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Creating a Great Place to Work®: Lessons from 2010′s FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For®

SAS. Nordstrom. Google. Whole Foods. What do all these companies have in common beyond their brand recognition? They all made the 2010 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For. And this year at the 2010 SHRM Annual Convention in San Diego (#SHRM10), Michael Burchell, Ed. D., vice president for Global Business Development, Great Place to Work® Institute returned to talk about what exactly these 100 company’s do to make the list (last  year his talk focused on the 50 Best Small and Medium Companies to Work For in America).  He noted that any company has the potential to make one of these two lists, regardless of industry, employee demographics, location or work status.

Commonalities between companies that make the list
Burchell started his presentation asking, “What is the difference between a good place and a great place to work?” following that up with, “It’s not about what you do, but how you do it.” Through his company’s 20-plus years of research on this topic, Burchell found the one thing all these companies have in common: TRUST. These companies are all places where employees “trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work with.”

The Three Components of Trust:

  1. The relationship between employees and management.
  2. The relationship between employees and their jobs/company (pride).
  3. The relationship between employees and other employees (camaraderie).

Building this kind of trust enables companies to reap positive business benefits and increased productivity through increased caliber of employees, increased quality of products and increased levels of risk taking and innovation.  It’s an investment, but a worthwhile one.

Having this kind of trust also decreases costs by lowering turnover (best companies typically have a voluntary turnover of 9% or less) and lowering resistance to change.  Surprisingly, it also lowers health care costs: Employees who feel trusted – and trust their companies in return – tend to have healthier lives outside of work because they leave work at work, leaving them with more to give to their personal life (family and community). This also means that when they are at work, they show up because they want to and are ready to contribute because they have the perception the company offers a special and unique culture where “we are not like others.”

Building Trust
Trust between employee and company (and vice versa) begins during the pre-hire stage; although the treatment employees get on their first day of work really sets the stage for future trust. Employees who feel welcomed and appreciated generally foster a genuine level of trust much faster than those employees who are just shown to a desk to begin working right away. Makes sense, right? You’d be surprised how many companies overlook these little details. Burchell continued by saying that employees who have the opportunity to interact with senior leadership very close to their hire date are better informed and feel true value and connection immediately.

Best Companies to Work For also…

  • Motivate
  • Empower
  • Listen
  • Thank
  • Develop
  • Care
  • Celebrate
  • Share

Common Benefits that Best Companies to Work For Offer:

  • Job sharing
  • Telecommuting
  • Compressed work weeks
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Phased retirement
  • Paid sabbaticals
  • Child services
  • Dry cleaning
  • On-site mailing
  • Free beverages or snacks
  • Personal travel experience

And while this list of perks is impressive in and of itself, what truly makes the difference is how the company communicates these employee benefits, supports them and enables employees to take advantage of them. One example given was Goggle’s TGI Fridays – and yes, it does revolve around food, but not exactly in the way you might think. Each and every Friday employees are invited into cafeterias for an agenda-less meeting where employees get to talk with Google’s CEO and senior leadership team about anything. And as you’d expect, not all questions hold the same weight but all questions are valid and go back to the idea of trust. This practice also shows employees that they are valued as a part of the business, not merely people who work for the company. This is also a time for the leadership to reinforce the company values and make everyone feel connected. Google’s success is unquestioned, but did you know they have also created a pool of quality applicants that is so extensive, they may never have to actively recruit ever again?

The Hidden Benefit to Being  a Best Place to Work
Earlier, I mentioned the benefits a company gains by striving to be a best place to work – such as higher productivity and profitability - but there’s also this other (kind of huge) perk: Once word gets out that your company is a great place to work, you’ll really start to see more qualified applicants applying to your open positions.  I’m talking about people who understand your company’s unique culture and want to be a part of it because they feel a connection to your values.

While much of this information may not seem new, it is wonderful to see so many companies really trying to step up their game to become a best place to work. Remember, employees are your greatest asset, and they leave every night. What are you doing to ensure they return? If you build around this model, everyone benefits. Hiring gets easier. Top talent is retained. Production increases. Profits grow. Build a best place to work and you build a foundation for ongoing success.

Explore our previous Building the Best Place to Work article series to gain insights on our five basic building blocks and other tips for creating the best working place. As always, we welcome your feedback in the comments section of this post. Tell us more about your own recruitment and employee engagement experiences as you try to build a company that your employees call a best place to work.

Stephanie Gaspary

About Stephanie Gaspary

Stephanie is the managing director of content strategy at CareerBuilder, tasked with creating opportunities to share the CareerBuilder story across job seeker and employer channels. Stephanie, a lifelong learner, holds a Master's in Business Administration and a Master's in Management - both from North Park University and a Bachelor's degree in Art from Bethel University. A Minnesotan at heart, Stephanie has lived in Chicago for nearly 20 years, is the doting mother to two wacky german shorthaired pointer pups, looks forward to her morning run *almost* as much as that first cup of coffee and vows to one day live in the mountains. Follow @sgaspary. Follow @cbforemployers.
11 comments
wheezingbell
wheezingbell

How do you apply this practice to the non-profit sector?

wheezingbell
wheezingbell

How do you apply this practice to the non-profit sector?

Caoimhe Downey
Caoimhe Downey

Great read, im doing my undergraduate dissertation on a great place to work!

Caoimhe Downey
Caoimhe Downey

Great read, im doing my undergraduate dissertation on a great place to work!

Stephanie Gaspary
Stephanie Gaspary

Thanks Caoimhe! What an interesting topic for your research.

Stephanie Gaspary
Stephanie Gaspary

Thanks Caoimhe! What an interesting topic for your research.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] From Career Builder: Creating a Great Place to Work®: Lessons from 2010′s FORTUNE 100 Best Co… “SAS. Nordstrom. Google. Whole Foods. What do all these companies have in common beyond their brand recognition? They all made the 2010 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For. And this year at the 2010 SHRM Annual Convention in San Diego (#SHRM10), Michael Burchell, Ed. D., vice president for Global Business Development, Great Place to Work® Institute returned to talk about what exactly these 100 company’s do to make the list (last year his talk focused on the 50 Best Small and Medium Companies to Work For in America). He noted that any company has the potential to make one of these two lists, regardless of industry, employee demographics, location or work status.” [...]

  2. [...] From Career Builder: Creating a Great Place to Work®: Lessons from 2010′s FORTUNE 100 Best Co… “SAS. Nordstrom. Google. Whole Foods. What do all these companies have in common beyond their brand recognition? They all made the 2010 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For. And this year at the 2010 SHRM Annual Convention in San Diego (#SHRM10), Michael Burchell, Ed. D., vice president for Global Business Development, Great Place to Work® Institute returned to talk about what exactly these 100 company’s do to make the list (last year his talk focused on the 50 Best Small and Medium Companies to Work For in America). He noted that any company has the potential to make one of these two lists, regardless of industry, employee demographics, location or work status.” [...]

  3. [...] There are many perks to being a Best Place to Work, for your organization and for your employees. If you’d like to read the full article, you can access it here. [...]

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