Becoming an Employer of Choice®: a lofty goal

Employer of Choice® is a registered certification mark of Employer of Choice, Inc. If you believe that your company can qualify to be officially recognized as an Employer of Choice®, please visit or call Employer of Choice, Inc. at 1-888-290-4362.

Definition of Employer of Choice®: An employer of any size in the public, private, or not-for-profit sector that has met the high standards established by Employer of Choice, Inc., earning the coveted certification mark. Employers that have successfully completed the rigorous evaluation process are recognized for their leadership, culture, and best practices that attract, optimize, and hold top talent, achieving corporate objectives.


Employer of Choice® designates a company that, because of it’s status and reputation is, always the first choice (or at least on the short list) of world class candidates.

One obvious advantage to the company is that it can easily attract the top talent it needs to produce a quality product and to maintain its becoming a Employer of Choice® status. Many companies say “Employees are our # 1 asset” but if you really believe that, then becoming a Employer of Choice® needs to be the primary corporate goal… Because that is the only/ best way to attract and retain those “most important assets”.

The Employer of Choice® status is awarded to a firm that reaches it.

Advantages of Employer of Choice® Status Include

  • Ease in attracting quality talent.

  • Good PR when mentioned in articles and books citing the best companies.

  • Retention rates for current employees tend to be high.

  • Maintaining the corporate culture is relatively easy, as all employees and the public “assist in maintaining it”.

  • Customers are also attracted by it’s favorable image.

  • Employee motivation can be easy to maintain because of the shared pride/ vision.

Characteristics of an Employer of Choice®

  • CEO is highly visible and has wide, positive name recognition.
  • Company is ranked/ highly rated in leading books and publications (i.e., Best places to work in America, working woman business week, Fortune’s best 100 companies, etc.).
  • College students consistently rank it in the top 10 of desirable companies. They are also the first choice when signing up for interviews.
  • Newspaper job ads bring such a volume of responses that they are seldom used. The volume of unsolicited resumes and job inquiries is so large it is a burden (HP gets as many as 1,000 per day!).
  • The corporate culture is widely known. It contains unique elements (i.e., strong ethics, values, management practices, well known buzzwords, etc.).
  • It’s managers are often quoted in the business press in response to new business problems and trends.
  • It is the first to be benchmarked against when companies are looking for the “best in the world” best practices.
  • It is generally a leading giver to universities and charities.
  • It is generally among the most profitable in its industry.
  • The firm’s name is among the most recognized by the public.
  • The firms product is widely recognized by the public.
  • Owning/ using the firms products or logo is considered a sign of status or class.
  • The firm is known for its product quality and customer service.
  • Employees speak highly of the firm and it is generally union free or seldom struck.
  • Academicians often select the firm to study for business practices.
  • They often have WOW programs that are discussed in the press.
  • Frequently they strongly support employee and family friendly programs such as Work/ Life balance, domestic partner benefits, child care benefits, support for volunteer work etc.

Possible Disadvantages of being a Employer of Choice®

  • Executive recruiters often target your firms management/ employees.
  • The strength of the corporate culture makes changing it (and most operational changes) difficult.
  • Because of their ‘fame”, the firms employees have a tendency to become overconfident. Measurement and the acceptance of criticism often diminish.
  • The companies image must be continually defended. Minor errors can be blown out of proportion by the press (i.e., Intel’s Pentium).
  • Pay levels (and thus costs of production) can be high due to the high cost of maintaining a world class work force.
  • New recruits may have unrealistic expectations based of image and P.R. that can turn to disillusionment if everyday reality does not match “the image”.

Companies I consider to be an Employer of Choice® include…

  • GE Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream
  • Hewlett – Packard
  • Patagonia
  • Levi Strauss
  • Microsoft
  • Lucas films
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Cisco Systems

First Steps in Becoming an Employer of Choice®

  • Do a preliminary survey of top management to identify possible support or resistance.
  • Do a benchmark study of EOC firms that you wish to emulate. Place special focus on firms that have “recently” begun or successfully completed the transition to EOC.
  • Do an external P.R. analysis of the companies image to assess our current status.
  • Develop a list of the characteristics and program elements of a plan or program to become a EOC.
  • Do an internal assessment–gap analysis–of each of our programs that would have to be upgraded including these steps:
  1. Our P.R. strategy, and P.R. team.
  2. The CEO’s capabilities and interest in being a “public figure”.
  3. Surveys of college students, business writers, academics, our employees, executive recruiters and influential business leaders to assess our “perceived” strengths and weaknesses and their view of our corporate culture and image.
  4. Our recruitment strategy and team capabilities.
  5. Reassess our corporate values and culture. Must it change and can it be changed.
  6. Our product strategy especially as it relates to public visibility and world class (W.C.) quality and customer service standards.
  7. Hire “Best list” consultants to coach you on additional things you must do to get on the best lists and to achieve EOC status.
  8. Analyze your compensation and benefit strategies and team to assess your ability to attract, motivate and retain W.C. employees.
  9. Assess your training strategies and team especially in the areas of P.R. and management/ leadership styles for managers.
  10. Develop a W.C. competencies list for managers and employees.
  11. Do an assessment of the gap between where we are and where we need to be for all “key” managers and employees.
  12. Analyze the results, make a cost/ risk assessment, and finalize the EOC plan.
  • Get top management and employee feedback and buy-in.
  • Revise and develop measurement standards and milestones.
  • Go to Employer of Choice® web site and apply for the coveted designation.
© April, 1998, revised March 2007

As seen on Gately Consulting

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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