great place to work
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Becoming a Great Place to Work

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: Our leadership wants to be recognized on one of the many lists of “great places to work.” I think this is a really good idea and want to move from talking about it to making it happen. Any ideas for how to start?

 A: I love your enthusiasm, but first things first: Your organization can’t be recognized as a great place to work until you really are one! So, let’s take the recognizition part of your question off the table and get to work on making sure you have all the basics in place.

Your organization can’t be recognized as a great place to work until you really are one!

There’s lots of information out there about the organizations on those lists and why they’re so great. So, start there. But also consider whether your organization is fostering a truly outstanding workplace culture by doing these things:
  1. Constantly reinforce your mission to your staff so that they know they are working for more than just a paycheck.
  2. Pay your employees a living wage and provide the best benefits you can afford to meet their needs.
  3. Make your work environment as comfortable, safe, and appealing as possible. No matter what your office configuration is, have plenty of spaces to hold private conversations and de-stress during the workday. Some organizations have game tables in break rooms or even a nap room for quiet time. “Huddle” spaces, colorful places people can gather to encourage creativity, have also become popular.
  4. Clearly outline expectations for every employee, and measure performance against those expectations. Don’t wait for annual review time, but give frequent feedback, and make it constructive and positive. Many organizations are moving toward having performance conversations at the end of projects or at least quarterly as opposed to annually.
  5. Recognize and reward great employees for their ideas and contributions, but do it in a way that honors them. Remember that some people don’t want to be praised in public.
  6. Hold everyone accountable for treating others with respect.
  7. Provide opportunities for employees to develop their skills. This can be through mentoring, webinars, podcasts, workshops, books, or whatever works for each person.
  8. Make your employees proud by doing good things in your community that involve them.

Your goal is to have a workforce commited to the work you do, and to achieve that, you need everyone in the organization pulling in the same direction. Then, and only then, can you start applying for recognition as a great place to work.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].

Performance Management Organizational Culture