Best Places to Work


Best-Places-to-WorkWe sometimes hear about companies that are doing well, however the rewards for success are not always shared with rank and file employees.

In our practice we frequently encounter company cultures where power and information is centralized at the top and employees rarely know how the company is performing or are not involved in the decision making process.

In our experience this type of culture typically creates an environment that results in less than satisfactory performance and creates an atmosphere that fosters an “us versus them mentality“.

On the other hand there are a number of success stories where management has empowered employees at all levels to speak openly, make decisions on their own and in fact become stakeholders in the company. 

A great example of a company that has had great success is featured in a recent issue of Fortune Magazine list of “Best 100 Companies to Work For in 2014”.  DPR Construction located in Redwood City, CA, is ranked number 10 on this list and is an example of how empowering employees has resulted in great success.

A Philosophy To Empower Employees …

DPR Construction is a private company and was founded in 1990.  DPR has 1,356 employees with revenue in excess of $2.5 billion and manages construction projects worldwide.  It has ranked high on the list of best companies to work for because of their philosophy to empower employees.

DPR’s success can be attributed to a number of factors, including:
> culture
> lifestyle
> comradery
> and the belief that every person can make a difference.

Employees like the control they’re given to do their jobs as they see fit.  Ninety-seven percent of employees say people are given a lot of responsibility, including the responsibility to help determine their own projects and career direction.  An equal number say they get the training or development they require to further themselves professionally as well as resources and equipment necessary to do their jobs.

A Fun Place To Work …

people-laughingDPR ‘s success can also be attributed to the fact that it is a fun place to work. One of DPR’s core values is enjoyment, and employees say even though they work hard, the construction company makes sure they enjoy what they do.  Every month, employees gather for “Celebrate This”, a party to honor birthdays, work anniversaries and anything the company has accomplished in the previous 30 days. 

Each of DPR’s 19 U.S. locations has a wine bar where employees can relax and socialize at the end of the day. Regular “getaway days” give groups of employees the opportunity to leave the workplace for a team-building activity. In all, 96 percent of employees say people celebrate special events, and 95 percent say DPR is a fun place to work.

Certainly DPR has a number of positive attributes that has contributed to their success, however creating a culture where employees are treated like business partners has to rank very high on the list. While there are many companies that are successful as a result of embracing a culture similar to DPR’s, there are many more companies that are not managed in a similar way.

Our Advice To Companies …

Our advice to those companies is that it is never too late to start.ItsNeverTooLate

We frequently work with companies that are experiencing operating difficulties and typically find a work force that is demoralized and kept in the dark about what is going on. This is further compounded by the fact that by the time we are brought on board, the company typically requires significant cost cutting, including layoffs and wage cuts to survive.

Our approach in managing this type of situation is to immediately establish a rapport with all employees and to have open and honest communication. This includes not only informing everyone about the condition of the company but also our plan to improve performance and stabilize the company.

Honesty about the plan, however painful, is very important, particularly in gaining the confidence of key employees that are important to the future success of the company. Subsequent regular communication regarding where the company stands in achieving its goals and its progress towards achieving stability is vitally important.

Reward Employees When …

We have also been successful in rewarding employees when the company exceeds the performance goals that have been established.  For example we developed a survival plan for a manufacturing company that required all employees take a substantial cut in pay.  As part of the survival plan we established quarterly profit goals and made sure that everyone had a written copy.  A quarterly bonus plan was established that would allow for payments to each employee based on the performance of the company.

goalsIf the company achieved the quarterly profit goal, each employee would be paid the amount of that quarter’s pay reduction as a bonus. If the company exceeded the profit plan, 25% of the increase over plan would be set aside for additional payments to the employees at the end of the year.

In addition to establishing the plan, we held frequent meetings with all employees to communicate where the company stood in accomplishing quarterly goals and created a forum to answer questions and solicit feedback. This plan was very successful as it paid out bonuses for a number of quarters, until full pay was restored about a year later. The company today (eight years later) has been successful, is growing and in fact has received an award as one of the top manufacturers in the region.

Typically A Result Of …

While many companies such as DPR construction are featured on the best company to work for list, it is typically a result of a culture that has been in place for many years.  Having said that, it is never too late to look at your company culture, employee practices and to look for room for improvement.

Our experience in working with many companies, is that with a focused consistent effort, employee culture, morale and attitude can start to be turned around in a relatively short period of time. It is really important to establish a well thought out plan, based on your company’s goals and employee input and to be consistent in how it is executed. It is sometimes helpful to ask for assistance to look at your company from an outside perspective.

Creating a culture of success and empowerment takes hard work, however, in the long run, it benefits employees and the company and perhaps someday will help your company be named a “Best Place to Work”.