It’s that time of year when companies are self-nominating and some winning “Best Places to Work.” I was once in charge of a
company HR department where the CEO wanted my job that month to include cajoling employees into filling out surveys in order to get recognition like this, and 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, 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. It’s the other ones that have 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, there are some ways to find out that may be right in front of you:
• Look at the Numbers. What’s your turnover rate? How many employees have stuck around a long time, 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. Do you think employees are being honest about why they leave? Because that’s a clue, too.
• How difficult is it for you to recruit? Are you getting unsolicited resumes from 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? Work-life balance? Fantastic training? Why do they want to be there?
• How many of your employees recruit for you? If your employees’ friends 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?
• Do you like working there? Sure, it’s your company, but do you enjoy yourself? Do you like your team? Do you look forward to tackling new challenges with them, or are you just glad you get to be the one who cuts the meetings off when they get bogged down or vitriolic? If you could hire these people again, would you?
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. In the new year, we’ll have some tips for creating a great culture for companies that are willing to take a hard look at how to get better.
We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.