We hear a lot about companies wanting to be the "employer of choice." In its most basic form, this means being able to attract performers better than the competition. But I think this idea of "employer of choice" is changing rapidly into the "workplace of choice."
A few of the factors driving this change:
The Freelance Workforce. We've read and heard much about how this group of workers with in-demand, creative or highly specialized skills prefers to be engaged, continually challenged, and on the cutting edge. As we all continue to become more mobile and better networked (both literally and figuratively), this will become the norm rather than the exception. If you haven't assessed this part of your talent inventory, it will be more critical than ever in the future.
- Shortened Product Cycles. With changes to advertising and distribution, speed to market is a critical concern of any company. The skills you need today may change rapidly, and when those changes occur, you need to be able to react quickly. Proactively finding those skills and having them when you need them will be more critical than ever to a company's success.
- Financial Viability. Gone are the days of dizzying amounts of capital flying around new business ventures, or extended lines of credit from the bank. Companies must be able to prove they can quickly react to changes in their industry or the world. Talent is a key component and in the future, investors will be much more involved in the business and in a company's talent strategy than ever before.
Becoming the workplace of choice is about creating an environment that motivates workers to bring their most innovative talents and skills to your company. It's about creating workforce strategies that allow you to reap the benefits of the changes noted above. Think about it. If you have the right skills, you can fire up your product cycle and quickly react to changes in the marketplace. What investor or CEO wouldn't want to get in on that?
For human resources this means taking "employer of choice" initiatives and turning them into "workplace of choice" initiatives. It may be subtle to some, but sometimes even just using a different term changes the conversation immensely. How about instead of "We want to be your employer of choice," which sounds final, formal and restrictive, we start by saying, "We want to allow you to experience the full potential of your skills here at XYZ Company. Tell me about your ideal workplace." See the difference?
It also means better managing your workplace to accommodate these changes without exposing your company to undue risk. Going out and hiring everyone as independent contractors isn't the answer (ask FedEx). However, creating ways to better manage your talent inventory and sustain a consistent level of talent throughout your organization will be critical to future success. Sounds like a full time job, right? Can anyone say "Chief Talent Officer?"