I had the good fortune to attend the Great Place To Work (GPTW) Small and Medium Business Conference in Washington, D.C.. To see this year’s top fifty companies to work for, go to the Fortune Website by clicking here. The purpose of this post is to share some valuable takeaways. I could not attend every breakout session, but I can share lessons learned from the sessions I did attend.
Lori Perlstadt, U.S Managing Director, GPTW
Ms. Perlstadt helped us know that GPTW’s research shows that creating a great place to work is all about relationships, and she identified five key cultural elements:
- Pride in one’s work and the organization’s work
- Employees enjoy the people they work with
- Great communication
Organizations that continuously improve in these five elements will become better places to work.
Maria Proestou, President & CEO, DELTA Resources, Inc.
Ms. Proestou focused on workplace flexibility — enabling employees to work flexible schedules. In her organization a strong results orientation provides the foundation for flexible schedules. If an employee delivers the results for which he or she is accountable, then that employee is given a great deal of latitude about where and when he or she works. DELTA establishes detailed metrics to measure every important aspect of the deliverables so there is transparency about the employee’s success in fulfilling his or her responsibilities. Each employee is considered a special case, and the company goes to great lengths to create a flexible work plan that suites that employee’s unique situation.
This strategy increases customer satisfaction, increases employee satisfaction and loyalty, and reduces costs.
Marisa Stoltzfus, Senior Consultant at GPTW
Ms. Stoltzfus began her presentation by identifying some cultural commonalities among the top fifty companies:
- Building a trusting work environment
- Accessible leaders
- Exemplary hiring practices
- Fostering a fun work environment
- Frequent celebrations of successes
- Sincerely caring about employees as people
Any company that achieves excellence in these areas will be a great place to work. If you create intentional strategies to improve in even one or two of these areas, you’ll be a better organization.
Joe Chinn, Assistant City Manager, City of Rancho Cordova
Stacey Peterson, Chief People Officer, City of Rancho Cordova
The City of Rancho Cordova was the only government organization included in the top fifty best places to work. Mr. Chinn, and Ms. Peterson live the following principle: purpose moves people. They organize their employees and their work efforts around their mission. In addition, they emphasize empowerment. City employees are (astonishingly!) empowered to solve problems and respond to citizen needs immediately, which often eliminates red tape and significantly improves customer satisfaction. Their culture encourages creativity and innovation, and leaders make it safe for employees to try new approaches, understanding that not all of them will work. Furthermore, they encourage fun in the workplace through a variety of tactics.
Organizing around mission, empowering employees, making it safe to try creative, new approaches, and fostering fun will make any organization a better place to work.
Carrie Dieterle — Chief People Officer, Insomniac Games
Ms. Dieterle shared many great ideas about thriving in an environment of constant change. Here are just a few that resonated with me. She emphasized trust and transparency, two recurring themes in this conference. To improve in both areas, the CEO asks each employee about their ideas to improve the company. And he issues a communication called, “Daily Decisions” (Carrie, please forgive me if I didn’t get the name precisely right) to create a high level of transparency. Just one more idea I find powerful. Insomniac Games is very intentional about understanding each person’s passions and giving assignments and responsibilities that allow each person to tap into their passions.
Improving our efforts to solicit ideas from employees, to be more transparent about decisions, and getting better at enabling each employee to express his or her passions through their work will make any organization a better place to work.
Eric Mosely, CEO, Globoforce
Mr. Mosely emphasized the power of innovation, recognition, culture, relationships and trust. Again, we can see some recurring themes here. To foster innovation, his company conducts innovation days, which include a wonderful aspect of transparency. At one point in their process, certain employee ideas become finalists and senior leadership debates the merits of these ideas, with an open phone line so that all employees can listen to these conversations. That, ladies and gentlemen, is transparency. Globoforce is also world class at crowdsourcing recognition in their world-wide organization (that’s what they do for a living). Recognition awards account for a full five percent of their annual payroll.
Are we giving enough recognition? Is it the right kind of recognition? Is it timely? Improving recognition programs increases both performance and engagement. What not to like?
The ideas highlighted in the post represent only a fraction of the great ideas presented at the conference. You can find even more by clicking on the Fortune Website.
Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear what you do to make your organization a great place to work.