SA's 50 Most Attractive Employers
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.