What Makes a Best place to Work a Best Place to Work? (from the annual D-FW survey)

We opened our copy of the Dallas Morning News this morning to a wonderful supplement, a magazine on the Top 100 Places to Work 2011 in D-FW.  (This is the third year for this project).  At number one is Gaylord, and as one of our clients (we’ve presented some of our book synopses for one of their terrific teams), I can attest that the people at Gaylord really, really like working there.  And who wouldn’t?  Just walking into the place is energizing.  Whatever the top of the chart is for company morale, they’ve busted right on past that chart and have created a true world-class high-morale place to work.

The “best places to work” are decided by an extensive survey, conducted by a national firm that does the same survey work in a number of other metropolitan areas.  I have included the D-FW survey results at the bottom of this blog post, but let me make a few obvious, but I think important, observations.  Some of these observations come from the survey; others come from reading through the entire magazine.  (You can read the survey results here.  The entire supplement is compiled here.  But, you must be a subscriber to the Dallas Morning News for full web access).

1)  The people are cared about, trained well, and genuinely encouraged at these best places to work.  The managers/leaders/supervisors care about their people.  They appreciate their folks!  They provide solid training opportunities – in other words, people are given the training they need to then do their jobs well.

2)  The places are “fun.”  Just a causal flipping through the magazine will tell you this.  These places are fun places to work.  These people enjoy being together, and these companies make that a part of their “culture.”

I recently read a study on the productivity of work for folks who work at home, instead of going into the office.  This was not about the self-employed, but the employees of larger companies.  The conclusion – some folks really do well, but many simply missed the interaction that comes from working in the same place “together.”  I think we have a human need to interact.  And that need has been met for a long time in the workplace.  Making the workplace a fun place plays a key role in filling this human need.

3)  These companies “over-communicate.”  These companies have created systems that provide good, thorough, consistent and regular communication.

4)  These companies make it easy to suggest new things, new ideas, new approaches.  The voice of everyone is listened to, and respected – taken seriously!

5)  These companies value values and ethical standards.  They are good good companies to work for.

Here is one “warning” – even among these 100 Best Companies, the frustration level is high.  The survey found that only 35% agreed with this statement:  “There is not a lot of frustration at my workplace.”  I am reminded of the Frank Luntz observation, from What Americans Really Want, Really:  “Americans want fewer hassles.  Americans really don’t like hassles.”  (I wrote about this in this blog post).

So, it seems to me that the next challenge for these best companies is to reduce the frustration level at the workplace – to get rid of the hassles.

I can point to terrific business books that will help any leader, any company, tackle these areas more effectively.  My colleague, Karl Krayer, and I have synopses of these books “ready to go.”  If you would like to move toward improvement in any of these areas, contact us (click the “hire us” tab at the top of this web site).  We would be glad to come help you begin, and/or deepen, these conversations within your company.

Here is the survey, from the Dallas Morning News site:



Workers were asked how much they agree with each of these 20 statements, plus three more about retention and motivation. Here are the 20 statements plus the percent of Dallas workers who agreed or strongly agreed with each:

•I believe this company is going in the right direction. 72%
•I have confidence in the leader of this company. 74%
•This company operates by strong values and ethics. 77%

•I feel genuinely appreciated at this company. 69%
•My job makes me feel like I am part of something meaningful. 68%
•There is not a lot of frustration at my workplace. 35%
•I have the flexibility I need to balance my work and personal life. 66%

•I am confident about my future at this company. 61%
•I am happy with my career opportunities at this company. 61%
•I get the formal training I want for my career. 53%

•Senior managers understand what is really happening at this company. 58%
•At this company, we do things efficiently and well. 54%
•New ideas are encouraged at this company. 67%
•I feel well-informed about important decisions at this company. 52%

•My manager helps me learn and grow. 60%
•I have confidence in my manager. 75%
•My manager listens to me. 73%
•My manager makes it easier to do my job well. 70%

Pay and benefits
•My pay is fair for the work I do. 54%
•My benefits package is good compared with others in this industry. 51%

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