Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Great Place To Work

If we ask a random sample of employees in any organization what causes them to like to stay with their the organization, we will get tens of different reasons that are all valid, but vary to reflect the personal views of the respondents. While some employees will focus on tangible explicit motivators, others will focus more on intangible implicit ones. That's, too, is natural as people's motives are driven by their different needs which again vary from one person to the other.
However, going through Fortune's analysis of the best 100 companies to work for in the US will reveal that there are some core organizational values that are embedded into successful organizations which attract and sustain employees and ensure their job satisfaction. The most important of these values are:
  • It may sound strange, but friendliness appears to be one of the distinguishing characteristics of good workplaces. People seem to enjoy each other's company. this is not an insignificant issue. Work for an organization is, after all, work in a group setting. You have to interact with others, and naturally what you think about your workplace has to do largely with the quality of those interactions.
  • There is one expression that we repeatedly hear at good workplaces: "There isn't much politics around here." By that, people mean employees aren't constantly jockeying for position, trying to curry favor with the high-ups, worrying about the impact of their actions on their chances for moving up in the company, or looking over their shoulder to make sure someone else isn't setting them up to destroy their career.
  • Good workplaces also offer a dramatic contrast to business as usual in most of the organizations that create an atmosphere of unfairness. It's extremely difficult to fool people into believing they are being treated fairly when they're not. Employees can easily note examples of favoritism, bias, inequity, and abuse, even if they do not express their outrage.
  • Because we often define our personal identity by our work, work becomes one of the principal means through which life becomes meaningful. Employees of good workplaces describe describe their job satisfaction in sentences like: "you can have an impact on things here." The organizations they work for makes them feel that they matter, they are valued, and so are their ideas and opinion about how things are around them in the workplace. Some employees, expressing what they feel about their work more philosophically: "'It is more than a job."
  • Employees can always cherish a caring, nurturing environment in the workplace. They talk about how supervisors take an interest in their personal lives. They talk a lot about how they feel valued as individuals, not just as part of an undifferentiated mass that performs tasks for the organization. A feeling of a 'long-term commitment' where they feel belonging to a family for life would always remain gratifying to most employees.
  • Naturally, a feeling of mutual trust between employees and their employers permeates good workplaces. It nurtures a atmosphere of job security around the workplace. It also cultivates a culture of 'togetherness' and 'ownership' in the workplace.

Looking at the above rationale on good workplaces we will notice that they are all personal, people focused. They satisfy needs of recognition, belonging, and self-esteem. They do not, of course, belittle the value of other tangible organizational motivating aspects like compensation, benefits, bonuses, and incentives, but to most employees, they have both priority and precedence when a decision to accept a job offer is made.

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