There is much competition for talent. How do you make your business an employer of choice?
As a former COO, this concern is not new, especially as our industry’s reputation was sometimes less attractive than others. We have unique barriers to entry, including long hours, billable time tracking, difficult promotion tracks, and higher education requirements. At the same time, the public sees us as trusted advisors, the go-to people when you get in a jam and needed a path and plan.
Any business is only as good as its people. It takes dedicated, determined, and committed people:
- to understand and execute the business vision and purpose
- to live and daily embrace the guiding principles of the business
- to learn, comprehend and follow the critical processes of the business
- to step into their role, absorb it, improve it and enjoy it
- to fill the role of senior leaders that can build a business that attracts these people.
An internet search defines characteristics of employers of choice as. “strong leadership, competitive pay, engaged workers, meaningful work, and attractive culture.” Based on my experience, that’s the bare minimum.
The Great Places to Work organization expands this list to include career growth, appreciation and recognition, work-life balance, fairness, access to information, empowerment, strong reputation, community involvement, and fun. Much closer!
My experience is that there must be more. These characteristics are a good starting checklist, but based on my experience, you also need the following:
- Senior leaders with positive intention and an open mindset that trickles down to everyone
- A universal feeling and recognition that at all levels, we are servant leaders
- A focus and perspective that our clients need us, and we need them
- An inclusive hiring and managing process that supports our business needs
- Advancement opportunities, succession planning and sharing knowledge as standard operating procedures
- A benefits package that meets individual and collective needs
- Managed growth and profitability
While you can provide all the bells and whistles, if your intention and mindset of leading and managing your business contradict your offering, it won’t be easy to be an employer of choice. I have seen how this failure hinders great companies.
What does work is hiring the right people (and yes, they are available, and you can find them) and then recognizing their worth beyond the initial role for which they were hired.
People come to the table with much more to give, and a business cannot be successful with just one leader when an army is available to support you. You cannot be an employer of choice by yourself.