NorthCoast 99 Celebrates 20 Years of Roaring Workplaces

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NorthCoast 99 Celebrates Roaring Workplaces

PICTURED: KELLY KEEFE, PRESIDENT, ERC


On the evening of September 18, ERC’s NorthCoast 99 program celebrated two decades of honoring best Northeast Ohio workplaces for top talent. The 1920s-themed awards event drew nearly 900 guests to the Hilton Cleveland Downtown to recognize “Roaring Workplaces” for their exemplary human resource practices.
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You Want to Be a Great Workplace. So Now What?

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You Want to Be a Great Workplace. So Now What?

It is true that becoming a “great workplace” doesn’t happen overnight. But instead of getting overwhelmed by a seemingly endless list of programs and offerings (and money...being “great” must cost so much money!) that so called “great workplaces” should all have, let’s take a look at what it means really to be “great”—with a few practical bite-sized pieces that you might be able to tackle at your organization right now sprinkled in for good measure.
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The 15 Attributes of a Great Workplace

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The 15 Attributes of a Great Workplace

ERC's NorthCoast 99 program recognizes great workplaces that excel at the attraction, retention, and motivation of top performers. ERC is proud to have recognized great workplaces in Northeast Ohio, and has accumulated a great deal of insight into what makes a workplace truly great through the research we conduct as part of the program.

What makes a great workplace that draws extraordinary employees to love coming to work every day? What makes a great workplace that attracts, retains, and motivates the very best talent?

Here are 15 attributes that we believe are characteristic of great workplaces for top talent, based on our research over the last 15 years.

1. Offer Challenging and Meaningful Work

Great workplaces understand the importance of keeping employees' work interesting, exciting, challenging and meaningful, because consistently, top performers say that challenging and meaningful work is the number one attribute they seek in a job.

2. Hire and Retain Great People

Great workplaces are made up of great people. Within great workplaces, top performers work alongside other top performers who are positive, hardworking, committed and loyal, believe in what the organization does, and participate in making the workplace great.

3. Provide Competitive Compensation

Great workplaces offer competitive and fair compensation, above-average pay increases, and opportunities to earn more pay based on performance, such as bonuses, profit sharing, and other incentives to keep and reward top performing talent as well as attract new talent.

4. Value and Reward Employee Contributions

Great workplaces show they appreciate and value employees and their contributions. They celebrate success often, and praise, recognize, and reward employees in a variety of formal and informal ways. They never miss an opportunity to say 'thanks' for employees' hard work.

5. Invest in Training and Development

Great workplaces invest in training and development for their workforce to grow their talents and capabilities. They make time for learning and support it by paying for employees to participate in various opportunities and offering/delivering a variety of training and career development programs.

6. Guide, Support, and Develop Top Performers

Through performance management practices that help guide, support, and develop exceptional performance, great workplaces provide clarity on how to be a top performer, help other employees become top performers, and assist existing top performers in sustaining top performance. Reaching for excellence each and every day is what makes great workplaces successful.

7. Encourage Work/Life Balance

Great workplaces are flexible to employees' work/life needs and encourage work/life balance by offering flexible schedules, providing generous paid time off, accommodating individual requests and needs, and creating a supportive work environment that is understanding of personal and family obligations.

8. Invest in Employees' Health and Wellness

Great workplaces genuinely care about their employees' well-being. They offer wellness options that help employees develop healthy lifestyle behaviors as well as provide an array of benefits which support their employees' health and personal welfare.

9. Involve and Empower Employees

Great workplaces involve and empower employees by listening to their input, involving them in moving the organization forward, and giving them opportunities to lead initiatives, collaborate with one another, participate in decision-making, and make a meaningful difference at work. At great workplaces, employees believe that their opinions matter and that they can positively impact their organizations.

10. Share Information About the Organization's Performance

Leaders frequently share information about the organization's performance, its financials, the vision and direction of the organization, and other critical information and updates at great workplaces. In addition, leaders regularly interact with and communicate with employees one-on-one, in small groups, and as an entire staff. Additionally, great workplaces help everyone understand the mission and purpose of the organization, and how their work connects to the big picture.

11. Are Led by Exceptional Leaders

Great workplaces are led by exceptional and inspiring leaders. Leaders set the example from the top and lead the organization well. They genuinely care about and value employees. Relationships between leaders and employees are characterized by mutual respect, trust,  honesty, and support.

12. Encourage Innovation and Growth

Great workplaces are successful, growing, and innovative. They hold themselves to high standards, are focused on delivering exceptional customer service and quality, and strive to innovate and continuously improve their organizations. They are always raising the bar in their businesses and in their workplaces.

13. Hire the Best of the Best

Great workplaces hire the best—and only the best. They recognize that a great workplace and culture results from great people. They define the talent they need, strategically recruit it, and put into place selection practices that identify top performers, as well as on-boarding practices that engage top performers and set them up for success from the start.

14. Create and Sustain a Unique Culture

Great workplaces have a unique culture that is their own, often described as fun, congenial, collaborative, positive, passionate, and creative. Their work environments, people, and workplace practices all help create a vibrant, positive, magnetic, and infectious culture.

15. Serve the Community

And last but not least, great workplaces make an impact on and give back to their local community. Not only do they generously donate their company resources to the community, but they also serve their communities by helping others in need and offering their staff's time and talents.

There is no magic formula for achieving a great workplace, and these are just some common attributes of many that great workplaces seem to have. While no workplace is perfect, many organizations strive to become a truly great workplace and come close. The NorthCoast 99 winners are among these organizations, and they, as well as all other organizations that strive everyday to be great workplaces, should be applauded for their efforts to become employers of choice in Northeast Ohio. They are truly making a difference.

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Building Community and Great Workplaces through Service

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When building better workplaces, employers typically focus on making internal improvements that can range from renovating the physical office space housing the organization to developing employees to build the talent pool. However, if the 2013 NorthCoast 99 Winners Report is any indication, employers would do well to look beyond their four walls and reach-out to build their surrounding community.

Among these employers of choice, virtually all winners (99%) sponsor some type of charitable event, fundraiser and/or scholarship and a strong majority of this year’s winners (81%) coordinate an organization-wide community service activity.  Clearly, these great places to work have successfully made a concerted effort to integrate community service into their culture by taking a highly active role in serving their community.
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Workplace Flexibility Trends

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At the Executive HR Women's Network event on March 20th, 2013, Staffing Solutions Enterprises and ERC teamed up to provide participants with information from the Alfred P. Sloan and NorthCoast 99 programs.

 

SueAnn Naso, President of Staffing Solutions (establishing company of the Women's Network), presented data from the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility. Having been a winner of the prestigious national award in 2012, SueAnn explained some of the WorkFlex options Staffing Solutions offers its employees.
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5 Proven Ways to Attract Highly Skilled Talent

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Finding the best people – the most highly skilled and top performing talent – is usually a challenge for employers, but over the years, in researching how employers land great talent in our NorthCoast 99 program and various survey reports, we've learned some "tried and true" ways that they attract the best people.

1. Make a decision to hire only the best.

Many organizations accept poor fits and mediocre talent when they don't have to settle for anything less than the best. Whether it's a policy, philosophy, or just a general standard, you too, can make the decision to hire only highly skilled top performers.

Not only does a commitment to hiring only top talent focus your recruiting and hiring practices, more importantly, the best performers don’t want to work among average talent or poor performers, so hiring only the best people will generally help your organization retain more top performers and attract new ones. Chances are, your best people will also refer you more highly skilled top performers.
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7 Strategies to Find Extraordinary Local Talent

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Is your organization looking for extraordinary talent and thinks it needs to search outside of your local community? Not so fast. Many employers think they can't find talent locally and pursue their search elsewhere, but local talent is at your fingertips if you use the right strategies.

Using local job boards, postings, and advertisements (either print or online) is a good start.  These days, however, employers need to go a few steps further to find the very best talent, including building strong local roots.

Here are some proven strategies used by other local employers to consider in your quest to find and hire exceptional local talent.

  1. Pay attention to and learn about local talent in the region. Read local publications and news. Learn about the successes of other companies and the individuals employed at those organizations.  Take notice of individuals gaining attention in the local media, those receiving industry recognition and awards, and those that contribute the community in their field of expertise.
  2. Develop a presence on social media. Join local groups on LinkedIn, follow local talent on Twitter, read their blogs, and/or create a Facebook page. There are so many ways to leverage these platforms to find talent. For instance, monitor key influencers and those people contributing quality questions and content.
  3. Participate in the community. Get involved in local chambers of commerce. Go to conference and community events held around your community. Join local chapters of professional associations.  Seek and attend speaking engagements. Do community service, participate on boards, and help our non-profits. Use local resources for leadership and employee development. Meet a diverse group of people, network, and learn who the key players are in your community.
  4. Connect with local colleges, universities, and vocational schools. Develop strong relationships with professors and career centers at those institutions. Pursue speaking engagements at colleges so that students are exposed to your company and its leaders.  Use alumni relations to stay in touch. Create internships and entry-level opportunities to keep young talent here for the future of the region.
  5. Encourage your employees to be active in their communities and engage in local professional groups for their personal development. They'll engage and network with others and potentially refer them to your organization for employment. Plus, they'll likely gain valuable professional skills in the process.
  6. Partner with local talent search providers and staffing organizations. There are plenty of them with unique expertise. Plus, they often have the best knowledge of the local labor market and how your organization can find great local people. Who better to trust in finding a local hire than a local staffing provider?
  7. Boost your local workplace intelligence. Know what other local employers are paying for certain talent and jobs. Understand the kinds of benefits and perks they offer to employees. Explore ways that other local organizations are creating attractive and engaging workplaces that keep great talent.

Finding local talent isn't easy, but if your organization is committed to hiring good people, it's worth the effort. Next time your organization is considering looking outside of Northeast Ohio for a great hire and thinks that certain talent doesn't exist in our region, try these strategies before taking your search elsewhere.

Additional Resources

NorthCoast 99
Get recognized as a great place to work in 2012 to help your organization better attract and retain top talent in Northeast Ohio by participating in our NorthCoast 99 program. Click here for more information.

Staffing Services
ERC partners with several local organizations dedicated to staffing, recruiting, and hiring talent. Our Preferred Partners provide various staffing services to ERC members at discount rates. Learn more

Survey Information
Use ERC's compensation, benefits, and policy/practice information to determine the pay, benefits, and practices other local employers use to attract and retain great talent. Click here for more information about our surveys.

5 Things that Top Workplaces Do Differently

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Over the years, we’ve found a few simple, but consistent practices that differentiate average employers from top workplaces. Here are 5 things top workplaces do differently than other organizations to attract and retain the best talent.

They make investments where it matters most.

Like many businesses, top workplaces are forced to make tradeoffs in offerings and programs, but keep investing in the things that are most meaningful to their top performers. They don’t just throw money at programs with little value – they know what matters most to their top people and put cash where it counts. For example, they invest wisely in strategic development programs, aimed at advancing their top performers into future leadership roles and growing talent pipelines; reserve funds for meaningful rewards to show appreciation to their top people for jobs well done; keep their compensation practices updated and competitive; and also don’t skimp on basic benefits.

They keep their people passionate and engaged in their work.

Top workplaces keep their top performers motivated on the job and passionate about their work, and for these reasons, it’s no wonder that these organizations employ individuals that are more engaged, innovative, and successful than other employers. The best places to work have found simple, but creative ways to engage their top performers through the work itself – spending plenty of time on job design, getting employees involved in brainstorming and implementing ideas, encouraging and coordinating personal development, moving employees into new jobs and roles, and giving employees the autonomy they need to do their best work. Instead of spending time rolling out elaborate motivational tools and programs, they focus on keeping the work fresh and exciting.

They talk to and interact with their employees.

Take a walk through any top workplace and you’ll notice a different climate than other organizations, specifically leaders and managers talking to their employees and engaging with top performers and not huddled in meetings all day with their management teams. You may even notice leaders mentoring employees, recognizing them on the spot, working side-by-side with staff, or participating in an on-boarding event. They aren’t leading from the corner office, but rather from their daily examples. The best places to work simply talk to and interact with their top talent more often than other employers, request their feedback and involvement in the business, and as a result understand what makes them tick. Consequently, their top people feel more valued by the highest levels of the organization, and develop strong relationships with their managers.

They respect and support employees’ personal time.

In an age where businesses and employees are faced with greater challenges, demands, and stressors and fewer resources, top workplaces are realizing that employees have greater needs for support in their work/life – whether those are balancing family responsibilities, pursuing personal goals, improving their well-being, or dealing with losses and other personal circumstances. These organizations take steps to ensure that their top people are able to balance their personal and work lives by addressing workload issues, offering flexible scheduling, providing support services and generous leave, and using a supportive approach in the workplace.

They build and sustain a great culture and work environment.

Ask any top performer: a major reason they love their organization is the work culture. It’s the unique work environment and the people inside the organization that keep many top performers happy and satisfied. In fact, culture is perhaps the most frequently cited “reason for staying” at their organizations. Top workplaces are able to create cultures and work environments that their top people grow to cherish and don’t want to leave. Described as positive, fun, supportive, flexible, collaborative, open, and performance-based, top workplaces have cultures that attract the very best talent. These organizations have a knack for sustaining these cultures through the many ups and downs of business and as their workforce changes.

Many employers believe that creating a top workplace means offering all the bells and whistles, and that their quest is out of reach. Yet our research continues to show that these simple strategies can make all the difference when building a great workplace to attract and retain the very best talent.

For more information about Northeast Ohio’s top workplaces, the 2011 NorthCoast 99 winners, please visit www.northcoast99.com. In addition, for more information about the NorthCoast 99 winners’ best practices, please click here

5 Secrets to a Becoming a Better Workplace

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Why do some organizations receive more qualified job applicants? Have more positive work environments? Experience lower turnover? Enjoy higher employee engagement? Develop more innovative products? Here are five (5) of their top secrets.

Secret 1: Create an open environment

Great places to work create a sense of openness in their workplaces – openness to new experiences, continuous improvement, sharing of information, and creative thought. This openness is created through transparent, direct, and honest communication at all levels of the organization. Leaders communicate information and feedback frequently and sincerely. Little information is held back from employees, and employees constantly have access to information about the organization’s performance and direction and the ability to ask questions about the organization at any time. Similarly, managers and supervisors provide frequent feedback and communicate directly and honestly with their employees. All levels of employees, particularly non-management staff, are encouraged to voice their ideas and opinions. These practices facilitate an open dialogue throughout the organization.

Secret 2: Develop and maintain trust

A strong sense of trust is prevalent at great places to work and is built on positive and constructive work relationships. Most importantly, there is a sense of trust in leaders and their ability to lead the organization successfully. Employees have faith that their leaders will sustain and grow the organization and develop a clear vision and direction for the business. To build this trust, leaders frequently engage and interact with employees, develop a history of good decisions that move the organization forward, model organizational values, and consistently “walk the talk” by delivering on promises and commitments. These leaders are individuals of integrity that inspire their followers.

There is also a strong sense of trust between employees and their managers and supervisors. Managers and supervisors trust their employees to complete their tasks, accomplish goals, and make decisions independently. Similarly, employees trust that their managers and supervisors will support them and look out for their best interest. 

Secret 3: Treat employees fairly

Fairness is widespread at great places to work. Fairness, or perceptions of equity and justice, refers to when organizations make employment decisions (such as promotions, rewards, and pay) based on objective criteria – typically performance. By fairness, we are not referring to distributing these rewards to all employees equally. Nor are we referring to respectful and courteous treatment, which should be given to all employees. At great workplaces, those employees that outperform others receive rewards. Rewards are fairly distributed to those that deserve them.

Similarly, great places to work strive to provide a competitive total rewards package, including competitive and fair pay and benefits to its workforce. They monitor workplace trends and deliver a competitive package that attracts the right talent.

Secret 4: Support employees

Support is a critical part of great places to work, and provided at all levels of the organization – from leaders, managers, supervisors, and even coworkers. Support is prevalent when an organization conveys that it cares about helping employees achieve more for themselves or meet their needs – both personally and professionally. It is communicated and manifested in policies, procedures, and programs, and in how people interact and communicate with one another. People work together, help one another succeed, and support each others’ needs at supportive workplaces.

Great places to work provide flexibility in meeting personal and professional demands; on-going opportunities and interest in professional development through training, career development, and advancement opportunities; new and challenging work experiences; support for health and well-being; and appreciation for contributions and accomplishments.  These are all important ways that these organizations show their support to employees.

Secret 5: Have pride

There is a strong sense of pride and positivity prevalent at great places to work – specifically pride in one’s work, team, and the organization as a whole. Great places to work encourage taking pride in one’s work, recognizing that when employees are passionately and emotionally connected to their work, they are most engaged. These workplaces also encourage taking pride in team accomplishments, which facilitate stronger work relationships and camaraderie.  Finally, at great places to work, employees take pride in the organization as a whole and the products and services it offers to customers. They are incredibly connected to the organization’s mission and purpose.

Is your organization a great workplace?

We find that employers often underestimate their workplaces in terms of these characteristics, and encourage them to consider how their organization stacks up against these crucial aspects of the workplace. You may be surprised to find that your organization has all of this. Becoming a great place to work is more about building the right climate and culture that attracts, retains, and engages top performers, than instituting the most popular and attractive perks.