Winning a ”best employer award” can help attract new talent and reinforce workplace pride within existing employees.
How do you become a best place to work?
Making people feel like they belong and are recognized each day, in both big and small ways. (Photo: freepik.com)
We’re not talking about just winning an award. For that, a workplace should start by applying. What we’re really trying to discover is how to actually create a workplace that people want to be a part of. What’s the secret about building an engaging environment? Are there keys to unlocking potential within employees?
For those answers, we asked 14 workplace award winners and small business owners to give us something real in terms of becoming a best employer. Here’s what they had to say about how to become a best place to work.
Start with a Clear Vision of Your Purpose
It starts with having a clear vision of what the purpose of the business is about—what everyone on the team is going to accomplish together and how you are going to get there. Hire people who are excited to do that work together. Create programs (compensation, rewards, and ongoing development/training) that excites each member of the team while they are doing meaningful work. Ultimately, it’s about making people feel like they belong and are recognized each day, in both big and small ways. Saying thank you, taking time to ask about someone’s family, and celebrating a win like running a 10k for the first time matters just as much as getting a promotion.
Nicole Spracale, Coaching and Consulting
Listen and Take Action
Truly being a best place to work starts with listening to your employees. If you hear the same complaints over and over again, do something about it! If you hear that an employee’s mom just suffered a heart attack, give them the week off. If an employee just celebrated 5 years at your company, handwrite them a letter thanking them for all they've done. Listen to the needs of the people that work for you and actually take action.
Chris Dunkin, Portable Air
Teams need to feel heard meaningfully by leadership and each other. To hear meaningfully, each team member needs to assume good intentions. Leadership needs to give space for an occasional misstep that is premised on creativity and thoughtfulness. The freedom to openly and constructively criticize from an informed perspective challenges norms that might impede progress. The best places to work embraces new information that can bolster better ways of doing quality work across teams. Requiring a "yes, and.." response is one simple technique that leadership can model. This technique accepts what is and builds to open the door to what can be. The best places to work are inclusive, predicated on diversity - of thought, practice, and representation - which ultimately leads to innovation and growth.
Nadine Mullings, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
Culture of Ownership
Developing a culture of ownership is a key attribute for success. Working with leaders that facilitate freedom of expression allows everyone to contribute their unique best to the company as a whole. When an employee’s voice matters it initiates the ownership/teamwork process to help shape the organization. The most successful companies I work with are those that insist upon a culture of collaboration.
Candace Cotton, HALO Branded Solutions
Anonymous Employee Survey Software
Seek continuous and anonymous feedback frequently from employees. Many “Best Places To Work” awards are given based on employee surveys. By surveying your employees, you become aware of the weaknesses to address in your organization. That way, by the time a “Best Place To Work” award survey arrives in the inbox of an employee, they have nothing but positive things to say. Sign up for an employee survey software, and then pay attention and address employee feedback.
Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
Prove Your Trust and Transparency
Our company remains transparent about our company plans, stays eager to help our teams with their success, and creates trust amongst all team members. This landed us winning a best place to work four years in a row. The above made our team members feel comfortable and we proved that we trusted them by letting them work from anywhere, any hours, as long as the work was done on time and with high quality.
Abhijeet Narvekar, The FerVID Group
Provide employees with a successful work-life balance while tasking them with high but attainable goals and expectations. (Photo: freepik.com)
Invest In Your Employees
To become a best place to work, a company must first hire the best people and then train and invest in them. Investing in employees begins with the initial training and then continues throughout their careers. Provide employees with a successful work-life balance while tasking them with high but attainable goals and expectations. If you succeed in these areas then you should have happy and engaged employees who can run with minimal supervision.
Ron Kubitz, Forms+Surfaces
Employ and Retain “A” Players
Do your colleagues feel that their opinions and ideas are validated and vetted? Do they feel safe to step up and speak up? I started my career as a CPA when this kind of environment was not only discouraged but was just not considered to be important at all. I know first hand the high cost of not feeling included and not having people respond positively, or even neutrally to my ideas. It can be so demoralizing. What we’ve learned through this pandemic is that we must all employ only 100% "A" Players. If you want to retain your "A" Players, you must create this kind of environment where they feel safe to step up and speak up. This is what drives innovation which drives corporate growth.
Katharine Halpin, The Halpin Companies Inc.
Invest in Your Values
To become a best place to work, you need to be a place people want to work. Your business needs to live and die by its core values. This demonstrates that you stand for something more than just profits. Employees invest in those values and feel they are doing more than just working—they are contributing to a bigger goal. Strong cultures lead to engaged employees and look at employee experience holistically. Being a best place to work means creating a place where employees feel connected to the business and want to show up to work every day.
Eric Mochnacz, Red Clover
Let people work remotely and on their own time! I have over 80 employees in different time zones. We have tasks and jobs that need to be completed within specific time frames, but beyond that, there’s no need to track and monitor the exact time people clock in and clock out. This allows our team members to work at times when they feel the most productive and energized even if it’s in the middle of the night or on a Sunday (if they want to). And this allows them to find time for personal goals and for their families. This is a real scenario at our workplace and I find that it works very well.
Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
Implement a Strategy That Reflects Unique Employees
It starts with listening to your people and asking their sincere opinion about what you could do to be better. And then making every effort to do those things, not just listen and talk. Too often assumptions are made (typically with good intentions) about what employees value, whether that’s providing the latest flashy perk or trying to replicate what another "best workplace" is doing. But every single company, its culture and its people are unique—so the strategies they use to be better for those people should be, too.
Christina Zurek, ITA Group
Holacracy over Hierarchy
In my experience, the culture of trust and honest communication is the fundamental value to build a strong company where people enjoy being part of it. Besides, it’s crucial to give teammates the ability to contribute to the company processes and culture. At datarockets, we achieved this by moving to Holacracy. Therefore, instead of a classic management hierarchy, decision making and self-organizing are distributed among all employees. Thus, everyone feels important and responsible for company culture and growth. To make your company the best place to work, you should care about people: eliminate overtimes, accept that bad and unproductive days happen, have one on one meetings to provide feedback, and give them the freedom to make decisions.
Yulia Garanok, datarockets
Create A Clear Path For Career Development
Employees want to be part of an organization that has a fair and clear path of growth for its workers. Abraham Maslow describes this yearning in his pyramid of needs as ‘self-actualization’. A company that works towards helping its employees to satisfy this need will appeal to the workforce. Business owners and HR managers should design a clear path for career growth via organizing training seminars, encouraging employees to take advanced courses, and establishing mentorship programs for employees.
Chioma Iwunze, Time Doctor
When we honor and respect the differences employees bring to the workplace and view these differences as strengths we create inclusion and ownership. “Best Places to Work” views mistakes as learning opportunities and accepts a social responsibility of ensuring that employees gain skills to have lifelong employability.
Sonja Talley, AZ SHRM