A Fun Place to Work Is Good for Business

By Ann Elliott

Fortune’s 2007 list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” ranks Google #1. Fortune asks “Is the stock value at $478 [as of April 26, 2007] because Google is a great place to work or is it a great place to work because the stock is at $478?” Maybe it’s not either/or but both/and. people Happy employees make loyal employees. Keep your employees satisfied and they look forward to coming to work each day. You save money on recruiting and training. Satisfied employees can be an excellent source of attracting qualified new hires, too. Arnold & Porter #26 on the list offers a $15,000 referral fee if you recommend someone they hire. Happy employees increase productivity. Happy employees save money for employers because they are focused on the work at hand and it shows in increased productivity. Employees who are doing work they enjoy in a supportive environment are more accurate and creative as well. Happy employees enhance customer experiences. Recently I took some materials to FedEx/Kinkos to be copied. This location is conveniently located, parking is adequate and employees are helpful–with one exception. I explained my project and the person taking my printing order, grimaced one time too many. I asked, “Is there a problem; you seem very disgruntled?” Through gritted teeth and a scowl he replied, “I’m very busy.” I wondered why he was there if it wasn’t to help customers. In subsequent visits I avoided dealing with him. With a little investigation of other store employees I learned his bad attitude is his trademark and that he is the manager. How much business have you lost because of unhappy and disagreeable employees? How has this manager’s attitude affected the morale of other employees? It’s more than health and financial benefits. Sixteen companies on the list this year pay 100% of their employees’ health care premiums. Thirty-two companies offer on-site child care. The highest paid employee earns $181,099 a year. Even if your company cannot provide these benefits, it still can create a fun place to work at little or no cost that will ultimately enhance the bottom line as well as the lives of its employees. >>>>>Understand the “whole person shows up” to work. Flexible schedules, job sharing and telecommuting help employees balance work life and personal life. Supporting these ways of working takes a change from the traditional “9 to 5” mindset. Boston Consulting Group, Inc. #8 understands balance is important and has created a “red zone.” Employees who work more than sixty hours a week are flagged and advised by a career mentor. >>>>>Make learning and training available at all levels of the organization. To their surprise, Quad/Graphics, the third largest printer in North America, and #75 on the list, discovered that people were leaving the company because they were frustrated. They did not feel they were getting enough training. >>>>>Develop a culture of trust, accountability, appreciation and respect. Demonstrate how much you value the contribution of your employees to the success of your business. Quicken Loans/Rock Financial #20 has been on the list four consecutive years. Dan Gilbert, CEO, says “Our people enjoy working here because we’ve created a unique culture that is based on trust and empowerment.” How to get started. Dianne Fuqua, Director of Work Life Program for SAS, told me the thirty year old company, a developer of business intelligence software, initiated their efforts by putting M&Ms in employee paychecks. SAS has been on Fortune’s list for ten consecutive years. Happy employees are good investments. Unhappy employees are a drain on their coworkers, managers, customers and your business. Since you pay one way or the other, why not find out what you can do to create more fun in the work place and more profit on the bottom line? First step, ask your employees how the work place could be more fun. Second step, consult other businesses to find out what works for them. Next, get started.

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Ann Elliott

Ann Elliott, founder of The Berkana Company, excels at leadership strategy

An expert at helping business leaders enjoy more profits and improved productivity with less stress, she blends fun and excitement with executive coaching and training to yield results for her clients.

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