As an employer, your goal isn’t just to promote your organization’s products or services–you also need to promote your organization as a desirable workplace. After all, recruiting and retaining top talent is essential for growing your business.
What does it mean to be an employer of choice? Highly sought-after organizations where employees are excited to come to work are called employers of choice. Becoming an employer of choice means creating a positive work environment, building an outstanding brand, and crafting a fun and productive culture.
Any employer–even a small one–can become an employer of choice by creating a strong culture and employee experience.
This article covers five ways your organization can become an employer of choice by finetuning your brand, culture, and recruiting strategies to attract and retain the best potential employees.
1. Define your ideal employee
The first step toward becoming an employer of choice is defining what type of person you’re trying to recruit and retain. Are you looking for someone who aligns with your company's mission, vision, and values? Or are you looking for those you can teach and help grow?
As an employer, you can’t be everything to everyone, and you don’t want to be. You only want to recruit and retain people who fit your organization’s culture.
By hiring the right employees from the start, you’ll be able to help your employees down the path to promotion when your organization is ready for more leaders. This saves you time and the hassle of training external hires for essential management roles when they may not understand the company.
According to a 2021 Joblist survey1, 56% of employees believe promoting from within improves company morale. The survey also found that employees felt more productive and had more job loyalty when they were managed by someone who was promoted from within.
In short, create a vision for what you want your workforce to look like, then hire the people who can bring that vision to life.
2. Identify the perks your ideal employee wants
Once you’ve determined your ideal employee, the next step is to find out what your ideal workers want in an organization. Offering perks and benefits that are attractive to that prospective employee can make the recruitment process less challenging.
While there are many lists available with the top perks employees want, the benefits you need to prioritize first are the ones that appeal to your workforce and company brand.
For example, if you own a thriving snow sports retail store, you likely want to attract and retain outdoor enthusiasts. Offering a perk like discounted ski passes or deals on sports equipment will help you attract that kind of employee.
Likewise, if you own a growing tech startup in a large city, you likely want tech-savvy employees. For this workforce, a gym membership, mobile app subscriptions, or commuter benefits like transit passes may align well with your ideal employees.
To help figure out which benefits you should offer, you can conduct an employee benefits survey. This will tell you what benefits and perks your current employees value the most.
If you don’t have the time to conduct a survey, there are many benefits options that employees love.
According to our 2022 Employee Benefits Survey Report, the benefits employees value the most are:
- Health insurance
- Paid time off (PTO)
- Retirement benefits
- Flexible work schedule
- Dental insurance
- Paid family leave
- Mental health benefits
- Professional development
- Vision insurance
- Life insurance
Let’s dive into a few of the top benefits you can offer your employees to become an employer of choice.
No matter what type of employee you’re hiring, they’ll expect some form of health benefit. Many health benefits options are available, such as traditional group health insurance. However, some employers may find traditional group health plans too costly and complex. Traditional benefits also don’t provide much flexibility for your employees’ unique needs.
An HRA is an excellent low-cost and flexible option that allows you to reimburse your employees tax-free for their health insurance premiums and qualifying medical expenses. This gives your employees more choices over their health insurance policies and quality of care.
Three of the most popular types of HRAs are:
- The qualified small employer HRA (QSEHRA)
- The individual coverage HRA (ICHRA)
- The group coverage HRA (GCHRA), also known as an integrated HRA
A taxable health stipend may be a better option if your employees receive advance premium tax credits for their health insurance. Unlike with an HRA, your employees can receive their full premium tax credits and take advantage of their health stipend without affecting their eligibility.
HRAs and health stipends are excellent options for providing your employees with personalized health benefits.
Paid time off (PTO)
One of the best ways to attract and retain employees and be seen as a great place to work is by offering ample paid time off (PTO) to your workers. Your employees need time away from work to relax, de-stress, and spend time with their friends and family.
When your employees return to work, they’ll be more productive and have better employee morale than those who don’t take time off.
Another great benefit to offer your employees is a wellness benefit. This can often be through in-office perks, gym memberships, or mental health counseling, for example.
Managing a wellness program can be challenging. Offering your employees a wellness stipend can be an easier and more flexible way to provide personalized wellness benefits.
With a wellness stipend, you provide your employees with a monthly allowance for the wellness expenses of their choice. Employees then request a reimbursement for their wellness expenses. This gives your employees the freedom to use their wellness benefits the way they want to.
Remote work and flexible work schedules
Allowing employees to work remotely is another sure way to become an employer of choice. According to Pew Research Center2, 60% of employees with jobs that they can do from home would like to work from home most or all of the time if given a choice.
If you have employees working from home, consider offering them a remote work stipend. You can reimburse your employees for their home office set-up costs and monthly or internet bills with a remote work stipend.
A remote work stipend helps you to set your remote employees up for success and satisfy laws in states where remote employee expense reimbursement is required.
Another popular benefit for employees is flexible work schedules. If your employees work remotely, you can let them choose their work hours. This is a great way to attract employees who have children, as they won’t need to find a daycare or have someone pick up their kids from school. It also allows employees to schedule dentist appointments and doctor visits during the workweek so they can stay healthy.
Professional development benefits
Supporting employee development is another excellent way to improve employee engagement and employee retention. Offering professional development benefits such as training, seminars, skills training, and education benefits like tuition reimbursement shows your employees that you care about their future and career paths.
When employees feel supported in their careers, they’ll be more likely to stay at your organization and seek out opportunities for advancement.
3. Track what your competition is doing
Next on your list to become an employer of choice and improve your employer brand is researching how you stack up against your competition. Job candidates and your current employees may already be doing this to ensure they have the best opportunity.
While it may seem daunting to compete with other organizations, particularly when it comes to salaries, don’t underestimate the value of providing unique employee benefits.
According to our 2022 Employee Benefits Survey Report, 82% of employees said the benefits package an employer offers is an important factor in whether or not they accept a job with an organization.
Here are a few ways you can get a sense of how your benefits and compensation package compare:
- Network with managers from similar organizations
- Look at your competitor’s career pages
- Talk to your employees and candidates about what they expect
- Keep up-to-date on industry trends and best benefits practices
4. Offer interesting and challenging work
Another important step toward becoming a preferred employer is offering a challenging but manageable workload. Achieving this blend may look different depending on the role or team member.
Keep these questions in mind when you’re evaluating your employees’ workload:
- Is the work challenging but not causing burnout?
- Are there clear, straightforward role definitions?
- As employees grow and become more efficient, do their responsibilities grow with them in a manageable way?
- Along with the work you’re asking employees to do, are they excited about the overall company vision?
- Are employees passionate about your mission?
You’ll also want to offer continued growth and advancement opportunities while keeping your employees' day-to-day work engaging. This includes a clear path to promotions and regular evaluations.
5. Recognize your employees regularly
Lastly, recognizing your employees for their hard work and dedication is essential to building a positive workplace culture and morale.
In a survey conducted by Bonusly3, 82% of respondents said they consider being recognized for their accomplishments as an important part of their happiness at work. Moreover, 63% of respondents who felt recognized at work reported being less likely to look for a new job in the next three to six months.
Here are a few ideas for promoting employee recognition and showing employee appreciation:
- Celebrate work anniversaries and birthdays
- Start contests and award prizes for meeting company goals
- Provide lunches to employees for special occasions
- Track and share team wins
- Give out thank-you notes to employees
- Provide awards, such as employee of the month
- Give your employees regular care packages
Employee recognition can also improve employee engagement and productivity while establishing a desirable company culture.
Being an employer of choice doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. Following these simple tactics will help your organization, no matter the size, recruit and retain the right employees for your culture. You’ll be on the right path to standing out from your competitors by improving the employee experience.
If you’re looking to offer personalized employee benefits that improve the employee experience and attract the potential employees you want, PeopleKeep can help! With our HRA and employee stipends administration software, you can easily set up and manage your benefits in minutes.
This blog article was originally published on January 12, 2015. It was last updated on January 10, 2023.