Employer of choice – your time has passed.

Prior to 1995, all anyone wanted was a good-looking ad. If it was really clever (you know, kind of like “real” advertising), that was even better. If it happened to offer insight regarding what it was like to actually be an employee with a particular organization, that was fine, but not necessarily a requirement.

Then, as we all know, the market went crazy on the demand side, and everyone knew they needed something more. So everyone got creative (you know, kind of like “real” advertising again). There were billboards, television spots, open houses featuring wrestling matches and concert headliners, and something called web sites. But even that wasn’t enough.

Then came employer branding and all anyone wanted to talk about was how to become an employer of choice. Since 2000, every organization I have run into wants to be an employer of choice, and that includes my grocer and my dry cleaner. (However, not my paper boy – he’s too worried about the demise of print hegemony in a market increasingly saturated by online content providers, but hey, that’s twelve-year-olds for you.)

So is that where it stops – with employer of choice? Or is another idea lurking in the not-too-distant future?

Why, yes there is. Thanks for asking.

Rumbling beneath all of this talk of employer brands and value propositions is a concept known as “magnet employer.” A magnet employer is one that everyone wants to work for, to the point that the idea of recruiting is replaced by one of screening and managing. What’s less clear is how an organization becomes a magnet employer. So with that in mind, let me offer this:

A magnet employer can be identified as an organization in which leadership, employees, and culture are completely aligned to achieve an objective of high value to all concerned. These constituencies have achieved whole-hearted agreement around what the organization does, how it does it, and why.

When an organization becomes a magnet employer, the right people hold the organization in esteem, aspire to be part of the organization, and therefore, negate the need for the organization to engage in lead-generation activities.

These strategies are instead replaced by pure brand, public relations, and internal communications efforts.

Today, employer brand engagements simply assess the employment experience and identify points of differentiation to be used in the marketplace. While change management issues are identified, they are left on the table for the organization to act on or to ignore.

Magnet employer engagements begin with an assessment of the culture, and continue on to identifying misalignment between business objectives, leadership, employees, policies, procedures, and the culture itself. From there, the engagement focuses on creating the necessary alignment, and eventually moves on to promotion of the organization in alignment.

Currently, it’s a complex initiative. But for those who are ready to move beyond employer of choice, it could change everything. At least until the next big idea comes around.

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Random rant
There’s another kind of identity theft taking place on the internet that is much more insidious than lifting someone’s credit card information. It is the deliberate elimination of the apostrophe in surnames. Fewer and fewer forms allow you to enter punctuation as part of your name and I for one am going to foment rebellion. If you, like I, have been denied the punctuation birthright that is yours, let me know. Once we have achieved critical mass, we will send an o’message that will shake the very foundations of e-commerce.

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Thomas Delorme
Written by Thomas Delorme

VP, Digital Products & Strategy

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