also be appropriately measured.  Further, your Line Management and HR MUST be held accountable for workforce performance.  This means they idea of adapting someone else’s best practices to your business will most likely not be the best approach.

This all begins by identifying the key strategies your business must execute to be successful and then identifying what behavior and process drivers create successful execution.  You will have to involve your workforce in strategy execution by focusing them on key areas of your strategic vision and goals. (The Workforce Scorecard, Huselid & Becker, 2005) These are:

  • Operational excellence
  • Product or Service Leadership
  • Customer “centricity”

This will involve key behaviors and a true level of employee engagement that your business may not be familiar with.

As you consider this approach your question may involve the thought that this is time-consuming, hard and that it will also take commitment.  It will, as I stated earlier, most likely take skills your management and HR does not possess.  Take some comfort in the fact that many organizations have the same issue.  However, what comes from this is a return on the investment of those efforts in improved organizational performance, organizational productivity and organizational profitability.  Your employee retention will be vastly improved as your good employees, the ones you really want to keep, will not be wooed away by your competitor across the street because they increased what they pay.  In fact, your competitor across the street may well incur increased costs because you have differentiated your business so well that they can no longer successfully compete.

Refocusing your business efforts toward workforce productivity instead of the tired cycle of hiring and laying off to improve profit will ensure that you gain employee’s of choice and won’t have to be like everyone else seeking to be the employer of choice.