Looking for some inspiration to propel you forward at work?
We have just the thing. This year’s Great Place to Work For All conference brought together top business leaders from many different industries and perspectives to chat about key issues affecting work: the changing job landscape, what it takes to be an effective leader today, and how to create a workplace that values and empowers all employees, no matter their role or background.
Out of these discussions came insightful advice for leaders and inspiring visions for the future of work. We’ve pulled together 11 of our favorite leadership quotes for you below.
“That was established 90 years ago, our belief: Take good care of the people, they'll take good care of the customer, and the customer will come back.”
J.W. Marriott, Jr. Executive Chairman at Marriott
“Being bold is not being reckless. Being bold means pushing yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and take calculated risks and focus on a series of steps that you know you can achieve. If we aspire to transform what is around us, we must first be willing to transform ourselves.”
Marcia Morales-Jaffe, SVP, Chief People Office at PayPal
“Whether it is work force re-skilling, whether it is racial tension, whether it's taking on issues like immigration or education… I think we have a responsibility to our shareholders to tackle these issues. A company like AT&T will generate $160 Billion of revenue just out of America in this year. Just out of the US. We have to ask ourselves: ‘if we want to grow and prosper in this country over the next 10 to 15 years, what has to be happening in the United States to make that possible?’"
Randall Stephenson, Chairman & CEO at AT&T
“I think about people who are right now 10 to 12 years old, and the workplace that they're going to enter. That's what 2030 is about for me. It's not about me. It's not really about you. It's about what can we create to create a change, so that the work experience for people is equal and fair for everyone.”
Michael Bush, CEO at Great Place to Work
“Five years ago, I came out as leader who is gay. In that one moment, I became the most senior out female business executive in the world...I'm thankful that more of our employees in our workforces around the world are feeling free to be who they really are. I encourage you to encourage them. Nobody should have to live their life in black and white, because if they are, we're not getting the best of them.”
Beth Brooke-Marciniak, Global Vice Chair, Public Policy at EY
“I'm a big believer in what is called trust-based leadership. Most people wake up wanting to do the right thing...when you put power in the hands of your people, tremendous things happen.”
Tim Ryan, US Chairman and Senior Partner at PWC
“You've got to build a culture that understands change unfortunately is going to go exponential. It's digitization. It's going to create a lot of jobs and it's going to destroy a lot of jobs. Forty to fifty percent of the companies in this room won't be here in a decade.”
John Chambers, Executive Chairman at Cisco
“We can't control a country’s laws, or a country’s culture, but we can control what goes on within the four walls of our workplace.”
Beth Brooke-Marciniak, Global Vice Chair, Public Policy at EY
“It's very important for any leader to leave his ego at the door. You know Ronald Reagan had a little sign on his desk that said "I could get anything done I want, as long as I don't care who takes the credit." So, I think when we think about ego, we must think about the fact that we are here to serve others, not to serve ourselves. So, it's very, very, very important that we listen to people, that we listen and learn, and we ask that question, "what do you think?" of our folks.”
J.W. Marriott, Jr. Executive Chairman at Marriott
“Embrace the change. It's every single day, stretch yourself to understand how technology's going to make your job easier, how technology will make you have the ability to have a bigger impact. But also then form relationships, so you can together solve these important problems.”
Tim Ryan, US Chairman and Senior Partner at PWC
“I did not understand when I first became CEO how important culture was. I thought the role of the CEO was vision and strategy for the company, to develop, recruit, retain, and change the leadership team to implement that vision and strategy, and communications. Within a very short time, I realized culture was really how I was enabling all those aspects.”
John Chambers, Executive Chairman at Cisco
As the third-largest metro area in the U.S., Chicago is a major destination for top employers. And as our recent list of the Best Workplaces in Chicago shows, finding creative ways to drive a better employee experience means a stronger, better business.
These Best Workplaces are seeing huge business benefits:
- Revenue growth at the Best Workplaces averaged 34% last year
- Job growth averaged 25%
- 92% of employees at winners say they’re willing to give extra at work
What can you learn from these companies? What new employee practices could help you build a stronger culture and capture a competitive business advantage?
Here are 5 ideas from the winning companies to help you drive a stellar employee experience.
1. Scheduling to fit the job.
Housekeepers have a direct impact on the stay of every hotel guest, every day. And Hyatt supports the people who do this physically demanding job with a unique form of flex time. Housekeeping staff can choose when to start their shifts and receive pay for a full eight hours, even if they complete their assignments early. This allows these employees to work at their own pace and achieve better work-life balance.
2. Offering telemedicine.
Few doctors make house calls anymore, but employees at Alliant Credit Union can sign-up for the next best thing. A telemedicine benefit allows them to consult with a doctor anytime, anywhere, by phone or video conference. This affordable add-on to the organization’s benefits package comes in addition to health insurance and a co-worker wellness program.
3. Retirement at the employee’s pace.
Many people who reach retirement age discover they don’t want to retreat from their life’s work all at once. At biopharmaceutical company AbbVie, older employees can scale back gradually. Colleagues 55-plus with 10 years at the company can cut back to four days a week or take an additional five weeks of vacation with a corresponding adjustment in pay. They also have the option to keep their schedule and compensation the same while redefining their work responsibilities with an eye to retirement down the road.
4. Showcasing cultures.
Candy company Haribo has built a multicultural workforce, with people of color accounting for about half of its leadership positions. The organization makes time for different cultural celebrations six times a year, based on suggestions from employees. These have included a Euro Cup soccer party, a potluck lunch to celebrate the end of Ramadan and a celebration for Chinese New Year.
5. Respect on the road.
Consulting firms on this list of Chicago’s Best Workplaces demonstrate that they understand the unique demands faced by employees who do business away from home. West Monroe Partners offers travel bonuses worth $3,000 up to three times a year to consultants who spend a significant amount of time at client sites.
Crowe Horwath also provides a travel bonus for employees who log at least ten nights away from home per quarter. Team members who spend more than 30 percent of their time on the road also are eligible for additional perks to make life more comfortable, including free airline club memberships.
Frequent-flyer consultants and the housekeepers tending to their hotel rooms might not share much in common career-wise. But at Chicago’s leading workplaces, they both benefit from management’s eagerness to improve team members’ day-to-day experience as a business priority.
If you’re interested in being named a Fortune 100 Best Company to Work For® next year, you probably already know about a key step of our evaluation process: The Culture Audit.
One of the most common questions we get from 100 Best Companies list applicants is: “How do I write a great Culture Audit?”
The Culture Audit asks questions about your people practices, policies, and other data related to how both HR and leadership alike work to build a strong culture. Sometimes knowing exactly what to include is challenging for newcomers. You might wonder:
- What exactly does Great Place to Work and its team of Culture Audit evaluators need to know?
- How long do the responses to each Culture Audit open-ended question need to be?
- What differentiates a “good” application from a “great” application?
- We’re here to set the record straight. Whether you’re a new applicant or a returning contender, these tips should help you write a stellar Culture Audit that helps us better understand your company’s culture.
1. Paint a vivid picture of your workplace.
When writing about your company’s programs, what we’re looking for is an understanding of what it is, how frequently it’s practiced, who it serves, how it benefits employees, and why your company thinks the practice is important.
You don’t need to take up too much space describing your philosophy behind every practice/program – just summarize your overall approach.
What helps us get clear insight into your workplace?
- Don’t just list out your key programs and practices. Tell us how those programs are unique and illustrate your company’s culture.
- Tell us how each program impacts employees.
- If you want to provide several examples of a practice in action, include them in your supplemental materials. (This includes employee stories, copies of emails, etc.)
2. Know our scoring methodology.
This is a competition – and many wonder how they can get ahead of the pack. What exactly is Great Place to Work looking for in your responses?
We have a methodology that allows us to score your responses. The best applications will show us that your company’s philosophy and people practices have the following qualities:
- Variety: There is a breadth of programs, policies, and methods for implementation.
- Originality: Programs, policies, and practices are unique and creative, and “bear the mark of the company.”
- All-inclusiveness: Programs, policies, and practices are for everyone – not just for managers and above.
- Human Touch: There is a sense of appreciation, generosity, and warmth in programs and policies.
- Integration: Programs and policies linked by a central theme, an overarching framework in which the programs are delivered.
Great applications will show us how your company and your programs possess all of these characteristics.
3. Focus on quality over quantity.
While we love enthusiasm, we don’t award extra points for a novel-length Culture Audit. The best Culture Audits are usually concise and focused on substance over fluff, but still convey warmth.
The maximum page length of a Culture Audit is now 225 pages (approximately 15 single-spaced pages per Culture Audit open-ended question). But some of the best we’ve seen range between 50-100 pages.
There’s no minimum length for a Culture Audit, but we do recommend you provide enough information so that we clearly understand what it’s like to work at your company and why your practices are unique. Keep in mind that this is a competition: a very short, bulleted list of programs with no context is not very helpful to us, and might make your workplace practices sound uninspired.
Some space-saving tips:
- If you’re writing about the same program twice, you can describe it with details once, then quickly refer back to it in other responses (i.e. “See ‘Hiring: Hiring Process’ response for more details about the university recruiting program.”).
- Employee quotes and anecdotes are not always necessary to describe each of your programs in action – use them when you think they’re needed to add color to the practice.
- If you have offices that have many individualized cultural practices, try to limit the number of these “local” examples in your application. We’re aiming to understand your culture as a whole (with some local examples thrown in to illustrate how your culture is practiced in action).
- Avoid pasting in text from HR/employee handbooks – we don’t need to know the technical legal nuts and bolts of each program.
- It's not necessary to go into great detail for “standard” practices – you don’t need to thoroughly describe things like regular team meetings, open-door policies, EAPs, etc. The evaluators reviewing your submission are very knowledgeable about HR topics and will already know what these practices are.
4. Stay organized.
Keep in mind that there’s a person on the other end of your application reading through your entire Culture Audit. A clear narrative will help us easily see how your workplace practices are integrated, without having to search through your application.
How can you structure your application to be more easily read?
- Call out distinct programs and practices using bullet points and/or bold, colored formatting (or ALL CAPS). You may find it useful to list the names of programs at the top of the response, then describe the programs in separate sections following the list.
- Our evaluators love hearing about new programs – clearly label any new programs that were included since your last year’s application, but even for first-timers, it helps us to see things clearly labeled as “new/updated” so we can tell that you are constantly innovating in improving your workplace. Clearly label these practices by writing “NEW” or “UPDATED” in front of them.
- If you have multiple people filling out your Culture Audit, review it at the end of the process to make sure it seems cohesive and the formatting/organization is consistent throughout the application.
5. Use supplemental materials to tell your story.
Sometimes, you might feel your written response doesn’t do your company’s unique program justice. You might consider uploading or linking to supplemental materials that accompany your application and provide more detail that can’t easily be captured in your text responses.
Many companies choose to submit photos, videos, and samples of materials that will aid our evaluators in getting a feel for your unique company culture. Some additional examples include:
- Annual reports, proxy reports, news articles, press releases
- Employee communications: newsletters, videos, executive emails or phone messages, intranet pages, etc.
- Recruiting and orientation materials
- Values/mission statements, corporate slogans, corporate philosophy
- Layoff and severance communications and materials
- Company history, profiles of founders and/or influential leaders, executive speeches
- Photos and/or videos of employees at work or participating in company activities
- Samples of training materials
- Letters related to your company’s recognition programs
- Anything else that you feel will help us to gain a clear picture of your unique workplace culture!
Some companies create websites to house this information. If it’s well-organized, it can be helpful, but it’s absolutely not required and doesn’t mean you’ll get a better score.
Providing an overabundance of supplemental materials will also not increase your score. Use materials when necessary: avoid submitting hundreds of photos or hours of videos.
Please note that Great Place to Work is no longer accepting physical supplemental materials.
6. Summing it all up.
Stay focused on writing thoughtful responses that reflect the “flavor” of your company. Write like you’re trying to convince your friend or family member that they should work there. Avoid sending too much information so your message isn’t lost on us, but enough information that Great Place to Work knows exactly WHY your workplace is better than the rest.
We’re looking forward to seeing your application for the 2018 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For List. Good luck!
Silicon Valley workplaces are known for offering lavish employee perks like an in-house chef or free weekly massages. And that can be a challenge for great Bay Area companies that think they just don’t have the HR budget to compete.
The good news is – our research shows perks don’t always make or break the employee experience.
Great Place to Work’s findings from the Best Workplaces in the Bay Area demonstrate that a positive employee experience often comes down to simpler – and cheaper – employer practices.
“Hands-down the one thing that keeps everyone here isn't the free food or this or that tech-like benefit. It's the culture and commitment of mindfulness and empowerment,” says an employee at Asana, one of the Best Workplaces in the Bay Area recently announced by Great Place to Work and Fortune.
True, this project management software company offers employees free Uber rides and unlimited vacation. But our research shows that colleagues at innovative companies are motivated more by meaningful challenges and knowing that their work is appreciated.
At Asana, for example, every employee also has access to coaching programs, a flat management structure and employee resource organizations for women and members of minority groups. These practices support the deeper professional goals of team members, and do more to drive employee engagement and retention than daily free lunch.
Team meeting at Best Workplace Asana
So how can you apply these insights to your workplace? We gathered together a few helpful examples from winning companies.
Say it loud: “You matter”
One of the most crucial, and straightforward, practices you can do to improve your workplace culture is consistently recognizing employees for their talent and contributions. This often has a higher impact on performance than standard transactional rewards.
Across Bay Area organizations surveyed for our Best Workplaces list, some of the biggest differences between the top quartile of companies and those at the bottom were in areas related to recognition. In addition to compensation, the leading companies scored much higher on employee survey statements related to acknowledgement of hard work and involvement in decision making.
Here are just a few ways those Best Workplaces tell employees they matter:
- Blach Construction Company hosts a Rookies Night party at the CEO’s house for new employees. Other events throughout the year include an employee appreciation bocce tournament, a veterans’ night and smaller get-togethers to congratulate new parents or celebrate company milestones.
- Swinerton, another construction company on the Best Workplaces list, empowers every employee to completely halt work if he or she sees something potentially dangerous. This not only drives home a commitment to safety, it also lets workers know that their knowledge and judgement are valued on the job site.
- Alliant Credit Union makes the most of employees’ diverse strengths. All co-workers undergo a personal assessment and coaching program that inform career development plans tailored to each individual.
Give Them Something to Talk About
The Bay Area employees we surveyed who reported that they’re proud to tell others about their companies are 12 times more likely to believe they have a great place to work.
The Best Workplaces tend to inspire their people through consistent, approachable leadership and friendly work cultures where people can depend on one another. Many organizations also foster pride by promoting a strong value-based culture and offering chances to give back.
As the largest privately held owner of apartments in the Bay Area, Prometheus Real Estate Group has an uncommon insight into the needs of the community. Employees run an outreach program with an online tool to locate volunteer opportunities nationwide. Team members can take as much time off as they want to support causes that are important to them.
Perks like these aren’t entirely free, but they’re a great example of an organization using its existing resources to enhance the experience of employees.
Employee huddle at Best Workplace GoFundMe
Co-workers at GoFundMe also enjoy a personal connection to the company’s giving. They can nominate crowd-funding campaigns on the platform for $1,000 gifts, with more than $500,000 donated in 2015. Like the other Best Workplaces in the Bay Area, the company places a strong emphasis on the shared purpose of its employees.
Says one employee, “This job is not just a paycheck for anyone here – it's an expression of self and passion. … What's even more unique is that, because of this shared passion, there's no feeling of competitiveness or pettiness around the office, unlike most of my other jobs. Everyone is invested in the growth of the company and, therefore, each other.”
Success in business and in leadership is rooted in how deeply and broadly we trust our people. It is far too common for many of us to become very skeptical and limit the circle of people we trust deeply.
Now you have a chance to hone your trust-building skills at this year’s Great Place to Work For All Conference! Ed Frauenheim, Julian Lute and Paul Thallner of Great Place to Work will lead a workshop called Working it Out: The Trust Mindset™, Giftwork™ and You to help attendees develop the right Trust Mindset as well as Giftwork—two tools that are essential to creating great cultures and vital to professional and personal fulfillment.
Here’s a sneak peek – plus a preview of the Trust dance party!
The Trust Mindset concept allows us to explore our underlying beliefs and attitudes about trusting others, and how we might choose to have more faith in people—the foundation of a high-trust culture.
Giftwork is how great cultures apply the ideal Trust Mindset to daily interactions that deepen employees’ experience of trust. Giftwork infuses what you already do as a leader with a sense of generosity, individual intention, and inclusion. It is a practical way to turn every day activities into trust-building encounters that will change the way you engage with your team.
This workshop will be highly interactive, immersive and fun! Expect to be challenged, pushed to expand your comfort zone. When it comes to taking our trust-building to the next level, we definitely will work it out!
- Understanding the brain science and psychology behind the Trust Mindset, as well as the courage needed to have more faith in others in your organization and in your life.
- Knowledge of the nine practice areas in which Giftwork can be used, and a practical plan to combine the best possible Trust Mindset with Giftwork to boost trust on your team, in your wider organization and in your professional and personal relationships.
- The ability to reuse the principles and structure of the “Working it Out: The Trust Mindset™, Giftwork™ and You” workshop in your organization to improve trust and performance.
If you’re a leader at a health care organization, you’ll do everything in your power to ensure it stays well-equipped to care for patients. But what about employees? Why not apply that commitment to delivering the highest level of care to your own staff as well?
For many, the answers might be resources. For others, it might come down to the challenges of the industry – with regulatory uncertainty, new technology, rising operating costs and more. It’s a lot to balance.
But taking a hard look at how you’re supporting employees is a worthy investment. Our 2017 Best Workplaces in Health Care, published with Fortune, is proof of that: Hospitals on our list had higher-than-average HCAHPS scores and lower voluntary turnover rates.
These top workplaces are doing amazing things to ensure their staff is getting the help and care they need. In the end, that means better patient care and a stronger organization.
Here are a few bright ideas from the winning organizations – some might just be a good fit to implement at your own workplace.
Share Resources That You Already Have on Hand
It’s hard to beat bulk-pricing on everyday supplies. Baptist Health South Florida realized its massive supply chain could make life more affordable for employees and now sells them household items like diapers at a deep discount. Even better, orders that co-workers place online are delivered directly to their work spaces.
Many of this year’s winning health care organizations also make the most of their in-house professional expertise. Baptist Health colleagues can also request same-day, face-to-face counseling from in-house clinicians organized by the pastoral care department.
Baylor Scott & White Health puts a particular emphasis on emotional support for co-workers. A team of specially trained staff members offers peer support to colleagues confronting traumatic patient outcomes, serious professional challenges and other crises.
People usually pursue a career in health care for the work, not the workplace. But the environment and people that surround them on the job matter. An average of 88 percent of employees at the Best Workplaces in Health Care say their facilities contribute to a good working environment, compared to 82 percent at Great Place to Work–Certified organizations that didn’t make the list.
Give Employees an Audience
Our research found that healthcare colleagues who say managers consistently keep them informed are twice as likely to say they’re willing to give extra to get the job done. That means better communication from leadership links directly to staff productivity.
Keeping a two-way channel of communication is essential for a healthy culture in any organization. And this holds especially true in an industry where evolving technology and uncertainty surrounding health care reform bring constant change.
Texas Health Resources, the top company on the Best Workplaces list, uses leadership rounding to ensure messages about mission and strategy are heard from the C-suite to the janitor’s office. Employees at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital use an internal website to discuss and vote on questions for their leadership. Then the CEO addresses their top concerns during town hall meetings that take place every other month.
Bring Education In-House
If professionals are already scheduling continuing education requirements around their work, why not offer that training on-site?
Many health care organizations already grant some level of tuition reimbursement. The best are also using their facilities to make that education more convenient.
Atlantic Health System draws on its relationships with local colleges to host classes in its buildings. The health system also offers employee discounts on coursework at those institutions, among other programs to help employees identify the most timely and cost-effective way to meet their educational goals.
Great Lakes Caring Home Health and Hospice takes a commitment to training even further. Its Great Lakes University is accredited to offer continuing ed in nursing, social work and other areas. Employees can take courses for free through an online platform. And non-credit classes cover topics like grief, advance directives, patient spirituality and a range of other topics inspired by the challenges employees face day to day.
However it is offered, training pays off. Employees at surveyed health care workplaces who receive training and professional development are three times more likely to say they look forward to coming to work and twice as likely to say they want to stay with their organizations for the long term.
What are you doing at your healthcare organization to improve the employee experience?
Today is #EqualPayDay. That means it’s the perfect time to stop and ask, what is your organization doing to close the gender pay gap?
The fact that women on average still make only 80% as much as men has been in public discussion for years. And while there have been encouraging movements forward, the disparity remains. The American Association of University Women advocacy group estimates that at this rate, the pay gap won’t close until 2152.
At Great Place to Work, we’ve been studying what makes for fair, great workplaces for women, and our team is lucky to work with companies that are openly acknowledging the issue and doing what they can to address it.
There’s no better example of companies leading the charge than Salesforce. In 2015, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and his team made a $3 million investment to address gender pay inequities. The company reviewed over 17,000 employee salaries and adjusted salaries if there were any unexplained gender differences.
This move, along with a host of other equality efforts at the software firm to make all employees feel fully valued and included, has reaped incredible results. Their efforts have not only helped drive equal pay efforts, but led to positive effects throughout their entire workforce.
Here are just a few of the effects commitment to equal pay can bring.
1. Attracting and retaining talented women.
Everyone wants to work at an organization where they feel valued. Since starting the Equal Pay initiative, Salesforce has grown as a beacon for talented women in technology and enjoyed the fruits of a more fully engaged workforce. According to Great Place to Work’s Trust Index survey, the percentage of women employees who say they want to work at Salesforce for a long time rose from 85 percent in 2014 to 93 percent in 2016. And 92 percent of female employees in 2016 said people look forward to work at Salesforce, up from 85 percent in 2014. Not surprisingly, the company has been growing faster than its rivals.
2. All employees feel more pride in their company.
In the wake of the pay equity push, women at Salesforce report a better work experience and all staffers feel more pride about their employer. In 2014, 84 percent of women at Salesforce felt pay was fair at the company, compared to 91 percent of men. By 2016, the share of women experiencing fair pay had climbed to 90 percent. The focus on leveling up women didn’t make men feel overlooked—91 of men at the company continued to believe people get paid fairly. And for both sexes, levels of pride climbed slightly so that in 2016 a whopping 97 percent of both men and women reported feeling proud to tell others they work at Salesforce.
3. A healthier work environment and community.
Salesforce employees go home to be better parents, friends, and neighbors, even as the company—like many other best workplaces—gives generously to the community. Against the backdrop of the pay equity initiative and a major focus on mindfulness as a way to prevent stress, the share of employees who rate Salesforce a “psychologically and emotionally healthy place to work” rose from 83 percent in 2014 to 89 percent in 2016. And Salesforce has a 1-1-1 integrated philanthropy model, through which it contributes 1% of its equity, product and employee time back into the community. As part of that giving-back effort, the company has donated more than $137 million in grants since it was founded in 1999.
Salesforce is just one of many inspiring companies who are working to further equal pay. In 2016, over 100 companies signed the White House Equal Pay Pledge.
But we need more businesses to join the movement. And that means more than just leveling pay; our research has shown that what women value most in the workplace is having a voice, getting access to career development, flexibility at work and more. Beyond that, we need more companies to help all employees tap into their full human potential.
The bottom line is that these policies aren’t just the right thing to do in the workplace – they actively create stronger businesses, faster growth, and a more engaged workforce. They’re a smart decision for everyone.
Looking for a way to jumpstart your workplace culture strategy? Or are you an HR leader hungry for practical tips and case studies with insights for firing up your employees and improving your business?
You may want to check out our upcoming Great Place to Work Conference! This year’s line-up promises to provide one of the most inspiring, exciting, and informative meetings yet on the state of workplace culture. We’ll be launching our new Great Place to Work For All mission and showcasing top companies and leaders who are leading the charge to help all workers maximize their potential, not just a select few.
With over 20 breakout sessions and a keynote lineup of top leaders, it’s hard to know where to start when describing all the topics and valuable insights we’ll be covering. So instead of summarizing for you, we thought we’d let a few of our speakers do the talking.
Below we’ve spotlighted two exciting sessions from our GPTW4ALL conference, led by Wegmans and Baptist Health South Florida. You can listen to each clip for a sneak preview of what the session is about and what the key take-aways will be for the attendees.
Whether you’re considering attending or just already planning ahead for the conference, we hope you’ll take a few minutes to tune in!
Session Spotlight #1: Wegmans - A Family Recipe for Success
With Senior Vice President, Human Resources Kevin Stickles
Director of Employee Communications, Peggy Riley
Wegmans has made the 100 Best Companies to Work for list all 20 years! Join Senior Vice President, Human Resources Kevin Stickles and Director of Employee Communications Peggy Riley for an inside look on how the foundational principles put forth by the Wegman family have fostered high employee engagement and retention through an entire century of change and innovation. They will discuss the important intersection between Wegmans’ mission and values and how the Great Place to Work® methodology has accelerated their culture initiatives, maintaining Wegmans' status as a great place to work and great place to shop.
Session Spotlight #2: Baptist Health – Building Tomorrow’s Leaders by Building Internal Leadership Coaching Practices
With Executive & Leadership Development Coach, Lillian LeBlanc
In this interactive session, attendees will hear how Baptist Health enhanced its talent development menu by incorporating professional coaching for individuals and groups. Coaching – which is viewed as a reward for high performers – plays an important role in organizational effectiveness and contributes to maintaining Baptist Health's great culture.
Attendees will get practical tips on how to link talent development to culture and understand how professional coaching can enhance talent development strategies and drive long-term organizational success.
We hope to see you there!
Great Place to Work is no stranger to exceptional employers.
Yet sometimes even we are caught off-guard by the moving tales of compassion and authentic generosity shared by employees about their companies.
This year, we had the chance to spotlight workplaces that are going above and beyond to turn company into family. For the first time ever, we partnered with People Magazine to recognize the 50 Companies that Care.
These 50 companies stood out by building a culture of caring, commitment, and extraordinary generosity towards their employees and their larger communities. In addition to our usual employee Trust Index® survey results, we looked for examples of community involvement, caring relationships between staff, exceptional investment in employee development, encouragement of work/life balance and flexibility, special programs for veterans and more.
The list goes on. These companies offer incredible examples of what Great Place to Work knows so well – at the heart of every great workplace are caring relationships between people.
Here are just a few stories from the winning companies. We think the employee comments speak for themselves.
1. Employees Helping Employees at CHG Healthcare Services
Staff at CHG Healthcare Services chip in to a fund that donates tax-free grants to colleagues facing natural disasters and other hardships.
“The tornado completely destroyed my home and almost everything in it,” recalls one employee. “We were not injured, but we were in total shock when we assessed the damages. My co-workers jumped into action the moment they heard that one of their own had been hit. I received personal calls from colleagues, and even the VP and president, reassuring me that I had nothing to worry about, offering to put me up in a hotel and making sure I had clothes and essentials. My team also watched over my business as I got things settled and helped spread the word of the destruction, which led to a full company charity. I was receiving gifts and money, not only for me but for my friend’s family and kids who lived with us. It was amazing how everyone pulled together to take care of us.”
2. The Container Store: “Walking the Talk”
While the retail sector has a well-earned reputation for financial instability among its workforce, salaries for full-time Container Store employees average $47,000, and all part-timers can access health benefits.
As one team member puts it, “What makes The Container Store different and unique from most, if not all, retail companies, is our approach to business. We put our customers first, both our internal and external customers. We, as a company and as leaders within the organization, are here to serve our employees, our customers and our stakeholders. We take a sensible and realistic approach to business practices and expectations so we accomplish what we say we are going to do. In other words, we WALK THE TALK.”
3. Compassion in Crisis at David Weekley Homes
The largest privately held builder in the U.S. still sticks by the values of its founders. One colleague compares the atmosphere to that of a large family, adding that when a child was in the hospital, an executive only asked, “’What I was doing at work.’ I am part-time and did not want to cause any discomfort at the office (people were out on vacation) and he said I was not to worry about that. They would call in a temp and that I was to get back to the hospital and just take care of her.”
4. Robust Retirement from Navy Federal Credit Union
Employees express gratitude for a bevy of perks at Navy Federal. Among them, a benefits package helps build a sense of security about retirement. “In addition to a wide array of insurance options, the company completely pays for short-term and long-term disability and also provides both a retirement pension (vested after only two years) and a 401(k) retirement plan with contributions up to 7 percent matched 100 percent,” says one employee.
5. Giving Back at Autodesk
Four days of PTO for volunteering every month is just the beginning at this software firm.
“Our six-week sabbatical program every four years is amazing!” says one colleague. “This year I volunteered on a high school trip to Europe chaperoning 18 kids on a WWII Holocaust educational experience though Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. It was a long but AMAZING experience that I wouldn't have been able to do without Autodesk's volunteer time. Along with that, for every 10 hours I volunteer, Autodesk gives me a $100 donation card to give to the charity of my choice! Autodesk has also ramped up our LGBT and other diversity programs, which makes me really proud.”
6. Roche Diagnostics: Family-Focused
Colleagues call out this medical equipment company’s emphasis on work-life balance and programs to assist working parents.
Among them, one co-worker notes, “Every summer a YMCA day camp (Camp Roche) is available here on campus in the employee park for kids ranging in age from five to 15. This is such a unique program. The kids are taken swimming three times a week, to an off-site field trip once a week, and plenty of other activities to keep them busy and active their entire summer. My kids love it, and I love knowing that they are having fun, making friends and enjoying their summer.”
7. QuikTrip: Turning Jobs into Careers
This chain fills all store manager positions internally while offering extensive career counseling and tuition reimbursement.
“Everyone here has helped develop me as an employee, and as a person outside of work,” a team member says. “I've now been given the opportunity to train and help develop all the new faces that walk through the door. QuikTrip is more than a team – we're family. QT was my first job. I've been here four years already, and it feels good knowing I could make a career here.”
8. Ambition Meets Compassion at Kimley-Horn
This planning and engineering firm offers all employees the same robust benefits package enjoyed by the CEO.
Says one colleague caring for a seriously ill spouse: “Kimley-Horn's exceptional healthcare benefits are a major reason he is still alive. In addition to the actual medical benefits, the firm has allowed me to have flexibility to take him to treatments, procedures, etc. Both management and my co-workers have exhibited caring and supportive attitudes…I work very hard, putting in long hours. But when I need it, the flexibility is there.”
9. Capital One: Committed to Veterans
Employees confirm that Capital One’s generosity for people in the armed forces goes even beyond the company’s extensive military hiring and related charitable giving.
“I’m an Army officer in the New York State National Guard. Capital One has been nothing but supportive of my service. I have no problem taking leave when I need it, and the company still pays me for those days. I’m never made to feel as though I have to give up my military service in order to have a bright future here. And no one ever complains of being made to pick up my slack because I was away. It’s really nice to know that Capital One values what I do and that they support me in it,” an employee says.
10. Total Support at SAS
The North Carolina campus of this software creator boasts nearly every perk an employee might want, with an onsite pool, medical center, hair salon, masseuse and even a world-class collection of fine art.
As one team member recalls, though, the company’s support goes much deeper than creature comforts: “When my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive terminal cancer, SAS was my unexpected safe haven during the storm. I had access to resources I didn't know I needed: a sympathetic knowledgeable elder-care counselor, a ‘caring closet’ of medical equipment, a healthcare provider that hugged me every single time I cried. My manager went above and beyond to shift my work so that I could temporarily work out of my mother's home. My department sent notes, cards, flowers and unconditional love when she passed just one month ago. When I returned to work, I was welcomed with open arms and open hearts. It was more than comforting. It was overwhelmingly beautiful. Where else can you work and be reassured you did the right thing by ensuring your mother's last months were happy? That's more than a great place to work, that's an amazing place to happily give your talents, time and gratitude!”
Since we’re talking finance, let’s skip to the bottom line: High-trust employers are more profitable than their peers. Annual revenue growth at the Best Workplaces in Financial Services & Insurance was 26 percent compared to 18% at companies that didn’t make the list. That success in part comes from the high level of confidence employees have in these organizations, where 94 percent of team members say they’re proud to tell others where they work.
Want to create that level of enthusiasm in your workplace? Here are three key takeaways from the Best Workplaces in Finance, recently announced by Great Place to Work and Fortune.
- Promote positive relationships
Even by the high standards of Great Place to Work–Certified companies, an exceptional share of employees at the Best Workplaces in Financial Services & Insurance trust the intentions of their co-workers.An average of 87% of colleagues at these companies say they have an emotionally and psychologically healthy work environment. The leading employers encourage this by making clear that they won’t tolerate manipulative behavior (an approach winning firm Baird calls the “no a_hole” rule.) Plus, these organizations foster office camaraderie and the personal connections that build a collegial culture.
Renovate America, for example, gives $750 a year to 18 employee clubs engaged in hobbies outside of work. The company also chips in registration fees and uniforms for sports teams.
At Bankers Healthcare Group (BHG), there’s a heavy emphasis on culture day-to-day. This is evident in executives’ open-door policy, candid discussions on work-style differences and toy elephants decorating conference rooms as a reminder to always discuss the “elephant in the room.” As one BHG team member says, “Ownership is approachable on a personal level. Amazing growth trend. Organizational health is a big focus, which means dealing with conflict in the office in the appropriate ways.”
- Emphasize leadership with integrity
93% of people working for these Best Workplaces say their managers are honest and ethical. In an industry where ethical behavior is incredibly important to the organization’s reputation and the soundness of its operating practices, this sets these finance companies apart. Plus, our research shows ethical leadership has a big effect on employees’ experience.
Employees at the Best Workplaces in Financial Services & Insurance who said their leaders are ethical were also:
- 10x more likely to look forward to coming to work
- 7x more likely to say they have a great workplace
- 5x more likely to say they’re proud to tell others where they’re employed
But enhancing integrity and accountability in the workplace isn’t always easy in practice.
Best Workplace American Express has staffed an ombuds office for 20 years to serve as a confidential resource for employees discussing sensitive issues without fear of retribution. Co-workers can contact the office after business hours, and this independent entity can escalate issues within management without revealing the person’s identity.
American Fidelity Assurance has formed five accountability groups, comprised of leaders across different divisions and perspectives, that meet on a monthly basis to discuss leadership strengths and weaknesses and hold senior leaders accountable to the company’s core values. Leaders also receive scorecards that combine a mix of employee feedback, survey scores, turnover stats and more.
These kinds of practices turn a professed culture of honesty and credibility into real behaviors. As one American Fidelity Assurance Company employee explains, “The ethics of this company which strongly promote always being honest and doing what is right and fair. The fairness of salary, benefits and bonuses. The culture which promotes taking care of our customers and helping them, even if it means offering a solution that may not be especially beneficial to the company, but is in the best interest of the customer and is the right thing to do. As companies go, we are the "Good Guy".
- Encourage Open Dialogues with Employees
People care more – and perform better – when they feel they’re truly part of a bigger effort. The Best Workplaces were significantly more likely than their peers to involve team members in decision-making and encourage a transparent culture.
At Quicken Loans, for instance, CEO Bill Emerson holds regular face-to-face lunch meetings with team members to discuss any issues they want to talk about. The idea is to encourage open and honest discussions with leadership to both build trust and include employee suggestions and feedback in executive decisions.
At Best Workplace USAA, one employee describes a similar sense of open dialogue between leadership and staff: “the culture at USAA is unlike any other. Every employee is not just made to feel important, we are important. Every employee has the ability to participate in the innovation of new products or systems. Upper management takes what we say very seriously and is consistently implementing changes we request. I feel very valued as an employee.”
In an industry often known for being high-pressure, these three key takeaways can turn a solid business into a financial powerhouse. How will you improve your workplace?
A Culture Conversation with Pattie Money, Chief People Officer at SendGrid
Maintaining a strong culture through rapid growth is no small feat – in fact few companies can do it well.
Yet Great Place to Work-Certified company SendGrid is doing just that.
Founded 8 years ago in 2009, SendGrid is still a relatively young tech company. A graduate of the TechStars program, the business provides cloud-based email software for developers and alike. The company currently sends over 1 billion emails per day on behalf of tens of thousands of active customers.
Yet beyond their successful service, SendGrid has an exceptional workplace culture. The company strives to stay true to its core values: the 4 H’s of Happy, Honest, Humble, and Hungry. The company also truly invests in employee development, and has shown strong commitment to diversity and inclusion initiatives. For the last 3 years, SendGrid has joined the movement of companies choosing to publicly release their diversity numbers, with the intent of driving change within their organization and throughout the wider tech industry.
SendGrid’s Chief People Officer, Pattie Money, joined us for a quick chat on what makes their culture so unique, and what programs and practices they’ve put in place to maintain a great place to work through a time of intense growth.
You can listen to our conversation by playing the audio clip below. To read the full transcript, scroll down.
A few of our favorite quotes from Pattie:
“One of the most unique things about us is that combination of both the ‘Hungry’ and the ‘Humble’. There's a lot of folks out there that are hungry, hungry, hungry, but they don't bring that humble ‘H’ to the table. That combination of smart, driven people that are also incredibly humble that say, ‘You know, I don't have all the answers. I need to listen. I need to hear what other people have to say.’
“I loved how [SendGrid’s CEO, Sameer Dholakia, talked about the company. You talk with a lot of leaders and you hear them talk about your business and your financials and your platforms… and things like that. He really talked about how he loved the company and loved the people.”
“I think about how do we help people continue to grow because smart, talented people--they do not want to stop growing. They want to be challenged every day.”
“I can say without a doubt this is the strongest culture I've been a part of. I think part of that is truly spending time on engagement results and taking action on those results, because when you do that people know you care.”
“We believe in diversity as a differentiator in our business. [It] makes us stronger, makes us wiser, gives us different lenses to view the world through. And diversity isn't just about gender or ethnicity, it's about diversity of different thought coming from businesses, different regions of the country, different regions of the world.”
“Tech is filled with smart, creative, innovative, interesting folks. Many times we try to put people in their box, [but it’s better to] set them free. Enable people to solve whatever problem they see that's coming down ... if they see something, you say, ‘If you see this you own it. If it's not within your wheelhouse to solve, bring it to someone that can solve it.’
Great Place to Work: Why don't we just start and I would love to just hear you talk a little bit about SendGrid and your role at SendGrid.
PM: Great. I don't know how much you know about our business, but it's an amazing business. It's one of those that you don't think a whole lot about. A lot of times we don't think about email. We just assume that everything happens easily and seamlessly, but it doesn't. There's a lot of infrastructure and work that goes on behind it so we're a cloud based customer communication platform is a great way to think about us and our job and what we try to do is really drive engagement. Engagement just like in how we communicate with each other, making certain that those connections are made so that communication can actually occur. When you think about email as a way to reach your customers, it is the most cost effective way to do that. We don't always think about that. We think about the big flashy things like TV advertising and things like that. Email is just so effective and it really does get you a great ROI so we're driving all the technology that makes that happen so it's a very exciting business. One of those kind of secret things that people don't think about that much, but it's really core to how you do the work every day.
I knew nothing about email. I didn't even know that there was something happening behind the scenes although I think I should of known that, but I didn't. I was lucky enough to know a person who had been on my staff before at my previous employer whose husband worked at SendGrid who reached out to me and said, "SendGrid is looking for a Chief People Officer and they want a profile like yours. Do you know someone like you?" I was like, "Well, I kind of know me so tell me more about it" and I truly respected this woman. She's just ... she's amazingly talented. Her husband's amazingly talented and she just said, "You all should at least have a conversation."
Wasn't actively looking for a job at that point in time, but I had my first conversation with Sameer who is our CEO and I got to you I was hooked. I truly just said, "Oh my gosh, I think I want to work for this company" and it was surprising and it was interesting and I loved how he talked about the company. You talk with a lot of leaders and you hear them talk about your business and your financials and your platforms and all the cool, exciting things that you are doing and your financing and things like that and he really talked about how he loved the company and loved the people. You just don't hear people talk about loving people in an interview and I truly found that very connecting. I thought this is a person that I want to work with and for and so that was what hooked me.
My job is Chief People Officer and that means I kind of look at everything surrounding our people's strategy, how do we connect our business strategy to our people strategy, make certain that we're driving the right things to give us business results and for me it's all about making certain that people are engaged. If we want our business strategy to be executed well, you need some happy, engaged Gridders as we call them here.
PM: That's everything from our hiring process through the entire employment lifecycle. Thinking about people at every phase of their career. How do you keep them growing and happy and learning. For me I think about how do we help people continue to grow because smart, talented people, they do not want to stop growing. They want to be challenged every day. We have a thing that we call let's raise our hoodie bar and so the idea is that we're going to get better and better in our own jobs everyday so from a people ops perspective, our job is to ensure that we create the programs and help execute on those things as seamlessly as possible without disrupting people's work and making it easy for them to be able to do that and do it well.
That's what keeps me going every day. That's what gets me up in the morning and keeps me here late at night.
GPTW: That's great. PM, have you been working at SendGrid long?
PM: I'm a newbie. I've been here four and a half months. I'm really new.
GPTW: Awesome and it sounds like it's been a really exciting opportunity so far?
PM: It's been a joy.
GPTW: That's great. I guess let's jump in and I'd love to just hear more about SendGrid's culture and what makes it unique and what have you noticed so far, especially as someone who just came on board maybe four months ago?
PM: Okay. Good. I think first of all you know about our four H's. They really are core to everything that we do and they are foundational. They've been around for quite a while. They were part of our original leaderships mindset in terms of how you build a company so it's hungry, humble, honest and-
PM: Happy. Thank you. That's my favorite one. Those are really part of everything that we do. We hire for that. We make business decisions surrounding that. We have conversations that actually start with, honest H, we need to have a conversation about something so it informs how we communicate and work together. It's integrated into all the decisions that we make as well. When we look at hiring somebody, there's a lot of really talented people out there, really good folks, but they don't always meet that criteria of all four of those H's and it doesn't mean that you clone people because people show up differently.
For example, I'm a pretty infusive gal so I'm smiley, I'm happy, I'm naturally I think I meet the happy H, but there are people that are quiet and introspective, but they love what they do and it shows. It shows in how they do their work and how they interact with other people so it's not like it's one size fits all, but it is true that everybody needs to meet those four H's and embrace those as a way of doing business. I think that makes us very unique. I also think that a lot of companies talk about it, but it's so hard to actually do and keep alive ... especially as you grow. When you're on a really fast growth mode, I mean we're going to hire probably close to 200 people this year and for a company that's currently at 365 people, that is a lot of people to absorb into your organization and making sure that you're hiring for the right things, that you don't sacrifice because you need speed to hire, that you make certain that people come on board really do want to work that way and that it feels not only like okay, I can work that way. It's how they want to work. I think that's how we will keep our culture strong and alive as we continue to grow.
GPTW: Great. Wow. You guys are growing very fast. It sounds like a very ambitious plan for this year.
PM: A little bit.
GPTW: Yeah. Which is great to hear. Considering that, how ... are there any sorts of practices or things that you're really going to focus on this year to make sure that you maintain that culture through that period of growth?
PM: There's a number of things. I think the first area of real focus for us for 2017 is ... well, I would give us three major focus areas. Okay? One is really working on career development frameworks for folks because as you grow quickly you want to make certain that you're not just looking at your external talent that you are having to add, but you also want to make sure that you're looking at your internal talent, making certain that they are able to grow and develop as the company grows and develop so really creating good career paths for folks making certain that we are helping them learn how to realize their goals.
Everybody comes into the company with hopes, dreams and aspirations and helping them live into those expectations I think is really important as you grow. There's a lot of attention that's paid to the bright and shiny new people, but you want to make sure that you are paying attention to all of the talent that's internal to your organization that has gotten you where you are so far and is going to be part of that journey going forward because if you don't, you can lose those people as you are going forward. I think career development is huge for us.
Secondly is management development. Really looking at how do we help our managers be the type of people that folks want to work for and not that they're easy and super fun all the time or anything like that, but that they're people that challenge you, that demand your best, that make you want to come to work, that you know there's someone you can respect and you can learn from so helping our managers continue to grow. When you are growing fast you have some managers, it's their first time managing. You've got others that are much more senior, but all of us as managers need to keep in mind that this is our job and we're there to help our teams be successful and so making certain that we have programs that keep that top of mind, continue to develop our managers, make certain that they are not losing site of what's most important, especially when we're growing fast is number two.
Number three is really paying attention to our engagement results. We take that very seriously. We do engagement surveys twice a year. What is incredibly unique about SendGrid is that we follow up deeply on the engagement results. We ran our last engagement survey in November, reported out to the organization in December, month of January every team had a meeting on their results with action planning surrounding what are we going to do because it's not just senior management that's going to drive engagement. It's all of us and how we work together and how we interact with each other, how we do our work and there's a lot of things that are within our control so we want teams to create their own action plans, feel a sense of ownership and driving engagement and then we're here to help shepherd that through. The bigger initiatives that we need to ... that have been identified through our engagement results, we take on at a larger level with people operations.
GPTW: Great. Could you give me any specific examples of the sorts of action plans or practices that you're putting in place to improve engagement among employees?
PM: You know it's funny. The career development plan is one of them. Okay, that actually came from last year and it's continued to be an area that we as we grow need to evolve. We've put in place last year at the end of the year, career development framework. We rolled out career development plans for everyone. Those are great, but now we actually have to make them real so you can put a plan in place, you can have a career development framework, but then you have to actually say let's execute on this. Our biggest focus is on executing on those things and making certain that if we've set good goals for folks that we're making certain that they have time to work on them, we're giving them good experiential types of learning because I think it's all about getting your hands dirty, really learning as you go so giving people stretch assignments and making certain that we're giving opportunities for them to do that. That's a big one in terms of our engagement resolve.
There's little things that pop-up. For example, one thing that came out of our last survey, we had multiple comments where people said I don't understand our internal application process. We talk a lot about internal movement, etc. so we said great, let's just get clarity on that so we just outlined the entire process, we published that for the organization and said, here, now there's clarity, here's how that actually works. Picking things that are ... they're not hard, but they require you to just put a little bit of time and thought into formalizing a process without making it bureaucratic, but that people then, especially as we grow, know how to take advantage of those opportunities.
The other area that we're focusing on is learning and development. It's tied to the career development framework, but sort of separate. We didn't have a learning and development function before so we created that function on the people on this team. We will be building out training calendars so people can actually plan for and take classes and do things like that because we haven't had that in a formal way before so those are some of the big initiatives that we have for 2017.
GPTW: Great. You guys have a lot of great things going about your culture. I'm curious about how you think your culture compares to others in the tech industry?
PM: That's a great question. Favorably. I'm a little bias, but I have worked in tech for the last 15 years and I've worked for really good companies and I can say without a doubt this is the strongest culture I've been a part of. I think part of that is truly spending time on engagement results and taking action on those results because when you do that people know you care. They're like, oh, I raised an issue. It was resolved. Looks good. A lot of times we survey and we just don't take the time to really dig in and act so I think that is what differentiates us in a really big way in terms of keeping engagement top of mind.
I also think we're focused very strongly on diversity. We believe in a diversity of as a differentiator in our business, makes us stronger, makes us wiser, gives us different lenses to view the world through and diversity isn't just about gender or ethnicity, it's about diversity of different thought coming from businesses, different regions of the country, different regions of the world. I mean all of those things are going to make us a stronger company so we've got a big focus on diversity and making certain that we not only hire great diverse people, but we also create an environment that's very inclusive because you can say you love diversity, but if you come in and you don't feel accepted, you don't feel like they love my differences then you're not going to be happy there and you're not going to stay. Really creating that environment where people feel like differences are embraced. I think that's key for strong technical companies and I think our focus on that area is making us stronger everyday.
GPTW: That's great. That's a really challenging topic to deliver on I think so how are you guys doing that?
PM: We created an employee lead group called Prism that is really focused on D&I work. They partner with the different areas of the business. They bring suggestions forward to recruiting for example and say, hey, we have an idea. We've learned about this tool. What do we think about using it, etc.? We did a poll survey on diversity and inclusion to see how people really feel we're doing. Our results were very strong, but we also found in some areas we can do better. I think again, surveying and taking action is half the battle and reporting. You can take action and if you don't tell people here's what we're doing, then they can miss it as well so not only do we take some action, but we also report back. Prism is doing a really good job in that particular area of driving those initiatives. I love that it's employee lead. It's not like corporate is doing this. There are people that are passionate surrounding this topic that bring their hearts and their minds to the discussions and I think they're going to help us be better.
GPTW: All right. I feel like we covered a lot of ground. I guess I'm wondering how you think the culture has effected the business overall?
PM: Well, hugely. I think our four H's is not only applied internally, they're applied in terms of how we work with our customers so making certain that customers are working with people that are happy to serve them. Huge. Making certain that customers are working with someone that's going to be honest with them and straight forward and transparent. Here's what's great, here's what we're working on, here's where we messed up and here's how we're going to make it better. I think those are huge.
I think that humble H comes into play. We don't have all the answers. We are in partnership with our customers to find the solutions that they need. I mean ... and that hungry. We are constantly driven to be better. We want to win and quite frankly one of the most unique things about us is that combination of both the hungry and the humble. There's a lot of folks out there that are hungry, hungry, hungry, but they don't bring that humble H to the table and that combination of smart, driven people that are also incredibly humble that say, "You know, I don't have all the answers. I need to listen. I need to hear what other people have to say," and this is from both our customers, both internal and external, how we learn together. It's how we get better as a company so I think that really differentiates us and builds strong customer loyalty. It has people that say we want to work with these folks because they are good to work with and I just think it makes doing business with SendGrid easier than it would be if we did not, were not built on those cultural foundations.
GPTW: Definitely. What advice would you give other tech companies who want to build a stronger workplace culture and really follow in your footsteps?
PM: Remember we're not perfect. We have our own things that we are working on, but I think we're doing some things really well. My advice, I kind of would give three points for folks and people have asked me this question before and my answers haven't changed much over the past five years or so, but I think my first advice is to really look for talent everywhere. Don't think that the best talent is always come in this next package. Be aware that people from different industries ... sometimes we think oh they have to be from our industry or they have to have a specific pedigree or things like that. There are people that are just super smart that come from different backgrounds and experiences that will make your company stronger so look everywhere. Look under every rock, look under ... look broadly and be willing to think really strongly about bringing in diverse candidates as well. I think again, look for talent everywhere.
Also make certain that once you've hired great talent that you make yourself an easy place to work. If you've hired diversity candidates that you are a place that they feel totally included. That you remove barriers for your workforce. That you make it easy for them to do their work and do it well. One of our jobs is just to figure out what gets in your way and to solve those problems as quickly as we possibly can and creating an environment where it's transparent and people feel like it's okay to say there's a problem and to know that if they bring that problem up it's going to be dealt with. I think that's key.
Lastly, I would say just enable people. Tech is filled with smart, creative, innovative, interesting folks and many times we try to put people in their box, here's your job and I'm like set them free. Enable people to solve whatever problem they see that's coming down ... if they see something, you say, "If you see this you own it. If it's not within your wheelhouse to solve, bring it to someone that can solve it, but you're enabled. You need to use your voice. You need to use your talents. We expect you to scribble outside the lines," and I think that's how people keep growing and keep challenged and keep wanting to come back everyday because they know they have the opportunity to stretch and grow.
PM: Well, thank you so much. I do appreciate the opportunity to be able to talk about SendGrid. I've only been here a short while, but I can tell you I'm having a love affair.
GPTW: Exactly. That's our goal too so thank you so much for sharing. It was lovely to meet you Pattie.
Salesforce is honored and humbled to once again be named one of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® among so many other inspiring companies. We are incredibly proud to be on the list for the 9th year in a row. What makes this accomplishment especially remarkable is the fact that we've been able to stay on the list, and even rise up the list from #23 to #8 this year, while growing our employee population dramatically. In the past year alone, we acquired 14 companies and hired more than 7,000 people, bringing our team to more than 24,000 members.
Culture has been a growing topic over the last few years, with the headlines often coming only when companies get it wrong. As the Executive Vice President of Employee Success, I know that a great culture and a great workplace doesn't happen by accident. We work hard every day to strengthen and evolve our culture to ensure our company continues to be a place where employees are empowered to be their authentic selves and to do the best work of their careers. Creating a great culture is a never-ending journey, not a destination — but continuing to earn recognition like this shows we are on the right path!
Why is maintaining a great culture so important to us? Our amazing team is our greatest competitive advantage. They drive the creation of our innovative products and are trusted advisers helping our customers succeed. Our people are the force behind Salesforce, and the reason we have been able to make such a wonderful impact on our industry and in our communities. And research by Great Place to Work and many other human capital research groups, shows there is also a real, measurable ROI in terms of better financial performance that makes a strong case for the business imperative behind building a great culture.
So, how have we been able to keep the Salesforce culture strong and keep our company a great place to work as we grow? Here are five lessons we've learned along the way.
- Be Intentional.
Our Ohana culture is so deeply embedded, strong and resilient because when our founders started Salesforce, they were as intentional about the company culture they wanted to create as they were about the products they wanted to build and how they would go to market. They wanted to create a different kind of company. One centered around the Hawaiian concept of Ohana, which means family. And our Ohana includes not just our employees, but our customers, partners and communities. Today, Ohana is at the center of everything we do at Salesforce. Our leaders champion it, our managers are measured on how well they drive it, our employees understand and embrace their role in protecting it. We create programs to bring each of our Ohana values to life inside and outside the company, and we measure how we are doing when it comes to living our values by digging into the results of our employee surveys twice a year.
- Be Transparent.
Transparency is the foundation of trust, and trust is the foundation of a great workplace culture according to the Great Place to Work Institute. Employees need to know where we are going, how we plan to get there, and what their share of the task is to feel that their work is meaningful. They also want to know how they are doing and to get feedback to help them improve their performance not once a year at an annual review but in real time. Our V2MOM process and our real-time Feedback App help us deliver on these core employee needs in a highly transparent way. Meaningful work, wellbeing programs, drive employee engagement, and countless studies show that deeper levels of employee engagement result in high levels of customer satisfaction, loyalty, financial performance and growth. That's certainly been the case for us.
- Give Employees a Purpose Beyond Profit.
Giving back has also been embedded in our culture from Day 1. Through our 1-1-1 philanthropic model, we've given $160 million in grants, Salesforce employees have volunteered for 2 million hours in their communities and we've provided Salesforce technology for free or at a discount to 31,000 nonprofits. All Salesforce employees are encouraged to give back to the nonprofits and NGOs that matter to them, either through Volunteer Time Off (56 hours a year) or a generous matching policy (up to $5,000).
- Champion Equality for All.
As I mentioned above, culture is an ongoing journey, and companies should take their cues from their employees on where and when they need to evolve. Our focus on equality is a great example. Our employees have encouraged us to amp up our efforts in this area, and we listened. Today, we are working together with our whole Ohana – our employees, customers, partners, community organizations and the tech industry – to build a path forward to Equality for all. We are taking action across four key pillars: Equal Rights, Equal Pay, Equal Education and Equal Opportunity. We were proud to be recognized as one of the 50 Best Workplaces for Diversity for the second year in a row, but also realize we have a long way to go to realize our vision of equality for all.
- Focus on Wellbeing.
As a customer-oriented company, we know that we can only take care of our customers if we first take care of ourselves. Wellbeing is one of Salesforce’s fundamental values, so we devote a lot of time and resources to making sure that our Ohana is happy and healthy. Most recently, we've substantially increased our paternity leave and added mindfulness zones — where employees can check their devices and check in with themselves to find a moment of Zen in their busy days — to our workplaces. Wellbeing in the workplace is possible even when you're company is growing as fast as ours is, but it takes effort and alignment amongst all stakeholders: the company needs to provide the programs, management has to buy in so their employees feel they have permission to take advantage of the programs, and everyone needs to take personal responsibility for their own wellbeing.
Maintaining a great culture is challenging, and we know we don't always get it right, especially in times of growth and change. But, our employees trust us, and they let us know how we are doing and what they love about our culture all the time. Check it out in their own words by searching #SalesforceOhana on Twitter and Instagram.
Standard strategies for innovation don’t go deep enough to foster breakthroughs and prevent fiascos
“Apple Music is a nightmare and I'm done with it," wrote one self-described Apple lover when the company released its music application in 2015. “Wish I wasn’t forced into updating, I preferred the old app,” wrote a user about Wells Fargo’s iOs app. Both tools have improved, but after some clear rockiness.
You can bet that inside these companies there were people who knew about and predicted the missteps, perhaps talking in hushed tones around the water cooler. Why don’t these savvy employees prevent innovation problems?
In a word, trust. At Great Place to Work we focus on helping companies build high-trust cultures. Trust is an essential ingredient to innovation, and so companies with an interest in innovation – which is just about all companies – ought to look at trust as a precondition to innovation or a powerful remedy when expectations of innovation are not met.
Trust does work. In the mid-1980s at manufacturer W.L. Gore & Associates a project team working on new polymer coatings had grown to 60 people. With no guarantee of job security the team members recommended that the effort be shut down; it simply was not promising enough. The team put the company first. They trusted the company had their backs. And it did. The CEO himself, Bob Gore, sent all the team members a letter thanking them for trying and committing to get them all jobs elsewhere in the company … and he did.
There are two major innovation failures: backward innovation, when the new product is actually a regression; and late innovation, when a new product is tardy to market or never arrives at all. Both types of flops have roots in low trust. Backward innovation stems from the reluctance to challenge ideas that some know are just flat-out bad. Late or absent innovation stems from an excessive fear of failure or excessive concern for personal credit.
These anti-innovative behaviors are rooted in low trust, for which the standard approaches to innovation are no help. These approaches operate above the water-line in the realm of programs, tactics, incentives, training, and the like. They include a familiar cast of characters: executive declarations, innovation targets, innovation departments, employee training in creativity or design thinking, financial incentives, crowdsourcing and competitions.
These are all reasonable and widely used approaches that might work but will be ineffective without sufficient trust. Low trust is a trump card that will stifle all the good intentions and strategies for innovation.
There are six types of trust important to innovation:
- Trust in Self – leaders can encourage individuals across to company to listen to their own gut feelings and intuition. Individual confidence is the root of innovation.
- Trust in Others - interpersonal trust allows people to share ideas and get candid feedback early.
- Trust in the Organization – leaders must demonstrate that the organization will support innovators, and not just with resources. Success is easy, but how the organization deals with cases of good risks with bad outcomes is much more telling.
- Trust in the Process – Any creative effort has high and lows, and in those low moments believing the process will get you through is critical.
- Trust in the Customer – leaders must view their customers as innovative and bold, believing they will embrace great new products and services.
- Trust in a Higher Purpose – great innovation is often rooted in something grand (impact on society) or some aesthetic ideal (beauty, elegance) – something more than financial gain.
In short, put your trust in trust. It will help you foster more breakthroughs at your organization. And, as importantly, it will help you avoid innovation fails.
Jonathan Becker and Ed Frauenheim are partner and director of research and content, respectively, at Great Place to Work.
As kids, we wanted everything to be fair. Our view was narrow: Fair for me, fair for my friends. Our world was limited to the school playground. We learned “good sportsmanship”, with values like:
- Follow the rules
- Don’t be mean
- Give everyone a fair chance to play
- Help others improve to make the team stronger
- Respect your team members, your coaches and the other team
- And never, ever be a “cheaterpants”
Amazingly, it turns out that in business, those childhood values can increase revenue. In fact, our research has shown that these values matter so much that a company can increase revenue by raising their internal level of fairness in the workplace.
How much does revenue increase? We found that for every “Fairness for All” point gained on Great Place to Work’s Trust Index© Survey (see stats section below), the company revenue goes up .13% - .57%*. According to Ed Frauenheim, Director of Research and Content at Great Place to Work, “In studying the 2017 100 Best and the non-winning contender companies, we found that the more consistent and inclusive organizations are on key factors related to trust in the workplace, the more likely the organization is to outperform peers in revenue growth. In particular, companies in the top quartile on these metrics enjoy three times the revenue growth of companies in the bottom quartile.”
It makes sense. Using the sports team analogy, athletes can’t play well if they are looking over their shoulders to see if teammates are going to cheat or undermine their performance. However, on successful teams, there is an inherent sense of trust at play: I know you have my back; and you know I have yours. Everyone is supported as they strive to succeed – resulting in a stronger team, and stronger performance overall.
In the workplace, when employees, managers and executives all trust the entire company is fair, it takes the brakes off their performance. Employees in a “GPTW4ALL” company can put their energy into growing their company, rather than protecting themselves.
So how do you know how fair your company is?
Companies are trackable social organisms, just like sports teams. The best teams keep a close eye on their stats. At Great Place to Work, we help companies track department and company-wide statistics on areas like fairness and trust in the workplace using our Trust Index© Survey. Collecting these stats lets a company know what issues need to be addressed and what strategies are working well.
Just like any sport, tracking these important metrics year after year helps us know which companies are the fairest of them all, and how they perform in the market. The Fairness for All stats are clear. Fairness for All works.
And the benefits of playing fair go beyond the workplace. Remember the stress of playing against sports teams that were unfair, sneaky or just plain “cheaterpants”? When a terrific game turned into an ordeal? It even affects the game watchers. When a team or an umpire is not doing the right thing, we know. It changes our relationship to watching that game. Similarly, when B2C workplace cultures reflect fairness and trust, the customers gain.
Too often the news highlights businesses that take shortcuts and even act unethically to profit at the expense of others. While it might be a gripping news story, it’s not good business. These businesses may generate short-term gains, just like the playground bullies we saw in those early kickball games. But our research shows they lose out in the long-term.
Let’s bring back good sportsmanship and fairness in the business world using those childhood playground ethics. Our rewards are that we get to enjoy where we work, and we make more money doing it.
Fairness for All counts. And better yet, unlike in sports — we can all win.
Stats and Methodology
Without adjusting for size, each 1 point increase in gptw4all score is associated with a .35% increase in revenue growth. After taking size into account, each 1 point increase in gptw4all is associated with a .32% increase in revenue growth. The MOE (95% confidence level) for both is .22, so we are 95% confident that each point increase in gptw4all is associated with a .13% - .57% increase in revenue growth, or .1% - .54% revenue growth after accounting for size.
In 1998, when we worked with Fortune to publish the first list of the country’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, the story ran alongside ads touting the business benefits of Palm Pilots and the Internet. A lot can change in 20 years—including the fact that over this same period, employees’ experience of the workplace has risen to the forefront of business leaders’ priorities as they strive to attract and retain top talent, foster innovation, deliver outstanding customer service, and much more.
This relatively newfound executive focus on workplace culture is not surprising. After 20 years of studying the experiences of more than 10 million employees annually in over 50 countries, Great Place to Work has found a trust-based culture to be a strong driver of business success. As an example, a look at the average performance of publicly-traded companies on the 100 Best list shows that they provided nearly three times the return when compared to standard stock indices.
Just as the 100 Best Companies to Work For of the past two decades foretold that culture would become a top strategic priority, this year’s 100 Best offer a glimpse into what employees can expect from their organizations in the years ahead. As the 100 Best Companies continue to raise the bar for the rest of Corporate America, we predict companies that aren’t prepared to meet these expectations will fall behind.
“Offering an outstanding workplace experience to every employee matters now more than ever,” said Great Place to Work Chief Innovation Officer Tony Bond. “The ongoing shift to the knowledge economy— and now to the human economy—along with the rise of Millennials as the largest cohort of American workers, means that offering a personally fulling workplace where all employees can achieve their full potential is no longer optional.”
Where We’re Headed
Based on our research of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, as well as current and projected trends, the “3 Predictions for the Workplace Culture" report presents how the best workplaces are setting the stage for the workplace culture of the future, which will include these key trends:
1. A Fairer Workplace For All Employees
Our research shows that employees’ sense of fairness at work has increased more dramatically over the past 20 years than any other area—and, this fairness fuels growth. Our latest findings reveal that high-trust organizations that create a consistently great workplace experience for all employees, and that are diverse demographically, have revenue growth about 3x that of organizations that provide a less consistent experience and are less inclusive.
2. Increased Focus on Developing All Employees
When it comes to workplace culture, one of the top priorities reported by great workplaces each year is investing in the professional development of employees in all parts of the business. Our research shows that employees who are offered professional development or training are twice as likely to say they want to stay with their companies “for a long time” than those who are not.
3. A Deeper Sense of Purpose For All Employees
While fostering a sense of purpose at work has always been critical to a healthy workplace culture, a strong sense of meaning at work is becoming an increasingly significant priority for organizations—and has bottom line benefits.
As the place where people spend so much of their waking lives, workplaces that provide a positive experience for all employees are improving society overall. In short, Great Places to Work For All are paving the way to a more prosperous future—a future that every one of us can be a part of.
Download the “3 Predictions for the Workplace Culture" report and read what the country’s best employers are doing to keep their workplace cultures competitive.
Today is a great time to pause and ask, what are you doing to show employees gratitude for their work? Do you have a recognition tool in place? Do you incorporate time for quick “kudos” into your regular team meetings? True appreciation needs to take place daily, as an integrated part of your culture.
Whether the gesture is big or small, continually recognizing the contributions of your staff is a crucial part of building a strong team and a high-trust workplace. Here are just a few ways that we’ve seen Great Place to Work-Certified incorporate employee appreciation into their workplace culture.
1. Peer Gifting. At ZestFinance, a technology company focused on consumer lending, employees can spend up to $150 on a gift for any employee, at any time, to thank them for going above and beyond.
2. Institute a “Birthday-off” policy. Dixon Schwabl, a full-service marketing communications firm, has a “birthday off” policy, allowing employees to enjoy their birthday with an automatic paid day off. Employees are encouraged to take off from work on the actual day of their birthday, even if their workload might not warrant it.
3. Create a “Wow-ee” fund. Venterra Realty Management Company sets aside an annual budget of $50,000 for their managers to create special moments for their employees through their “WOW-ee” program. These moments might include sporting event tickets or a housewarming gift for an employee’s new home. The company encourages managers to use the funds however they think will best support employees.
4. Use a cool recognition tool. At Square Root, a company providing software for store managers, employees use Bonusly to give peer-to-peer micro bonuses. Each team member (known as “radicals”) gets $100 per month to divvy up to co-workers that best embody the company’s values. They also offer some unconventional prizes, like dinner with the CEO or the option to have your “personal theme song” played each time you enter a room for the day.
5. Hand out custom trophies. O.C. Tanner, a company specializing in employee recognition and engagement, is an obvious star at showing their appreciation for staff. The company regularly hands out personalized trophies, badges, and other awards when employees go above and beyond.
6. Sponsor regular social events. Grovo, a New York technology company focused on education and learning, loves team outings so much that they give managers $75 per month per employee for social outings. They have a dedicated team to help managers organize these events which range from things like special dinners to shuffleboard and karaoke outings.
If these programs don’t seem like the right fit for your workplace, consider a unique or low-budget spin. Why not start a “kudos” channel on Slack or your company Intranet? Or crown an employee “queen” or “king” for the day in recognition of a job well done? The possibilities are endless.
Taking the time to celebrate your workplace wins with employees is important. Whether you’re commemorating getting Great Place to Work-Certified or announcing your new status as a Best Workplace, it’s a crucial opportunity to pause and take pride in what your team has built.
Over the years, we’ve compiled quite a list of the different ways companies on our Best Workplace lists have shared the good news with their team. For many, it’s a big event that inspires some creative activities and fun rewards for staff.
Whether you’ve just been awarded Great Place to Work Certification or are awaiting the announcement of our Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work for list, we hope these ideas inspire you.
- Email from the CEO. Send a note from the CEO that announces the exciting news and explains what it means! Don’t forget to thank employees for making the company a great place to work.
- Do a champagne toast with leadership. Nothing says celebration quite like a champagne toast, especially one led by the company leadership.
- Order a GPTW cake. Or cupcakes, or cookies! We’ve seen it all. Decorate them with your Great Place to Work certification badge or Best Workplace list logo.
- Host a happy hour or free lunch for employees. Now is the time to get social – gather everyone together and offer drinks or a meal on the house.
- Hang banners in your headquarters and local offices. Keep the news top of everyone’s mind with banners hung up at the office. Some companies even include a few photos featuring employees.
- Swag giveaways. Hand out some creative swag so employees can boast about their workplace to friends and family. Cadence hands out foam fingers!
- Start a fun #GPTW campaign. It’s the perfect time to spotlight employees and let those personal stories shine. Start a campaign where you ask employees to submit photos or record messages on what makes the company a great place to work. You could even put up a banner where employees can add their big reason.
- Hold a video contest. Take your #GPTW campaign to the next level with a video contest! Ask employees to record a short video illustrating what makes their company a GPTW, and offer a prize to the winning submission.
- Hand out special “Fortune” cookies. Commemorate earning your spot on a Best Workplace list with personalized Fortune cookies. This is a cute idea that many of our companies do – one company sent out 14,000 cookies!
- Create custom lapel pins. Handing out pins is a common practice for companies where employees may already wear badges and are regularly interacting in-person with clients.
- Come up with some share-worthy social media content. Employees will want to share the news with friends and family! Make it easy for them by pulling together come celebratory photos and posts that they can share on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
- Post a few billboards. This is a billboard-worthy announcement – why not show it off to potential customers with a billboard near your headquarters?
- Executives greet the employees as they walk in. Ensure employees make a grand entrance into work on the day of the announcement. Gather top leaders together early in the morning and have them greet and thank employees at the door. You could even rent a red carpet for the occasion.
- Give an additional day of PTO. A great way to say thanks can be offering employees some extra time to pause, relax, and take in what they’ve accomplished. You can also add a twist like Perkins Coie; to celebrate 14 years on the Fortune 100 Best Companies list, Perkins Coie employees could roll three dice, and if they got a 14, they received an extra day of PTO.
- Offer an extra day off to volunteer. The perfect way to celebrate getting on our Best Workplaces for Giving Back list, and help employees feel pride in their workplace.
- Close early on the day of the announcement. Encourage employees to celebrate with family and colleagues.
- Host a special leadership celebration. Beyond champagne toasts or a happy hour, why not make the day more ceremonial? Texas Health Resources held a pinning ceremony in which the Leadership Team presented a commemorative pin to each leader, and then took selfies with an employee-created “100” poster.
- Go casual for a week. Give employees a break from formal attire with a week-long casual Friday.
- Donate to a charity. Take a note from Build-a-Bear, who celebrated 7 years on the Fortune 100 Best list by awarding each district $777.77 to donate to a charity of their choice.
- Order a branded piñata. Follow in TekSystems' footsteps and fill a piñata full of branded goodies and candy!
- Hold up signs as employees arrive. On the morning of the big day, hand security officers or staff at the front big signs to hold up and announce the news as staff arrives.
These 21 ways to celebrate are just a few of the many creative festivities our certified companies and Best Workplace list winners put on each year. Many are also a great way to strike up a conversation with customers about the good news.
How will you celebrate your win with the team?
No one becomes a lawyer, public accountant or business consultant without a healthy love for learning. People in professional services aren’t just expected to stay ahead of trends in their industries; their level of knowledge is a kind of personal currency that adds value to their businesses and careers.
So, it’s no surprise that our Best Workplaces in Professional Services & Consulting, recently published in Fortune, make the most of employees’ interests and aspirations within their jobs.
How are they doing it? Here are some of the key findings our Great Place to Work team uncovered.
- Investing in education
Leading firms are putting a new twist on tuition reimbursement – helping to pay for degrees earned before team members even joined the workforce. Student loan repayment assistance is offered by both PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. The latter even offers a program to refinance educational debt at a lower interest rate.
Practices like these are an effective way for organizations to say “we value what you know.” Plus, it pays off. Professional services employees who told Great Place to Work they’re happy with their organizations’ education and development programs were 3 times more likely to say they plan to stay with their companies for the long term. They were also twice as likely to say they’re willing to give extra at work. Given the significant upfront spending at these firms on signing bonuses, relocation reimbursements, and onboarding resources, any investment that meaningfully impacts retention is just plain “smart money”.
- Informal learning, serious benefits
Some of the best lessons for career growth take place outside the classroom. At Indeed, employees lead quarterly networking forums to discuss topics like inspirational leadership, unconscious bias and building a personal brand. The co-workers behind this popular job website can also sign-up for facilitator-led programs on time management, giving better presentations and other soft skills. Or, if pressed for time, they can simply login to an e-learning platform and absorb 2-minute video lessons on more than 100 topics.
According to one team member, Indeed offers “so much room for growth. So many opportunities, and they encourage movement across different departments and offices. They care about us as employees, and they want us to excel in the job that best fits our skill set.”
- Pay it forward
Like many of its peers in law, Alston & Bird takes on pro bono cases. But this firm takes the practice one step further by connecting its lawyers with projects that align with their specific professional goals and interests. That could mean extra time in the courtroom for first-year associates or the chance to build leadership skills and professional connections during charity initiatives. Says one Alston & Bird employee, “Pro bono work is chosen related to your passion. We bring our interest in helping to serve the community to the office and form teams to work together on things that matter most to us.”
Community service fuels employee pride, offers relevant exposure, and skill building at exceptional employers. At the Best Workplaces in Professional Services, a staggering 94 percent of employees say they’re proud to tell others about their companies.
Encouraging an engaged, enriching work environment also influences how employees feel about their workplace overall. The bottom line? The most successful professional services organizations are speeding ahead and increasing the return on their talent attraction and management investments by supporting their people to continually learn and advance their careers.
The new year is like pressing a reset button. The opportunity to reflect on the year before and single out opportunities to improve and refocus surface. Many of us create resolutions each year that become a forgotten thought within weeks (sometimes days) of being created. The year is still young, and it is not too late to dare yourself to learn and do new things to support the success of your employees. Ultimately the more successful your employees are, the more prosperous your company is likely to be. Need help getting started? Use these tips to help you come up with ideas for your list.
Communication in the workplace should be a two-way street for both management and employees. Keep your staff “in the know” about achievements as well as any forks in the road. Listen closely to any complaints or constructive criticism in order to adopt solutions that will help the business run smoothly. Effective communication in the workplace builds trust and confidence in employees giving them the opportunity to put in their best efforts, producing premium quality work.
Help employees learn about new opportunities at your company
Many managers will often hold onto great talent for their own personal reasons, leaving employees with no options of advancing within a company. As a result, employees may go to a competitor or other company to continue building their skill set and work portfolio. Encourage senior management to help current employees explore new opportunities within your organization by facilitating internal transfers. Enabling employees to learn and grow from within gives them an opportunity to gain vast knowledge, experience and leadership skills.
Praise a lot
Never miss an opportunity to praise an employee for doing well on a project or task. Praise motivates people to continue doing well. Do it as often as you can.
Give employees the opportunity to take risks that will not jeopardize the overall success of the company. Create an environment where ideas can be tested with the chance to learn from failure and success alike.
Reward dedicated employees
Develop an employee recognition program to publicly award employees for their efforts. Consider giving away cash gifts, gift cards, trophies, tablets or trips as prizes. Employees will appreciate having the opportunity to shine amongst their colleagues for their contributions.
Get rid of negativity
Nip negativity in the bud. Quickly diffuse all negative energy and tension. Do not allow employees to disrespect or talk nasty to each other. Possession of a negative disposition can kill office morale.
Reimburse for professional development
Encourage employees to participate in ongoing learning and career development that can help them to perform better at work. Strongly consider reimbursement for attending a conference, seminars, workshops or higher education.
Develop an ongoing mentoring program
Mentor programs provide a great opportunity to onboard new employees while partnering them with a senior manager to learn from. This is an excellent way to promote ongoing learning inexpensively. As employees become more experienced they will often pay it forward and become mentors themselves continuing the cycle.
Schedule mandatory brainstorming sessions
Schedule mandatory informal brainstorming meetings at least once a month. These sessions allow employees to give their feedback, ideas, learn from other’s point of view and develop as a team.
Dare yourself to continue to find life-long learning opportunities for you and your employees. The professional growth and development will be rewarding.
Recently I had the privilege of working with Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), and one particular meeting with them altered my approach to working with clients.
For those unaware of USHG, it was started by Danny Meyer, a restaurateur, who owns and operates a number of well-known and highly rated restaurants predominantly located in Manhattan. The company is best known for their “Hospitality Included” policy that eliminates tipping in their restaurants. This effort feeds into USHG’s “Enlightened Hospitality” philosophy, which puts their employees first as the key to running a meaningful and sustainable business, and resides at the heart of everything they do.
As any great company does, USHG puts measurements in place in order to monitor their culture and ensure it is aligned to and drives their business strategy. To that end, I assisted Danny in assessing his culture and making recommendations for additional opportunities. While I reviewed the results and helped his leadership team action plan, an interesting event transpired. Even though it was surprising during the moment, looking back I should not have been so amazed. The event demonstrated the consistent “Enlightened Hospitality” philosophy Danny drives within his business.
When we met, I was purposely being provocative with my feedback in order to stress key points and prompt new ways of thinking. After I made a particular comment, a member of the leadership team listed his top elements of what is required to sustain a thriving business. He listed typical elements as well as atypical ones such as focusing on employees. I asked if I could challenge and he agreed.
So I said he was missing one key critical one – love. That is, employees desire to feel loved, and thus cared for, by their employer. The sensation of love helps to create trust, and helps drive preferred employee behavior and engagement.
For those readers who want to see the research behind the importance of love in the workplace, recent Great Place to Work research reveals that high scores on Trust Index Survey assessment statements such as “People care about each other here” coincide with the highest profit centers, while statements such as “Management shows a sincere interest in me as a person, not just an employee” are key differentiators between companies in the top 10 versus the other 90 on our annual Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list.
In addition, a number of journal articles and blogs have been written on the subject. Can You Really Power an Organization with Love? by Duncan Coombe points to the importance of love as an operating system within the organization they term “LoveOS.” Employees Who Feel Love Perform Better by Sigal Barsade and Olivia A. O’Neill explains how the more love co-workers feel at work, the more engaged they are. Some of these external writings do not emphasize, however, where love must begin – which is at the very top of the organization.
At this moment, in their corporate board room, Danny sprung up from his seat, threw his arms open, began walking towards me. He told me to, “Come here and bring it in.” Danny gave me what I would describe as a rather long-lasting bear hug, similar to one you might get if you haven’t seen a dear relative in many years. After this embrace, the team discussed the importance of emotional connection with employees and specific activities and behaviors that could further drive this feeling more intentionally.
The event reminded me of when I observed Margaret Keane, CEO of Synchrony Financial. Margaret conducts listening tours, as many great leaders do, so she can get a better understanding of employee suggestions. While many leaders employ a similar practice, the difference between Margaret and an average leader is how she does it. The Trust Index Survey statement “Management genuinely seeks and responds to suggestions and ideas” is a best practice which exemplifies the “what”. The key differentiator is the “how.” Margaret deeply listens, sits with an open posture, takes notes, shows concern, maintains eye contact, does not make promises she can’t keep, and then works with her organization to ensure implementation and follow through.
Contrasting this experience is unfortunately all too simple. Many of us can easily recall organizations we have worked for where there’s not a sense of meaningful concern for employees. I once worked with a large pharmaceutical company where assessment and analysis revealed a corporate culture of unkept promises, and rewards that intentionally promoted that behavior. Needless to say, mistrust was rampant and communication and engagement were low.
Showing love in the workplace is not difficult, but it takes commitment. I am looking forward to working with USHG in actively promoting and demonstrating consistent care for people throughout the organization. I’m also enthusiastically promoting this reframing of thinking with CEOs of companies large and small across the globe in order to create lasting profitability and great places to work for all.
Remember, as with any interpersonal relationship, saying “I love you” needs to be followed by actions to match the words.
Do your employees love your workplace? Find out now.