The 9 Components of Being an Employer of Choice 

To outshine your local competitors and become an employer of choice, these 9 essential components must be part of your retention strategy.

Steffan Busch
July 27, 2023

Being an employer of choice is being the place people in your community that people want to work at. From a company culture perspective, you outshine your local competitors.

I’ll admit it. When the concept of “employer of choice” comes to mind, it’s easy to think of it as fluff, as a pie in the sky concept. It’s easy to think that just adding an annual company outing or creating an “employee of the month” program makes a company an employer of choice - but it's so much more than that.

So, what exactly does it mean to be an employer of choice? There are eight components to being an employer of choice. In this article, I will define those eight components and offer insight into how they can be applied and measured in your company.

1. Authenticity

What it means: Leadership lives what they teach. Employees are cared for but not enabled. Conflict is engaged immediately and professionally.

How to implement: First off, practice what you preach! Then, instill it into your company mission and values and actively encourage employees to align themselves with it.

How it can be measured: Conduct annual employee engagement surveys. Allow employees to honestly assess if leadership lives what they teach. Allow employees to honestly assess if they are aligned with the company values. If the results are predominantly positive, you’re leading with authenticity.

2. Transparency

What it means: This ties in with authenticity. Share company goals, profitability and roadblocks with employees.

How to implement: Conduct monthly all staff meetings and share information on how the company is doing coupled with feedback and questions from employees.

How it can be measured: Employee engagement surveys. Are employees finding it informative? Are they inquiring about the information being shared?

3. Expectations

What it means: Clearly defined and documented job expectations that are shared with employees. Employees are more successful when they know what is expected of them.

How to implement: Write a job description for every job in your company. Outline what needs to be accomplished and list the competencies for success. Explain how the job contributes to the success of the company. Provide a job description to every current employee during weekly one on one meetings and go over it with them. For new hires, provide it to them on their first day. Also consider reviewing job expectations at annual performance reviews.

How it can be measured: if you’ve done the above, mission accomplished.

4. Recognition

What it means: People want to be recognized for doing great work and hitting goals. Sure, they get paid to do their jobs, but great companies recognize and reward top talent for going above and beyond.

How to implement: You’ve communicated expectations to your employees and outlined what needs to be accomplished. Create an employee recognition program that rewards employees for exceeding those pre-determined expectations. The specific way in which they are recognized and what the reward is should be based on what employees want. Obviously, the sky’s not the limit because you are on a budget, so predetermine how much you want to spend and allow employees to choose based on the dollar amount. An example might be, after receiving feedback from your employees desiring more paid time off, develop a quarterly program that recognizes employees outperforming their KPI’s with extra time off.

How it can be measured: At minimum, recognize your top performers quarterly.

5. Competitive Pay and Benefits

What it means: To effectively recruit and retain top talent, you need to pay them what they’re worth.

How to implement: Start with benchmarking competitors in your area. Offer to share compensation information with them. Next, review the compensation information in the Nexstar Financial Survey. How do you stack up with the average salaries? Once you’ve reviewed the data, decide where you want to be. Above average? 99th percentile? Work it into your budget for next year while factoring in your planned additions to headcount and don’t forget to factor in employee turnover!

How it can be measured: How do you rank in the Nexstar Financial Survey? How do you rank compared to your local competition? Ask your employees about it in the engagement survey.

6. Empowerment

What it means: Allow your employees the opportunity to make decisions and solve problems within the scope of their jobs. This sends a clear message that you trust them to do what you hired them for. Further, consult with your employees on projects, ideas or solutions to problems and don’t forget to give them credit if they come up with a great idea.

How to implement: This goes back to authenticity. An authentic and transparent leader will offer status updates on how the company is performing. This includes the good, the bad and the ugly. During those monthly all staff meetings, present the current roadblocks and solicit ideas on how to eliminate them.

How it can be measured: Be consistent with those monthly all staff meetings and ensure that there is time set aside to solicit feedback and ideas on a specific issue. Over time, this will become part of your company culture.

7. Growth & Development

What it means: High performing employees are learning employees. Facilitate training and development opportunities for your employees.

How to implement: Set aside a piece in your annual budget for training and development activities. Offer a minimum of one training opportunity for each employee annually and track it. Offer job specific training opportunities as well as personal development.

How it can be measured: Budget and track one training for each employee annually.

8. Healthy/Growing Company

What it means: People are proud to work at growing, financially healthy companies. An employer of choice is a financially profitable company. It’s very difficult to adequately take care of high performing, top talent if your company is losing money.

How to implement: Listen to your business coach and establish a revenue goal. In the spirit of authenticity, transparency and empowerment, share the revenue goal with your staff, what it will take to hit goal, and solicit feedback/ideas.

How it can be measured: You’re growing and profitable. Your business coach gives you a high five for hitting your revenue goal. Ensure your employees know you hit or exceeded your revenue goal and celebrate the win!

9. Healthy Relationships

What it means: Everyone in the company, especially leadership, work together in a professional, cohesive and respectful manner. Conflict is handled promptly and professionally.

How to implement: This starts with leadership setting the example. Practice what you preach and ensure your interactions with employees are respectful and professional. You may find that you have some employees who create conflict, take more energy than they give and bring a terrible attitude to work every day. In some cases, these employees are technically sound, they can do the job but have a poor attitude. Don’t be afraid to cut ties with these people. You can replace them with someone who is both technically sound and brings a great attitude to work each day. Implement daily huddles, monthly all staff meetings and a minimum of one company outing annually to promote healthy relationships amongst employees.

How it can be measured: Use the engagement survey to gauge how well employees are working together. Your employee turnover rate may also be a good indicator. If at first you have to remove some negative personalities, you’ll find some initial high numbers in your turnover rate, but it should subside once you’ve replaced them with positive personalities. Keep in mind the Nexstar benchmark for employee retention (the opposite of turnover) is 90%.

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