“A Great Place to Work for All” could hardly be more timely. When I ask clients and other business owners what their most significant business problem is today, nine times out of 10, their response is that it’s getting qualified people to join their company. After two decades of managing the Fortune List, Bush and his team at Great Place decided to dig deeper into their findings to determine whether there was any disparity in the answers in four employee categories: Job Level (executives vs. line workers); Generational (baby boomers vs. millennials); Gender; and Racial/Ethnic Groups. It may be surprising, but it turns out that even the greatest companies have employees who rate their experiences differently. For example, executives rate the company higher than line workers.
One of the reasons I like Great Place is that they correlate all their findings to financial results — stock value is analyzed for public companies, and revenue growth is considered for all companies. They take into account the size of the gap between executives’ and line workers’ job satisfaction, and look at whether the companies with the smallest gap outperform those with larger gaps financially. (Yes, they do.)
As I read Bush’s book, I had flashbacks to Frank Moran speaking to the entire firm at our annual conference and praising Arne, a second-career office assistant/Jack of all trades, and Joanne, the switchboard operator. He talked about how Arne had done something to serve the rest of our team, and made the connection between that and how Frank thought we should take care of our clients. When it came to Joanne, he told us that she was often the first Plante Moran team member with whom clients, prospective clients, and referral sources would interact. Then he reminded us that you only get one chance to make a good first impression. How do you think the rest of the administrative/support staff felt when Frank told these stories? He was doing what Bush recommends in his book.
An example of executives being out of touch occurred years ago when I learned that senior executives at Detroit-based auto companies parked their vehicles in a separate parking structure from the rest of the employees. During the day, auto mechanics would routinely check out the execs’ vehicles and fix any problems. At the end of the day, the executives would return to their vehicles and drive them home. Surprisingly (yeah, right), their vehicles never had any problems.
How aware are you of the daily struggles of your line workers? Do you interact with the team members on the lower rungs of the ladder, or do you have a system to get reliable feedback from them? I could say more, but I think you get the point.
One last story, and then I’ll stop preaching. I was with my millennial-aged son the other day; he’s an extremely successful, hard-working business owner who serves his clients like Frank Moran would. I can’t remember exactly what we were talking about, but he blurted out, “Dad, I’m not like you. I have a lot of other interests besides my business that I want to pursue.” It got me thinking. My own son, of whom I’m very proud, may not rate my business experience as highly as I would.
Hopefully, these last few stories have whet your appetite to read “A Great Place to Work for All” by Michael Bush. I truly believe that he and his team have unearthed some valuable nuggets, and by adopting their recommendations you just may be able to find and retain the employees you desperately need to serve your customers.