Be a Great Place to Work

by Alex Tillard

Have you ever heard of Apple, Pixar, or Google? Of course you have. There are over 1 billion Apple devices being used around the world today. Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Cars are some of the most loved children’s and family movies out there. Google is so popular that their company name has been turned into a verb (Seriously, Google it).

So what makes these companies so great? Obviously their products are amazing. And their brands and advertising are on point. But I think there’s more to it than that. Apple, Pixar, and Google are at the top of many people’s lists of ideal places to work. And I believe that being a great place to work contributes to the success of all three of these companies.

In my professional career, I’ve worked at a few places that spanned a wide array of leadership styles and work atmospheres. So I’ve learned what type of work environment works best for me. I wrote some down, did a bit of research, and I discovered that a lot of what I wrote down had been written down by others as comprising a great work atmosphere. So why don’t you just ruminate, whilst I illuminate?

Secrets Don’t Make Friends

At multiple jobs, I have worked in very “secretive” environments. While I understand that you can’t tell everyone everything, you also should try to communicate as openly as you can. Many times, when you try to hide something, most people find out anyway. Being secretive creates distrust of leadership, makes workers feel left out, and actually makes gossip worse. On the other hand, I’ve worked in places where leadership has been completely honest about finances, big business decisions, and goals for the company. At those places, as a worker I felt included, and therefore I was more invested in the company as a whole. It is at those places where I’ve fully trusted and respected leaders and felt valued.

You Better Recognize

Nothing gets a person down like working really hard, to have absolutely no recognition from their employer. Give her a bonus, praise him in front of the whole team, or write her a personal note. Even just a small “thanks” can go a long way to making a person feel valued. When I wasn’t getting any praise from my boss, it didn’t take long for me to feel undervalued, and soon after that, I quit. But when my hard work was recognized, it fueled me to keep doing better and better work. And as a company, who wouldn’t want that?

Smells Like Team Spirit 

Remember that phrase in sports, “There is no ‘i’ in ‘team’?’” That’s true in work teams too. When you work as a team, you can solve problems better (Two – or more – minds are greater than one!). When team members are encouraged to get to know each other, they will be more understanding of different viewpoints, and be less frustrated when others make mistakes. When team spirit is high, and decisions are made as a team, you’re less likely to have objections to those decisions. Giving employees a common goal to work towards can help them bond, and make them stronger. This includes leadership! Work together with your team so they feel validated, and they will respect you more. Team work makes the dream work!

Girls (People) Just Wanna Have Fun

Working hard is important in a business, but so is playing hard. And a company that works too hard will produce exhausted and burned-out employees who will grow more and more unproductive. So make an effort to have fun together. Take a 5-minute break and watch a silly YouTube video. Do a team-building afternoon off-campus somewhere. Keeping laughter a part of your day gives you energy, boosts your mood, and just plain helps you want to be at work. When I’ve been in environments where fun and relationship-building was discouraged, I was miserable. When it was okay to have a little fun, and be friends with my coworkers, I was much happier, more productive, and well rested. My guess is that’s the same for most other people too.

Stop. Collaborate and Listen.

Listening is a skill we’re all told is important from grade school on, but many of us still don’t follow it. Many times in the past, I would have ideas, but no one in leadership wanted to hear them. Sometimes they would pretend to listen, but it became obvious later that they didn’t care what my opinion was. Listen to your workers. Many times they have really great ideas; even better ideas than you could have, because they’re in the trenches. Creating an environment where people can bring ideas to leadership and be heard makes people feel valued. And your business might benefit from some of those ideas!

Life’s a Balancing Act

50% of adults work more than 40 hours a week. For a lot of people, working 40, 50, 60 or more hours is normal. But I don’t believe it should be. If you’re a parent, or working more than one job, or generally are a human, working that many hours is really difficult. It might be considered the norm, but it burns people out quickly. As a working mom, when I was working 50-60 hours a week I was completely miserable. Working hard for 40 hours helps me stay productive and effective, without causing me stress. When I am able to enjoy my family, friends, and other activities, I am more fulfilled. And that means I do better work, and I enjoy my work.

Okay, this is all great, but how will it make my business more successful?

I was hoping you would ask that! Attracting and engaging talented people who are good team players and work hard can only help you! Here’s how:

  1. You won’t lose people. Constantly re-training new people costs a lot of money, and is bad for team morale. If you have a great environment, people are more apt to stay.
  2. You’ll make more money. Yep, it’s true. Businesses with engaged employees who like their work and their workplace see a 20% increase in sales and a 10% increase in customer ratings.
  3. You’ll have better relationships with your clients. A fun, friendly, team-focused office culture will naturally flow into relationships with clients. I can’t tell you how many stories I have of people who have talked about Navigate in this way. Clients sense our camaraderie and feel like they are part of the team too. And even when people just stop in to see what we do, they end up staying for a while because of our collaborative and fun team atmosphere.

So what do Apple, Pixar, and Google have in common? They are successful because they have great products and advertising, but also because they are really great places to work. Can you add your company to that list?

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