What Makes a Company Great to Work For?

5 years ago

I was lusting after some companies on the Outside Magazine 50 Best Companies to Work for list the other day and it gave me many flashbacks to my time in corporate pondering - what makes it great to work here (wherever "here" may be for you)?

There are best-of and top companies lists all over the place. From the best companies for working mothers to the 100 Best Companies to Work For according to Fortune Magazine. Then there are lists for every geographic location you can think of. So I got to thinking, what makes something best anyway? I don't mean how accurate are these lists. We opened a discussion and busted the myth of the best places to work lists a while back.I mean - how can you even know or make sweeping generalizations about what is best for me (or you, or you...)?

I can recall vividly each of the major companies I worked for during my corporate career. Each had its own varying degree of flexibility (or inflexibility as the case might be), unique benefits, and culture. Yet, you barely had to look as far as a cubicle nearby to find someone who didn't quite share the same opinon or needs as you did. So what then is best?

Working mothers want one thing. Women without children another. Athletes and outdoor adventurers something else. Some bosses want to discriminate against the working non-mother (oh you don't have a family, so you can work late or do something extra). No one will come right out and say that, but I know I experienced that firsthand. Like my non-child-related interests and obligations were some how second-class citizen there. Other arguments ensue about whether maternity and other leave is different when Bloomberg chose to treat new mothers and other leave-takers similarly. The list could go on...and lively opinions with it.

Personally I would like to see all "best" lists banished to the media graveyard. My experience at a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index perfect score company was not the same as the description in the glowing report (it wasn't negative, let's just say there still remained a culture of it being career advantageous to stay in the closet).

What I'd propose instead is plain old kindness. A willingness to base performance on results, not face time. The flexibility and diversity that an entrepreneurial mindset for all employees requires. A structure that plays to an individual's strengths, not a sweeping edict. And the radical notion that employees are human beings... we all are... and as Suze Orman would say - "people first, then money".

What has been your experience? Are the "best" really best? Are all employer/employee work arrangements fundamentally lacking in some way? Do your individual needs get met or are you being forced into a box?

Would love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comments.

Credit Image: teamstickergiant via Flickr

Paula Gregorowicz is owner of The Paula G Company and The Intuitive Intelligence™ Coach and helps you learn how to tune into and turn your intuitive knowing into practical action for better results in your career and business.
Download the Free Report: Your Own Uniqueness: The Path to Purpose, Prosperity, and Playfulness at http://www.thepaulagcompany.com.

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