Fortune Magazine recently released its annual 100 Best Companies To Work For edition. The usual suspects were again at the top of the list: Google, ACUITY Insurance Company, Boston Consulting Group, Quicken Loans. I couldn’t help noticing that those organizations are primarily office work. I was curious if there were any traditional manufacturing organizations. You know, places where the work can be repetitive, tedious, and even drudge like. How does management make that kind of company a great place to work?
It turns out that number 12 on the list, W.L. Gore & Associates fills that bill. It’s a three billion dollar manufacturing company with 10,690 employees spread around the globe. They design and manufacture products derived from fluoropolymers and are best known for their Gore-Tex fabrics which are used for everything from windproof jackets to heavy-duty camping equipment.
What Do They Do To Be A Great Place To Work?
According to a recent survey of their employees by Great Places To Work, here’s how their employees rated them on key workplace factors:
• This is a physically safe place to work: 97% agreed
• I am able to take time off from work when I think it’s necessary – 95%
• I’m proud to tell others that I work here – 95%
• I believe management would lay people off only as a last resort – 94%
• Management is honest and ethical in its business practices – 93%
This presents us with some question to ask ourselves everyday:
This is a physically safe place to work
How much do I focus on safety? Do I review safety procedures regularly with my team? Do I take the time to reward people for staying accident-free? Do I continually keep an eye out for safety hazards? Have I appointed a team to identify ways to improve safety in our workspace?
I am able to take time off from work when I think it’s necessary
Am I open to creative scheduling so people can take time off when necessary? Have I empowered employees to negotiate with co-workers to fill in for them when they need to take off time?
I’m proud to tell others that I work here
Do I have high standards and expect my team to give their best? Do I give people feed back, both reinforcing and correcting on a regular basis? Do I remind my team what we are trying to accomplish and why it’s important? Am I willing to confront non-performance and even weed the garden when necessary?
I believe management would lay people off only as a last resort
Do I advocate for my people when discussing options during down times? Am I willing to be creative to consider alternatives to layoffs?
Management is honest and ethical in its business practices
Do I have clear ethical standards that I can articulate to others? Do I articulate them from time to time so people know what the ethical standards are. More importantly, do I consistently abide by these standards and walk the talk?
When employees feel that their company cares about them and look out for their best interests, most will respond in kind. It appears that W.L. Gore & Associates has figured that out and it has paid off.