5 Innovative Employee Practices from Chicago’s Best Workplaces

5 Innovative Employee Practices from Chicago’s Best Workplaces

Based on 2017 Best Workplaces in Chicago List, published in Fortune

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.

Kim Peters