There exists in the world several different types of companies. Those that have great, well-known consumer brands who everyone wants to work for because of their great, well-known employer brand. Those who have great, well-known consumer brands that no one wants to work for because of their awful, well-known employer brand. Those that have great, well-known consumer brands but no one knows what it’s like to work for them because they have no employer brand. And finally, those that no one has ever heard of period.
Every business can be put into one of these categories at all times.
The goal for all business leaders, as you can imagine, is to make sure their business falls into the first category. The company with the well-known consumer and employer brand that literally everyone in the world would want to work for. You’ve heard of Google right?
Every year Great Place to Work publishes their Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For and their 50 Best Small and Medium Workplaces List. They provide webinars and more details on their site about how they compile the data, but in perusing this site and many others that rank best workplaces I have come up with three fairly consistent characteristics of best places to work.
Before we go into that, let’s talk about why this is important. Being an employer of choice is not just good for your recruiting strategy. Maybe even more important is the fact that being an employer of choice is good for your retention strategy. It’s much easier to grow and develop a thriving business when employees stick around longer than the time it takes to train them.
Further being an employer of choice also helps the consumer brand gain even more attention. When you think about Zappos now, you not only think about shoes and everything else they sell, but you also think about their culture. For some, the thought about culture comes first. I doubt this is bad for business. People want to support what they perceive to be great businesses and being an employer of choice signifies to people that your business is a great one.
So here are my three characteristics of a great company. I have done no scientific research – for that definitely check out the Great Place to Work website.
Respect: What I read consistently points to the fact that in these businesses employees are treated with respect and as individuals not just cogs in the wheel. They are valued. They are appreciated. They are recognized for their hard work. Their opinions are heard and their grievances are given proper airing. Day after day, week after week, year after year, they feel as though their employer respects them.
Challenging: One of the areas that these businesses seem to have figured out is how to allow employees to challenge themselves beyond the job they were hired to do.Sure the accountant needs to balance the general ledger, but since he also has an interest in Marketing, let’s allow him to be on a cross-functional team discussing how we better market the product. You can see how that would be cool right? Employers of choice find ways to help employees do their day job while challenging them to go beyond that.
Inspired Leadership: Say what you want about Steve Jobs leadership style, his vision and inspiration made people want to follow him to the moon. I think we get it wrong when we think leaders have to be loved. That helps, but in reality they just need to be inspired and have the ability to help others see their vision and desire to execute it. Inspired leaders provide clarity. Something that is greatly missing in today’s workplaces. They foster an environment of constant communication which only helps drives their vision forward.
Employers of choice have highly engage employees, higher levels of financial performance and a strong ability to attract and retain top talent. These companies are not employers of choice by chance. A deliberate choice has been made to ensure they are on the top employers list year after year. It is a strategy not happenstance. Being a best place to work has it’s perks, but the road to the top takes focus.