December 19, 2016 BestCompaniesAZ

11 Proven Steps to Get Your Company on a Best Place to Work List

By Lee Vikre | @LeeVikre

Workplace awards are rocket fuel for your employer brand. By gaining the recognition from a list like Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work in America you greatly increase your desirability with prospective employees as well as customers.

There is a razor-thin margin between the companies that make the list and those that fall just short. You might have a great company, but still not have the exceptional scores in certain categories, and it can be frustrating to fall short.

But if you are committed to it, you can do it. We know how, and we’re spilling our secrets right here. This strategy always works if leadership follows through, although it isn’t easy to do.

This is a step-by-step, proven guide for creating an award-winning workplace.

1. Decide what award you’d like to win, and when the deadline for submission is – then start your preparation nine months to a year in advance. For example, the 2017 FORTUNE 100 Best Places to Work in America deadline just passed, so now is the time to start planning to participate in the 2018 program that will have a deadline in the summer of 2017.

2. Communicate to your staff that you want to be the best place they’ve ever worked in their careers, and in order to do that, you’re going to survey them – and you’re going to listen. Emphasize how important it is that they participate. Reinforce that message over the course of two to three weeks prior to the survey.

3. Survey your staff anonymously, asking only three questions:
a. What do you like best about working at ABC Company?
b. What would you most like to see changed at ABC company?
c. Is ABC Company the best place you’ve ever worked? (yes/no)
Do not add more questions. Resist the temptation to turn the qualitative questions into a series of items to rate on a Likert scale.

4. Give employees a week to complete the survey, sending reminders every few days. You will get pages and pages of results. Grab a cup of coffee and sit down to read every single comment.

5. Read the positive comments first, and make note of the strengths that are highlighted. In great companies, there will usually be many positive comments on the leadership and culture. “The people” and “my team” will also be common responses. Don’t be concerned if pay and benefits aren’t mentioned very often. Resist the temptation to read the areas for change first. Bask in the praise before you tackle the critiques.

6. Now, look at the areas for change. If you are like most solid organizations, you’ll see a mix of suggestions related to communication, manager decisions, physical facilities, and pay. If you see few suggestions, you likely have a trust issue causing people to clam up.

7. Average the scores on question #3. You’re shooting for a 92%+ score. That’s the level of engagement it takes to win a national award.

8. Compare your strong areas and weak areas with categories from the national-level surveys.

9. Now the rubber meets the road. Within two weeks of the survey completion, communicate with employees in detail, thanking them for their feedback and informing them about improvements that are being made as a result. If important items cannot be changed, let them know, and why. One successful CEO of a Fortune 50 best small company addressed every single item on the list, directly, as soon as possible. Some of the suggestions will be absurdly small (like making root beer available in the lunch room) while others will be much larger scale and esoteric.

10. Make as many changes as you can, as soon as you can, to address the items on that list. You’ll find that most of the time, they will be beneficial to the company anyway. Make your management team responsible for the list along with you.

11. Six months from your internal survey, it will be time to kick off your survey for a national awards nomination. By now, you can tell stories illustrating the company strengths, how their feedback was listened to and changes were made, and employees will be in the right frame of mind to give the company the high scores needed to place on the national list.

It isn’t only about making a list. Listening to feedback and responding really does make a company a best company – and brings real business results.

If you want your company to get the recognition you deserve, elevate your employment brand and gain a stronger advantage in hiring the best talent, but don’t have the experience or bandwidth to do all of the above, BestCompaniesAZ has been helping companies land on best workplace lists for 14 years! Submit this form –  or call 480-545-5151 – for more information on how we can help.
About the Author
Lee Vikre – Hiring Jedi
A workplace culture maven, writer, and speaker, Lee Vikre has helped numerous companies develop “best company” cultures, gaining recognition at the local and national level. Lee has been called the Jedi Master of hiring because of her exceptional recruiting abilities and friendships with people who love Star Wars. Her favorite activities involve matching people with their dream jobs at award-winning best companies.  Lee coaches CEOs but still hasn’t been able to train her three dogs not to bark during conference calls.