Achieving ‘Top Employer’ status for the third year running is something of a coup for a company, not least the HR team and wider business that helped make it happen. On the route to success however, the process is not always an easy one, yet through the challenges and the highs and lows, it is possible to make the cut, says Helen Hill of ERIKS.
Reaching the requirements of the Top Employer accreditation may seem like a daunting task for many, but once the groundwork is in place, it can be steady progress from then on in.
At ERIKS, the programme has been developed and implemented over the last five years, with support from talent management, working conditions, benefits and the communication teams, to name just a few. It was this mentality of working as a team, for the overall good, that has helped the programme to develop and prosper as quickly as it has.
The key to engagement amongst employees
The key to a successful HR strategy is for the programme to be a constant evolution; what works today for the entire company may be irrelevant or unsuitable tomorrow for some individuals. I would therefore suggest the following approach:
1. Ask employees what they want and what they value the most within the company and then, maintain the conversation.
- You can do this simply by conducting an annual employee survey. (What we found is that that the benefits people want the most may already be in existence but, for whatever reason, the employee isn’t aware. That means, that rather than reinventing the wheel, it may be the communications channels that need a shake-up.
2. Provide multiple channels of communication for employees; email, intranet and hard-copy updates, as well as monthly manager updates. This ensure that most people have access to the information in some form and enables them be part of the future of the company.
- Seeing things change, as a result of their comments, spurs employees to make further suggestions for the future. It's win-win.
3. In truth, no matter what kind of communication strategy a business has, there will always be a grey area, where information simply doesn’t filter through as it should. In this type of situation, the only possible solution is persistence.
- If one communication channel is failing, try, try again and don’t be afraid to repeat key themes or issues to add clarity.
We should remember that we are all bombarded with information every minute of every day, so it’s not surprising that we sometimes miss an email or communication. Communicating across a number of channels ensures employees have the best possible chance of seeing and then hopefully engaging with a communication.
Achieving the right balance in each category
To be in with a chance of securing a Top Employer award, each company must complete and submit a HR Best Practice Survey which is then reviewed by the Institute. Despite what is included within the document, a follow-up validation call is made with each participant and the final stage is an audit by a third party.
The whole process is very thorough and it’s important to therefore answer honestly. There is no point trying to make initiatives fit a certain requirement if they are off the mark, as this will simply come out during the validation process.
Top tip: Learn from the gaps within your submission and then use these to help form an action plan for the following year.
What does it mean for a business to be named Top Employer?
The recognition brings with it many advantages, but most importantly it can reaffirm business goals – ensuring the path you are taking is the right one.
In truth, the greatest benefit of Top Employer is that existing employees feel proud of the business and see a benefit to working and staying with a company. There is also an element of reassurance for employees, knowing that the company they work for is measured and awarded for its working practices.
If there was a single piece of advice that I could pass on to other companies and other HR professionals, it would be to create a vision of what you want your HR strategy to be – how you want your company to look and the type of offerings you would like to provide.
With the basics in place, ask the opinion of your workforce and then work on the gaps. Being part of the decision making process, will not only empower employees to become more involved with HR programmes but will also put you one step closer to being a Top Employer.