Employee Recognition, Management Tips.

If a significant portion of a workforce views their organization as a “Best Place to Work,” one would expect a high level of alignment among the workers. In fact, my investigation bears that out.

Every April, the SF Business Times announces the Bay Area Best Places to work winners. 125 companies are chosen based on their employees’ evaluations of how satisfied they are in their workplace. The question always crosses my mind: “I wonder if these companies are using similar approaches to engage their employees?”

In July 2011, I set out to answer this question by telephoning and meeting with a sample of Bay Area human resource executives and winners in these top companies. They answered my question: Yes, they do share common strategies. The surprise was that most methods are cost effective and require little time to implement.

Best Places to Work Award winners that I interviewed shared the following key commonalities:

  • Transparent leadership involvement
  • Interactive and consistent communication channels
  • Engaged employees who are asked what is important to them
  • Human Resource Departments that were passionate business partners
  • Community and family focus with an emphasis on enjoying work
  • Competitive benefits and flexibility

The following eight suggestions represent strategies that these companies implemented to keep their employees satisfied, engaged and aligned:

  1. Facilitate special interest groups (exercise, games, cooking) to enhance community and cross-functional interaction. Increase number and variety of employee engagement activities.
  2. Offer brainstorm sessions and surveys for ways to engage employees and also involve them in solving company issues.
  3. Offer educational, career and special interest opportunities (mentoring, training, partial tuition reimbursement, professional association dues).
  4. Add flex time, holiday time off, or other ways to recognize balance of work-family life.
  5. Introduce relationships and work with non-profits (Habitat for Humanity, Breast Cancer Walk, holiday gift giving, soup kitchens).
  6. Schedule regular town hall meetings or other ways for leaders and employees to connect with each other.
  7. Remove ratings from performance reviews.
  8. Encourage employees to give honest feedback on initiatives and respond to communication received.

None of these ideas are revolutionary, yet taken together, they convey to the employee: You matter. Once an employer gets that across and keeps reinforcing it, loyalty and alignment ensue. I began with the idealistic notion that I would discover the one perfect strategy and finished being reminded of the wisdom of the author Robert Collier: “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”

To read more about my research, click here.

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