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Out of Our Minds
Wednesday, April 05, 2006 2:18 PM
Great Places
Martin Flaherty on Passionate Work

I'm here in Boston this week attending the Great Place To Work (GPTW) conference. The GPTW is the foundation that works with Fortune Magazine to produce the annual, and much lauded, Best Places To Work list. Over 600 attendees are gathered here to compare notes, share ideas and network to learn two things: 1) How does one build a great place to work and  2) how do those who are not on the list get on it?
So as I send posts from the show let me ask you, what do you think makes for a great place to work? Is it great benefits, environmentally sound facilities, or something else? Give me some ideas and I'll ask both the experts and the rank and file attendees.


Joan - 4/6/2006 9:21:02 PM
A great place to work is a place where I, as an employee, feel valued. In our parent's world that meant being taken care of by the company, with a pension, job security, etc. In our world, humane health benefits is one element of GPW. Opportunity for advancement and self-betterment is one. Capitalist behavior we can be proud of (or at least not ashamed of --- I used to work for Andersen) is one. Certainly, the ability to work with and for smart honest people who are kind and appreciate each others' contributions is one.
Martin - 4/5/2006 11:14:05 PM
Thanks for the feedback. CEO: I'll ask around. I can tell you that I've met folks from smaller companies who made the list and did so without spending much (if any) money on additional pay and benefits. The recurring theme is great companies and their cultures result from the values and solid foundations that the founders believed and management consistently adhere to. No goofy consultant double-speak or "shining white city on a hill" language, just clear and straight forward missions and vision. What's amazing is that none of this is rocket science. I will find out more. Jack: I'm tracking the ROI metrics myself. I saw an amazing stat' today. The GPTW has tracked their "100 Best" vs. the S&P 500 and the Russell 3000 between 1998 - 2005. Companies on the GPTW 100 outperformed both indices by two to four times during that period. I believe that the metrics are their. Phil: Well...damn! That's one powerful statement. And I agree. Love is something that runs through the veins of a lot of the folks here. It's a love for wanting to do more, do better and do good. There's a passion for purpose that runs through the companies on the list. What's amazing to me is so many of them pay only market rate salaries to their employees. Sure, they offer great benefits, but not necessarily superior to their peers. But without being glib...you can really feel the love with these folks. (I'll look for Lori, I think I know who she is already.) I'll try and answer these questions in more detail and give you a day one report in the morning. It's cold here in Boston, and I need some sleep.
Phil Gerbyshak - 4/5/2006 9:51:43 PM
A great place to work is not about "what I get" but rather "what I give." My company has been recognized as a GPW for the past 3 years. We give as much as we can; to the community, to our customers, to each other. We give our love, our blood, our sweat, our tears, because we WANT to, not because we HAVE to. I love where I work because the people I work with love me as much as I love them. Not in some mushy romantic way. In the way that I would run through a wall for my manager, and my manager's manager. If you can't afford to "give away" 8 hours of time to your associates to make a different in an area outside of work but where they are passionate about, you don't deserve to lead people or talk about balance. To get on the list, you need love. And you need to focus on balance. And authenticity. And if you see a "Lori from Milwaukee," tell her that Phil sends his love and thanks her for making our firm a great place to work!
Jack Jernigan - 4/5/2006 6:21:28 PM
Three letters, Martin: ROI. Have folks done studies that these things really pay off? I know it feel that it should, but I'm looking for metrics.
CEO - 4/5/2006 3:54:14 PM
It seems to me that most employees connect Great Places to benefits, as in "what do I get?"; in other words if a company gives things away (time off, etc), it classifies as a great place (or a better one at least). For some small companies like mine, there really isn't much I can give away. So, what I'd love to know is what can I do to improve my culture to a "great place" without handing out bonuses, keeping extra people on payroll to deal with extra vacation, etc?


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