When Leaders “Pay it Forward”

When Leaders “Pay it Forward”

Building a Great Workplace through Generosity

An important lesson we can learn from great workplaces is that employee loyalty, commitment, and productivity are all real byproducts of generosity. Whether that generosity takes the form of transparent communication, increased autonomy, an intense focus on development, or simply the gift of a leader’s attention, all are guaranteed to be wise investments in a successful employer/employee relationship. And, as evidenced year after year by the 100 Best Companies to Work For, the generous spirit that we see at great workplaces only serves to enhance the bottom line.

However, leaders often have a hard time letting go of the idea that if they are overly giving, then they will foster a culture of entitlement. This fear can stop employers from being generous with the people that matter most—their own employees.

At last year’s Great Place To Work® Conference, we learned many great practices from our Best Companies presenters that demonstrate generosity in practice. Some are simple to implement—others more difficult—but ALL serve to foster trust, build a great workplace, and maybe even to inspire others to try something similar.

Examples of ways great workplaces “pay it forward”:

  1. Zappos: “Wishez”
    What do your employees wish for? If you don’t ask the question, you may never know. In the Zappos “Wishez” program, employees can write what they wish for and post it publicly. This empowers other employees to grant the wishes of their colleagues. Some are simple, like “I wish for a Frappuccino.” Others are more complex, such as “I wish my dad had the hearing aid he needs to continue working,” or “I wish I could afford the attorney fees needed for my daughter and me to become American citizens.” These wishes, too—with the help of Zappos—have been granted.

  2. Cirrus Logic: Valentine’s Day Bailout
    For employees at Cirrus Logic, Valentine’s Day is stress-free, as the company brings in cards, flowers, and boxes of candy so employees can come home a hero. And if employees still need to impress their honey, they can sign up for the quarterly “Date Night,” where the company arranges cooking classes, painting classes, and other fun evening activities for employees and a guest.

  3. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants: Know Thyself
    In addition to the many personal, professional and leadership development programs at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, approximately 100 top leaders per year participate in the Self Insights Executive Leadership Program. This program helps leaders better understand their own personality and to get the most in life out of being their own unique self.