How Can You Make Your Company a Great Place to Work?

Larry Sternberg on Monday, November 12 2012, 03:58 PM
Recently I was privileged to attend a conference in San Jose, California, sponsored by the Great Place to Work Institute. The day-long conference gave me the opportunity to learn from numerous outstanding companies what they do to engage, motivate and retain their employees. In this post I share some of what I learned. For information about the Great Place to Work Institute, and about how these companies are selected as a great place to work, please click the link highlighted above.

Here are some trends common to many of the companies identified among the top 50 small and medium companies in 2012.

• The top 50 are growing, indicating that making one’s company a great place to work makes business sense.
• Trust-based relationships are the foundation of a great place to work.
• Employees see their company as an emotionally healthy community.
• They have fun at work, and look forward to coming to work.
• There is a genuine commitment to work/life balance.
• Employees are inspired to find meaning in their work.
Volunteerism is supported and encouraged, making employees proud of the company’s contributions to its community.
• Compensation is seen as fair.

Although not presented as a trend by the institute, a couple of presenters shared the following point of view, which I enthusiastically endorse.

• Culture fit is more important that subject matter expertise.

Here are some practices I found particularly worthy of consideration:

• Flexible scheduling
• Unlimited sick days
• An online social space for where significant others can stay connected, receive information about company events, benefits, schedules, products, and social events, and participate as part of the company’s extended community
• Sabbaticals
• Guidelines rather than rules
• A concierge for employees who work long hours
• Continuous education
• Heavily subsidized healthcare insurance
• Onsite fitness center or subsidy for membership
• Financial planning assistance
• 401K matching
• Travel benefit for five and ten year anniversaries
• Birthday cards and small gifts for employees’ children
Health and fitness education
• Eldercare education
• Paid time for volunteering
• Annual paid volunteer event
• Periodic brainstorming event where any employee can present to senior leaders ideas for improving the company
• Non-monetary gestures of recognition tailored to suit the needs of the employee being recognized
• Surprise fun events
• Events where family members are invited

I hope you find some of these ideas to be valuable. More importantly, I hope you act on them. If you don’t have the power to act on them now, start thinking about what you’ll do when you have the power.

Thanks for reading. I’m sure this list can be augmented. I’d love to hear what you’re doing to make you’re organization a great place to work.
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