Need to know: Strengths and weaknesses

Describe the strengths and weaknesses of the company as an employer. How do these compare to the three main competitors?

For HR people, considering the strengths and weaknesses of their organisation as an employer can be a subject that is very close to home, which makes it difficult to be objective. Put yourself in the shoes of people who work for the company and consider what they are likely to think the strengths and weaknesses are. It is also important to look at the perspective of potential employees and other people in the wider business community to understand whether your company’s brand delivers a consistent experience as an employer.

Is the perception of the company as an employer consistent, both internally and externally? If not, why not? And even more importantly, is that perception and reputation consistent with the advertising or brand values? What these values are and how they are aligned with the company’s reputation (and actual strengths and weaknesses) will dictate how much leverage you will have in attracting and retaining employees.

You can only truly measure the strengths and weaknesses of your company as an employer in relation to another company. And it is therefore very important to know about your competitors’ strengths, weaknesses and reputation alongside your own.

But having this understanding is about more than just who might or might not want to come to work for you. It is also about consistency of messages. If the company says something, is that how it actually comes across in practice? How good is the employment strategy, and how does that translate into actions? And more importantly, what do you want your strengths and weaknesses to be? If there is something that you are weak at, but it bears no relation to the overall strategy, then it might not matter as much as another element.

Employee engagement surveys are a formal way of discovering how people perceive you as an employer, but you can also walk around and talk to people informally to find out what they think. In terms of how you are perceived externally, you can use information drawn from new recruits. Headhunters and recruitment consultants can also prove a key source of information you should always require that any headhunter you engage reports on how potential candidates view the company.

Jan Hills, director, HR with Guts

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