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What is a top employer?
Blog What is a top employer?
Kim Berrendorf September 26, 2019
We spend about a quarter of our week at our desks, and, at the moment, we do that on average until we are 64 or 65. So it comes as no surprise that the working environment has a major influence on our well-being. We at Baloise want our employees to feel at ease, which is why we continually ask ourselves: What is it that makes us a top employer?

What really matters

The primary focus here is on the framework conditions, above all a corporate culture that allows everyone to fully realise their potential, but also freedom in the division of work, the mental and physical health of all, the values conveyed, leadership behaviour, salary, working atmosphere, etc. That means interpersonal factors are just as much part of the basic requirements. Does everyone have the same understanding of cooperation and collaboration? How are the relationships within the company, and how does the company fit into society as a corporate citizen? So it’s a matter of social sustainability too.

Work and social sustainability

From a company’s point of view, the term “social sustainability” may, for example, refer to the implications of social actions in interaction with employees, relationships with interest groups, or the general responsibility of the company towards society. That includes topics such as diversity and social commitment.

What constitutes a good employer

Of course, the hard facts count, i.e. working hours or salary. Everyone wants to be compensated fairly for their work and ideally have a certain #WorkLifeBaloise. Here in Switzerland we are in the privileged position of having little to worry about as regards the hard facts. Our labour standards are very high. If, however, our health should be affected, there are institutions and interest groups that can support us with regard to maintaining a work-life balance. Here in Switzerland it’s more a question of the “soft facts”, which determine whether or not we want to go to work in the morning or which affect out motivation and loyalty.

Key soft skills every employer should have

As with personalities, there are many different traits which are hard to quantify, so-called “soft skills”. These may vary depending on the sector, the country or the size of the company. There are, however, a few fundamental traits which all top employers have in common.

1. Mutual appreciation

Without employees nothing would work, and that’s what makes mutual appreciation of one another, both from the bottom up and the top down, so important. Probably the best thing managers can do to motivate their staff is create an environment in which employees genuinely feel they are the company’s most valuable assets, and that everyone is working towards the same shared goal. Transparency is another key part of such appreciation. Popular employers keep their employees up to date regarding the strategy, visions and objectives of the company. Even better than that, they involve them and allow them to play their own part. It’s about communicating on eye level and having the space to discuss opinions freely. Nowadays, this also includes a culture of mistakes. Celebrate success, discuss setbacks: both bring people together and in turn generate appreciation.

2. The why

Meaningfulness is a factor which influences whether or not we are satisfied with our work, with our employer and, yes, even our life as a whole. If a company can communicate clearly to its employees why which strategy is being pursued and why it is important that employees do what they do each day, they will be more motivated in their daily work. Understanding leads to belief and commitment.

3. A unique corporate culture

What do we mean by that? Ultimately, this refers to the atmosphere in a company generated by a certain culture. Which values and behaviour are fostered among employees? How is information passed on? How do people communicate, and how is feedback given? What is the level of trust shared? This also includes conflicts being addressed openly and constructively, and tackled with a view to finding solutions. Something which is important here is what is referred to as the “cultural fit”. The underlying idea is that employees and corporate culture fit one another. Each individual sets an example and has the potential to spark a certain spirit being spread like a virus. Guidance can be provided by rules of play and workshops which serve as a constant reminder of the cooperation that was agreed to.

4. Advancement in a learning organisation

If an employee is supported in their personal development by their employer, that in itself is already very positive. But if this is then tailored to the strategy and the vision of the company too, it has a very positive effect on employees’ assessment of their employer. This also makes sense given that they can see their own advancement in the context of the company’s development and find themselves to be a contributing factor to the company’s success. Top employers fuel a mindset of interest and curiosity. They encourage their employees to take an interest in their own development and create the relevant learning space for all.

5. Assigning responsibility

A company that enables its employees to act independently and acknowledges hard work is well on its way to becoming a top employer. Here, it is important to empower employees to take more responsibility since the vast majority have probably internalised the principle of command and control. This process varies from person to person. Some want to take responsibility, some don’t. Some need clear guidelines, others go their own way. A top employer can identify these differences and put them to use.

Baloise as an employer

Our aim is to become one of the top 10 per cent of the best employers by 2021. This is one of the reasons behind our tireless efforts to fine-tune our corporate culture. As a result of this, Baloise employees stay with us for an average of 13 years, and many who leave decide to come back later. We are continually working on improving ourselves as an employer and place our employees, as the people they are, at the forefront. Their different personalities make us the Baloise we are today. If you want to know more about working conditions, our corporate culture and our values, we have more information for you on Baloise as an employer.

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