The mission to become an employer of choice should not be the preoccupation only of large global businesses, according to Eversheds employment lawyer Liz Fallon.
She urged all HR managers to strive towards it and highlighted the success of four very different organisations - JCB, Ernst & Young, Addenbrookes NHS Trust and US finance firm Charles Schwab - as proof that employers of all shapes and sizes can make it work for them.
Charles Schwab is listed as number eight in Fortune magazine's Top 100 Best Companies to Work For. It has achieved widespread share ownership among employees and its claim to fame is that it has more than 1,000 dollar millionaires among its US staff.
Fallon claimed Schwab has become an impressive employer of choice. It educates employees in how they can benefit from the success of the financial services firm. In-house training, stock purchase assistance and access to independent pensions advisers are part of the Schwab package.
Addenbrookes NHS Trust in Cambridge adopted far reaching family-friendly policies in order to recruit and retain the best.
Eversheds' Owen Warnock said there was an unequivocal business case for Addenbrookes to be more flexible because it faced a fiercely competitive labour market with zero unemployment in the area.
Its policies had to reflect the needs of the available workforce which was mainly women requiring part-time contracts.
"Such flexibility broadens the pool of candidates, attracts high-calibre applicants, responds to the needs of a 24-hour society and ensures the employer is fulfilling a moral responsibility" he said.
Eversheds senior partner Viv Du Feu pointed to construction equipment manufacturer JCB as an employer that has got to grips with knowledge as the new currency in recruitment and retention.
JCB saw continual personal development as key to the job security of its staff because it improves their portability. Du Feu urged HR managers to move away from measuring what staff learn from this development to asking themselves: what change has the business achieved?