Monday, February 9, 2009

CEO’s who care about their people, out-perform their competition;

Why do some leaders enjoy more growth than others? They believe a “people-first” culture can drive the economic growth they seek. Think about it, your people are your brand ambassadors. Each night when they leave your office, they go home to their families and talk about work. They share stories with their friends about their jobs, their boss and your company. But are they telling positive stories about the brand you lead and the products and services you sell?

Here are the top five things you can do to lead a “people-first” culture:

Have a clear vision of your firm and communicate it to all people at all levels
It starts with articulating a clear vision for your growth. Communication is more critical than ever in these economic times. A clear story about who you are and how your company will grow is the first step to engaging your people.
Assign a People Czar. It may not be the senior officer in your HR department.
Many times Human Resource departments are in the business of protecting labor with guidelines, rules and policy. As the CEO you are in the business of inspiring labor to perform and outperform so you can beat the market. A people Czar can help make the connection to your employees.
Take a baseline employee satisfaction survey
There is no way to know how you stack up as a boss and a company without knowing how your employees feel about working at your firm. Let them take a confidential survey on how they feel about the work-place, their boss and the environment. Take action on their compliments and their complaints to show you care, are listening and making the needed changes.
Offer Relevant Perks for your brand, the philosophies of your firm and geography.
Nike Management offers outdoor tracks and benefits to further promote an active lifestyle. Genentech says “forget the morning drive!!” Come to work by bicycle, on foot, via public transportation, or in a carpool and you get a subsidy of $4 a day. Camden Property Trust offers employees who live in one of the firm's 180 apartment complexes in such cities as San Diego, Denver and Houston a 20% discount on rent. And they can stay in one of Camden's fully furnished apartments in vacation spots like Orlando and L.A. for $20 a night.
Lead an accountable culture.
People want to know how to achieve the rewards for performance. Is it clear how training and leadership can enhance a career path? Acknowledge great performers in front of their peers. Recognition is the highest form of leadership. It is free. So do it!! At Devon Energy, employee growth hasn't diluted the pay. Devon loves to give big bonuses. The average bonus in 2006 was $21,332. The company also awards a holiday bonus of $600 for every employee, regardless of position. Everything counts.

Every year, Fortune Magazine and The Great Places to Work Institute conduct the Best Places to Work Survey. Google led Fortune Magazine’s number one place to work in 2008. The leadership at Google believes and acts upon the philosophy that their people matter.

Some Facts:
Google has 8,100 jobs and last year they received over 761,000 job applicants. (1) How many resumes did you receive last year? Do people want to work at your firm?

With on-site day-care, a gym membership on premise and over 120 hours of training, people want to stay. The most impressive statistic is that Google has 0% of voluntary job turn-over, or people leaving the company. Google’s benefits generate talk value and are key to driving a people first culture.

Some examples of their offering are below:

Google offers a first-class dining facility. Custom-made milkshakes and on-site farmers' market? Googlers are a well-fed bunch: The company even has a rule -- workers can never be more than 100 feet away from food. Hence the elaborate free snack stations and restaurants scattered throughout the Googleplex.

How do you get more than 6,000 Googlers to see a first-run film? You rent an entire theater for the day. That's exactly what Google's done for movies like "Lord of the Rings," "Transformers" and other blockbusters. As an extra benefit, employees get to bring a guest.

After years of getting around their sprawling Mountain View headquarters on two-wheeled Segways (which kept breaking down) and electric scooters (which employees kept falling off), Googlers now use bicycles as their primary mode of transportation at corporate.

Other Great Companies offer simple ideas that help increase moral, ideation and even well-being.

Microsoft : The MS Dance e-mail list counts 400 members; every week a new step - Latin ballroom, two-step - is taught on campus. "You meet people from all over the company," says Melitta Andersen, a project manager and aficionado of the samba who joined the group last summer. "We have some pretty good dancers here."

Herman Miller: Sleek furniture is a given at Herman Miller. The company has long used its offices to showcase its own designs. A 2007 eco-makeover brought skylights with solar panels and C2, a hyper-efficient personal climate-control gadget.

Quicken Loans: This brand is ranked number 2. Amidst the worst mortgage crisis in US history, Quicken Loans led they way with an ethical, transparent lending process for their customers.. "Ethically driven" is what one employee calls the online mortgage lender. It avoided the sub-prime crisis by sticking with plain-vanilla loans.

While outrageous benefits generate great public relations and talk value among employees, the secret to people loyalty and employee satisfaction goes well beyond perks. Genuine caring for your people is your best strategy.

Having a “people first” culture gives leaders a leg up on their competition. Results show that satisfied employees drive higher levels of customer satisfaction which in turn drives economic return to your bottom line.

Contact us with your stories on how you lead your people-first culture.
Shelley Rosen
Airlift Ideas

Source: (1) Fortune Magazine, 2008 Best Places to Work, Great Places to Work Institute


Clayton said...

Hi Shelley

Thanks for mentioning Quicken Loans (I work there on the Marketing Team). We really do have a pretty special culture at Quicken Loans. The thing I like the best isn't the benefits or the pay or even the perks. It's the ability for ANY of use to take a chance and make a change to the company. It's almost a daily challenge and it comes from senior management. We are actually encouraged to fail until we succeed - in order to always keep trying to find a better way to do things. It's a pretty cool philosophy and it's certainly worked well for me. I lead a lot of social media and writing programs at Quicken Loans and I could never do this if I needed PR and legal approval for everything I do. I've spoken to other mortgage companies and businesses in the financial vertical and they simply can't do the things I do because their culture doesn't permit it. It's sad but true. Just leaving this comment would cause problems for employees at some companies. Anyway, I'd love your opinion on the Quicken Loans blog - we highlight our culture and the things we care about. We've been doing the blog for over 2 years now and I love it! It's so much fun. Thanks again for mentioning us in your post today.

Airlift Brand Story Telling said...

Clayton, I am new to this social media world and it makes me feel like the world id just a bit smaller by getting your message today. Your firm is doing great things and that is why you were recognized. I would enjoy speaking with someone about your brand within the marketing department. Your culture is strong but you may not be getting the credit for all you do inthe customer's mind. I can be reached at 312.492.7772 or