Becoming the Best Place to Work
by Gregory P. Smith

The United States has changed more dramatically during the past two years than the previous 20 years combined. A falling stock market, terrorist attacks, and subsequent war in Afghanistan, not to mention the Enron and Arthur Anderson scandal, have redefined our mental landscape regarding how we play, live, worship, and work. Because of these sweeping changes, the expectations and demands of the workforce are overwhelmingly different. The workplace of today must put high priority on human resources. Businesses can make their organization the best place to work by following the five-step PRIDE model:

Provide a positive working environment;

Recognize, reinforce, and reward each individual's efforts;

Involve everyone;

Develop the potential of your workforce;

Evaluate and measure continuously.

Provide a Positive Working Environment

Creating and managing a good organization takes an entirely different approach. Indeed, one-third of the executives surveyed by Robert Half International Inc. now say the work environment is the most critical factor in keeping an employee satisfied in today's business world.

A key aspect is workplace flexibility. First Tennessee National Corporation started taking family issues seriously, and made them top priority. They reshaped the rules they had forced employees to live under, added many family-friendly new benefits, and sent managers through three and one-half days of training. Result--Employees stayed twice as long - and the bank kept seven percent more of its customers.

Recognize, Reinforce, and Reward Each Individual's Efforts

Money may attract people to the front door, but something else has to keep them from going out the back. People have a basic human need to feel appreciated, and recognition programs help meet that need.

A successful reward and recognition program does not have to be complicated to be effective. An equipment dealership in Louisville, Kentucky has almost eliminated turnover by their programs. The employees participate in a profit-sharing plan that could possibly mean $700,000 upon retirement.

Other incentives and benefits they provide include:

  • Every year employees celebrate their work anniversary with a cake and receive $100.00 for each year employed made out in a check to the Snap-On Tool Company.
  • Twice a year employees' children receive a $50 savings bond when they bring in their "all A's" report card.
  • They reward employees with a "Safety Bonus Program." Each employee's driving record is screened twice a year. Anyone who has a citation is removed from the program. Those employees remaining at the end of the year split $2000.00.
  • To minimize the "we-they" syndrome, every Friday employees rotate jobs for one hour. For example, the person in the Parts Department becomes a service technician. This builds a stronger team, and improves communication within the company.

Involve Everyone

Exceptional organizations involve the ideas and suggestions of everyone. The Sony Corporation is well known for its ability to create and manufacture new and innovative products. In order to foster the exchange of ideas within departments, Sony's Corporate Research sponsors an annual Idea Exposition. During the exposition, scientists and engineers display projects and ideas they are working on. Open only to Sony's employees, the exposition lets individuals share ideas otherwise protected by departmental walls. This process creates a healthy climate of innovation and creativity at all levels of the organization.

Develop the Potential of Your Workforce

For many people, learning new skills is just as important as the money they make. In a study by Linkage, Inc. more than 40 percent of the respondents said they would consider leaving their present employer for another job with the same benefits if that job provided better career development and greater challenges. The National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce (EQW) found on an average, a 10 percent increase in workforce education level led to an 8.6 percent gain in total productivity. On the other hand a 10 percent increase in the value of equipment only increased productivity 3.4 percent.

Evaluate and Measure Continuously

Someone said, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will lead you there." That advice did not work for the Titanic, nor will it work for the business world. Evaluation and measurement must surpass normal accounting procedures like profit and loss, but include measuring turnover, customer satisfaction, employee attitudes, and management effectiveness.

La Rosa's Pizza Company completes a cultural audit once a year, which measures employee's feelings about pay and benefits, care and recognition, etc. Additionally, all employees evaluate their bosses twice a year using an Internal Customer Satisfaction Index. (ICSI) The ICSI has only four questions, and asks the employees to give their managers a letter grade from A to D in four different categories.

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Gregory P. Smith is a retention expert and shows businesses how to build productive work environments that attract, keep and motivate their workforce. He is the author of the book, Here Today Here Tomorrow: How to Transform Your Organization from High-Turnover to High-Retention. He speaks at conferences, conducts management training and is the President of a management consulting firm called Chart Your Course International located in Conyers, Georgia. Phone him at 770-860-9464 or visit http://www.chartcourse.com .

Articles by Gregory P. Smith | More like this in The HR Refresher, Creative Leadership and Leading Change in The CEO Refresher Archives

   


Copyright 2002 by Gregory P. Smith. All rights reserved.

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