January 31, 2016 BestCompaniesAZ

Winning a Workplace Award: The Nomination

By Lee Vikre | @LeeVikre

The nomination process for Arizona’s Most Admired Companies (MAC) really gives you the chance to shine. Since the nomination is entirely built on your narrative, you can tell the unique story of your employer brand in a powerful way.

The MAC nomination consists of brief (2500 character limit) essays on five different topics; Leadership Excellence, Workplace Culture, Corporate and Social Responsibility, Customer Opinion, and Innovation.

Here’s how to write a winning nomination:

First, read the descriptions to fully understand what judges look for in each category. Culture, for example, is not defined by a list of benefits. Culture is what it is like to work at your company, as differentiated from other workplaces. You can read the descriptions in this sample nomination form.

Describe the “flavor” of your company. Great companies are like ice cream; there are a few essential ingredients, but a tremendous variety in the flavors and ways it can be served. Look for ways your company is different from others in order to define your employer brand.

Tell your specific, descriptive stories. Each category in the MAC award nomination has a 2500 character limit, and that gives you plenty of opportunity to differentiate your workplace – as long as you make each word count. Don’t waste words describing how your workplace is the same as everyone else’s. Maybe you have an employee referral program. That’s great, but so does everybody else. But if you have a branded employee referral program that has increased the number of positions filled through referral to 60%, or you have decreased the time to fill by 14 days, or you pay the referral bonus as part of the onboarding process? Now you have a story to tell.

Quantitative data strengthens your nomination. Have you won a previous workplace culture award? Received a high NPS score from your customers? Been recognized for innovation? If you have quantitative data and third party recognition to back up your specific stories, you strongly increase your chances of winning.

Tie it all together. Great employer brands have consistencies across functions and categories, and the MAC categories often overlap. That’s okay. A consistent underlying brand message connected to the company’s values, mission, or manifesto will carry more weight with the judges than an array of random programs.

Ready to be inspired? Here are excerpts from Arizona’s Most Admired Companies’ winning nominations in past years:

Leadership Excellence, Banner Casa Grande Regional Medical Center: “As reported in the most recent Banner Health VOICE in August 2014 employee survey, BCGMC had an 86% participation rate. Despite being just two months into Banner with the uncertainty to do with the transition, Banner Casa Grande scored 72% on leadership effectiveness and 80% on Job Satisfaction higher than the National Healthcare norm (77%) and only slightly lower than the Best In Class (83%).”

Workplace Culture, GoDaddy: “Leaders share information with employees in our quarterly all-employee meetings. These rock-show type events kick off with high-energy music and create a culture of trust and transparency by sharing key information tied to company financials, product releases and marketing strategies. GoDaddy leaders also take live questions from employees who are encouraged to ask anything. We’ve also added monthly all-employee Town Hall hangouts to ensure our leaders are accessible and we’re sharing timely info and continuing to build a culture of transparency. Each Town Hall inspires colleagues to live our values…”

Corporate and Social Responsibility, Vanguard: “… employees also lead in our communities through skills-based volunteering. My Classroom Economy (launched in 2011) is a financial literacy program created by Vanguard volunteers. The program is aimed at K-12 teachers and students, and is offered free of charge. The Arizona My Classroom Economy team is active, meeting with teachers as well as with Governor Jan Brewer’s office. In all, My Classroom Economy (www.myclassroomeconomy.org) has now reached an estimated 10,655 teachers, providing financial responsibility education to more than 317,715 kindergarten through 12th grade students across all 50 states and additional countries worldwide.

Customer Experience, Hyatt Regency Phoenix: “Informatica Corporation, the world’s number one independent provider of date integration software, named Hyatt Hotels & Resorts winner of the 2015 Informatica Innovation Award for the category of Total Customer Relationship….cross-functional IT and analytics work to lean up and connect Hyatt’s global guest information, paving the way for the roll out GEM (Guest Experience Management) Tools….At Hyatt Regency Phoenix, we have recently rolled out this Guest Experience Management Tool which helps us by recognizing the preferences of our guests to help make them feel at home. This is a valuable tool that allows us to show care for our guests in a way we did not have before.”

Innovation, Charles Schwab: “In 2015, Schwab was named to Fast Company’s prestigious list of 2015 “Most Innovative Companies” in the personal finance industry. Also earlier this year, Charles Schwab launched a fully automated investment advisory service, Schwab Intelligent PortfoliosTM, the only investment advisory service using sophisticated computer algorithms to build, monitor, and rebalance diversified portfolios based on an investor’s stated goals, time horizon and risk tolerance – without charging any advisory fees,
commissions or account services fees.”

What do you see as common elements of these award-winners? They described their practices in detail, while referencing in-house and external data. So what would we admire about your workplace, if only we knew about it?

Deadline for nomination submissions for the 2016 Arizona’s Most Admired Companies is now extended to Friday, June 17, 2016. Here’s the nomination form to get started right away. And here is our MAC FAQ’s page with additional information and resources.

If you’re swamped right now, and you need some help crafting your nomination, you’re not alone. We’d be happy to 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.