I was fortunate enough to attend the Best Places to Work luncheon awards last week, hosted by the South Florida Business Journal (to prove it, that's me in the blue shirt in the foremost table in the picture).
The forty, very worthy nominees listed at the foot of this post had their credentials announced as they received their plaques, with the winners also invited to say a few words while accepting their awards.
While many different characteristics, benefits and perks offered by each company were read out (including a 'Craft Beer Day' by one very dynamic company) what struck me most was a very common theme that was woven into the fabric of each organization being honored.
Words and phrases such as;
- "encouragement and words of appreciation"
- "connect with employees"
- "recognize one and other"
- "feel like home"
- "identify individual strengths"
were in abundance when describing the culture within these highly successful companies. And regardless of how the culture would be characterized, in order to make any of it a reality there must be great Working Relationships between the employees at all levels.
One personal favorite was a company who stated that they specifically took an interest in finding out "what your employees value individually and collectively". Any past readers of this blog or our articles knows how big we are on #FeelingValuedAtWork.
When people feel special they act special and as emphasized in the quotes above this starts by getting to know the individual. As our article Bending the 'Golden Rule' to Improve Working Relationships points out that none "of us comes with an instruction manual" and definitely do not "use yourself as the reference point for getting it right for others"
When employees have great relationships with their co-workers (especially at the local level among the 5, 7, 10 people they work with each day in their team or department) you really start to get that family feel. Not that families don't have differences...but that those differences are well managed and can actually be harnessed to better the organization.
These folks will be highly engaged, extremely productive, passionate about their job and willing to go that extra step (or even mile). This is the type of company that gets nominated for Best Place to Work style awards.
In many organizations the job is simply seen by many employees as a means to an end. While they generally "get on" with their colleagues there is little spark, enthusiasm or willingness to help others.
Their work is frequently sloppy, behind schedule or incomplete. They are clock-watchers who are fumbling their way through the day and just cannot wait for quitting time (or even a few minutes early) and they absolutely yearn for the weekend. However, they can usually become engaged if their needs are heard and met. The company will quickly become a better place to work and can start thinkng about awards ceremonies like the one I was at.
Unfortunately, too many organizations (or departments within) have little groups or individuals who are actively disengaged and miserable with their jobs. They greet any news (good or bad) with a complaint rather than seek solutions, feedback or help.
They undermine their peers, their bosses and the organization as a whole. In extreme cases they may even sabotage projects or the work of others.
Even in these instance however, the culture can change if leadership decides to aggresively address it and empower those who buy into it to be agents of change.
Organizations with Fumblers and Factions all too often do the wrong thing. They may turn a blind eye, simply fire the employees (or their bosses) or dictate to HR and management to do something about it...usually centered around another laborious annual employee engagement survey.
We all take our cars in for regular oil changes to prevent problems arising. Companies install anti-virus software that constantly monitors for issues to prevent problems arising.
Shouldn't organizations use the same approach with their 'greatest assets' so problems don't arise, they work collaboratively, become more engaged and increase productivity. By implementing an ongoing (rather than point-in-time) measure of employees engagement and then enriching those employees to make changes relevant to them, any organization can become a better place to work like the 40 companies below.
SMALL COMPANY FINALISTS
Advanced Dentistry South Florida
answerQUEST Executive Search
C3/Cloud Computing Concepts
Fish Consulting (WINNER)
Gladstone & Weissman, P.A.
Make-A-Wish Southern Florida
Moore Stephens Lovelace
New Horizons Computer Learning Centers of South Florida
Wescott Financial Advisory Group LLC
MEDIUM COMPANY FINALISTS
Camden Property Trust
Florida Peninsula Insurance Company
Goldstein Schechter Koch
KAST Construction Company LLC
Link Construction Group, Inc.
Momentum Consulting Corporation
United Data Technologies
LARGE COMPANY FINALISTS
Berger Singerman LLP
Kaufman Rossin Group
Modernizing Medicine (WINNER)
Patriot National, Inc.
Team Focus Insurance Group