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How to Create an Exceptional Workplace

The best places to work also often have the best employee productivity, customer retention, and financial performance.

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Exceptional workplace. It sounds good, right? We all want to have one or work at one, but what is an exceptional workplace, and how do you build one?  One thing is for sure, you don't wake up one day and say, "I want my company to be an exceptional workplace" and bam, there it is.  Becoming exceptional takes time and thought.  It's not haphazard.

During my career, I have had the pleasure of working with a wide variety of senior managers, some from companies recognized as exceptional places to work and others that create great places to work without even knowing it. If no one has handed you an "Exceptional Workplace" award, but you are interested in building an organization that could easily win such an award, I'd like to find how you would answer these questions.

  • Do you do anything unusual that sets your workplace apart?
  • Would you like to better understand how being a great place to work can positively impact your business?
  • Are you interested in what wisdom there is to learn from the best workplaces?

If you've answered 'yes' to any or all of these questions, you may be ready to embark on becoming an exceptional workplace. Through my years of working with such companies I have learned that these companies trump their competitors every time in terms of :

  • financial performance
  • employee and customer retention
  • talent attraction
  • productivity
  • communication
  • morale

Early in the lifecycle of a company, the CEO or management team realizes that the job can't be done alone. In order to achieve the vision, the management team needs employees to help develop products, deliver services, and make goods. If a company is focusing purely on financials, a leader finds that the product or service--the reason you initially hired those employees--may become clouded. In a financially-focused environment, employees can easily become a necessary evil to fulfill a vision. Phrases like, "Hey, if they don't like it...let them go work someplace else!" or the familiar, "They're just lucky to have a job!" become all too familiar.

Some of this mindset is grounded in tradition and history. The Industrial Revolution and the introduction of the assembly line promoted the goal of people performing as efficiently as machines. Days were long, working conditions were poor, and pay was low. Thankfully, much has happened since this era. Currently, we are experiencing the most complex work dynamics in history. We operate in a global workforce 24/7 and organizations are required to perform at the multi-faceted intersection of business strategy, people, technology, process, compliance, and fluctuating market conditions. At this intersection lies a unique opportunity for organizations to rethink how they manage their employees. By thoughtfully motivating and retaining their human capital, high-performing organizations skillfully add significant momentum to their bottom line. 

Becoming an exceptional workplace is deliberate. It takes thought. It takes work. And it takes time to change. But it's worth the effort!

Last updated: May 10, 2012




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