The June 2010 issue of INC Magazine featured an excellent article entitled “Learning from the Best,” by Lee Buchanan, which discusses strategies from the Top Small Company Workplaces winners and finalists. Here’s a brief summary of the article’s recommendations:
- Engage in open-book management. No surprise there. I’ve been preaching this ever since Jack Stack published his Great Game of Business. We had an excellent Webinar on open-book management presented by Coach George from the Great Game of Business. According to the article, 83% of these companies practice open-book management. We do here at HR That Works. Everybody knows every number, including what everybody gets paid. When I do my Vistage presentations and ask CEOs using open-book management about their experience during the depth of the recession, they said they were first concerned that it would scare the employees and some would run off; however, just the opposite happened and employees were very glad to have open-book management. If you don’t have it, what are you waiting for?
- Be flexible. 95% of companies offer flexible work arrangements.
- Keep learning. In some of the companies, employees provide courses, usually in the evenings, to other employees. For example, the employees at Snag-a-Job teach finance fundamentals 101, HTML Basics, Peer Coaching, Texas Hold ‘Em, Goal Setting, and Women’s Self-Defense. If you’re an HR That Works member, there are more than 70 separate training videos that your regular members or management can watch at any time. Never stop learning.
- Develop “Level 5” leaders. This term, coined by Jim Collins, talks about Level 5 leaders in terms of humility and inclusion.
- Focus on orientation. See the Orientation Checklist on HR That Works. Make your orientation process more exciting, motivating, and presented in such a way that instantly builds rapport with new employees, as opposed to the opposite. I also encourage you to use the 60-Day New Employee Survey on HR That Works.
- Add a little bit of sunshine. Companies help to lessen employees’ stress by allowing them to telecommute, and assist their parents or loved ones even if they’re not obligated to do so by the Family and Medical Leave Act.
- Think inside out. The top companies focus on building a great culture which, in turn, can deliver great products and services – Southwest Airlines comes to mind. What are your company values? How do you define and celebrate them? How happy are your employees? In our Webinar on Happiness in the Workplace, the presenter offered a free analysis of your happiness level. Go to http://www.iopener.com/report to see how happy you are at work. I couldn’t be happier to say that my employees and I all scored very high on this index.
- Help maintain employee health. Many small companies are entrepreneur driven. In my experience, if the CEO is a health nut, then so is the rest of the workplace. Savvy companies bring in ergonomics and wellness to help employees. Whether it’s concierge services, healthy lunches, or a wellness day off, there’s no substitute for a healthy workforce.
- Finally, you can change a toxic workplace. In his book How to Turn Around a Toxic Workplace, Jeffrey Pfeiffer states that you can turn around a toxic workplace in four ways: 1) Let people make decisions, 2) Share the economic results either through profit-sharing or gain-sharing, 3) Share information, and 4) Invest in people. Sounds like a great summary of the article!