What Really Defines a “Best Place to Work”?

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I was recently perusing several business magazines’ “Best Places to Work” lists. Not surprising, of course, Google is #1. Why? Controversial statement alert! It’s not the massages, organic fresh-made juices or comfy couches that keep their employees happy and productive. It’s the commitment to a culture of authentic communication, trust and learning.

The Culture of Schwag

Organizations that allow leaders to bully or lie or live in a la-la land of ideas and not execution will sometimes put the proverbial “lipstick on a pig”. It reminds me of the saying in the film industry: The better the schwag, the worse the movie. If a movie is giving away board games and wool hats at the local premieres, they really, really, really want you to promote it. It’s the same at trade shows. The coolest companies often have a bowl of mints. The ones that need the most help are the ones giving away glow-in-the-dark rubber mood balls.

Do you want to know if your company is a great place to work?

Before you send out that anonymous survey, here are some easy ways to find the answer:

  • Look at the numbers: What’s your turnover rate? See how many employees have been with the company a long time versus how many have left, and what are the reasons they’re giving for leaving? It might be for money, or maybe it’s because you haven’t updated your technology in so long they’re afraid their skill sets are atrophying and they’ll have to explain to the next employer why they can only program in COBOL.
  • How difficult is it for you to recruit? Are you getting unsolicited resumes of people saying “I would love to work for your company?” Really great companies get those all the time. If you’ve got a good applicant tracking system in place it should tell you how many applications you get not only for open jobs but from people who just want to be considered if something opens up. Also look at why they say they want to work for you. Do you have a reputation as a place that offers challenges and opportunities? Fantastic training? A learning culture? Check out my blog on this topic here. Why do they want to be there? Free food and foosball are not the real reasons, promise.
  • How many of your employees recruit for you? If your employees’ friends and former co-workers are coming in, your employees are saying great things about where they work. If they’re reluctant to recruit for you, you know you have a problem.
  • What do customers say about their experiences? Happy employees tend to be really great to customers. They love their jobs and they want customers to love the company too. Do you get comments from customers that employees went beyond the call of duty to find a specific item? Answer a tough question? Work through a problem? How often does that happen relative to the number of transactions you deal with every day, and how often do you get the OTHER kinds of comments?

Yeah, it’s great to be recognized by the outside world as a great place to work. But how much better is it to know that your team loves being there and is passionate about your mission and trusts leadership? That, ultimately, is what really matters.

We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business, with offices in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.

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