Is Yours A ‘Great Place To Work’?

Is Yours A ‘Great Place To Work’?

Building and maintaining an employer brand that resonates with the community and public requires striking a balance between what’s good for the organization and what’s good for the organization’s people. Though this may be a seemingly impossible task for some organizations; it can be done. The brilliant minds at Glassdoor compiled a short list of the 5 traits their “Great Places to Work” winners all had in common. Here are the fundamentally shared qualities:

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  • People Matter:

The genesis of great places to work starts with the people they invite onto their team. And then how those great people are ambassadors of the brand/organization and help to attract other great people. So, you have to create a pool of quality talent, who are willing and excited to be your brand ambassadors for your workplace and your products. These are the employees who will help you attract more talent like themselves, those who are aligned with and support the vision and values of the business. In order to get your initial pool together you have to concentrate on talent quality, raising the hiring bar and establishing cultural fit with every hire [more on that later]. Then you need to implement an amazing employee referral program…

  • Referrals are the #1 source for new hire quality
  • Referrals are the #1 fastest time to hire (29 days for referrals, 39 days for job boards, and 45 days for career sites – so crazy!)
  • Referrals are #1 at 46% retention after one year (compared to 33% from career sites and 22% from job boards).
  • People Are Heard & Action Taken:

Organizations with strong employee feedback processes have turnover rates 15% lower than average.

Great places to work take employee feedback and implement strategies to reconcile any existing gaps in the business or the people running the business. Beyond using the employee feedback to improve the organization, employees really do want feedback on their own performance and professional growth, and they want it immediately. In fact, 71% of employees prefer feedback that is in-the-moment and ongoing. Great companies accept ownership of identified opportunity areas and refuse to assign blame to anything other than their process. They own it and they fix it.

  • Opportunities For Growth:

If your employees don’t mind being stagnant and experiencing the mundane day-to-day pedestrian tasks without variety, it’s an enormous problem; they aren’t growing or improving themselves, the customer experience, or the bottom line. If your employees is ambitious, driven, and determined, but isn’t provided any growth opportunities, they will quickly leave for a better opportunity. Either way, ignoring individual professional growth opportunities and career path planning is terrible for the employer brand. Employees want opportunities to consistently grow and development. They want to have access to resources and tools to self-develop and have access to mentors to help support their growth and career in retail.

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  • Leadership Matters:

Leaders must have a clear understanding and embrace the organizational values, goals, and objectives. Without this compass, they are not able to lead effectively. In order to make high-quantity and higher-quality decisions, they have to be confident and kept informed. This may seem like common sense but with obvious lack of retail presence on these “Great Place To Work” lists annually – it is clearly not embraced by all organizations. Retailers must elevate communication, transparency, two-way dialog, and innovation as benefits to the culture.

  • People Are Recognized & Appreciated:

Retail employees are clocking in and out of work every day, and almost 65% of them report not feeling appreciated at work. Employee appreciation is a pretty simple concept, but so many organization’s executive and senior leaders don’t seem to grasp its importance in workplace satisfaction and engagement. Great places to work will often have above average performance measures and processes for it’s top performers. A great sign that an organization is focused on improvement – you see a system that supports recognizing the successes of employees allowing peers to recognize each other and leadership to identify top performance to reward and appreciate their contributions that are happening in the workplace in real-time.

Key Qualities For Turning An Organization Into A Great Place To Work

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According to Robert Levering, the co-founder of the Great Place to Work Institute, there are some decisive qualities that make a company a ‘Great Place To Work’:

  • Trust: What all great workplaces have in common is a high level of trust between management and employees. The really bad workplaces always seem to lack this.
  • Distinctive & Unique Workplaces: Employees also want to feel that they are part of a company that is distinctive and unique. Without this special quality it is very unlikely they will consider their company a great workplace.
  • Values: It is extremely important to effectively communicate the common values of the company and their people while at the same time giving leadership the necessary autonomy to lead their teams.

He goes on to say, “You can’t predict anything based on size. Nor can you make predictions based on the industry your company is active in, nor on its location or the profit your company makes. These are not relevant variables. What is key is how management operates, how it communicates with the employees, how it implements processes and policies. There are examples of great workplaces in any industry. The one thing I’ve learned in all these years: Every company has its own unique culture and its own unique challenges. There is no magic formula. A high level of trust, however, is always very important. The most common misconception I have observed is that they believe a change in policy can make a big difference. But it can’t. What they should much rather think about is how to improve the level of trust.”

Mr. Levering the shares the fiscal impact of a great place to work, “Companies with great workplaces have outperformed their peers in terms of stock performance for many consecutive years, and they have two to three times better returns. The turnover rate of employees is also much lower, which saves money because recruiting and training a new person is very costly. Also in an environment of trust people are better able and also more willing to contribute their best ideas. This is especially important for an innovation-driven company like yours, where you constantly have to come up with new products, new ideas, new ways of doing things. Also, the higher the level of trust, the more likely people are going to cooperate with each other. And the better the employees feel treated and appreciated for their good work, the better they are also going to treat their customers. So a great workplace is invariably embedded in a business-related context, if you will.

 The 8 Most Desirable Qualities In Talent For Great Places To Work

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Certain retail people simply have “it”. We can all recollect and identify those individuals who walk into a room and instantly capture your attention, who communicate in such a dynamic way that allows you to instantly relate and connect with them, and yet they have just enough of a hint of mystery, leaving you wanting to learn more. They carry themselves with confidence, but – at the same time are warm and inviting. Wickedly intelligent and sharp, they have an insatiable curiosity that inspires them to try new things, make mistakes and fail until they succeed. Best of all, they are not afraid of failure and are true innovators, learning from their mistakes and getting better each day because they are not afraid to try. They are not big talkers and don’t feel the need to constantly, publicly talk about how successful they are – they work hard in silence and let their successes be their noise. Best of all – they inspire these things in other, usually the people who work directly with them.

These are the kind of people that are a rare, but an immensely valuable commodity in the workplace, and the types of people you want to recruit because they are the action seekers, solution finders, and game changers who inspire improvement and excellence in retail. Once you put together your organization’s “critical success factors” and start hiring to those qualities – you will make a huge leap forward in establishing and committing to be a truly ‘Great Place To Work”.  Here are some of the intrinsic traits shared by the greatest talent I have worked with:

  • They are not afraid to fail: Simply because they are so determined to succeed. They take risks – try innovative approaches – disrupt the status quo – they do this to improve and eliminate processes that don’t add value to the business in lieu of ideas that do.
  • They are direct: Time is money and productivity and in today’s marketplace, companies do not have time to waste. Being direct, and respectful, in your communication style saves everyone time and energy. Those individuals who can get to the point quickly, concisely and clearly are not only more productive, but also more highly valued contributors and business partners.
  • They are passionate about evolution and change: If there is one thing that is constant in retail is that we experience change, and the best employees are resilient and are inspired by the evolving priorities and needs of retail. When retail organizations and people inside our industry fight with reality, they always lose. This is a critical perspective to have for success.
  • They are personally disciplined and hardworking: These people can prioritize work, deliver high-quality and high-quantity results to all of their assignment and projects. Finding people who have developed their ability to focus, commit and be flawless with their word and results is key to being successful.
  • They are creative: It’s important to think of solutions to obstacles and come up with new ideas to improve processes. Individuals who are able to courageously bring a fresh perspective and a new point-of-view to the organization are not only a huge commodity in the workplace, but a lot of fun to be around and are usually great collaborators. They encourage new ideas and thoughts with their colleagues and will be supportive business partners.
  • They are positive and grateful:You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”, says Jim Rohn. As a Harvard study concluded, “Humans preferentially attend to negative words over positive or neutral ones”. And according to Shawn Anchor, “Only 25% of job successes are predicted by IQ, 75% of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat.” The people we spend most of our time around are the people we turn into, so surrounding yourself with pleasant, positive, kind, and encouraging individuals who are grateful to be at work will not only lead to greater productivity for your team, but to greater overall happiness.
  • They are phenomenal team players: They are collaborative, supportive, and engaging with their peers and colleagues. They understand their role in the organization’s goals and objectives; as well as their importance to their team objectives. They refuse to let their coworkers down. Organically strong leaders lead with or without a title and want to empower and support their business partners. They share information and resources. They care about delivering an exceptional level of results more than they care about being recognized for it. [But please don’t forget to recognize them for it!]
  • They are curious learners and avid self-developers: Truly great talent doesn’t wait to learn what is needed to be successful – they will research the information, adapt it to their professional behavior, and reinvent themselves to maintain nimbleness to their work style. There is little that is more inspiring than someone who is curious and seeks to truly understand their role and how it impacts their organization and their colleagues.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail and 18 year retailer. I am a passionate and creative leader and coach committed to inspiring thought, action, truth-telling, solution-seeking, and dialog about how to maximize talent through identifying and creating a process around critical success factors, workplace culture, signature leadership practices, productivity, profitability, alignment of employees and company vision & values, and workplace happiness inside all retail organizations. I help create healthy, vibrant, high-performing, and highly-productive organizations that are talent magnets and focused on delivering the highest level of customer experience that will differentiate them from competition and result in long-term growth and sustainability.

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