From the January 2008 issue of eBiz Insider magazine. Download the complete issue as a PDF by clicking here.
Many businesses have perks or programs that can make the work day fun, but is your company really a great place to work?
I took along 20 of the Solid Cactus staff recently as we attended the “Best Places to Work in Pennsylvania” awards ceremony in Hershey, PA. Solid Cactus was named the 11th “Best Place to Work in PA”. That’s #11 out of 221,000 businesses in the commonwealth. It’s also the second year in a row we’ve taken home this prestigious award. Last year we were #21. So we’re only getting better.
Many states offer programs to recognize outstanding businesses. Being named one of the “Best” is a two-part process. 75% of the decision comes from anonymous employee responses and 25% is employer response. The award is modeled after Fortune’s “100 Best Places to Work” and is organized by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, Team Pennsylvania Foundation and the Best Companies Group.
Being selected as one of the “Best Places to Work” is an enviable honor. During the annual dinner companies related their efforts to make the list. They included: reduced or no-cost health care, family leave benefits, company paid lunches, open-door policies and other inducements.
We offer employees free continental breakfast daily, free soda, juice, coffee and snacks all day, weekly departmental lunches off-site with senior management, weekly “lunch and learn” sessions complete with pizza, flexible scheduling, paid vacation, sick and personal time, 401k with a company match, health, dental and vision insurance with a partial co-pay, use of company shuttle buses for airport runs or company outings – the list is endless!
Solid Cactus is moving our headquarters and taking over an entire elementary school. We’ll have locker rooms, fitness center, a full size gym with a basketball court and my personal favorite–a full-service cafe serving breakfast and lunch.
You don’t have to go broke trying to make the workday more productive or fun. Start simply!
Try lunch a couple of times a month. Better communication between management and employees and a more relaxed time-off policy is a great place to start. Note the words “communication between management and employees.” This is critical. I hear too many stories of how workers have no understanding of what is happening “upstairs.” Employees should have a clear understanding of management’s goals, objectives and visions for the future.
What do Employees Expect?
Employees expect the tools to do their job to be ready, waiting and functioning properly. If equipment needs to be replaced, replace it. Making employees work with broken or malfunctioning equipment leads to an unhappy, unproductive workplace.
Employees expect to be treated fairly. Have a well-written employee manual and make sure that whenever disciplinary action is needed the procedures are followed uniformly across the board.
Employees expect to be included. Have weekly or monthly team meetings to update the gang on what’s going on in the company, how their department is doing and what’s coming up in the future.
Employees expect to be appreciated for their work. We all like a pat on the back, don’t we? Recognize outstanding work with an award, a token of appreciation, free lunch or some other fun thing. Employee recognition in front of their peers is very important and motivates others to strive for similar honors.
Employees expect to have a life outside of work. Establish a scheduling policy which offers flex time off when employees are needed to work a little overtime. Don’t be a stickler when granting requests for days off. Your people are the lifeblood of your organization – treat them accordingly!
Employees expect to be heard. I’ve gotten more good ideas from our Solid Cactus staff than all the seminars I’ve ever attended. Listening makes your people happy and makes you MONEY. So listen already!
Ready, Set, Go!
Make your company a “Best Place to Work.” Sit down with your employees and solicit their feedback. Ask them what can make the workday better. You will find that a little can go a long way.
In the end, happy employees make for happy customers and happy customers make business better!