A recent study by LinkedIn of more than 10,000 job changers indicates a new trend: lots of top talent leaving big companies for smaller ones. Why? Fifty-nine percent said they left for better "career opportunities," but what, exactly, does that mean? Aren’t large employers synonymous with full benefits, job stability, and room to climb the ladder?

Top Talent Doesn’t Want to Be Traditional Employees Anymore

Today's sophisticated job seekers see themselves as businesses of one. They believe every job is temporary and there’s no such thing as job security. They want more control over their futures. They want to "partner with" an employer, rather than "work for" the employer. It's a very different mindset than employees had in the past.

Golden Handcuffs Aren't Cool

Moreover, the rise of a new type of business model called the "lifestyle employer" is making it even tougher for big companies to retain top talent. Larger, more established businesses are usually perceived as having employment brands that aren't cool. Their lack of creativity, less-flexible work schedules, and inability to feel the direct impact of an employee's efforts makes them less desirable to top talent. The golden handcuffs of big-company employment (feeling held hostage by perks and benefits but hating the job itself) are something the best talent wants to break free from.

Tell Stories Showcasing Your Employment Brand

Some larger employers that seek to shift the negative perception of their employment brand are focusing on storytelling as a way to provide talent with an inside look at the work environments of their companies. With an emphasis on visuals (pictures of staff, office spaces, events, etc.), short articles showcasing a company's employment brand are then pushed out on multiple social media channels.

Reveal As Much As You Can = People Hear What They See

For example, Foss Manufacturing uses employment branding to showcase its desire to hire veterans by providing them with plenty of online resources to evaluate Foss as an employer. In the words of Doris Day, "People hear what they see." The more a company can share consistently its employment brand, the sooner the company can redefine it in the minds of the talent it seeks.

Caution: Top Talent Sees Through Hype

Some employers have rose-colored glasses when it comes to what it's like to work at their company. They make the mistake of creating employment branding stories and visuals that make them seem too good to be true. Top talent can see right through the hype. They want accurate, compelling information--and lots of it. They expect you to be honest with them--and they'll respect and trust you all the more for doing so.

If you have more than 300 employees, I encourage you to bring your recruiting and marketing teams together to discuss how you can reveal an employment brand to compete with the lifestyle employers actively trying to steal your best talent. As I always say, "brand or be branded." Every day you ignore the perception of your large company's employment brand puts you closer to losing your best employees.

Published on: Sep 9, 2015