Doug Conant of Campbell Soup said, “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.”
Question: So how do you “win in the workplace”?
Answer: Create a “winning” culture.
While the process of creating a winning culture is a subject much too broad for a blog post, we can illustrate some of the attributes of a winning culture that might stimulate your thinking about your own culture.
ERC (Employers Resource Council), a human resources organization based in Northeastern Ohio, has run an annual program for 15 years that “recognizes great workplaces that excel at the attraction, retention, and motivation of top performers” and has identified 15 attributes that it believes “are characteristic of great workplaces for top talent.”
Today let’s look at two of the ERC’s 15 attributes of a winning culture. Every leader can help cultivate a great workplace by developing the following two attributes in their culture.
Meaningful and challenging work
The first attribute that I’d like to highlight from ERC’s findings describes employees’ work:
It (the ‘great workplace’ employer) understands the importance of keeping employees' work interesting, exciting, challenging and meaningful, because consistently, top performers say that challenging and meaningful work is the number one reason they seek in a job.
Over the years I have experienced that our people in our company wanted huge and daunting objectives/goals that were bigger than themselves. These objectives/goals have been like a big mountain to climb.
As the key leader, it was my responsibility to put these objectives/goals before our people and explain why they were important.
I also learned to tap the knowledge and expertise of my team when facing a challenge, opportunity, or decision.
I developed ways to involve the right people in the decision-making process. Also, I intentionally sought their input before voicing my own opinion. This led to better decisions and higher job satisfaction among our employees.
Click here to learn more about the system I use to make decisions.
Competitive compensation plus incentive pay
The second attribute that I’d like to explore from ERC’s findings addresses employees’ compensation and incentives:
It (the ‘great workplace’ employer) offers competitive and fair compensation, above-average pay increases, and opportunities to earn more pay based on performance, such as bonuses, profit sharing, and other incentives to keep and reward top performing talent as well as attract new talent.
Prior to our company hiring a professional to prepare a wage survey of each position, we used whatever outside source we could find to determine a wage range for each position. Our first objective was to assure we were paying a fair wage for each position.
Then we set up a Pay for Performance incentive/bonus for all employees. We paid out a percentage of the profits to our people when our profits exceeded a certain threshold.
Each month we shared our progress toward the threshold. At that time, we paid out annually, and our people received some the largest bonus checks they had ever seen.
One year we came very close to the threshold, but we did not go over it. However as the owner, I still gave our people the bonus because I knew in my heart they gave their best.
It was very exciting to see people’s faces when we gave out the bonus checks. One lady came by my office and gave me a big bear hug. It was obvious that sharing our profits helped endear folks to me and our company.
You can assess important aspects of your culture by asking: Is my organization winning in these two areas of culture?
In our next blog post we will continue to look at more characteristics of winning cultures.
 yourerc.com “HR Insights Blog” ERC (Employers Resource Council), 5-Sep-2013 (12-Aug-2014).