Popular employers for the global jobseeker

The world today is one big global career opportunity. As a result, it is increasingly important for UK businesses to understand how to attract the skills of international candidates as well as to retain its own high-achieving nationals.

Happily, The Global Talent Survey 2014* reveals that the UK is the third most sought-after country to work in, with 35% of votes. It is just behind Canada, with 37% of votes and the USA with 42%.

More importantly, the report gives an insight into what motivates this global workforce. “Soft” rewards have become more important than wages to skilled workers across the world. Globally, what matters most is “appreciation of work”. However, in the UK the order of importance is: “good relationships with colleagues”; “work-life balance”; “good relationships with supervisors”; and “appreciation of work”.

One of the barometer trends to emerge out of the report is a list of the most popular international employers. We looked at five players with a strong UK presence to find out what they are doing right.


Ranking: 1 (voted by nearly 31 million people)

Nitty gritty: Has more than 70 offices in more than 40 countries, three are in London and one in Manchester

Here’s a company that understands that salary is only part of the picture. Famed for its innovative ideas, social media giant Google taps into the fact young, entrepreneurial, techno-savvy workers want to work in a creative, fun workplace in a destination city such as London.

Its offices are famously whacky. The engineering teams, for instance, work in a futuristic Starship Enterprise-like block. Meanwhile, a new £650m office is being built at King’s Cross, complete with a climbing wall and rooftop pool.

It’s also a company that ticks the boxes when it comes to work-life balance and “getting on with colleagues”. Googlers (as they call themselves) get to make private calls from red telephone boxes and hang out in lounges that look like parks, with rowing boats and flowerbeds. Other “soft” rewards include a cinema and a gym with views of the London Eye.

David Singleton, an engineering director, is quoted on the website as saying: “It’s a fun place, with a great, bottom-up culture and lots of important work. And you can get from our office to Victoria station in 60 seconds. We’ve timed it.”


Ranking: 3 (with 20.134m votes)

Nitty gritty: Operates in more than 170 countries. IBM UK has about 20,000 employees

According to the report, expatriates choose employers where they can broaden their skills. In the IT and telecoms fields, this is even more pronounced, with 70% of engineers prepared to make an international move.
Indeed, as one of the world’s largest IT and consulting services companies, IBM relies on research, development and technical talent drawn from across the globe. The barometer trend shows that for Chinese mobile workers, IBM is the most popular company, while some 42% of Chinese generally would consider work opportunities in the UK.
To retain staff, IBM puts an emphasis on helping employees to learn and develop new skills and to contribute to the advancement of their field. And with several IBMers having earned Nobel Prizes, Turing Awards, National Medals of Technology and of Science, the implicit message is that the organisation can unleash potential.
There are also flexible work practices and a range of programmes designed to let employees fit in work “around their life”.

Coca Cola

Ranking: 5 (10.82m votes)

Nitty gritty: Coca Cola Great Britain’s new London HQ houses 300 employees. There are six manufacturing locations across the country, employing 4,000 people

Here’s yet another employer that has embraced “soft” rewards. Coca-Cola’s new “sustainable” open-plan office has hot-desking facilities and is designed to encourage people to work collaboratively. This not only helps with brand innovation, but builds a sense of community and common purpose among staff.
Company structure is flatter, too. This speeds up decision-making and streamlines processes. It also has the effect of creating an entrepreneurial spirit, making staff feel they can realise their true potential.

To generate fun, there is a Great Place to Work programme. This includes an on-site gym, free Coca Cola drinks and fruit, summer hours, flexible working, a learning allowance and a Cycle to Work scheme.

Last but not least, it pays attention to jobseekers’ desire for continual learning and development. Some 10% comes from formal training; 20% from coaching and feedback; and 70% occurs on the job.


Ranking: 11 (5.3 million votes)

Nitty gritty: BP’s base is in the UK, but it operates in more than 80 countries, employing more than 80,000 people worldwide

This British oil company promotes a culture of collaboration and respect. The nature of this competitive industry means workers have access to some of the most talented people in their fields, which, in turn, generates job-satisfaction.

To retain its high-calibre staff who might easily find a job elsewhere, BP ensures that they are valued for their expertise. Non-core rewards include flexible working arrangements such as part-time and flexible hours. They also support family-friendly policies, such as career breaks and adoption leave, so people can contribute to their families without compromising their professional development.


Ranking: 10 (7.8 million people voted)

Nitty gritty: It had 167,000 employees at the end of 2010 and recorded 22
nationalities among its top-tier managers.

Unilever makes everything from Marmite to Dove, to Persil – apparently you can find one of its products in nine out of every 10 UK homes.

Besides the kudos of working for such a giant, there is a sense that staff can shape their own path, while benefiting from learning and development support.

It certainly stands out as a company that enables workers to make a strong contribution – both to how the business performs as well as how it impacts people’s lives. Take Meaghan Ramsay, who helped launch the company’s Dove Self-Esteem project to highlight harmful low self-esteem among girls.

Tim Munden, vice-president HR, UK & Ireland, says: “We support all our people to develop and grow within the organisation and that is why we have gained a reputation as one of the world’s most admired employers, by providing an environment where individuals can achieve their goals both professionally and personally.”

So, in a nutshell …

Competition for international expertise is set to sharpen and the talent report warns that employees higher up in your organisation may increasingly be enticed to work abroad.

What the above five companies have in common is that they have developed people strategies to keep them competitive on the world recruitment stage.

First and foremost, they demonstrate clearly that their workers are valuable to them. They say it on websites and act on it through creating a friendlier, collaborative working cultures.

These employers also recognise that learning and career development is a high priority for workers. Today’s high-flyers want to grow their career and they want a good relationship with their supervisor to facilitate that.

As the report says: “HR needs to find ways to get more involved in shaping corporate culture, in encouraging meaningful relationships between and among bosses and workers and in ensuring that appreciation for a job well-done gets the company-wide attention it deserves.”

*The Global Talent Survey 2014, conducted by recruitment website alliance The Network and business strategy advisor Boston Consulting, has compiled information from more than 200,000 respondents across 189 countries.

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