Why do employees really want to work for you?

We look at the five questions employers need to think about when seeking to attract and retain talent. 

When you’re interviewing for new staff, you need to be all over the reasons why people want to work for you. Because if you’re not sure, potential recruits won’t be either. 

In fact, you need to be on it way before interview stage to really get the top talent you’re after – particularly as we’re being told companies face a major talent shortage. On top of that, employee churn is another big problem facing organisations today. 

Employers are having to work harder than ever to retain talent, especially as millennials are more likely to move jobs than any other generation.

So, are job applicants queueing up to work for you right now? If not, it’s time to get busy.


Here are five areas employers need to think about, based on genuine interview questions from prospective employees.

Get the answers to these right and your company will ace on employee engagement – as well as attracting great staff through the door in the first place. Trust us, your talent retention rate depends on it.

1. What sort of services and products do you offer?  

A potential recruit will already know what it is that you do. But are your services and products of enough interest to truly drive talent engagement?

If you’re selling nuts and bolts for freighters, that’s OK. Not everyone can be the Apples and Googles of this world. Candidates will be interested in all sorts of factors to do with your business.

It could be your FTSE value or global standing that appeals to them, or it could be how well you perform as a business overall.

There will always be certain factors that lead staff to your door, so make sure you’re ready with open arms to greet them.

However, if your services and products aren’t necessarily a big draw – for example, is it difficult explaining what it is you actually do? – you could do worse than to re-look at your company communication.

Focus on your business messaging and how you display yourself to the world and you can create ways to engage with your target audiences – namely new and existing employees.

Sounds daft? Trust us, lots of companies still aren’t getting this right and it will affect how they attract talent down the line. 

"If you don’t have advocates in the leadership team, permeating right through the infrastructure of the business, then it becomes difficult to embed any kind of solution or programme within the organisation or organisation’s culture"

Business-to-business facing companies often use technical terms, but that’s no excuse for going heavy on jargon on your website or corporate communications, for example.

The employee-employer relationship either thrives or dies on management’s ability to communicate effectively. This is especially important for instilling good leadership; good communication can have a positive impact across the board.

It’s certainly vital for establishing trust in your brand.

Get it right across every touch-point and your company will stand out as having more to offer beyond a fancy product or service like the latest smart home device.

No, Alexa, we’re talking about you, not to you.

In fact, the organisations that topped the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For 2019 list weren’t always necessarily businesses you’d have heard of. The big companies list included Explore Learning Group, UK Power Networks and Savers Health and Beauty, all in the top ten.

Point is, it isn’t always what you sell that matters, it’s how you go about selling it. Good marketing maketh the company - and it couldn’t be more true when it comes to attracting and retaining employees.

Suffolk County Council Employee Benefits Scheme Case Study - Click here to read

2.  What’s your workplace culture and environment like? 

If you work in a ‘fast-paced’ and ‘high energy’ environment, that’s all very well and good.

But, if you also have a high record of absenteeism across the office, that’s quite another matter. It will certainly have a bearing on attracting and retaining employees.

In addition to wanting to know about the working environment, prospective recruits will also be seeking signs that your business has a caring side.

For example, do you have a good record for employee health and safety programmes? Do you promote health and wellbeing at work? Do you celebrate employee wins by recognising success? Do you have a mentally-aware workplace that supports good mental health?

These are the things beyond the usual need for a good wage and career prospects that people really look for when deciding on where to take their talents next.

You may have a positive workplace culture, but there’s zero point in offering staff incentives and rewards like time off for birthdays or early finishes on Fridays if you don’t tell the outside world that’s what you do too. It’s these little things that can make staff feel loved and cared about. 

Show your employees they matter by providing employee benefits like employee discount schemes, or help make the commute that little-bit more rewarding with discounts on an electric bike or a full cycle to work programme.

Lifestyle benefits can really prove you’re willing to invest in your people long term. It’s a question of good management.

What’s more, if you show that you prioritise health and wellbeing at work and nurture a culture of people engagement, you’ll attract talent by the bucketful.

It’s not rocket science to see that engaged employees are your best advocates. As Sodexo’s research tells us, “67% of engaged employees are happy to act as advocates for their organisation, compared to 3% of disengaged employees.”

What’s more, businesses with highly engaged employees receive 100% more job applications (Queen’s School of Business), meaning greater chance of finding top talent.

We all know the likes of Google and Virgin are perceived as being great employers to work for. Why? Because they think about the little things – and it’s these little things that become big things, like staff induction packs and in-house canteens.

Start with small and you’ll create emotional empathy, leaving staff with a feel-good desire to do well and get results.

"Millennials are driven by how supported and motivated they feel, and how much possibility they have"

3.     What sort of training and development opportunities do you offer? 

Employee retention is hugely affected by the opportunities that staff are given to grow and develop.

Anne Donovan at PwC says, “Millennials are driven by how supported and motivated they feel, and how much possibility they have.”

Providing employees with a sense of purpose is one of the greatest things you can do to instil positivity in the working environment. Regular training and development can help to unlock this sense of purpose.

Yet, more than a quarter (26%) of all employees don’t feel they are making a meaningful contribution to the success of their organisation. If this is you, it’s time to revisit your company culture and take steps to build positive attachments in the workplace.

Keep your people’s skills up to date by providing development opportunities for them and you’ll keep your people, full stop. This can help you to attract talent, retain staff and even encourage diversity in the workplace

4.     Does your company have a philosophy and a mission people can get behind?

When people know where the business is going (vision), your plan to get there (mission) and the standards (values) you require to get there, everyone is going to be more engaged and fulfilled.

Your philosophy, mission and values should permeate everything your business does. These will help your business to set clear goals for employees so each person knows how they are directly impacting the company.

“Show employees how their work matters to the organisation, to others, to the world,” says Heather Bussing, HR Examiner. Give them the ‘essence of meaning’ and a certain amount of autonomy, mastery and purpose and you’ll create the kind of workplace that everyone will be clambering to join.

Good leadership is also essential at driving this sense of belonging, helping to promote the company’s mission and values at every turn. Again, excellent communication is vital here.

Jonathan Bedford, Head of Sales and Client Services, Sodexo, says, “If you don’t have advocates in the leadership team, permeating right through the infrastructure of the business, then it becomes difficult to embed any kind of solution or programme within the organisation or organisation’s culture.”

Mark Batey, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Psychology, Alliance Manchester Business School, says, “the best places to work are those in which people can flourish and be their best selves – instead of pretending to be someone else five days a week. The perfect workplace also gives people flexibility and autonomy as to where and how they work, built on a culture of growth and trust.”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

Ultimately, the importance of good leadership cannot be underestimated in attracting and retaining employees. 

5.     What are your organisation’s recent successes and the challenges you face? 

It’s always important to highlight any achievements for your business – a blog page on your company website is the ideal place to do this.

But every business will have its ups and downs. Prospective recruits might well ask about these at interview stage. How you portray your successes and address challenges in your sector will contribute to how your company is perceived.

As with everything in life, positivity is the best policy.

In terms of appealing to prospective candidates, the REC’s Future of Jobs Commission indicates that there are two themes of importance for attracting talent today. Firstly, employers would be wise to address the ongoing need for flexibility in the workplace, and secondly, the impact of technology.

Iain Thomson, Director of Incentive and Recognition, Sodexo, says that good employers need to equip their people with the latest technology, “to adapt, invest in and supply their employees with the technology that best suits their needs.”

The report adds that “there’s no doubt that technology will be instrumental in expanding employee potential and accelerating business growth.”

No matter what your past successes look like, transparency is vital to talent engagement. And, if you’re all sunny and ready to embrace new ways of working, the future will be bright too.


In the end, worthwhile employees will want to work with employers who are inspiring and rewarding, and they’ll commit passion and energy that comes from true people engagement.

Simon Sinek, author of ‘Start with Why?’ says, “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood, sweat and tears.”

Let positivity flow from every corner and you’ll easily be an employer of choice. That sounds pretty engaging to us.


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