team celebrates best place to work

10 Traits of the Best Places to Work

Apr20
Good people are hard to find. Good companies can be even harder.

But when both parties get together, great things can happen—the kinds of things that land a company on Best Places to Work lists.

So what escalates a company into the echelon of one of the best places to work? And how can companies quantify the value of good employees?

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, describes the people factor in WEF’s Human Capital report.

“In the future, human capital will be the most important kind of capital. Investing in people is not just a nice to have; it is imperative for growth, prosperity and progress.”

With engaged employees in place, company performance takes off. Gallup’s research team compiled more than three years of data spanning 140 countries, and found that companies with engaged workforces have higher earnings per share (EPS), and bounced back from the global recession of 2009 faster:

“Gallup examined 49 publicly traded companies with EPS data available from 2008-2012 and Q12 data available from 2010 and/or 2011 in its database and found that organizations with a critical mass of engaged employees outperformed their competition, compared with those that did not maximize their employees’ potential.”

The chart below shows the key performance indicators where engaged employees have the greatest effect — customer service, profitability, and productivity.

engagement's effect on KPI

Source: Gallup poll – “State of the Global Workplace”

As businesses continue to adapt to the ever-transforming technological and societal worlds, how can you create a business that your people will enthusiastically describe as one of the best places to work? Let’s take a look at a few ways:

1. Pay fairly

The microscope is on employers everywhere when it comes to livable wages. Legislation to raise the minimum wage is looming in many states, and businesses that don’t pay market wages are being called out. Know what your people are worth and compensate them accordingly. Businesses that pay peanuts get monkeys.

2. Treat people with respect

Get down in the trenches with your employees, and remember it’s their output that counts. Don’t judge them by where they’re from, whether they have an unorthodox work style, or other superficial standards. Good leadership ensures that all employees are treated with civility and respect at all times.

3. Share the wealth

Whenever success comes, reward your employees. Everything an organization accomplishes is a team effort, from the administrative assistant up to the c-suite. Have a plan for all employees to take part in stock options, bonuses and other incentives to reward performance.

4. Create healthier work spaces

Environmentally friendly paints and standing desks aren’t just for the trendy startup set. Look for opportunities to configure work spaces and office environments to highlight your environmental commitments and sustainability strategies.

5. Offer opportunities to progress

Like a business that wants to expand a service line or launch in a new market, employees want to grow their expertise. Whether it’s heading back to the classroom to refresh a discipline or funding more in-depth training, provide ongoing opportunities and incentives to learn. The growing availability of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) offers employees plenty of flexible learning options.

6. Foster diversity

Not everyone can be an entrepreneurial data scientist with an MBA. Becoming one of the best places to work requires you to realize the value of a diverse workforce and make it a point to foster a culture that supports it. Empower your people to create, define, and nurture all sorts of roles, and the organization will thrive.

7. Create a flexible work environment

Driving is down, and today’s young professionals are less excited about cars and more excited about being able to work wherever they can be most productive. Companies that adapt to changing lifestyles are the ones that’ll be atop the recruiting trail. The New York Times looked at the rise of telecommuting and cited a study that compared remote workers to those in the office:

“At the end of the experiment, employers found that the home-based employees worked more than office workers — 9.5 percent longer — and were 13 percent more productive. They also were judged to be happier, as quitting rates were cut in half.”

You can help create engaged employees by letting them know you’re open to new ways of working that give them more freedom and flexibility— having colleagues on a Hangout, or down the hallway.

8. Practice good corporate citizenship

We’ve talked about sustainability as a recruitment and retention tool. Perhaps a broader way to look at it is through “corporate citizenship.” What are you doing to support the community? Is there a plan to engage with local stakeholders to work on meaningful projects? When your company is anchored to the community, positive word of mouth will boost your “best places to work” recruiting and PR efforts.

9. Lead with a vision

Great leaders are good at explaining the “how.” How to get there. How to execute. It’s all part of a vision—one that you need to sell to the organization. Talented employees want to see a goal they can work toward. Embed that vision in the psyche of your company.

10. Don’t be a control freak

With startup culture so prevalent in the United States, its values seep into even the largest corporate environments. Companies say they want to stoke the entrepreneurial spirit, but what are they doing to support it? Your employees can only excel when you give them the right level of autonomy. Organizations that empower their workforce to make decisions and move with agility are the ones winning today.

How does your company match up to the “ideal workplace?” Read more tips from WorkIntelligent.ly on what traits to look for.