Sure, fancy perks and high pay factor in employee satisfaction. But when it comes down to it, what really matters is a workplace where employees are challenged, satisfied, and appreciated.
Contrary to popular belief, such lists of most desirable workplaces aren’t completely made up of technology companies—or even large companies. And many of them don’t provide expensive, lavish perks. They simply know how to give employees what they want.
This year, Glassdoor’s annual list the Best Places to Work includes organizations from a variety of industries, from retail and finance to oil and gas, and everywhere in between. So what does it take to make the list? Here are five traits that most "Employers Of Choice" (EOC) have in common:
Top employers know that having good people on board helps them attract more good people. So they focus on establishing high standards for hiring—to fill their ranks with really strong employees—and on showing appreciation for their current employees—to keep them happy and motivated to stay.
From the moment a candidate interacts with your company and brand, it’s an opportunity to show what your company is made of. Setting clear expectations of the traits, experiences, and skills needed to succeed at your company will have two key benefits. First it helps your company to better recruit people that are a fit for your open jobs, and second it supports a working environment in which team members are more likely to respect one another. The theme throughout being one that shows people matter—EOCs show that people matter from the moment a job seeker looks at their jobs and evaluates their company.
Plus, when current employees are satisfied, they will spread the word that your workplace is a desirable place to be, which can help you attract more good people. In fact, Glassdoor Research shows that 96% of job seekers say they are likely to read online reviews of a workplace by its current employees before accepting a job offer.
EOCs listen to their employees. That may mean looking for informal opportunities to ask employees for their ideas and input, and it should also include formal opportunities for garnering employee feedback, such as conducting "stay" interviews—to ask employees what it will take to get them to stay—or encouraging employees to post their perspectives on your workplace on a company intranet or external site like Glassdoor. It’s important that employees also feel part of the decision making process and having their voice heard during these discussions can go a long way when it comes to employee satisfaction.
Keep in mind, simply listening to employees isn’t enough. EOCs listen and when problems are uncovered, they take action to fix the issues. If employees share feedback on things they like, show you are listening by continuing to promote that type of activity. If employees share feedback on things they’d like to see improved, determine how you can either help them understand issue or ways that you plan to fix the issue.
Not only do top employers make their workers feel valued and listened to, but they also provide opportunities for career advancement and training. Most people don’t want to remain stagnant in their careers, doing the same things the same way for years on end. In fact, after salary, the second most common reason job seekers accept an offer of employment is because of the career growth opportunities offered.
The best companies don’t just approve any training opportunity; they send their employees to training that they’ll use. Rather than keeping employees in the same roles they were hired for, EOCs present new challenges and opportunities to keep employees engaged and devise clear action plans for each employee’s growth.
The best employers have leaders in place who are accessible to their employees and are leading their organizations with clear, articulated direction for growth. The nature of leadership involves sometimes making tough decisions, and the leaders of top organizations earn employees’ respect by making the right decisions, even if they are unpopular.
EOCs use employee perks and worker-friendly policies to make their employees feel appreciated. While expensive perks like gym memberships, free lunches, and free travel can certainly be effective, workers can feel equally appreciated by less lavish perks, such as the opportunity to telecommute or take on new responsibilities. Even simply saying "thank you" is a measurably effective practice for any company.
As you develop a roadmap to make your company a more desirable workplace, consider the following: are you putting a premium on people, are you listening, empowering and leading with a clear vision? Are you appreciating the efforts of your workforce? Asking yourself and your leadership team these questions is the first step in becoming an EOC and boosting your employer brand.
Allyson Willoughby is SVP of people and head of legal at Glassdoor.
[Image: Flickr user Karsten Seiferlin]