Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Why Be a Great Place to Work?

Image courtesy of Unsplash
How does your employee experience rate relative to other companies? 

Would your employees consider the company a great place to work?

Why does that matter?

While a "great place to work" might be in the eye of the beholder, I have my thoughts on what drives a great employee experience and what comprises an employee-centric culture.

Included in my list are things like:
  • leadership
    • a leader that people want to follow
    • a leader that cares about his/her people
  • communication
    • transparency
    • vision, goals, values
    • guiding principles
  • lack of politics and bureaucracy
    • no playing (power) games
  • camaraderie
    • collaboration
    • work together, play together
  • empowerment
    • responsibility
    • ownership
    • accountability
  • respect
    • given and received
  • trust
    • given and received
  • recognition
  • appreciation/feeling valued
    • doing work that matters
I thought I'd see how the Great Place to Work Institute defines a great place to work. They take two perspectives on the definition, citing trust developed through management credibility as a key driving force.

A great workplace from the employee's viewpoint is one where they:
  • TRUST the people they work for;
  • Have PRIDE in what they do; 
  • and ENJOY the people they work with.

A great workplace from the manager's viewpoint is one where they:
  • With employees who GIVE THEIR PERSONAL BEST; 
  • and WORK TOGETHER AS A TEAM / FAMILY in an environment of TRUST 

There are nine practice areas where leaders and managers create an environment of trust. Great workplaces achieve organizational goals by inspiring, speaking, and listening. They have employees who give their personal best by thanking, developing, and caring. And they work together as a team / family by hiring, celebrating, and sharing.

Do any of those describe the organization you work for? As an employee, do you feel your employer cares about you and adheres to these tenets of a great workplace and a great experience?

Employee experience on its own is an important area on which every company should focus. It impacts employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention. It also impacts the customer experience. I've written and spoken about that many times. 

The real kicker is that when we impact the customer experience through a better employee experience, we also impact the bottom line. There's a 1998 article from Harvard Business Review that summarizes the work that Sears executives did to rebuild the company to focus on customers. The article talks about the new business model and what they discovered: "There is a chain of cause and effect running from employee behavior to customer behavior to profits." 

Also, it's been reported that organizations in the Best Companies to Work Study for the period 2004 – 2008 increased their revenues by 94% and their profits by 315%.

I was delighted to find more evidence of this from Watermark Consulting, the firm that publishes the annual Customer Experience ROI Study. They've taken a look at the employee experience leaders based on Great Place to Work findings and charted their performance on the S&P 500 for the last 18 years, from 1997 to 2014. (Unfortunately, there is no laggards list from this source to compare them to, but this is pretty enlightening on its own. I can only imagine that the laggards have polar opposite results, especially if you consider the Customer Experience ROI Study findings.) Their annualized returns outperformed the stock market by nearly double.

Source: Watermark Consulting
Still questioning why it matters? Creating an environment within your organization where employees feel they are valued, do work that matters, are empowered and trusted, and have a great experience is good for employees; it's good for customers and, subsequently, for the business, too.

A great place to work is one in which you trust the people you work for, have pride in what you do, and enjoy the people you work with. -Robert Levering, Co-Founder, Great Place to Work®


  1. Fascinating, do you have a link to the data other than the watermark report? Would love to find out more.

    1. James, that was the first time I saw the "employee experience impact on market performance" type of analysis done by anyone. Is that the data you're referring to?

  2. Hi Annette,
    I agree that designing the employee experience is crucial to being able to deliver a great CX.

    However, if we consider the relationship marketing cycle (attract, engage, serve, retain and refer) that many companies use to deliver a better experience to their customers, I wonder if companies should also be thinking about their employee experience in those terms?

    Best regards,


    1. Absolutely. I've worked with clients in the past taking a similar approach; I summarized the employee experience lifecycle here: http://www.cx-journey.com/2011/12/employee-experience-lifecycle.html. I think that we need to begin to think about them during the candidate experience and well before. That's where the (employer) brand experience certainly comes into play. And these employee candidates may also be/have been a customer.

  3. I don't think it's any surprise that when an employee feels they're treated well, they're happy, and a happy employee is far more productive than a sad one! Or worse, a bitter, angry one...

    Fred | O'Malley Hansen Communications

    1. The good news is that it seems like a simple relationship. The bad news is that so few choose to acknowledge it or to do anything about it.

  4. Good post and reminder of the basics