The Annual ‘Most Attractive Employers’ survey of graduates has just been published and while it might look like a ‘who’s who’ of the business world, there are some valuable pieces of insight that can be applied to any business, no matter the size.
Who made the list?
Broken down by graduate subject area, the top 100 companies for business graduates included the big names like Google and PwC but also organizations such as Mayo Clinic, Teach for America and the National Institutes of Health. Besides tech giants and the obvious social responsibility choices, there are also big brands such as Patagonia who prioritize Fairtrade and IBM, who champion working with education and non-profit organizations.
Beyond identifying the top choices, the survey also looked at graduates’ key motivations for selecting employers, in line with their career goals. Given a number of choices, 50% of respondents said ‘To be dedicated to a cause or to feel that I am serving a greater good’ was a deciding factor in their career choices. This would explain choices such as Doctors without Borders and Mayo Clinic. They also selected ‘To be competitively or intellectually challenged’ and ‘To be entrepreneurial or creative/innovative’.
What do these companies all share?
Seeing as the majority of graduates value reasonable working hours, social responsibility, being challenged and an element of autonomy in their careers, businesses need to be offering some or all of these assets to lure the top talent. While working hours and autonomy can be addressed by a HR exercise, social responsibility and keeping people challenged are a little more difficult to pin down.
What it boils down to are these two attributes: Corporate social responsibility and training opportunities.
The corporate responsibility tag
Many of the top companies chosen will be heavily invested in a Corporate Social Responsibility (or CSR) program and tie this in to their marketing activities. A Reputation Institute survey showed that companies including Google, Microsoft, BMW and Apple all ranked in the top 10 for public perception of being corporately and socially responsible. It’s no surprise that these are also among the top 100 companies on the graduate wishlist.
While CSR has been embraced for some time and is the subject of massive marketing investment, what some of these companies are not so vocal about is training.
So if you’re a smaller company and can’t offer a household name can you at least offer the opportunity of more education and training?
Training increases engagement
A training and engagement survey carried out by LearnKit in the US looked at the importance of training for staff in order to engage them in their work. They found that 89% of employees felt it was important for their employers to support their learning and development, while 66% went so far as to say they valued learning over monetary increases.
This is a real shift from the old school of materialistic ideals and something echoed in Pareto’s own Mind the Grad Gap survey in the UK, where 91% of graduates said they considered training ‘quite important’ or ‘very important’.
LearnKit went one step further and took quotes from some employees on their feelings about training, which included “Actual training in my area would be great. I received little to no training. I was just thrown in.” and also “Instead of one time training, training should be ongoing.” These are just two examples but go to show that employees prefer to be given both initial training and continued professional development.
How can investment in training benefit employers?
A key finding from the same Learnkit survey was that 40% of employees felt their engagement would be improved if they’d experienced a better on-boarding process. The survey also divided respondents into two categories: engaged and disengaged. Those who were considered engaged had a 66% positive response on the training they’d received whereas only 22% of the disengaged thought they had received effective training.
Another annual top 100 list is the ‘Great Place to Work’ review, which analyses companies based on attributes such as retention, staff perks, engagement and HR policies. Of the top 100 companies on this list, there was an average investment in training of 73 hours per year and a mean of 6% of total payroll costs were on training.
So the key benefits of investing in employee training are increased engagement, better retention rates and stronger appeal to candidates.
So if you don’t have the expensive name and logo, could an investment in training your employees be the solution to attracting and retaining talent?
Pareto recently placed 27th in JobCrowd’s ‘Top 100 companies for grads to work for’ category so are perfectly placed to help companies with their recruitment and training efforts. Pareto offer graduate sales recruitment and training services, being the UK market leader in professional sales training. To find out more about Pareto’s training courses visit our Sales Training page.