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Becoming an Employer of Choice in the New World of Work

Written by Bob Lavigna, Senior Fellow - HR at UKG and CultureCon 2024 Speaker.

As the pandemic recedes into our rearview mirrors, one impact we continue to see clearly is that the world of work has changed forever. The workplace adjustments that began as a temporary response to a global health crisis have led to a permanent workplace evolution. Job quits continue to be high as employees – in all sectors – reconsider their job and career choices and migrate to jobs that better match their personal values and lives.

The New World of Work

Employees have far different expectations than they did four years ago. Now, more than ever, they are demanding flexibility, voice, and wellbeing. If employers don’t meet these needs, employees have made it clear they will vote with their feet and find jobs that better match their expectations.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, three to four million employees continue to quit their jobs each month, and there are about 1.6 vacancies for every job seeker.

In other words, it is a buyer’s market for employment. 

Moreover, unprecedented demographic changes across the nation have made focusing on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging not just the right thing to do, but a business imperative.


As we prepare for CultureCon 2024, it is important to understand how employers can respond to this complex environment and intense competition for talent and be employers of choice. That is, organizations that attract talented people who will stay and perform at a high level.


The answer, according to research, is to deliver an exceptional employee experience that creates a great place to work.


What is an Exceptional Employee Experience?


We often hear that it’s about compensation, that employees come and go because they can make more money elsewhere. It’s true that compensation can be important if it’s not competitive, but attracting and retaining talent is about creating a positive workplace experience and culture.


Research conducted by the UKG Great Place to Work Institute, which certifies organizations as great places to work, shows that when the employee experience is positive, employees are much more likely to feel valued, feel good about their role, trust and stay with the organization, and even recommend it organizations to others. Great places to work have 50 percent less turnover than other organizations.


Great places are also more attractive to job seekers. According to the job site Glassdoor, 65% of users read at least five employee reviews before forming an opinion about an employer. Another survey revealed that 55% of job seekers stop pursuing a job after reading negative reviews.

One- or two-star employee reviews will not attract the best talent. Great Place-certified organizations have seen dramatic increases in the number of job applications after advertising their certification.


Creating a Great Place to Work

Unfortunately, there isn’t one-size-fits-all solution to creating a great place to work. Each organization is unique, and understanding if you’re delivering a positive employee experience and have a positive culture requires data. This includes surveying employees to understand what they feel good about – and what they don’t feel good about.


However, research by UKG and others reveals that employers of choice:


  • Understand their organization’s reputation and what employees and others are saying about it, including in social media and on job boards. They take feedback to heart – and respond. According to Glassdoor, 80% of the job site’s users say their perception of the organization improves after seeing the employer respond to a review.

  • Onboard new employees effectively. Providing newly hired employees with the support, information, and resources the need to succeed right from the start results in faster time to full productivity, better retention and higher engagement. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

  • Provide workplace flexibility. This is not just being able to work remotely. Front-line employees who can’t work remotely want scheduling and time off flexibility.

  • Listen to employees and respond as much as possible to what employees say. This builds trust, a key element of a positive culture. Great Place to Work research has revealed that the key leadership behavior in certified organizations is listening.

  • Recognize employee contributions. Multiple employee surveys have revealed that some version of the question “I feel valued as an employee” is a key driver of employee engagement yet is often a low-scoring question. In other words, employees want to feel valued but don’t think they are.

  • Rely on data. To be an employer of choice, an organization can’t guess about whether it is delivering a positive employe experience that drives engagement. Instead, it must collect and analyze data. This includes employee surveys, drilling down on turnover (e.g., who is staying and who is leaving), and analyzing overtime.

  • Apply technology to help create a positive employee experience. Technology can enable employers to provide a customized experience. For example, by allowing employees to use their mobile devices to log hours, switch schedules, check their leave balance, request time off, and enroll in benefits. This simplifies key processes and enables employees to manage their own experiences. Technology also can minimize the burden on supervisors to review and approve schedule changes, leave requests, etc., freeing them up to focus on managing their people and operations.


As we will explore at CultureCon 2024, the world of work has changed forever. The organizations that adapt to this new environment will succeed in the intense competition to attract and retain talent.




About the Author, Bob Lavigna:

Bob Lavigna is an award-winning leader and innovator with more than 30 years of experience leading organizations and programs. As a Senior Fellow – HR for UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), Bob advocates for, promotes and advises on practices that enable organizations to attract and retain talent. 


He previously was the founding Director of the Institute for Employee Engagement, where he worked with organizations across the nation to measure and improve employee engagement as a key to organizational success. He also served as Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of Human Resources for the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Vice President - Research for the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, and Administrator of the state of Wisconsin civil service system.  


Bob writes frequently on human capital management for professional publications and has spoken at conferences and events across the U.S. and in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South America and the Caribbean. Bob, the first person in his family to graduate from college, has a B.A. from George Washington University and an M.S. in human resources management from Cornell University.  


He is most proud that he and his wife Pat have been married for 42 years (to each other), and have two wonderful daughters and five delightful grandchildren. 


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