Aug 01, 2015

The Best Workplaces

Just recently Fortune’s ranking of the 100 Best Companies to Work For was released. The authors noticed three major trends among the thousands of employee comments and survey results: 1) the best workplaces from previous years remained on top and improved; 2) Each of the best companies had leaders who genuinely listened to their workforce; and 3) the best employers focused on workplace culture as a competitive tool.

Leaders in the Workplace and the Market

Many of the companies listed on the ranking are leaders not only in the workplace, but also in the market. An example is Google which occupies the top spot for the sixth time in eight years, and whose leaders attribute the company’s stellar financial performance to its generous people practices. Additionally, since the first list was released in 1998, there are 12 companies which have been on it every year, and have collectively created a net total of 341,567 jobs, an average increase of 172 percent. Looking at stock performance, since 1998, the 100 best companies have outperformed the S&P 500 Index by a ratio of 2 to 1. These companies are proof that treating the workforce well has a positive impact on the bottom line.

Job Growth Over Past 18 Years at the All-Star Companies

Job Growth Over Past 18 Years at the All-Star Companies

Source: Russell Investment Group & Great Places to Work Institute

Beyond the Perks to the Relationships

It is well known that Google, the top company on this years’ America’s Best Companies to Work For list, provides incredible perks that range from free gourmet-quality food all day, free gyms and massages, generous parental leaves, and well-planned corporate offices. However, according to Fortune, this isn’t the reason that Google is a great place to work. Rather, it’s the character of the company that is reflected in the perks and benefits it offers. For example, ex-Googlers look back positively at their time at Google not because of the free food, but rather at the opportunities the buffets offer towards creating relationships for colleagues. Google actually measures the length of lines in the cafeteria to ensure people have to wait an optimal three to four minutes, so that they have time to talk. They install long tables so that they’re likelier to be next to or across from someone they don’t know, and place those tables close together, so that when a worker pushes their chair back, they might hit someone else and meet someone new. The goal of offering free food is to make sure workers come to the cafeterias, where they can start and strengthen relationships with others in the company.

Important Factors to New Employees

Important Factors to New Employees

Source: McKinsey Global Institute

According to the original founders of the 100 Best List, the key to creating a great workplace is not a set of benefits, programs, and practices, but rather the building of a high-quality relationship. More and more employers are realizing the correlation between culture, relationships, workplace greatness, and business success. According to Deloitte’s latest annual survey, top managers say culture is the most important issue they face, more important than leadership, workforce capability, or performance management.

The New Corporate MVP

Experts say that companies will continue to gain a competitive advantage by attracting and retaining the most valuable workers.  As technology takes over more fact-based and rules-based skills, people who excel at human relationships are being sought after as the most valuable workers. Increasingly, major employers are realizing the need to attract workers who are good at team building, collaboration, and cultural sensitivity. Research by Oxford Economics and other groups finds that the most effective teams are not those whose members have the highest IQs, but rather those whose members are most sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others.

Many companies are struggling to find and attract these top workers, as well as to engage them in ways that derive the most benefit from their interpersonal skills. However, the top companies to work for are leading the way. For example, SAS, the giant software firm, surveys employees annually on the state of their relationships with others in the firm.

Tips for Recruiting In-Demand Talent

As organizational executive management and leadership begins to recognize the critical importance of relationships for both performance management and talent acquisition, companies are starting to take steps towards becoming more human in their approach to identifying and attracting in-demand talent. 

Focus on Brand Uniformity: Any company that does not have a strong identity will be challenged in attracting top candidates. Companies today require a multi-platform presence with consistent brand messaging. The brand should be the same whether on a site such as LinkedIn, on the company’s career site, or on Twitter.

Research Target Talent: A recent survey by DICE found that 50 percent of candidates want recruiters to do more research before reaching out to them. In today’s world, it is assumed that everything is public and that recruiters will practice due diligence, looking at many platforms, to get a complete sense of a person. In-demand talent want to assure that their job skills and attitude are a match to a company’s culture and hiring preferences prior to going through the recruiting and application process.

Be Social: The expansion of the world of work to social sites and mobile has already had a huge impact. For many companies it has decreased hiring time; in Jobvite’s 2014 Social Recruiting survey, 34 percent of recruiters say that social recruiting has improved time to hire, and 44 percent of recruiters say it has increased the quality of candidates. Mobile and social both foster a less formal and more authentic spontaneity that leads to relationship building and engagement. This is something that cannot be done through automation, but takes very little time to accomplish.

“It is not simply the brightest who have the best ideas; it is those who are best at harvesting them from others. It is not only the most determined who drive change; it is those who most fully engage with like-minded people. And it is not wealth or prestige that best motivates people; it is respect and help from peers.” ~Alex Pentland, Professor at MIT