We’ve all heard about the big, famous tech companies that provide their employees with a working environment and range of benefits that take the shine off the average organisational offering. Pool tables, concierge services, massage chairs, valet parking, bean bags, putting greens and drinks trolleys are just the start of it, but these things don’t necessarily translate to improved productivity or profitability.

Perks are nice to have but they are what HR professionals will refer to as ‘hygiene factors’ rather than factors which motivate and engage staff. Employer branding may seem like an HR fad, a distraction from the real work of building the business but it makes a real difference. What employees really care about are the opportunities to do interesting and meaningful work, and how the organisation treats them; these are more likely to be the focus of their attention than a quirky or cool office space.

The 2017 Great Workplaces list has just been published and a review of the listed organisations reveals some of the factors that help create an environment where trust and engagement are high and people flourish. Values, culture and team are words that predominate in the employee comments that form the basis of the survey. A strong employer brand showcases the identity of the organisation, the collective, commonly shared understanding of the organisation’s distinctive values and characteristics. These define a place where good people want to work.

Growth & Flexibility

Tech companies are at the forefront of the war for talent and the challenges of overcoming skills shortages and retaining staff in a competitive marketplace mean that employer branding is a strategic imperative. They are also at something of an advantage in that technology is always evolving, being used in new ways, and innovative thinking and flexibility are inherent in the organisational mindset.

Softcat, at no. 5 in the large employer listing, aimed “to create an organisation where people enjoyed coming to work and felt engaged” says Martin Hellawell, chief executive. Their website career pages emphasise development and continuous onthe-job training, with mentoring and regular support; in a fast-paced industry training and opportunities for self-development are a priority for high potential employees.

In the small company category, 20-49 employees, almost one third of the ranked organisations are tech companies. Trust, engagement and team spirit are key themes with comments around alignment with corporate goals and positive, supportive working environments featuring strongly. Simon Grosse, CEO of Foundation SP says “we are a technology business but what we do for our clients is more than technology: it’s about engaging people. For us, our culture is our strategy, and the big thing is maintaining our high people standards and attracting and retaining talent whilst also actively planning for growth”.

Camaraderie, corporate social responsibility and flexible working all contribute in tech companies that aim to build respect, trust and inspiration into the day to day work experience.

Engagement & Advocacy

At the core of building a strong employer brand is the fact that management can’t impose engagement, commitment or motivation. Employees choose whether to put in discretionary effort, to commit to growth and revenue creation, improved market share, better margins and greater shareholder value; employee engagement is the bedrock of success.

Engaged employees are proud of their role in the organisation; their career success is aligned with organisational mission and goals. An attractive employer brand derives from a sustainable organisational culture where a spirit of teamwork and cooperation makes staff proud of the organisation and willing to act as brand advocates; recognition and an open and transparent environment encourage collaboration and creativity and give staff a voice within the organisation.

High performance tech brands use collaboration and teamwork rather than hierarchy to share knowledge and information, giving control to managers so that they can focus on empowering their teams to explore, experiment and innovate; talented staff want to work for organisations that empower them. Think about the qualities that constitute your brand’s USP and what potential and current employees value in the organisation then build your employer branding strategy around these values to attract top talent and improve retention.