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How to become an employer of choice

Have you read the room lately? We’re talking about the workplace vibe, the water cooler chat and the general motivation levels in the office. With so much news about low unemployment and the ‘Great Resignation’ movement, even your happiest employees are probably browsing the job ads. Browsing. Right. Now. Workplace design company Evoke Projects looks at how you can become an employer of choice to attract and retain the best talent.

What is an employer of choice?

An employer of choice is a company that has the reputation and reality of being a great place to work. Those who work there feel lucky, while onlookers aspire to land a position. Note that we say reputation AND reality. It used to be major ‘blue chip’ companies that had the reputation and the pick of talent. In 2022, word of mouth, social media and Glassdoor reviews can make or break any company’s reputation. Reality is what matters.

Tick all the boxes

Nancy Fonseca is an authority on workplace culture at Great Place to Work. She lists 11 must-haves to be an employer of choice.1

  1. Career growth
  2. Meaningful work
  3. Appreciation and recognition
  4. Work-life balance
  5. Strong leaders
  6. Fairness
  7. Access to information
  8. Empowerment
  9. Strong reputation
  10. Community involvement
  11. Fun

International consultant and author Dr Tim Baker writes about the changing nature of the employer-employee relationship.2 He says that there is a move away from a ‘them and us’ relationship to a more collaborative partnership where both parties are working towards a set of shared values. Employers must act proactively to become an employer of choice around eight defined values. One example of these values is Project Based Work, where employers of choice structure work around projects rather than organisational functions.

How can your office design and fit-out help you to become an employer of choice?

Looking at the above factors, how can your office fit-out help you to become an employer of choice?

An optimal office fit-out helps people to perform ‘meaningful work’. Activity based work zones ‘empower’ staff to work in the zone that best suits their task and mood. If they feel contemplative, they can work in a quiet zone to focus and create. For collaboration, they move to a conference room or meeting pod. Activity based zones in the office design and fit-out also foster a ‘project based’ approach to work, recognising that a job title should not define where we sit at work (or stand – don’t forget the height adjustable desks!).

If the office design and fit-out supports employee health and well-being, the workday flies by. When people feel good about being in the workplace, there is a blurring between home and work in a positive way. This contributes to better ‘work-life balance’.

Conversely, companies that push for a return to pre-pandemic work patterns will lose in the employer of choice stakes. An office fit-out can be designed to support hybrid working where staff have the flexibility to work both remotely and in the office. Meeting rooms and personal workstations that are allocated via a hoteling system will suit these office fit-outs, where technology allocates and tracks office desk use during the day. Provision of ergonomic office furniture, routers, laptops, printers and monitors will ensure remote workers can be as efficient at home as in the office.

A modern office fit-out with creative workplace design will evoke staff feelings of “lucky me, well done me”. The overall effect is that employees who work in such places feel ‘appreciated and recognised’. Aesthetic appeal is also important for a ‘strong reputation’ as an employer of choice. Staff feel proud of their smart office and talk about their workplaces with family and friends. Word soon spreads.

Our workplaces are not just a place to work, but a place to connect and collaborate. The loss of this connection during lockdowns and work from home mandates highlighted its importance. Within every business, there is a work ‘community’ with its own social networks and norms. Provide spaces and amenities within the office fit-out to gather, socialise and collaborate. Add ‘fun’ to the breakout zones with a pool table, games and a top-of-the-range coffee machine.

The culture of a company is vital to its vibe as a great place to work. Culture starts at the top and ‘strong leaders’ will lead the way in developing a positive workplace culture.

For ‘employer of choice’ workplace design and fit-out ideas, please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692.

1. https://www.greatplacetowork.ca/en/articles/11-characteristics-of-an-employer-of-choice
2. https://www.iidmglobal.com/expert_talk/expert-talk-categories/managing-people/engage_retain/id84452-the-eight-values-of-an-employer-of-choice.html

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