Hey, Boss, Want to Make Next Year's List of Best Employers? Here's What You Need to Know
Human Resources consulting firm Hewitt Associates Inc. has just released its annual list of Canada's Best Employers (a.k.a. the companies with Canada's Happiest Employees). The list scores companies on their ability to attract and retain employees, figuring that if your employees are happy, they're going to stick around, and if they're not, they're going to walk.
Employers who want to make the list might think they have to chase the latest workplace fads (offering on-site yoga classes and cappuccino bars). Or that they have to try something no one has ever tried before.
That's simply not the case, according to Hewitt. "The traits of Best Employers are consistent across national culture, economic conditions, and political situations. And while the specific practices and programs of Best Employers may vary from country to country, at their foundation is a basic respect for the men and women who come to work every day."
What struck me, as I was reading through the research, is how much parenting and running a successful modern corporation have in common. (Actually, I could argue that parenting is far more challenging, because you're emotionally rather than financially invested in the outcome of the corporation, but I'll leave that discussion for another day.) Consider these five traits that Hewitt has identified as being the modus operandi of the Best Employers in its analysis of its global research in this field. They certainly sound a lot like the principles of successful parenting, don't they?
- The people in charge have to be excellent leaders. That means being a good role model yourself and being the kind of leader who inspires others to want to do their best (as opposed to motivating through fear).
- The group has its own unique culture and, as a result, its members feel a strong sense of belonging to a unique and exclusive group. The leaders create this culture by conveying the group's mission, goals, and values; and of making a point of celebrating both group and individual milestones and achievements.
- There is a strong tradition of a more experienced person mentoring a less experienced person (often a person of an up-and-coming generation). Both the mentor and the person being mentored benefit from this relationship.
- Leaders model accountability from the top on down and allow others to make mistakes without feeling like their status within the group will be in jeopardy. Being accountable for mistakes plays an important role in both personal and group growth and success.
- There is recognition of the need for flexible and creative thinking in meeting the needs of each individual within the group. People are unique and they deserve to be treated with respect.
Here's a question for you....
Given how much parenting wisdom clearly applies to the corporate boardroom, what other lessons from the world of parenting would you offer to the people in charge of running Canada's biggest corporations? (Or smallest companies. Or government departments. Or non-profits. Why should we be exclusive here?)
I'm going to toss one tip out myself, just to get the discussion going (and to give you an idea of the kind of thing I have in mind).
Then, please, pour yourself a cup of coffee (or hit your in-house cappuccino bar, if you have one), and give me the advice you'd like to give your boss (or someone else's boss) about running companies that people like to work for.
Here's my piece of advice.
Don't play favorites – particularly if you have bad taste in favorites. You can't make things absolutely fair, but avoid blatant displays of favoritism at work. You're not being as subtle as you think you are. Besides, you're not getting the full picture about the golden child. Of course, he's being adorable and uncharacteristically competent when you're in the room. (Remember how your brother pulled that trick when you were a kid? It's the same thing all over again, except we're grownups, and the stakes are much bigger because we all have mortgages now.)
Now over to you....