Why does such a simple sounding recognition mean so much? We’re a Best Places to Work firm … one of 10 companies according to Georgia Trend. Wow, only 10. Hmmm. It’s sounding more significant. When we opened our doors seven years ago, we started with guiding principles, core values, an ethical barometer and a business plan like so many other companies. Looking back, I don’t recall any of the language we used being worthy of Wikipedia or even the other book … ehhh, Webster’s, right!
I don’t mean to make light of the recognition, just that it seems it should be standard operating procedure to be a Best Places to Work. At a minimum, it’s the clearest path to staff retention. And for a public relations firm, that translates to client retention. Now, we would be the first to admit it takes more than creating a comfortable, collaborative culture … more than feel good core values framed on a wall and much more than a “regular” paycheck.
Standard of Life programs serve as the point of entry … competitive salaries, annual bonuses, employee share and 401K programs, first rate insurance benefits (paid by the employer) and generous vacation plans. We know all of those programs resonate with our employees, but I’m not sure that makes us a BPTW.
It’s the Quality of Life programs that energize employees though and get them talking about where they work … to friends, family. Sometimes it’s the little things that have great meaning … like birthdays off or floating holidays. Or they can be more thoughtful or communal like holiday shopping excursions. This past month, we took the office to see The Social Network. Sorry clients, but we did it during office hours. It’s important content, relevant to our industry so we felt we should appreciate it together. It doesn’t always have to show up as an expensive line item.
More than even those programs is the commitment to continue to innovate your company, the environment and the opportunities that people are presented … not simply to earn more or receive more benefits, but to develop professionally and personally. This month, we introduced a new program, “Read to Lead.” It’s a required program where staff will read a minimum number of books from the annual reading list – books that go beyond our industry … such as Born to Run, Mid-Course Correction, When Technology Wants, Food Rules and others.
At the end of the day though, I have to say we have been fortunate to find and retain great people … never losing one to another firm. And that’s been fairly simple because we have great management in place … from the VP down to the AE up to the EVP and down to the AAE and up to the Principal and down to the AS and up to the SAE. No matter where you sit or what title flashes on your auto sig, you’re empowered to manage, up and down … to take the next person’s position … to work as tirelessly as you see fit.
Maybe being a Best Places to Work company is a big deal. And being one of 10 among the thousands of companies in Georgia … even a bigger deal. So thanks for thinking of us. It means more than you know.