For businesses with trades and blue collar workforces, what exactly does ‘Employer of Choice’ mean, and how do you get there?

The phrase has held a considerable amount of popularity of late, but most employers really don’t understand the importance of becoming an Employer of Choice.

It’s more than just a buzzword; it is representative of a whole new corporate culture.

It means that people will choose to work for you. It means that people will choose to dedicate themselves to your success. It means that people will choose to stay with you, even when they are being courted by other employers— employers with exceptionally attractive propositions.

Positioning your business as an Employer of Choice is not necessarily easy and it’s certainly not a quick fix. It is something that requires a consistent and concerted effort and, above all else, follow through.

Surprisingly it doesn’t mean your company has to get listed by a prominent magazine, website or industry award. It’s really more about understanding the hallmarks of an Employer of Choice and nurturing those attributes into your company

In the near future there will be a severe skills shortage as markets start to improve and some countries, such as Ireland, employ rebate schemes for skilled trade workers to return home. As a result the labour pool will contract, meaning companies will need to think outside the box in attracting talent.

With a skill shortage, comes various problems including a severe upturn in the cost of labour, which is perfectly illustrated in the this article about the UK construction market by Karl West.

Although this report is from the UK, it serves as a warning to Australia as the number of tenders starts to increase. So moving forward it is essential that your business is in the strongest position to attract and retain quality employees.

Reasons for becoming an Employer of Choice

Trust is a key driver of sustainable engagement, which drives performance. The latest meta-analysis published by the Employee Engagement Task Force, headed by David MacLeod and Nita Clarke, found that the top 25 per cent most engaged companies enjoy the benefits of:

  • 200 per cent annual net profit
  • 18 per cent higher productivity
  • 250 per cent revenue growth
  • 12 per cent greater customer advocacy
  • 50 per cent fewer sick days
  • 87% less likely to leave organisation
  • …as compared with the lowest 25 per cent of engaged companies*.

Aside from the statistics, an Employer of Choice that can attract and retain a loyal workforce will enable management to focus on business strategy and growth, rather than being consumed by staff turnover and all of the associated challenges.

Strategies to help achieve Employer of Choice status

Below are methods that some companies with blue collar workforces, have found very effective for not only attracting new employees, but also for retaining them.

Attracting –

  • Keep your company website updated and current
  • Use online recruiting tools
  • Interactive social media
  • Provide comprehensive on-boarding information
  • Market competitive pay
  • Incentive trips/ Rewards
  • Defined company values
  • Word of mouth
  • Include videos alongside the text for a job as studies show viewers spend 5.33 time as long on the site if it includes a video
  • Make sure your website is smartphone compatible
  • Enhance the candidate experience from first interview to first day by employing a transparent recruitment process
  • Train or retrain your in-house recruiters or HR that conduct the interviews.
  • Network – be at industry events, functions and award nights to get your brand out there.

Retaining –

  • Upskill staff with courses and further certification
  • Company progression from non-skilled workers to apprenticeships
  • Implement an incentivised employee referral program
  • Encourage external referrals
  • Benefits and rewards clearly defined and documented
  • Defined identity – whether that be via uniform or insignia
  • Regular interactive weekly tool-box meetings
  • Have assigned company contact stakeholder for all enquiries/questions/issues

Are you an Employer of Choice?

  • Is your business seen as stable, profitable and growing?
  • Is the work culture market leading?
  • Do you invest training and development of your employees?
  • Do you celebrate actions and outcomes of your employees?
  • Do you engage with the local community?
  • Is the company a safe company to work for?
  • Do you have a mission statement that resonates with the people in the sector you operate in?
  • Do you nurture employees and provide opportunities for job and professional growth?

To become an Employer of Choice is a long process, but when you can answer yes to those questions you will be well on the way to achieving this enviable status. This will produce a happier more efficient workforce doing what they do best…. increasing your profits!

David McIntyre is a Senior Consultant in Davidson Trades

* Davidson Trades is no longer part of the Davidson Group. For more information please contact the Davidson Projects & Operations team.