Five tips for being an employer of choice in today’s competitive market

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Article by Charlotte Hudson, HR Consultant at Progeny.

The unemployment rate is at its lowest for almost 50 years, and for the first time since records began, there are more vacancies than there are unemployed people in the UK.

Employers are naturally focusing their attention on the attraction and retention of top talent in an increasingly competitive market. So, what can your business do to help ensure it has the best chance of having a great team, now and into the future? Here are my five top tips.

Assess your attraction

It’s vital to ensure that any job opportunities are as attractive to potential hires as possible, and this goes way beyond simply advertising basic details on salary and holidays. Candidates want to get a feel for the company that they are potentially joining, so your recruitment activity should also provide a flavour of the working environment and culture of the organisation. New research from Reed found that almost 80% of jobseekers are less likely to apply for a job vacancy that does not display a salary, so transparency is key.

Remember that people will also look you up. This means that your website, social media accounts and review sites like Glassdoor, Indeed and Google Reviews will be under scrutiny. Ensure content posted is up to date and communicates core values. Encouraging engaged employees to post honest reviews is a hands-on way of gaining feedback and promoting your business as a great place to work.

It’s also worth considering the feedback you receive from reviews and exit interviews – are you taking this on board and acting on it, where feasible? This demonstrates that you listen, the opinions of your people matter and that the company is committed to creating a positive working environment for all.

Review your proposition

Nowadays, candidates have high expectations of an employer in terms of benefits, culture and investment in their team.

SMEs may feel it’s hard for them to compete against large corporates, but there are many low-cost, high-value ways to boost your proposition and set your business apart, such as offering long service holidays, discount schemes, health cash plans and related benefits such as wellbeing days.

Introducing paid volunteering days as well as implementing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitments, in terms of reducing your company’s environmental impact, can also be an important attractor, as employees are increasingly looking for their workplace to reflect values that resonate with them personally. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 88% of Millennials prefer companies that emphasize corporate social responsibility, so employers with well-defined CSR values will be well positioned in the future talent race.

Flexible working schedules also continue to be of high importance to candidates. According to YouGov, one in five Brits want to work full-time remotely and 25% of the whole working UK population is part time, so if your company only offers full time, office-based roles, you are automatically limiting the talent pool available.

Update your onboarding

Don’t forget that onboarding effectively starts from the moment a job ad is placed. Companies need to ensure that they stay in touch with candidates throughout the process and that their expectations are set and well managed. Too often, companies are disappointed to lose great candidates who drop out of a lengthy recruitment process, or one where communication has been sparse, yet the remedy was largely in their hands.

Once recruited, the onboarding process is also an opportunity for you to start setting the tone for the potential new hire, ensuring they are interested and excited by the opportunity to join the business. This could include a welcome pack, getting-to-know-you sessions with key colleagues and a structured induction day.

Additionally, try and stagger requests for new joiner information and required learning and make it more engaging by adopting a multi-media approach, including video, in-person talks, written presentations and online, interactive learning.

Focus on retention

Retaining staff is as important as attracting them. Proactive line management is key to keeping employees motivated and engaged, as well as ensuring the business is aware of any potential flight risks. Regular communication, clear vision and strategy help employees to truly feel a part of the organisation and can show them how they can directly contribute to the company’s success.

Implementing regular, quality one-to-one discussions can help managers understand what motivates their team and how its members envisage their own career progression. This enables employers to create individualised strategies, as well as build a detailed internal picture to inform succession, development and recruitment planning.

Invest in continued learning

Investing in learning and development will build confidence and competence in individuals within their roles, as well as making employees feel appreciated and motivated. The importance of access to continued learning should not be underestimated – research from LinkedIn showed that amongst the factors that would make people consider leaving their job, the ability to learn and grow was roughly twice as important as getting an increase in pay.

The skills employees develop will also add tremendous value to your proposition. Many organisations are running with a streamlined team post-pandemic, and what better way to engage, upskill and retain those individuals than by investing in their growth? Remote training remains highly accessible for businesses and employees to access development that suits the needs of hybrid or remote workers.


In a climate that is more competitive than it has been for nearly 50 years, organisations need to prioritise attracting and retaining the right talent. While competitive pay remains an important factor, we can see that candidates are also seeking much more. Businesses that can demonstrate strong leadership, team engagement, a positive culture and the opportunity for personal growth, as well as a broad approach to role-based working patterns and benefits, can become an employer of choice and the positive news is that these qualities are achievable for companies of all sizes.

About the author

HR Consultant, Charlotte Hudson, joined Progeny in 2017 and enjoys technical HR and managing complex employee relations issues, such as appeals and disciplinary processes.

With a strong focus on employment law and risk assessment, she aims to help clients get the best out of their most valuable assets – their people.

Charlotte Hudson
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