SA's 50 Most At­trac­tive Em­ploy­ers

Finweek English Edition - - FRONT PAGE - by Buhle Nd­weni

Re­search has shown that the com­pa­nies with t he best em­ployer brand­ing are most likely to at­tract top tal­ent – which will aid them in be­com­ing an in­dus­try leader among their peers.

Finweek pro­vides the list of the top 50 South African com­pa­nies that have made the cut as the Most At­trac­tive Em­ployer in 2014/15, ranked by global em­ployer brand­ing com­pany Univer­sum (see page 18), and some of the rea­sons be­hind their per­ceived at­trac­tive­ness.

The em­ploy­ers were ranked by both stu­dents and pro­fes­sion­als ac­cord­ing to var­i­ous main fields of study, specif­i­cally how stu­dents per­ceived their ideal em­ployer.

••• Rea­sons for rank­ing em­ploy­ers

The abil­ity to at­tract the right sort of tal­ent is cru­cial in the suc­cess of any busi­ness. But how do em­ploy­ers build a pool of fu­ture em­ploy­ees that will feed into the com­pany’s fu­ture growth strat­egy? For the past decade Univer­sum has com­piled data to show how ter­tiary stu­dents lo­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally per­ceive com­pa­nies they view as their per­fect fu­ture em­ploy­ers.

Roger Man­freds­son, MD Africa at Univer­sum, says: “The abil­ity to at­tract the right sort of tal­ent into a com­pany is a key de­ter­mi­nant of whether a busi­ness will be suc­cess­ful or not. Over the last few years com­pa­nies have in­creas­ingly re­alised the strong cor­re­la­tion be­tween the right fit tal­ent and suc­cess of their busi­ness, [which is] why em­ployer brand­ing has been el­e­vated to the board, as a strate­gic top­pri­or­ity el­e­ment, of­ten ini­ti­ated di­rectly by the CEO.”

Univer­sum em­ployer brand­ing con­sul­tant Je­nali Skuse says: “I think t here’s a big divide bet ween what em­ploy­ers be­lieve is im­por­tant and what stu­dents be­lieve is im­por­tant. And it’s im­por­tant to be able to bridge that gap and to help com­pa­nies see what stu­dents are look­ing for, what’s im­por­tant to them, what drives them in terms of em­ployer at­trac­tive­ness and pro­vide them with this in­for­ma­tion so they can be able to ar­tic­u­late to stu­dents why they are a good em­ployer.”

Ac­cord­ing to Univer­sum’s data, over the year, work-life bal­ance has proven to be one of the most im­por­tant things young and se­nior pro­fes­sion­als pri­ori­tise when con­sid­er­ing em­ploy­ment. Work­life bal­ance was the top ca­reer goal for 48% of stu­dents sur­veyed last year (com­pared with 39% in 2013) and 58% of pro­fes­sion­als (from 56% in 2013).

Univer­sum’s em­ployer brand­ing con­sul­tant Lu­vuyo Magopeni says that it is in­ter­est­ing that this is a pri­or­ity across the board from stu­dents to young and se­nior pro­fes­sion­als. “One wouldn’t have thought a fresh grad­u­ate would be think­ing of work-life bal­ance al­ready be­cause the think­ing is that ‘ You have just com­pleted your qual­i­fi­ca­tion, what do you know about work-life bal­ance?’ You would have thought that this would have been more ap­peal­ing to young or se­nior pro­fes­sion­als. But we see across sec­tors that it’s one of the com­mon ca­reer goals that South African tal­ent want to look at.

“Be­ing se­cure and sta­ble in their jobs is one of the most im­por­tant things, more

es­pe­cially among stu­dents, and it’s sec­ond in terms of pref­er­ence af­ter the work-life bal­ance.”

••• Rank­ings benefits for the em­ployer

Or­gan­i­sa­tions have rea l i sed t hat tech­nol­ogy and as­sets are no longer a dif­fer­en­tia­tor be­cause they can be eas­ily du­pli­cated by other com­pa­nies. Peo­ple, and the unique set of skills they bring, how­ever, can give or­gan­i­sa­tions a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage. Wi­nani Ndlovu, re­search manager Africa at Univer­sum, says that is why the hu­man re­sources en­vi­ron­ment has evolved from solely ad­min­is­tra­tive roles to be­ing more strate­gic.

Skuse says equally as im­por­tant as tal­ent at­trac­tion is the re­ten­tion and en­gage­ment of ex­ist­ing tal­ent. En­sur­ing that em­ploy­ees are en­gaged has the benefits of in­creased pro­duc­tiv­ity and higher loy­alty, which leads to lower turnover. All of th­ese af­fect a com­pany’s bot­tom line.

••• Poo ling in the mil­len­ni­als

Mil­len­ni­als are a large por­tion of the fu­ture tal­ent pipe­lines for com­pa­nies. Be­ing dig­i­tally in­clined, so­cial me­dia plays an ex­tremely im­por­tant part of their lives, and they do not dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween work and per­sonal life as strictly as older peo­ple.

Mil­len­ni­als in Africa tend to look for em­ploy­ment that will not only chal­lenge them to be more in­no­va­tive, but to feel like they are con­tribut­ing to a greater cause. They have high ex­pec­ta­tions to move up the cor­po­rate lad­der and as­sume lead­er­ship and man­age­rial roles at a rapid pace.

Young South Africans are ver y mo­bile, chang­ing jobs more of­ten than older peo­ple, says Skuse. “I think in some ways it’s re­lated to the way mil­len­ni­als don’t see work just as a job, but as an ex­ten­sion of their lives and they want it to be some­thing where they add value and where they feel that the work is adding value to their lives.

“Mil­len­ni­als come to work, they make friends, they see it as a place where they can sit at a cof­fee shop and work on their com­puter. They do not have the nine to five men­tal­ity of the baby boomer,” adds Skuse.

“We are see­ing some very in­ter­est­ing trends in terms of of­fer­ing th­ese dif­fer­ent op­tions in the world of work – com­pa­nies of­fer­ing flexi-hours, of­fer­ing cre­ative work spa­ces with pause ar­eas, op­tions to work in dif­fer­ent places within the build­ing and not just sit­ting at your desk and work­ing. But I still think a lot of com­pa­nies in South Africa are re­ally strug­gling with this in-com­ing wave of mil­len­ni­als who have such dif­fer­ent ex­pec­ta­tions about the world of work and what it means. It’s a big thing for them to be able to adapt to this, and it’s go­ing to be a key de­ter­mi­nant of

suc­cess in the fu­ture.”

••• Stu­dents more se­lec­tive about fu­ture em­ploy­ers

Stu­dents who par­tic­i­pated in the sur­vey were asked whether they were con­cerned about their prospects of find­ing a job af­ter grad­u­a­tion. The data showed that 63% of stu­dents said they are – a slight drop from the prior year’s 66%.

“But I stil l feel it ’s a huge and sig­nif­i­cant amount,” says Skuse. “An­other find­ing that we saw com­ing out of the re­search this year is that stu­dents chose slightly fewer em­ploy­ers as their ideal em­ploy­ers. It seems they are be­com­ing a bit pick­ier about who they want to work for.”

But em­ploy­ers are also com­pet­ing for the cream of the crop. “There are those stu­dents that have a pick of their

Work-life bal­ance was the top ca­reer goal for 48% of stu­dents sur­veyed last year (com­pared with 39% in 2013) and 58% of pro­fes­sion­als (from 56% in 2013).

lit­ter, those high achiev­ers who dis­play very good char­ac­ter­is­tics. For a lot of com­pa­nies, that small group is the ones they are re­ally try­ing to at­tract, so there’s very fierce com­pe­ti­tion for that group.”

••• Em­ployer at­trac­tive ness: Sta­te­owned en­ter­prises

State-owned en­ter­prises like Transnet, Eskom, South African Rev­enue Ser­vices (Sars) and the CSIR have made it onto the top 10 ranked em­ploy­ers that stu­dents would ide­ally like to work for.

“We of­ten see events in the econ­omy mir­ror­ing the trends,” says Skuse. “If a com­pany has a bad year in the press, or they stop their com­mu­ni­ca­tion with stu­dents in some way, the ef­fect of that is seen in the rank­ings.”

She says, for in­stance, a com­pany l i ke Transnet, which i s cur­rently un­der­go­ing large cap­i­tal ex­pan­sion, has in­creased in at­trac­tive­ness. The same ap­plies to their rank­ing of other com­pa­nies whose growth or lack of growth they track.

There are var­i­ous rea­sons why gov­ern­ment de­part­ments crop up on stu­dents’ top list of at­trac­tive em­ploy­ers. Skuse says that gov­ern­ment is seen as of­fer­ing se­cu­rity and sta­bilit y, it is per­ceived as of­fer­ing ver y good pro­fes­sional train­ing and devel­op­ment, and there’s a per­cep­tion that it of­fers both hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal mo­bil­ity within de­part­ments, which is im­por­tant to young tal­ent in SA.

••• In­ter na­tional vs lo­cal co mpa­nies

In­ter­na­tion­ally renowned em­ployer brands like Google have also been ranked highly by both stu­dents and pro­fes­sion­als in the busi­ness/com­merce/man­age­ment and en­gi­neer­ing/tech­nol­ogy in­dus­tries.

Google is ver y at t ract ive to pro­fes­sion­als in South Africa, de­spite hav­ing a small op­er­a­tion in the coun­try and hir­ing very few peo­ple, says Skuse.

Other in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions that are popular, es­pe­cially in the au­dit­ing in­dus­try are Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers (PwC), EY and KPMG.

••• Fol­low­ing in­ter na­tional tre nds

In terms of what they are look­ing for in an em­ployer, SA stu­dents’ pref­er­ences are more in line with the de­vel­op­ing mar­kets than de­vel­oped mar­kets. “Softer val­ues such as be­ing in a work en­vi­ron­ment that makes them happy, that ful­fils them, work­ing with peo­ple that they like – all of that is be­com­ing more im­por­tant to stu­dents,” says Skuse.

Although re­mu­ner­a­tion and ad­vance­ment in a ca­reer is im­por­tant, it is de­creas­ing and cul­ture and job char­ac­ter­is­tics are be­com­ing more im­por­tant.

Com­pa­nies use the re­search data to help de­cide what they want to be as­so­ci­ated with and what they need to fo­cus on in their com­mu­ni­ca­tion. “For in­stance, of­ten the em­ployer thinks stu­dents only re­ally care about the money, but the re­search shows that money is not a key driver for stu­dents. They are re­ally look­ing for other things like lead­er­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties, chal­leng­ing work, for cre­ative and dy­namic work­ing en­vi­ron­ments or se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity,” she says.

Lu­vuyo Magopeni

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