The world is small, and everything is transparent. It doesn’t take long to find out who the “bad” employers are, so the best employees have no interest in working for them. As a result, employers with poor reputations either only attract employees who can’t get work elsewhere (so probably not the best), or because they overpay in a transactional, disengaged relationship, using the least effort and taking as little responsibility as possible to get by.

At the same time, employers of these unproductive workers usually try to make as many savings as possible on wage costs, with both employers and employees looking to get the better of a poor bargain. These experiences create beliefs for all concerned, and the inevitable outcome is entrenchment in a position where distrust dominates and everything that goes wrong is the other’s fault. We recently spoke with an employer about all sorts of options for improving culture and productivity that could be implemented immediately and at no cost – but the employer instead chose to double-down on discipline. Old habits die hard.

Does this feeling of frustration seem familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not on your own. We couldn’t count how many times we’ve seen employers making their own businesses uncompetitive by paying too much (no matter how little they pay) for too little productivity (no matter how much they attempt to control) because they feel they have no option. At the same time, even the thought of going to work becomes a source of distress and ill-health, prompting poor retention, low performance and burnout.

The best employees are interested in working with employers who share their values and are positive, progressive, and quality and growth-oriented, offering opportunities for them to use their best skills and continue to develop their skills. They want meaning and purpose, and to be able to see the difference they are making. They want to feel respected, included, significant, trusted and valued. Where employees feel this way, a reputation is likely to develop that will naturally attract employees who are most likely to be highly engaged and highly productive in putting their energy and discretional effort into their work and workplace relationships

Attracting passive candidate interest

Building a protecting a reputation that is spoken of by your team, customers and peers, and reflected in your marketing materials and website, helps build demand for roles in your business. Be clear in what you stand for and consistent in how you represent it in all of your communications, promotional activities, and management practices – especially under pressure. Modern, clean, safe, workspaces where equipment works and is maintained well, with good resources and support that helps people succeed is important in providing substance. Publicising values and achievements attracts those who would like to be associated with your purpose, excitement, accomplishments and possibility – they’re the ones you want. Fostering, protecting and promoting these things attracts customers and employees alike.

Things to do now

If you can avoid it, try not to wait until you next need an employee before you think about what they will hear and see of your business, brand and culture. Be as attractive to prospective employees as you hope to be to prospective customers -these things are utterly compatible. We can help you with the workplace practices that will make you an employer of choice (just call us to talk about how), and you can also do plenty yourself – remember, your brand is probably your most valuable asset, and it is worth being very intentional about what it stands for, its purpose, its values, its market position and its market significance. From there customers and employees can gain connection, clarity and motivation to act – and that’s when other people start driving your business for you, inside and out. Be purposeful, be authentic and be consistent – and don’t be afraid of not appealing to everyone – just the people you really want.