Every year we are inundated with “Best Places to Work” lists from our local business journals, newspapers, national publications, and trade journals. The gold standard of these is the top 100 list published by Great Place to Work. Many entrepreneurs study these lists with envy, as it seems that the same organizations are honored year in and year out. Just what is the secret to getting on a “Best Places to Work” list?
The top companies on this list come from a variety of industries, and they differ in many ways, but there are some common themes among these organizations. If you’re looking to make a local, regional, or even national “Best Places” list, here is what you can learn from the nation’s most popular employers.
- Give Your Team Opportunities To Grow
One of the hallmarks of the best places to work is opportunity for change. All of the companies on the top 100 list offer a variety of on-the-job training programs for their full-time employees. While classroom-style training sessions are unavoidable, innovative companies know that everyone learns differently. They employ mentoring programs, job rotations, career counseling, and peer support groups to give their teams a chance to learn from each other, as well as from supervisors, trainers, and outside experts.
- Don’t Ignore Succession Planning And Employee Development
Keeping a strong pipeline is not only critical for the long-term success of the organization; it’s also crucial for maintaining a happy workforce. If you actively seek out team members with leadership potential and nurture those employees, they will be much more engaged in their work, and they’ll be easier to retain over the course of their careers.
- Integrate Core Values Into Your Company Culture
If you look at the companies that consistently wind up on “Best Places to Work” lists, you’ll notice that they all have very unique – but clearly defined – cultures that reflect their core values. Google is famous for its quirky working atmosphere and for seeking employees that exhibit “Googliness,” the values and skills that reflect their culture. SAS, which has been consistently ranked as the best multinational company to work for, offers a much different culture than Google. However, their employees are just as happy and engaged. The key is to know your core values, and to allow those values to shine through in the culture of the organization.
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- Value People, Ideas, And Skills
There was a time when seniority trumped all, but the best companies to work for value more than just tenure. Everyone has valuable ideas to share, and it’s important to show your employees that you’re listening. Open floor plans that offer non-hierarchal seating arrangements can break down barriers between leaders and those in the trenches. Monthly town hall meetings can also go a long way to show your employees that you’re listening. During those meetings, leaders should be transparent about the company’s successes, failures, financial standing, and goals. Open up the floor to employees to make suggestions about what’s working for them, what’s not working, what they need to succeed, and allow them to share ideas about how to get where you want to go.
If you want to build a happy workforce that raves about you as an employer, and earns you a coveted position on a “best places to work” list, the key is to focus on your team. When you shift your mindset to put your people first, they will become more satisfied, more engaged, and more likely to spread that word that their company is a “best place” to work.