Tag Archives: Fortune 100 Best Companies To Work For

Peer Recognition, Culture and Going the Extra Mile

Data Point TuesdayWhat motivates employees? It is money? Feeling valued at work? Connecting with a company’s social mission? All these are good answers, but a new study from TINYpulse that analyzed over 200,000 employee responses relating to organizational culture found that peers and camaraderie are the #1 reason employees go the extra mile. While peer recognition and camaraderie might seem like two aspects of company culture that happen (or need to happen) organically, there are ways organizations can promote a culture that fosters peer recognition and camaraderie. As a potentially overlooked area of focus for organizations, peer recognition is a valuable way to foster a positive culture and create one where employees regularly “go the extra mile.” 44% of employees surveyed report that when they are provided a simple tool to do so, they will provide peer recognition on an ongoing basis. The happier the employee, the bigger the praise: 58% of “happy” employees report giving regular peer recognition, compared to 18% of the least happy employees. As TINYpulse states, “Professional happiness encourages 3X more recognition!”Nov 18 2014 HappinessThinking that money motivates employees seems an antiquated line of thought when looking at TINYpulse’s data. In fact, money isn’t even among the top 5 factors that motivate employees to go the extra mile. Out of 10, “money and benefits” ranks #8. The top 3 motivators for employees to go the extra mile are:

  • Camaraderie/peer motivation
  • Intrinsic desire to do a good job, and
  • Feeling encouraged and recognized

Motivation ChartFeeling encouraged and recognized at work can stem from a number of different sources, but regardless of where recognition most often occurs, TINYpulse’s data show that employees feel significantly undervalued overall. On a 1-10 scale, just 21% of all employees gave a score of nine or ten for feeling valued at work, meaning that 79% of employees feel undervalued, or not valued at all.

Value ChartCamaraderie and recognition have broader implications than just creating a more motivated workforce. Workplace cultures that embrace these are no longer expected to be just the few and far between: job seekers expect this of organizations, and they are ways to not only attract talent, but to retain it. Millennials especially (as I’ve discussed in past posts) place a high value on camaraderie and actively seek out such work environments. TINYpulse sites a recent report by Bersin and Associates, which found that employee engagement, productivity, and customer service, are about 14% better in organizations where recognition occurs.

Consider how your organization recognizes its employees – how do you recognize peers? Do employees at your organization feel valued – do you? Maybe it’s time to institute some formal recognition programs, which we here at Great Place to Work consistently see as best practices at organizations on the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For list. “Ramping up” recognition programs doesn’t need to mean excessive time or investment either. It could be as simple as instituting a gold star program, installing a white board in the break room for “biggest save of the week” comments, or having an employee mentor another for an hour on a specific skill. Our advice is to start small, and build on positive outcomes.

But by all means, provide formal and informal ways for your employees to recognize the contributions of their peers – that is, if you’d like more of your employees to go the extra mile for your customers!

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Filed under China Gorman, Company Culture, Data Point Tuesday, TINYpulse, Workplace Studies

5 Talent Acquisition Trends to Watch

Data Point Tuesday
Ultimate Software
(#20 on this year’s FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work for list) just released a whitepaper that looks at 5 top talent acquisition trends in today’s market. As much data as we might see on talent acquisition, it’s a perpetually interesting topic to look at because (and Ultimate Software puts it well), “A company can have the right technology, the right infrastructure, the right products and services – yet still fall short of expectations without the right people.” People are the heart and soul of an organization, and attracting, hiring, and engaging the right people for an organization is vital to its growth and success. Ultimate Software highlights that over the past five years we’ve seen a huge change in the landscape of talent acquisition. We’re still in the midst of an ongoing economic recovery and Millennials, who are the largest generation in history, (~95 million compared with ~78 million Baby Boomers) are currently filling one out of every three positions in the United States. By 2025, they are projected to make up 75% of employees in the global marketplace. Add this to the incredibly competitive, fast-paced, technologically advanced, and increasingly inter-connected world that we live in and hiring the ‘right’ person becomes “both more difficult and more important than ever.”

Out of the 5 Top Talent Acquisition trends that Ultimate Software details, “User Experience” is number one. Over the last five years, companies have increasingly focused on the “candidate experience” in talent acquisition (see the ground breaking research done by Gerry Crispin’s and Elaine Orler’s Talent Board), putting themselves in the job seekers’ shoes with a focus on treating them like a unique individual or “the customer.” When Ultimate Software discusses “User Experience” as a talent acquisition trend though, they’re talking about a more recent trend than focusing on candidate experience, one that emphasizes user experience in terms of designing or selecting a recruiting solution. In the same way that people expect exceptional user-experience from consumer-level technology like their smartphones, employees now expect the same level of ease-of use with recruiting solutions technology in the workplace. Candidates themselves also expect an easy (and mobile) user-experience when searching for and applying to positions. Not being able to do this on a smartphone, for example, has become a huge barrier to entry.

Trends two and three are “Personalization” and “Social Connections and Collaborations.” Personalization, in the context of talent acquisition, is described as “the fusion of a positive user experience with an emphasis on the individual.” Essentially, organizations that treat candidates as individuals and potentially valuable employees from the beginning of the recruiting process have a number of advantages. Using a more personal, behaviorally based interviewing approach can lead to better information for the recruiter (they may for example find a candidates fits well for another role) and a more engaged candidate. It may also help candidates leave with a better impression of the organization overall, and prevent what Ultimate Software calls the “candidate black hole” (referring to the statistic that nearly 50% of job applicants never get any response after submitting an application). “Social Connections and Collaborations” refers to talent acquisition solutions integrating with social media platforms (think LinkedIn and Facebook) to leverage more effectively the vast amount of useful information on candidates that these platforms provide. Note that 89% of all job seekers report using social media sites and almost 50% report using these sites every day.

“Global Recruiting” and “Recruiting Millennials” make up the last two trends in the whitepaper. Successful organizations have embraced the advantages of creating a more global workforce, leveling technology like video interviewing and telecommuting to find the right candidate for the job, no matter where in the world the might be. Ultimate Software cites data from a recent KPMG survey, which reports that 71% of HR executives feel that collaborating across international borders is more prevalent today than just five years ago, and more than 50% are considering or have added new international offices. The “Global Workforce” is here to stay. Last but not least, successful talent acquisition programs have been specifically addressing Millennial candidates applying for positions – a smart move when we consider that they’re projected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025! This attention on Millennials does not necessarily comprise a total remaking of the talent acquisition process, but a purposeful implementation of changes to the recruiting process – like keeping in mind that 83% of Millennials own a smart phone, or that Millennials place a high value on an organization’s mission, purpose, and culture.

Together these 5 trends point to new realities for organizations as they plan to add new talent to their ranks. It’s not just demographics that are changing. Social technologies are changing our ability to engage and retain the right people – where and when we need them. And that spells big opportunity for organizations who believe that people are at the heart of the cultures and their successes.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Hiring, Ultimate Software, Workplace Studies

Rapid Growth and Great Workplaces

Data Point Tuesday
The 2014 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For list announcement is just days away and here at Great Place to Work we just can’t wait to share some of the awesome 100 Best Companies Trends from this year’s list! In true Data Point Tuesday fashion, I’ve compiled some noteworthy stats from our 2014 100 Best Companies Trends whitepaper to share with you, (the full trends report as well the Fortune 100 Best Companies list will be available here on Thursday) enjoy the sneak peek!

One of the most prominent trends we’ve seen with Best Companies this year is growth. For 2014 100 Best Companies with available revenue data, revenues in the last 24 months have risen an average of 22.2% and headcount is increasing to match that. The number of employees at the 2014 100 Best Companies increased by an average of 6.1% since 2012 and 15.4% since 2011 which, according to Current Employment Statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is nearly five times the growth rate of U.S. companies overall in the same two-year period. This significant increase in headcount, while positive for companies, undoubtedly also raises concerns. During times of rapid growth organizations can experience a number of challenges including: inadequate skills and pipeline of leaders, loss of top talent and leaders, scaling and developing new systems, assimilating new employees both socially and process-wise, bringing new and longer tenure employees together, balancing cultural norms of past with the need to grow quickly and be a company of the future, and burn out and disaffection of existing employees. With such challenges in mind, how are these Best Companies managing such rapid growth, and, what exactly are they doing to avoid growing pains?

In 2013 Great Place to Work compiled a benchmark group of great workplaces experiencing high growth (+20% employee population) while appearing on the Best Companies list between 2011-2013. The group was used to study the relationship between rapid growth and the employee experience at the 100 Best and included several Best Companies, such as Chesapeake Energy, Hilcorp Energy Company, NetApp, Quicken Loans, Rackspace Hosting, salesforce.com, and World Wide Technology, Inc. Results of the study indicated an exceptionally high level of trust at Best Companies experiencing rapid growth, with 94% of employees at such companies stating that “taking everything into account, I would say this is a great place to work” vs. 91% of employees at Best Companies not experiencing such rapid growth. Additionally, employees at high growth Best Companies displayed a 4% higher average score on all trust index statements compared with employees at Best Companies not experiencing rapid growth. Trust index scores correspond to statements such as: “management is approachable, easy to talk with”, “this is a fun place to work”, “I feel I receive a fair share of the profits made at this organization”, and “people look forward to coming to work here”. It’s noteworthy too that these high trust index scores at Best Companies experiencing rapid growth come from both new hires as well as tenured employees (2+ years tenure).

Great Place to Work Chart
We can take away from this data a better understanding of how Best Companies are handling the growth trend. Marcus Erb, Associate Vice President of Research, and the leader of the 2013 study on the relationship between high growth and the employee experience at the 100 Best sums it up well: “Our research shows that as far as the employee experience is concerned, companies with a strong foundation of trust, a robust leadership pipeline, and a firm commitment to the company’s culture are far better at navigating the challenges that come along with growth and change.”

Make sure to check out the 2014 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies list on January 16th

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What Comes First: Employees or Customers?

As a business leader, I’ve always believed that one of the most important aspects of my job is to create and lead a culture that motivates employees to come to work every day and do their very best work.  I’ve always known that in order to acquire, delight and retain customers my organizations (at the local, regional, national and global levels) needed to acquire, engage and retain the best talent.  I’ve always known that the link between customer and employee satisfaction is strong.

Over the last few months I’ve been able to take the time to read some great books, articles and research reports; to meet with thought leaders and executives; and to attend conferences and courses focused on these aspects of organization and leadership success.  Now I’ve got more than a “gut” instinct that the focus on creating a culture that puts customers first by recruiting, developing and retaining the right employees brings dividends that are more than repeat customers and happy employees.  Now I’ve got real data.

Where did I get the data?  I’ve read research reports from BlessingWhite, Gallup, SHRM, the U.S. Department of Labor and others.  I’ve read books by Chip Conley, Mark Sanborn, Geoff Colvin, Leigh Branham and Mark Hirschfeld, Tony Hsieh, Jim Collins, Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright and Jonathan Haidt among others.  I’ve had conversations with Tony Hsieh, Dave UlrichDoug and Kimberly Rath, Cathy Missildine-Martin, Paul Hebert, Joe Gerstandt, Jason Lauritsen, Chris Hoyt, Lars-Henrik Friis-Molin, John Sumser, William Tincup and many others.  Basically, I’ve been a sponge.

And the outcome?  Well now I see clearly that while having happy, committed employees is critical for organizational success, having the right happy, committed employees makes the difference between good customer service and exceptional customer service;  the difference between good organization performance and exceptional organization performance — by any measure you wish to use. 

The right happy employees are determined by what will exceed the customers’ expectations.  And that’s about culture and values. 

To create a culture that retains happy employees feels good on many levels.  What leader doesn’t want to walk around and see smiling faces on their employees?  But to create a culture that retains employees happy to make your customers ecstatic is the secret sauce of organization success. 

The reason for an organization’s existence is not to create a “happy” environment for employees.  The reason for an organization’s existence is to create value for its stakeholders by serving its customers.  You win in business by serving your customers better than anyone else.  And it’s clear to me now that the key to serving your customers better than anyone else lies squarely in creating a culture that attracts and retains the right employees.  I’m not sure many leaders see the difference here, but it seems huge to me.

In the hard work of creating a motivating culture almost every organization starts with their employees:  what makes them happy, what will engage them, what will motivate them to commit over the long haul.  I’ve come to believe that the hard work of creating a motivating culture needs to start at a different place:  conversations with customers and potential customers.  What is important to them in their interactions with your employees?  What values will motivate their engagement, their commitment over the long haul?  Once you have that input you can begin to translate it into organizational values, characteristics, behaviors and skills that become the basis for your culture work – and, ultimately, your talent acquisition, engagement, development and retention strategies.

It’s clear to me that both culture and organization success has to start with the customer.  Only then will you know what kind of talent acquisition, engagement and retention strategies will lead to the type of organizational success that will value your organization among the strongest financial performers and land you on the lists of best companies to work for. 

In other words, when creating and leading your organization’s culture look first to your customers and second  to your employees. 

Most do it the other way around.

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