Leadership

Great Places to Work: What You Can Learn From Them

By / Feb 1, 2013 (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

The annual list of Fortune’s top 100 companies to work for is a good way to evaluate how your own organization is doing. Is your association keeping employees happy?

Fortune’s list of Best Companies to Work For 2013 may include some of the usual suspects (we see why everyone wants to work at Google!), it can serve as primer on improving the morale—and retention—of employees at your own workplace.

Fortune’s list offers some useful insights because it’s all over the map. Of the top 10 companies cited, the number of employees ranges from just over 1,000 to more than 43,000. But don’t be distracted by those large numbers: Even small employers, including small-staff associations, can glean valuable takeaways from the companies on the list.

The Champ Keeps Things Fun

Google takes the top honor for the fourth time. Long admired for implementing mandatory “thinking” hours for employees, Google has added three wellness centers and a seven-acre sports complex with a roller hockey rink, basketball courts, and horseshoe pits.

Lesson: Sometimes, fun is the key ingredient in keeping employees happy and satisfied. The work-hard-play-hard environment Google cultivates is no doubt one of the reasons it keeps topping the Fortune list.

Meet Your Goals, Get Time Off

CHG Healthcare Services rose from No. 9 to No. 3 this year, following Google’s work-plus-fun formula. Employees at the medical staffing firm compete in talent shows, trivia contests, and themed competitions. But it’s not all fun and games: Extra time off is given to sales teams that meet their goals.

Lesson: Rewarding your employees for hard work acts as an incentive for staff to produce good results—without resentment for the hours put in. Bonus perks, such as team-building exercises that people actually want to do, create a collaborative environment.

CoWorkers Rewarding Coworkers

Wegmans Food Markets may have dropped a slot from No. 4 to No. 5, but it’s kept its turnover at a low rate of 3.6 percent. Most impressive is the rewarding spirit of the company, which lets employees give one another gift cards for good service. Even better? One in five employees are related.

Lesson: Managers don’t have to be the ones to dole out rewards. Encouraging employees to offer kudos to their coworkers creates an a strong sense of teamwork and shared appreciation.

Pay Better, Retain workers

The Container Store, No. 16, makes selling Tupperware and fun-sized boxes all the more appealing by doubling the industry average pay for hourly salespeople (amounting to an average annual salary of $46,925 per year) and offering attractive benefits, such as a 401(k) plan that matches 50 percent up to 4 percent of take-home pay. The result? A super-low turnover of just 5.7 percent.

Lesson: Treat employees well with generous salaries and competitive benefits packages, and they’ll stay for the long haul.

Take decline in stride

Build-a-Bear Workshop may be closing down many of its stores, but it earns a spot on the Fortune list (No. 78) because it’s softening the blow by offering employees the option to transfer to different locations.

Lesson: When the economy hits your business hard, don’t forget about the employees who made it run—and help with their transition as much as possible.

What makes your association a great place to work? How are you improving employee morale?

Chloe Thompson

Chloe Thompson is a contributing writer to Associations Now. More »

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