I just attended the ‘Best Places to Work” lunch sponsored by Crains. Fifty businesses were selected out of the hundreds of thousands of businesses in New York City. These companies were voted in by their own employees who filled out assessments about why they love working there.
Nationally only about 41% of employees are engaged; but in these companies the percentage is more like 98%. We know the value chain: employee engagement drives customer loyalty which drives cash flow and profitability. These companies embody that.
During the panel discussion four executives answered questions about how they create a great environment for their staff. Here are some suggestions that you can use:
- Hire for a career, not just a job, and continually invest in the person’s development
- Train employees to be better listeners and presenters, even give them training in stand-up comedy
- Always express appreciation. You can never thank people too much. Send out an email to the entire company recognizing someone for his/her contribution
- Give people stretch assignments, something beyond their day-to-day duties, perhaps a special project or in a different area, so they can prove themselves, grow and show what they are capable of
- Practice inclusion, make perks available to everyone at all levels, have company wide events and happy hours regularly
- Have a dream day. Shut down the company one day a year and ask everyone how things can be improved. In the morning discuss internal improvements, in the afternoon – external. Then rank the ideas and select a couple to be implemented and funded.
- Be flexible. Allow people to work remotely – there’s no need to lose a good employee just because a family situation makes the individual relocate. Allow employees time off during the day to go to children’s events. A non-standard workday requires trust. The companies found it works well.
- Put all your effort behind recruiting and hiring the right talent with the right attitude, hire for attitude rather than skill
- Offer a sabbatical after 10 years of employment, 12 weeks of paid time off to travel, get refreshed, be creative, explore something new. It brings new ideas and experiences back to the company and it retains talent.
- Use outside coaches to develop employees’ potential and bring big picture thinking into the company
- Consider employees more important than clients. Clients who are disrespectful to employees are dismissed
- Use internal assessments regularly to measure employees’ happiness
What can you expect with this level of engagement?
- In the face of Sandy, employees at one company were so dedicated that 80% of them showed up to work – some traveling for 4 hours just to get in.
- Staff at another company setup a private Facebook group so they could communicate to see how they could help each other and to keep projects moving forward.
- Another executive said his company has become a self correcting environment where peers help non-performers perform better.
At the lunch the fifty companies heard for the first time how they were ranked. Peppercomm Inc. came in first. I had a chance to speak briefly to the senior director at Peppercomm who is in charge of culture. Yes, a person just in charge of culture development. This company takes culture very seriously. And it’s paid off. They have 3 branches in New York, San Francisco and London plus they are the #1 best place to work in NYC. Think how that honor will attract quality talent worldwide.
#2 is Square Space, a technology company, that has grown tremendously over the last two years. To grow 150% they must be doing something right. This recognition will aid in future growth as well. I had the honor of sitting with their executives at the lunch and celebrating with them when they heard their ranking.
These companies know that employee engagement has an impact on all aspects of business, creating sustained profitable companies. Their leaders put an emphasis on proactively growing a culture that fosters a win-win-win for employees, clients and the business itself.
You can learn more about how this works by getting our free report “7 Ways to Boost Profits by Boosting Employee Performance, the Fable”. Just email Jeri at jeri@DrivingImprovedResults.com to get your complimentary copy.
Have you developed any great strategies to engage employees at your company? If so, please share them here. We’d love to hear from you.