August 1, 2016
Looking at businesses voted “Best Place to Work” across the country, we’ve found that employees love work that embrace the synergy among environment, communication, trust, work-life balance and sense of pride. If the average person works 90,000 hours in a lifetime, employees and companies do better when the work is enjoyable and rewarding.
A strong sense of culture starts with a company’s identity and values. The mission, vision and values are the backbone to culture, and letting various personalities and communication styles flourish within this culture will foster confidence among new and long-standing employees.
Culture begins at the top and is rooted in transparency about company values. Take Zappos, for example, where cultural fit counts for 50% of the overall score for job applicants—culture is unapologetically the top priority for the company. As a result, Zappos has outstanding customer service and is consistently voted Best Place to Work.
Since we are bound to spend more time with our coworkers than we do our families, employees need to fit the culture of the company and agree with its values. Finding and hiring talent that fits the culture depends on the leadership’s abilities to ask questions, understand various communication styles and keep the company’s big picture sharply in focus.
Culture can only develop with open, transparent communication from top to bottom. When clear communication starts at the leadership level and is allowed to flow freely in all directions, a company builds trust throughout the organization. Day-to-day goals are clearly set and understood by everyone. If you can’t trust the people with whom you work, how can you expect to dream big and put your company on top? Have an open door policy and always be willing to answer questions.
Take time to learn about different communication styles and choose the right tools that help you connect quickly. Email, instant messaging, file sharing and intuitive presentation programs help everyone focus on the big picture and stay connected.
Time off is essential to the body, mind and soul. Overloaded and overlooked employees are a recipe for disgruntled attitudes and high turnover rates. In other words, employees should have sufficient time off. Parents, especially, know all too well that there are emergencies and unpredictable things that can quickly shift schedules around. The work schedule needs to flex with these ebbs and flows.
Imagine fitting all personal activities into 5–10 vacation days, 104 weekend days and a handful of holidays. Americans have the least number of holidays and paid vacation compared to other advanced countries, and employees, on average, only cash in on 57% of that time. For some, this is enough. For others, it’s overwhelming and stress-inducing. Giving flexibility to manage personal time while still meeting demands at work keeps employees happier and healthier.
As the saying goes—work hard, play hard. Expecting people to always and only work hard, without rewarding the effort or results, will push some people into extreme, unpredictable behavior. Successful companies help employees see the big picture and where exactly they fit in. Leaders in such companies pay attention and recognize the influence people can have on the big picture, and they reward success in ways that are meaningful to each individual.
Here, again, communication styles play a big role. Public praise at a company gathering for one employee might be a mortifying experience for another employee. Competitions for cash or cruises may motivate a number of people but may drive away and alienate others. Sometimes it’s as simple as time off without penalty. If you were the one person or team to hit or exceed the goal, not getting the recognition for good work may totally deflate the effort and stall ongoing motivation.
Provide options, make it easy to communicate, give freedom to choose, and generously reward successes. You may just find yourself on the next list for Best Places to Work.