Is Your Agency a Top Workplace?

Last week’s post asked if your agency met the benchmarks established by the Best Practices Study for financial well-being.  This week I will discuss what it takes to be a top workplace in the eyes of your employees, at least according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.  It recently published its annual list of the best places to work in the metro Atlanta region.   Congratulations are again in order for J. Smith Lanier & Co.  They have continued their string of being in the top 50 mid-sized workplaces and this year moved up seven places to number 6.  Unfortunately, as has been the case since I began following this subject in my blog, no other insurance agencies or companies made the top 150 workplaces or this year, even the 15 workplaces that received honorable mention.

So what did the top workplaces as designated by the AJC have in common?  Two of the top three qualities from last year were again cited the most by employees in the top workplaces, only this year the most often cited quality was a belief that the company was going in the right direction followed closely by last year’s top quality of feeling genuinely appreciated by their employer.  The next two most cited qualities were confidence in the leader of their employer and a feeling that the employee is part of something meaningful.  The two lowest rated qualities were again the feeling that the employee’s pay was fair for the work they did (cited by only 46% down from 51% last year) and the feeling that their benefits package was good compared to similar companies (cited by only 34% down from 37% last year).

I thought it interesting that a week or so later, there was an article in the IA Newsletter titled. “How to Make Your Employees Love Where They Work.”  It discusses five things that the author’s clients have consistently mentioned to her as being important for creating a place that employees want to come to work.  The first one, supporting the good health and well-being of employees and their families, correlates well with the AJC quality of feeling genuinely appreciated by the employer.  Examples of this are flexible work schedules, complimentary healthy food in the break room, and company picnics, holiday parties, and other activities that involve the employee’s family members, as well as the employee.

Providing an employee a sense of commitment to a cause also correlates well with the AJC quality of being part of something that is meaningful.  This sense of meaning can be created by the work itself (e.g., insurance agencies help families and businesses protect against risks that could destroy them financially) or by having the employer sponsor or allow employees to engage in community involvement activities on and off company time, or preferably both.

The employer providing opportunities for learning job skills and advancing the employee’s career was also one of the qualities cited by over half of the employees in the AJC’s top workplaces.   Finally, the IA article author suggested something that was not in the AJC’s list of qualities.  Providing opportunities for employees to have fun while at work.  Some examples cited are posting a giant crossword puzzle on the wall or having a jigsaw puzzle on a table that can be worked on by employees during their break times.  The author suggests asking your employees for ideas, as allowing them a voice in what is done both here and in other areas will help create a sense that you genuinely care about them.