Bain & Company, the global business consultancy sure knows how to treat employees right. They have been ranked as the number one place to work in the United States in 2017, 2014, and 2012--and ranked in the top four for over a decade, according to Business Insider. That's an astonishing feat for a company who competes for top talent with dozens of other companies. For leaders trying to understand Bain's strategy, it all boils down to one thing -- deeply understanding and engaging with their employees' mindset.
Bain's success in offering a great workplace can be applied to any company in any industry. While Bain actively seeks the top graduates of the most prestigious MBA programs in the world, it doesn't mean their practices do not apply to your business on a fundamental level. In fact, I have seen many companies who are much smaller and lesser known utilize very similar strategies and their employee satisfaction rate was fantastic.
We can learn how to utilize these five concepts that make Bain a great place to work to for your business:
1. A rock-solid support system.
The team of leaders at Bain understand that their employees, or "Baineys," as they proudly call themselves, are their greatest asset. Each member of the firm, at every level, makes a proactive and conscious effort to contribute to the success of their fellow teammates. Importantly, this support system also breaks down departmental silos allowing everyone to solve problems rather than getting stuck in the bureaucracy.
Keith Bevans, a partner and Global Head of Consultant Recruiting for Bain, states there's "a certain level of humility that every person at Bain has." Humility opens up avenues of communication and approachability while contributing to an overall unified feeling of engagement and teamwork. When egos get in the way, it is extremely difficult to consistently deliver strong results overall.
Leaders should always promote cross-functional teamwork and people should be encouraged to ask for help. This rock-solid support system is essential for building a great company.
2. A real enthusiasm for the mission.
Whenever a Bainey is interviewed, they always talk about similar positive traits about the company. A cynic may say that they are supposed to do that because the camera is rolling, but their employees are genuinely satisfied and believe in the company's mission.
For a global business, their turnover rate is exceptionally low, largely resulting from their professionals firmly believing in the mission and the way the company is run. The combination of low turnover, excellent performance, and large client retention tell the story.
Have a look at your company. What metrics to you use to measure this? How often to you meet with your employees to explain the company's mission and to see whether they are on board? If your turnover rate is higher than it should be, talk with your folks and find out what the key reasons are -- and then address them. You want to create a winning environment where your employees are fully engaged and challenged to be part of your mission.
3. Free space and optimal resources.
I am a firm believer of getting out of your office and collaborating with other employees. At Bain, they understand that the physical layout of their offices makes a difference -- and they are absolutely right. Baineys have the opportunity sit at their cafe and work or find a quiet area away from the rest of the crowd. They encourage their employees to be comfortable, individually, to enable them to perform at the top of their game.
I am not suggesting you hire an interior decorator to make your office cozier. Instead, it's important to encourage your employees to feel free to work as they wish. You can do so by offering flexible solutions they can choose from, tailored to meet their individual needs. As long as they are getting their work done, focus on their results. Lastly, if they are constrained by lack of resources to get the job done right, it's up to you to make sure they have all the tools they need to be successful.
4. The opportunity to grow.
One of the most common reasons for employee dissatisfaction is the feeling of stagnation. If an employee has no perceived opportunity to grow, why should they strive to excel, or even stay for that matter? Just like those at Bain, your employees deserve to grow their knowledge and experience, make more money, and move up the latter. Make sure your employees stay engaged with enough incentives and hope for the future for them to be personally and professionally invested in your company.
5. Perks that make people strive for more.
Baineys may work hard, but their compensation reflects it. From paid paternity leave to excellent insurance benefits, it's no surprise why they are so happy. While startups and entrepreneurs may find benefits to be the most challenging aspect of keeping employees satisfied, it's undoubtedly one of the most vital tools an employer can choose. If you want your employees to feel appreciated and supported by their business, it's time to re-consider your benefits and view them with an eye to making your people strive for more.
It's time to re-think how you want your employees to think about your company.
Most businesses cannot literally or financially compete with Bain's approach and programs. But every leader can evaluate their current situation, assess where the gaps are and make some important decisions about how to increase employee engagement. Some choices require additional funding and many involve leaders being significantly more engaged. Your employees are waiting for you to step up, now the rest is up to you.