The goal of every employer should be for the positivity around its brand to attract the best, according to Albert Ellis, CEO of Harvey Nash.

One of the few recruitment consultancies to achieve growth over the last 18 months, Harvey Nash has been recognised as one of ten finalists for the Grant Thornton Mid-Cap Business of the Year. It’s proud CEO, Albert Ellis, will bring his expertise in recruitment to the judging panel for the Croner Employer of the Year award in 2011 — and he has some strong views on what UK employers need to do to be competitive at home and abroad.

“It's the 21st century, and some say its Asia's time,” says Ellis. “UK companies need to carve a new niche for themselves and harness talent in new ways. It’s about freeing up the creative aspect and latent entrepreneur within the employee and supporting their strengths, positively boosting their self confidence by valuing their contribution. Not in a cynical sense but very authentically.”

Ellis believes there is a lot to learn from those who have embraced social media. “Look at the incredible success that is Apple and Facebook,” he says. “What elements do these organisations have in common? Talent and creativity. Their employees are not ‘staff’ in the traditional sense, they are virtual volunteers mobilised for the cause. The best employers are so attractive, and their brand is so positive, that the word gets around without any help from the structured communication professionals. Take the internet and social networking. The best employers are already listed on student websites by the potential employees themselves. "

“The brand equity value and its appeal as an employer of choice is viral now; spread organically and scrutinised by all new and potential future recruits. The best employers know and understand this, they support openness and transparency and they want their ‘volunteers’ to promote their brand socially.”

Free the entrepreneur in your employees

This external strategy must be supported by an internal one to develop the people who will grow the business, adds Ellis.

“Mentoring and coaching is vital,” he explains. “Experience cannot be taught. It can only be observed and passed on from individual to individual over time. The most profitable management have been taught all the subtle skills of driving performance by experienced experts on the job who they have shadowed."

“At Harvey Nash, we appointed a Talent Director to the main Board with a specific remit to drive talent attraction, retention, and development. By focusing on the internal ‘leaders of tomorrow’, we can identify at the lowest entry level into the organisation those who may be a candidate for CEO one day.”

"Getting staff engagement on the agenda for UK plc is core to the recovery", says Ellis. “Much commentary in the media and in political circles is about skills and the shortage that exists; but in my experience companies in the UK have lagged their counterparts in other countries - particularly in Europe - in developing their home grown talent of the future. A National Business Award highlights the cultural problem here and will help to motivate professionals, particularly the HR community, into action.”

All winners of the Croner Employer of the Year award will be announced at the National Business Awards Gala Dinner on 8th November at the Grosvenor House Hotel. To book your place or reserve a table to call 0207 234 8755, email Anthony.akoto@ubm.com or visit www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk for details.