CONSUMER goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) was recently recognised as Singapore's most attractive employer at the 2015 Randstad Awards. Changi Airport Group and Shell placed second and third respectively, while OCBC nabbed the most attractive employer in the Banking & Financial Services sector.

So, what makes these companies so appealing and how do they develop a winning employer brand that sets them apart from the rest?

Whether you're a small-business owner, managing director of a medium-sized enterprise or the chief executive of a global corporation, employer branding is a powerful business tool. Having a strong employer brand is the key to setting your business apart from your competition, strengthening your employer value proposition, and ultimately developing high calibre talent to drive your organisation forward.

To remain competitive in today's tight labour market, your organisation must develop an attraction-and-retention strategy built on a sophisticated understanding of what each employee values.

The 2015 Randstad Award employer branding survey found that career progression, competitive compensation and work-life balance top the list of what employees in Singapore look for when seeking new job opportunities.

Furthermore, good work-life balance is the key reason almost half of employees will stay with their current organisation. Other reasons to stay include a competitive salary (32 per cent) and the financial health of their company (27 per cent).

As companies large and small compete within the same talent pool, a strong employer brand will set you apart and deliver tangible, measurable benefits to your business. These include a positive market reputation, better access to top talent, reduced recruitment and training costs, greater workforce engagement and productivity, and, as a result, superior business performance.

These benefits alone should give you enough reasons to get started, but then the question is: where do you begin?

People, your greatest asset

Your people are the ultimate weapon in today's war for talent, as shown by the winners of this year's Randstad Award, which recognises the most attractive employers around the globe.

P&G, winner of the 2015 Randstad Award in Singapore, believes that people are the foundation of its success and that employer branding is the ownership of every employee. The company recognises the need to understand their employees' motivations and to take into account their views when developing training, wellness and career-planning programmes.

Meanwhile, runner-up Changi Airport Group connects its employer brand closely to its people philosophy. Changi sees the importance in continually engaging its employees and keeping them motivated; it believes that engaged employees will be natural ambassadors and share positive sentiments about the company to potential employees.

Social media has made it easier for potential employees to find out from existing staff what it is really like to work there. Engaging your staff then becomes even more important - engaged employees are proud of where they work and will tell their friends and social networks the right story about your company.

Communicate the core messages

Companies must carve out a compelling and unique position in the market and communicate their points of difference - this is their employee value proposition (EVP). With companies competing for a larger share of voice, those that are successful are the ones with clear, simple messages that explain the values and culture the organisation lives by.

In communicating and promoting your company's core message, research the different channels available to reach out to the group of talent you're targeting. For P&G, engaging different channels is key to its employer brand strategy. It uses social media, e-mail and personal connections to tell its brand story, but most importantly, it keeps in mind the need to drive a consistent and authentic message regardless of the channels used.

Many employers large and small have a great range of benefits, incentives and programmes to offer their people. However, most of the time, these are not packaged in the right way, so it's important to really identify what you have on offer and develop company and individual offerings that make your employment offering the most attractive to the groups you are trying to attract and retain.

Think outside the box, and be creative in delivering options that other employers don't have. For example, OCBC has put in place several initiatives to help its employees succeed. Its OCBC Campus in the Central Business District enables employees to upgrade their skills to stay competitive in the global financial industry. The winner of the 2015 Randstad Award (Banking & Financial Services sector) also provides an in-house child-care centre to help employees balance work and family priorities.

Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), despite their size limitations, can do much to make their EVP stand out and to compete for talent with bigger organisations with a higher profile. They can, for example, create an environment of trust and fun so that employees enjoy the work - encourage potluck lunches; pay for their gym memberships; give them a day off on birthdays, or reward them with vouchers for special achievements.

Organisations with a strong employer brand clearly communicate the values and culture of their organisation, and in doing so, attract top-quality employees who share the same vision and values. The world's most coveted employers understand why people love working for them, and they continue to improve and promote those benefits. Companies in Singapore and the region that get their employer branding right will stand out from the competition and win in today's fierce war for talent.