Is an employer of choice a marketing slogan or reality?

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Written by Tim Baker on 4 June 2014
Imagine for a moment if you have a million prospective employees knocking on your door for a job every single year. Surveys show that most people dread going to work every day. Imagine for a moment what it would be like to work for an organisation that that is often more fun than being at home with your family.
Are these two situations a pipedream? No, it's not a dream, its reality. Google, the iconic Californian-based search engine giant, is such a workplace. Consistently voted as one of the best places to work in corporate America, Google receives 3,000 applications a day - which equates to one million applications a year - from people wanting a job. They are all chasing about 4,000 jobs. Employees who are lucky enough to work for Google claim that they often have more fun at work than at home. Yet Google is posting record profits. These remarkable features are no accident. Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, believes that Google's competitive advantage in the marketplace is not superior products and services: it is the workplace culture. Google is an employer of choice. 
In plain terms, employer of choice means an organisation that is a great place to work. If companies don't genuinely act to become an employer of choice, then good employees will simply vote with their feet and move to a forward-thinking employer that offers them what they want. Being an employer of choice is more than a marketing gimmick. An employer of choice is a flexible, customer-focused, performance-oriented organisation, one that is more manoeuvrable and engages the hearts and minds of their people. This kind of workplace culture is characterised by great commitment from employees to achieve the organisation's vision. An employer of choice is continually learning, developing and improving. Employees are relentlessly encouraged to be enterprising and resourceful, and they respond to this challenge willingly and consistently. 
The opposite characteristics can be observed in the traditional organisation, based on the "them and us" mindset. These places of work are rigid and inflexible, are more focussed on themselves than the customer, lack exceptional performance, are set in their ways and practices; workers leave their brains "in a paper bag at the door" when they come to work. Instead of learning from their mistakes: they stop learning. Employees are directed to follow systems and processes and taught not to question the way things are done. Unfortunately, there are still many organisations operating like this today.
Where is your organisation placed between these two extremes? 
About the author
Dr Tim Baker is the author of "Attracting and Retaining Talent: Becoming and Employer of Choice" (Palgrave Macmillan, UK). He can be contacted via

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