What Makes A Great Workplace?

By Arthur Pinkasovitch | May 06, 2010 AAA
What Makes A Great Workplace?

The best employers are always seeking to add the most qualified individuals to their payroll; likewise, the most qualified individuals seek employment with the best employers. The symbiotic relationship is strengthened when the corporate environment is such that workers enjoy their work and are motivated to come in every morning. So companies offer an extensive assortment of perks and benefits to attract and retain top talent within their firm. (For related reading, check out 6 Dying Job Perks.)

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Those companies that are successful will often find themselves on top of such prestigious lists as "Canada's Top 100 Employers" or "FORTUNE Magazine's Top 100 Employers to Work For." More importantly, they will have access to top university graduates and experienced professionals. Although wages play a vital role in worker satisfaction measures, other criteria must be considered. (If you are looking for work, check out Job Hunting: Higher Pay Vs. Better Benefits for more.)

Physical Workspace
Fortune's top-ranked employer, SAS, offers a staffed in-house medical centre, workout facilities, a library and other desirable amenities. Since a large chunk of the day is spent in the workplace, an environment that makes work not feel like work is a huge bonus for employees. Other benefits offered by some employers include healthy cafeterias and close proximity to natural parks for some midday R&R.

Health Benefits
Many employees offer their workers two weeks of sick leave. Unfortunately, such a policy can lead to "sick days" becoming synonymous with "vacation days." Companies who truly trust their workers will often implement an unlimited sick day policy, having faith that it will not be abused. Obviously, medical coverage benefits are also essential.

Training and Skills Development
Agrium, one of Canada's top employers, focuses on training and developing internally generated management positions rather than hiring externally. This simultaneously decreases employee turnover because of increased loyalty to the company and also minimizes training times.

Other employer encouraged skill development programs arise from tuition reimbursements. The courses need not relate directly to the job, but can be taken for personal interest and growth. Additionally, a high level of interaction between upper management and junior employees enhances the learning curve in current and future positions.

Flexibility
A rigid nine-to-five schedule with one 30 minute break taken any time between 12:00 and 1:00 with two 15 minute breaks taken before and after the half-hour break need not be the norm. Some firms are offering flexible schedules shaped around the convenience of the employee. For example, a compressed work week allows individuals to enjoy a three-day weekend in exchange for extended service hours during the remaining four days.

Furthermore, many prestigious engineering, software and technology companies encourage creativity from their employees. Companies who practice such policies will allocate portions of the day to provide workers the opportunity to explore their personal interests. Google is a well-known company that encourages such practices.

Family Benefits
Extended vacations, paid maternity leaves and either internal or subsidized daycare services allow employees to find a proper balance between one's work personal life. These benefits are a common theme among companies that are ranked among the best place to work. Such policies reflect that the employer understands and is accommodating to the personal lives of its employees outside the work environment. (Find out what benefits you can influence in Employee Benefits: How To Know What To Choose.)

Happy Employees Are Good Employees
The list of desired employer characteristics extends well beyond the previously discussed criteria. Corporate events to encourage bonding, community involvement, pension programs and a friendly social atmosphere also add to the appeal of the workplace.

When employers offer these services, they are not necessarily foregoing bottom-line profits to please their employees. These activities promote employee confidence, encourage foundations of trust within the organization, decrease turnover and elevate the corporate sense of morale. As result these factors lead to increase productivity - and profitability.

Still feeling uninformed? Read this week's financial news highlights in Water Cooler Finance: Buffett's Armed and Greece Keeps Falling.

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