St. Jude Children's Hospital isn't your typical hospital. For one thing, there's colorful artwork on the walls and a less sterile environment than you might expect. Patients also receive all their care for free, which is basically unheard of in the healthcare world. But one of the things that really sets St. Jude apart is the passion of its employees. St. Jude is known as a great place to work, and it's shown in the company's rapid growth. Although St. Jude has some unusual parameters in its work as a non-profit, it can be a great example to organizations everywhere of how to create a desirable place to work.

  • Have a purpose. One of the reasons St. Jude is able to attract such great talent is that people want to work for an organization that is on the cutting edge of children's healthcare research. No matter if your company is in healthcare or finance, people, especially Millenials, are drawn to work for an organization with a purpose and a mission. It can be as simple as creating innovative technology or making people's lives easier through new banking techniques--find your organization's purpose and make it the center of the company.
  • Help people stay connected. One unique factor about St. Jude is that there is a single cafeteria for all employees, researchers, patients, and families. People naturally come together over meals, and it provides a great opportunity for employees across departments to interact with each other and with patients. There are also collaborative spaces around the campus where employees can meet to discuss projects. Helping employees stay connected to each other and the work gives them a greater purpose and helps them see their role in the overall goal of the organization.
  • Offer perks employees want. St. Jude is limited in the perks it can offer employees because its funding comes largely from donors, but it does make a conscious effort to start programs that are meaningful and wanted by employees. The organization has found creative, low-cost ways to reward employees, like bringing food trucks to the campus every day or hosting a popular music festival every year with some of the best musical talent in Memphis. By listening to employees, St. Jude can be more purposeful in the programs its offers instead of creating events and rewards that are of little interest in employees.
  • Facilitate work/life balance. As the lines between personal and professional life continue to blur, work/life balance seems to be ever more elusive. However, there are things organizations can do to encourage employees to live their best lives both inside and outside of work. At St. Jude, that involves encouraging employees to use their time off and offering services that make it easier to be present both at home and at work, like on-site dry cleaning and visits by local massage therapists.
  • Be transparent and honest. Dana Bottenfield, St. Jude's vice president of human resources, warns against starting programs just to look good. The best places to work listen to their employees and implement things that best meet their needs. Every organization is different, and just because something was successful at one company doesn't mean every company should try it. Figure our your organization's mission and goals, communicate it to employees, and make it central to everything you do. Find what works best for your company and be enthusiastic about it--employees will feed off the excitement and become more involved in the entire process.

As the workplace continues to change and more emphasis is put on connectivity and the employee experience, organizations need to find their own unique ways to represent their mission and purpose through their programs and interactions with employees. Creating a desirable place to work looks different at each organization, but the central idea is the same: to create a place where employees and customers feel valued, driven, and purposeful.