All of the 100 Best Companies to Work For have similar offerings that make them appealing to current and prospective employees. Not everyone can offer the crazy perks of Google and Facebook, but most companies can offer the bare minimum. Employees are looking for a wide-range of company characteristics that will enable future professional growth and even provide a fun atmosphere to work for.
In 2006, I provided the top things employees want from their jobs, but the time has changed. The market has changed. Our world has changed.
Let’s face it, a company’s biggest asset is their employee base now. The employees are the work horses who produce results and make or break the product. Companies now need to focus on keeping their employees happy and not just how to increase profitability, market share and increase shareholder value–they need to become a best place to work.
If you’re looking for a new job or are trying to compare two different companies, take these into account. If you want to keep your employees happy and productive, this is what you should offer (at a bare minimum):
- Benefits/Perks – There’s stiff competition here: Most employers offer benefits, but how do they compare to the rest of the market? Aside from the standard 401k, healthcare and vision benefits, employers need additional incentives. Companies shouldn’t be afraid to use some creativity here and think outside the box.
- Suggestions: in-house services like Onsite Haircuts and mobile dry cleaning can be very attractive to working professionals. Of course, quarterly bonuses can be a nice perk–you’d be surprised how many companies still only do the year-end bonus. Higher than normal employer 401k contributions show that employees are taken care of. Employee discounts on common items like phone carriers, clothing and electronics are nice too.
- Make Work Fun – Keeps employees motivated: Driving to the same building and working in the same cubicle every day can get boring and become routine, but an added “fun factor” will spice up your professional life. At the very least, employers can make work tolerable–and at least that’s a start.
- Suggestions: on campus “employee appreciation” events are a great way to make work fun, especially if they include music, food and beverages (soda, beer, wine). Everyone needs a break and time to regroup, but not everyone gets that chance at home so work events fit in well. Holiday events, on campus vendor food tastings, employee social mixers and health facilities (gym, basketball courts, etc) offer ways for employees to like where they work. Hitachi has a nice sports court.
- Career Advancement – Help employees move up the corporate ladder: Moving up the corporate ladder is tough, but companies who provide ample opportunities will not go unnoticed. If an employee is a star performer, help them advance in their career.
- Suggestions: Helping employees define their growth plan is key to ensuring milestones are set and promotions can be earned. Very few individuals like staying in their current position forever and instead are motivated with the opportunity to be recognized and promoted. Companies that provide internal growth opportunities will be successfully at retaining talent–those who provide very few opportunities will see their brightest assets taking opportunities elsewhere.
- Work-Life Balance – Have to be flexible: It sounds cliché, but companies must emphasize and encourage work-life balance. This means not requiring/allowing employees to work during vacation, holidays and excess hours.
- Suggestions: Offer events and services to help employees balance their time. Discounted tickets to amusements parks, shows, concerts, etc encourage employees to take time off and enjoy other facets of life. It’s important that high level managers and executives speak the same language and illustrate work-life balance as well–if they’re doing it, you can too.
- Challenge Employees – Create the environment: Star employees thrive in a challenging environment; it’s what keeps them motivated and focused. Sometimes when jobs become too easy, it’s easy to lose motivation and just do the bare minimum; that becomes boring after a while.
- Suggestions: Know your employee and push them by providing opportunities that will require hard work and perseverance. The best companies to work for are some of the most challenging and fast-paced in the world and that’s what fosters innovation. Creating the right environment will push employees even further and help them reach new heights they never thought were possible.
Becoming one of the best companies to work for takes a significant amount of investment in the people. In today’s economy, there is a surplus of star professionals who are looking for jobs and are in positions to pick and choose where they want to work. Most likely, the top performers have choices and want to see that the company offerings match or exceed industry standards. Companies around the world should take note and create environments that are attractive–after all, a company’s biggest asset is their employee base.