By: Connie Blaszczyk, Managing Editor, Resource Center
The Great Place to Work® Institute, co-founded by Amy Lyman, recently announced their list of The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America for 2012.
As she points out in her new book, The Trustworthy Leader: Leveraging the Power of Trust to Transform Your Organization (Wiley, 2011) it’s the adherence to building employee trust and employee engagement that puts many of the same top companies on the list, year after year.
We spoke with Lyman recently about the best practices that make some companies great places to work.
Monster: You interviewed many CEOs of companies that consistently make the list of 100 Best Companies list for your book, The Trustworthy Leader. What best practices stood out in those conversations?
Lyman: The best practices of trustworthy and effective leaders really have more to do with how things are done rather than any specific practice.
There are many ways that a leader can make him or herself visible and talk with people, yet for leaders to develop trust-based relationships with people, their interactions need to be genuine and sincere. So a practice such as joining a department staff meeting to listen to people’s ideas, or inviting people to lunch to learn more about who they are will help develop trust, if the leader is able to show genuine and sincere interest in the people at the meeting or lunch.
Leaders wanting to be trustworthy do not all need to be charismatic or polished public speakers, yet they do need to be genuinely interested in other people, value their ideas, and have a desire to be of service to them.
Monster: Has the recession redefined the characteristics of what makes a good company?
Lyman: The recession has only reinforced what makes a Best Company great. Even during financially difficult times, great companies utilize workplace communications to support their employees, share information, answer questions and provide equitable benefits.
A great place to work is based on the level of trust between employees and management; when times are tough, the importance of employee trust really shines through.
Monster: What new trends define today’s great companies?
Lyman: Great companies are always looking for ways to insure that people are treated with respect and that everyone has a level playing field. Companies are seeking to insure career progress and development for a broad range of employees to support employee retention.
Workplace flexibility continues to be popular, as well as support for parental leave for parents giving birth and adopting.
Employers are also looking at phased retirement programs to support their knowledge management as well as lateral talent management moves to insure that people learn and grow, even if promotions may not be as plentiful as in the past.
Monster: What about virtual companies or global companies with diverse ethnic and cultural workforces?
Lyman: Best Companies around the world seek to follow the same principles in every country by creating trust-based relationships between employees and management.
Certainly employees’ cultural differences can come into play in terms of ‘how’ that is done, yet the fundamental commitment to employee engagement is the same.
Leaders focus significant resources on sharing information across country boundaries and time zones to insure that everyone is up to date on company activities and opportunities.
Global companies in particular seek to take advantage of company knowledge, wherever it exists, by using technology to boost collaboration and idea-sharing and promote professional development.
This provides the Best Global Companies with significant advantage in the marketplace as they are able to tap into unique ideas in one market and adapt them to new areas.
Monster: What advice do you have for employers about becoming an employer of choice? Companies are very interested in having a positive reputation in the marketplace as that affects people’s interest in buying their products or services.
Lyman: In terms of the workplace, and being an employer of choice, leaders need to focus on the employees who are already working there -- including all their employees. Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most powerful mechanisms for recruiting new talent.
If leaders create high trust relationships with employees throughout the organization, then those employees will become walking spokespeople for the entire organization, making recruitment efforts much easier.
Becoming an employer of choice will happen as a result of an inward focus on the quality of the work experience of current employees, not because of an external marketing campaign.
Read more from Amy Lyman on what makes a company great on the Monster Thinking blog.