Best places to work as voted by you the employees

For the second year in a row Glassdoor has published their Best Places to Work listing based on votes by the employees of these organisations. Basically wisdom of crowds to determine the 50 best employers in the US. The terms of reference were:

The Top 50 were selected from more than 37,000 companies reviewed by the nearly 100,000 employees who completed a 20-question survey on in 2009. To be eligible for the list, a company must have had at least all of the following:

  • 25 reviews from United States-based employees between January 1, 2009 and December 1, 2009,
  • “satisfied” ratings overall and across all categories, and
  • a CEO with at least a 50% approval rating.

The top 10 employers based on the Glassdoor survey are:

  1. Southwest Airlines
  2. General Mills
  3. Slalom Consulting
  4. Bain & Company
  5. McKinsey & Company
  6. MITRE
  7. Boston Consulting
  8. Continential Airlines
  9. Procter & Gamble
  10. Juniper Networks

Which is an interesting list as it looks very little like the Fortune Best Companies to Work For top 10:

  1. NetApp
  2. Edward Jones
  3. Boston Consulting Group
  4. Google
  5. Wemans Food Markets
  6. Cisco Systems
  7. Genetech
  8. Methodist Hospital System
  9. Goldman Sachs
  10. Nugget Market

If we compare the lists side by side you can see how different they are, the numbers in brackets indicate where the company appears on the other list, if at all.

Glassdoor Fortune
  1. Southwest Airlines (-)
  2. General Mills (99)
  3. Slalom Consulting (-)
  4. Bain & Company (-)
  5. McKinsey & Company (-)
  6. MITRE (66)
  7. Boston Consulting (3)
  8. Continential Airlines (-)
  9. Procter & Gamble (-)
  10. Juniper Networks (84)
  1. NetApp (15)
  2. Edward Jones (24)
  3. Boston Consulting Group (7)
  4. Google (14)
  5. Wemans Food Markets (-)
  6. Cisco Systems (-)
  7. Genetech (-)
  8. Methodist Hospital System (-)
  9. Goldman Sachs (16)
  10. Nugget Market

While yes the lists were compiled at different end of the year the Fortune list at the beginning Glassdoor as of December 1, they do should how different two lists can be. Even if you compare the Glassdoor results from 2008 the Fortune list is still rather different. This tells me that just relying on external lists to determine the top employers is dangerous practice.

The key is to know if your employees are engaged and telling others that your company is a great place to work. This is a critical first step in the creation of successful talent management strategies, such as referral programs.

It’s all about the message

A lack of clear communication is cited as a common cause of many relationships failures, be they personal or professional.

Many a study has shown that clearly communicating the employment deal up front is a critical first step in having an engaged employee.

This should be obvious, no one likes to buy a product only to find out that the advertising misled us. If you have not been watching The Apprentice Australia, spend a moment and watch the video below, skip to 3:30  and see what one of Australia’s top businessmen thinks of misleading advertising. Even if it is slightly grey.

Which is why if an employee is sold a deal that does not meet the marketing you are battling up hill to reengage them!

Make sure your job ad, career web site and interview process does not sell something that is not.

While employee testimonials are a great way to provide insight into what it is like to work for your organisation, they tend to be staged, not to mislead but to put forward the best image. Another idea, let your employees blog. Employees who blog openly and honestly will allow prospective employees to see what it is really like in your workplace.

54 Percent of Companies Have Bad Management

These types of articles really really get me going.

54% of Companies Ban …

I’m sorry but I am not surprised that 77% of employees who had access to Facebook used it during the work day! Ok how many logged onto personal email accounts, made a personal phone call, used their personal mobile phone, had some non-work related discussion in the kitchen while getting a coffee.

Given that 63% of Australian employees are not full engaged at work it is not surprising that they are looking for a distraction. Close down Facebook, Twitter, MySpace whatever you will not see an increase in productivity.

We know from academic research that companies that engage their workforce perform better. Research from Alex Edmans, a business professor from Whartons School, has shown that engaged employees do in fact drive company performance. He looked at Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work for in America”and found that an annually rebalanced portfolio returned 14% between 1998 – 2005 compared to the market in general of only 6%.

So let’s ignore the research found that employees who “surf the Internet at work” are 9% more productive than those that don’t. Or the productivity benefits of engaged employees? Or the real life statements from employees of Australia’s largest employers.

If your employees are spending too much time using social media I would question do you have a management problem or a technical problem?

ATC: Naomi Simson, RedBalloon

Up before lunch was Naomi Simson, CEO of RedBalloon, and CEO means Chief Experience Officer. RedBalloon vision, we are changing the face of giving in Australia, the goal is to change employee engagement in Australia by 1%. Given lack of engagement costs Australia $21billion that is a lot of savings. Some thoughts:
  • How can you spend millions of dollar on advertising but not know who works there, their names or locations?
  • 30% of your employees are waiting to leave, as soon as they find the job
  • 52% of Australian employees buy their employees a leaving gift but only 2% an arriving gift
  • 78% of actively engaged employees will promote their company & it’s products
  • Employee Engagement: It is all about connection, first logical, then emotional and finally brand
  • The first connection the first time you hear about the company, then the job ad.
  • On boarding is the initial engagement
  • Pleasure Relations Team gives people a good time on the phone (aka call center staff)
  • The customer always has a valid contribution but they may not be right
  • Leadership: Vision, Values & Alignment
  • Brand is built on relationships
  • Employees are the new customer
  • Cash is not a gift and becomes compensation as it expected
  • Experiences creates a story and stories are shared.
  • All work and no play makes it a boot camp, but all fun is a kindergarten! 
The RedBalloon recruitment process:
  • Sends vision statement on job application
  • Asks them to apply by replying to the email saying “Interview Me Now”.
  • Group interviews to learn about the applicants, for cultural fit. 
  • Then they do technical assessments, via a test, 
  • Finnally the formal interviews
  • Before the legals documents are signed the new employee get emails, network logins etc and they get invited to all social functions all before they start.
  • Second day on the job you get given a gift that they must use before the probation is up
  • After 2-3 weeks they have lunch with Naomi

Internet usage at work makes you productive

Flickr Photo by : dietpoison
(Source: Flickr dietpoison)
An Australian report released yesterday found that employees who “surf the Internet work” are 9% more productivity than those that don’t! The study was conducted by Dr Brent Coker from the Department of Management and Marketing.

The study covered 300 workers and found that 70% engage in what has has termed “workplace Internet leisure browsing” and helps with their concentration.

“It’s the same in the work place. Short and unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days work, and as a result, increased productivity.”

The Deacons Social Networking Survey found that a majority of Internet users (91%) felt they use the internet appropriately while at work. It could be said that not only are people who have access to these sites more productive a majority use the tools appropriately. To all those organisations that are blocking sites such as YouTube, Facebook etc due to productivity issues, well you might in fact have it the wrong way around!

Let me push this thinking further.

Trusting and respecting your employees provides a foundation for engagement. With somewhere in the order of 20% of Australian employees actively disengaged and 62% general not engaged. Organisations need to work on engagement, part of this is how to motivate employees and improve employee morale, ok this is not news to most.

What if you trusted your employees that they would ‘behave’ on the internet and allowing them “workplace Internet leisure browsing”?

You might find that not only are they more productive, more engaged, motivated and have a higher morale.  Also don’t forget that companies with highly engaged employees tend to out perform (financial returns) their competitors by 2:1.

Of course there is always a flip side, the study also found some of us are addicted to the internet and as such “workplace Internet leisure browsing” just feeds the addicition. Oh well maybe it is time for some IAA meetings.

Fear != Happy Employees

Following my post yesterday about Facebook I found a great post from Jim Benson about about how your approach to your employees directly impacts your success.

The family that owned the restaurant had two long time trusted employees who served as managers.  The family knew the restaurant was in good hands.  When the long term employees left, the family was worried.  Fast food restaurants hire young, minimum wage workers who often slack off or even steal from the register. 

The owners felt they needed to keep an eye on the restaurant.  So they installed cameras.

This created an environment of US vs THEM with employees just keeping busy so the owners did not call them up to find out what was going on.

So the employees found themselves filling full salts, cleaning clean floors and hiding directly underneath the cameras in the “blind spots” just to have a simple conversation.  They never wanted to appear “not busy.”

As a team, the employees only could rally around one thing – their hatred of the cameras.  They couldn’t talk to each other, learn about each other, or learn from each other.  They could all merely mindlessly perform the already-satisfied chore list.

One by one, the other employees all left.  None of them would ever become the new long-time and trusted employees because trust was never allowed to develop.

Not a way to run a successful organisation. Will the owners blame the young Gen Y workers not having the right work ethic or is there a deeper issue? Could it be that they never developed a trust relationship with their employees? Did they engage with them? Just because your employee’s look busy does not mean they are actually productive, and servicing your customers.



Managing the employer brand

Over the last two to three months I have spent a lot of time working with people on either their employer or personal brand. These discussions have lead me to believe that most organisations are not thinking about how social media can impact their employer brand. 

Organisations are spending vasts amounts of time and money ensuring that their employer value proposition (EVP) clearly articulates to the workforce benefits that are both emotive (feeling good about working here) and tangible (remuneration, benefits and career development) for current and prospective employees.

Traditionally an EVP reflects the external image that the organisation portrays to the workforce and is reflected in the actions and behaviours of public officers and by company policies, procedures and practices.  In today’s world through social media, blog posts, tweets, and video are controlled by the public and remain in search engine caches for a very long time, if not forever!

I call this new world one of a “socially generated EVP”. And your socially generated EVP is not one you can control or predict in a traditional manner.

Today I read about a survey conducted by Weber Shandwick and the Economist Intelligence Unit which found that while 67% of executives felt their companies reputation was vulnerable online. However less than 40% analysed their own reputation and 70% were either unaware or did not want to admit employees have badmouthed the companies online. The full replort is available (PDF).

This calls for social media governance within the organisation. With social media being a grass roots activity you might question the need for governance. However without a good governance model, your employees and the organisation as a whole, is left open to abuse and potential legal issues. At a minimum, put down some “rules of engagement”, depending on your corporate culture, they can be simple or complex, preferably simple!  Don’t forget that by engaging with your employees as part of the creation process of the governance model can create self-regulation.


Productivity paradox of social networks

Social networking tends to take a bit of a beating in the mainstream press when it comes to the business value. They seem to ignore the good examples of how organisations use these tools, such as Dow Chemical to encourage their alumni and employees on long term leave to return. In the first three months of usage they had 25,000 referrals, 24 full-time jobs and 40 contract roles filled through the use of a social network (Source Gartner).

Which brings me to two very good articles I read this week. 

First up was from the UK’s HR Zone looked at the benefits social network tools provide organisations in reducing the barriers to communication.

Organisational behaviour research has shown that collaborative Web 2.0 tools are particularly effective where technical knowledge is valued. In complex organisations like multinational corporations, finding someone who possesses highly specific expertise is often difficult. One reason is that expertise remains ‘hidden’ – and consequently unexploited – within organisational structures.

They even go on to quote a UK-based think tank indicating that social networks encourge people to create productive relationships and work the way people do.

The second was from Harvard Business Review on the benefits of social networks, focused around information discovery and sharing. Here we see figures such as 7%, 30% and even 40% improvements in productivty when employees where using communication patterns facilitated by social networks. What CEO doesn’t want 40% more out of their existing workforce!

With all this research being released I hope we will see some more positive articles from the mainstream media.

Social media in big companies

A couple of months ago Telstra joined Twitter via their ISP Big Pond, I and others wrote harshly about how the implementation had been a failure. Since that time the Telstra team have been taking on board the feedback and have made significant changes to the way they engage with people online.  After initially trying to go alone they have engaged with some of the best minds on social media in Australia to change their approach. The changes have been so dramatic I am surprised and impressed.

The original engagement via Twitter was:

@bushgeek Got a BigPond® query?! Ask about BigPond® via this link 5ufhvf & a BigPond consultant will email you back.

Now this is a typical customer engagement via Twitter:

@jackmcintyre It’s a known issue being worked on,we suggest keep calling Tech to get it more attention to get it fixed quicker.

They are also having a bit of fun with people, yesterday was games day:

@BigPondTeam Wow! There are some fast people out there. #1 track currently is ‘Poker Face’ by Lady Gaga for $0.99 and its DRM Free! about 17 hours ago from TweetDeck

@BigPondTeam Who can tell me what is the #1 track on BigPond Music, and how much does it cost to purchase? about 18 hours ago from TweetDeck

@BigPondTeam We are going to try a few different things today, so feel free to play along!! #BPS

They are generating interest in some of the services on offer and yes this is marketing but in a fun way. I played along and to tell you the truth will go back to the Big Pond site to check out what is there.

Telstra also ran a short survey yesterday to get feedback from a number of people on how they were performing on Twitter. Before filling in the survey I thought I would ask my Twitter followers their thoughts as well. Here are a few.

pollyemj @mspecht my only interaction with @BigPondTeam was a bit spooky – just weird to be contacted randomly after i mentioned them in a tweet about 19 hours ago from twhirl in reply to mspecht

joshsharp @mspecht after a terrible start they very quickly took on feedback and turned it around. they’ve actually done a quite good job.. about 19 hours ago from twhirl in reply to mspecht

jurgen @mspecht I think they’re doing a good job. It’s personal and personable. Friendly and forthright. Not just an announcement stream. about 19 hours ago from NatsuLion in reply to mspecht

ourfounder @mspecht I’m obviously across the big pond,but looking over their tweet history I like the voice and regularity of the posts. Good info too. about 19 hours ago from TweetDeck in reply to mspecht

After further clarification from @pollyemj I found this interaction was at the start during the corporate robot response period.  The overall feeling matched mine. Terrible start, great improvement.

This gets me to wonder, the employees at Big Pond who are working with their customers in a more human and open fashion are they more engaged employees? Do they now enjoy their job more? Do they trust their employer?