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Wednesday, March 14, 2020

What makes a company the best to work for . . . four times in a row?

There’s no problem, it seems, combining a great workplace with great profits



The Times of London announced recently that W. L. Gore, makers of Gore-Tex fabric, has come top in “The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For” survey for the fourth year running [link] . The paper describes this contest as “the UK’s toughest survey to measure staff satisfaction.” The survey, submitted by almost 150,000 employees, covered eight key areas:
  1. Leadership by the head of the company and senior managers.

  2. Stress, pressure, and the balance between work and home duties.

  3. The immediate boss and other day-to-day managers.

  4. Immediate colleagues.

  5. Pay and benefits.

  6. How much companies are thought to put back into society, and the local community in particular.

  7. The company itself, as opposed to the people.

  8. Whether staff feel challenged by their job, their skills are being used, and the scope for advancement.

Here’s what a spokesperson for W. L. Gore said on winning again:
Workplace engagement, we strongly believe, is a competitive advantage. Competitive advantage when used correctly not only creates income and profit, which we are great at doing, but also comes with a responsibility to society as a whole. We are successful because of the ability of our associates to grow, explore and learn in an environment of freedom and trust.
It would be hard to find a simpler statement of the principles and benefits of Slow Leadership: a responsible organization that values trust, focuses on its wider role in the community, not just profit, and sees the creativity, growth, and freedom of its people as an important part of its corporate role. Gore remains the best company to work for because it gives its employees better personal growth, a more attractive working culture, and a stronger sense of belonging than any other company in the contest.

Interestingly, overall satisfaction with all of the companies in the survey rose this year. People think that they are well paid and have strong opportunities for personal growth. As usual, small companies do better then large ones, probably reflecting the greater flexibility small employers can offer.

However, there is one dark spot on the horizon. In the category of “employee well-being” (stress, pressure, and the balance between work and home duties), there was a significant fall in scores, which the survey authors see as “a reflection of the consistently poor scores recorded for workplace stress and feeling exhausted by the end of the day in the bigger companies in particular.”

Surveys like this give the lie to the argument by many macho organizational leaders and politicians that ideas like work/life balance and avoiding excessive stress are merely fancy ideals proposed by liberals and do-gooders. Gore makes high profits and is the leader in its field, yet manages at the same time to provide a civilized and attractive working environment and be a good citizen in its community. If they can do it—and do it better than anyone else in Britain for four years in a row—what is stopping everyone else?



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Comments:
One other thing surveys like this do - they get people like me to run out and buy Gore-Tex! When I hear a company is going out of their way to treat their employees well I absolutely not only want to support the company, but I will GO OUT OF MY WAY to support the company.

... I'd go on, but I've got to get out and buy a Gore-Tex jacket! :)
 
Wow, Canadiense, that is truly putting your money where your mouth is! Way to go!

Hmm . . . I should have set up a deal with Gore to get a commission on all these extra sales. Pity. :-)

Keep reading, my friend.

 
If I'm not mistaken they were mentioned in the book the Tipping Point as keeping their structure to groups of 150. This special number helps engender a sense of community. More than this, factions begin to happen. I think this adds to a large sense of employee engagement and accountability to the leadership. But I think their products ARE fantastic =)
 
You're probably right, Holly. And it's a realtively small company (about 450 people overall). The problems will be different in a larger business.

Still, the key point, for me, is that they dare to be different, stick to their way of doing things, and don't accept all the conventional crap about not being able to combine a profitable business model with a culture that people truly enjoy being part of.

I am convinced that it's quite possible for businesses of any size to make huge improvements in their corporate cultures, and still be successful in financial terms. In fact, the happier their people are, the lower the turnover, and the more relaxed and creative the minds behind business decisions, large and small, the greater that success is likely to be.

All it takes is three things that are, sadly, in very short supply in most top management ranks: the courage to be different, the imagination to see fresh possibilities, and the fortitude to ignore the inevitable carping and stick to what you believe is right.

Keep reading, my friend.

 
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