Strive for greatness to keep the top talent

We all have different views. Views on the way we dress, the food we eat,
religion, politics and work. We make decisions based on our views and
principles – those things that are important to us.

For those people who choose to work, it is vital that they enjoy their job,
feel motivated to deliver and are treated with respect and dignity.

Recognising that its products and services can be replicated by competitors,
organisations are increasingly aware that their real differentiation is people.
They need the best talent and capabilities and this is the driving force behind
organisations setting out their stall under the banner, ‘a great place to

There is a strong business case for doing this. Employment legislation is
increasing, technology is changing the shape of work, economic conditions are
forcing the need to be more efficient and people are demanding different
lifestyles, often re-addressing the balance between work and home. This forces
organisations to find more creative ways of improving their offer to potential
employees while often being forced to make tough commercial decisions to be
competitive in a difficult trading environment.

Once people have chosen their new employer, they want to live out their
perception of what it would be like actually working in the company. This goes
beyond pay. They ask themselves: "Will I get on with the people I work
with? Will I be trusted and treated fairly with openness and honesty?"

Inducting new people into an organisation is the key to sharing its culture
and managing employee expectations, so new staff are left with no surprises or
feelings of being let down.

To retain people, organisations must put in place a compelling employment
offer, supported by leading-edge policies. The more employers focus on the
former, the more pressure they will be under to further develop it. Good
employers, for example, consider the offer of flexible benefits the norm and
have no debate as to whether it is a good thing to offer employees or not.

But what is it that sets apart a good employer from a great place to work?
It is culture, and the benefits that support that culture. It could be that an
organisation creates a culture that means it is a fun place to work, or that
the jobs are challenging, or that the training is world class, or that there is
support in the form of childcare solutions, or that staff discounts related to
specific products and services relevant to the organisation are offered.
Whatever it is, one thing is clear: an organisation’s offer to its people has
to be unique to its culture and it must be something that cannot easily be

By Denise Keating, Head of people proposition, Marks and Spencer

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