Top Companies to Work For

Have you ever worked for one of the “Best Places to Work”? 

I have.  And you know what, it really wasn’t… you can’t imagine my excitement when I was hired to work for the company.  Wow!  I’d been waiting a long time to have this opportunity.  I followed the business for some time and when my chance finally came, I jumped at it.  I didn’t think twice! 

So, why was it rated as one of the best employers?  What were the criteria used to measure the designation?  I learned through researching a number of companies that compile the lists of what constitutes the best places to work, that things they look at are:  work atmosphere and social activities, wages, benefits, performance management, vacation and time off.  Depending on who is collecting the data, the criteria may change slightly but most are gathering very similar information.

Unfortunately, in my case, I soon realized that while this company had all the niceties anyone could ask for (a gym, a cafeteria with a great menu at fantastic prices, Blackberries and many other assorted toys), it really wasn’t a great place to work after all.  Don’t get me wrong – all of these things were pretty nice and initially – during the honeymoon phase – these things seemed great!

So, that being said – you might wonder what the problem was then?  Well… I discovered the not so good things or the dark side – as it were.  There were far too many examples of nepotism, favouritism, departments that were completely separate from one another (silos) which created enormous communication issues, unfair work distribution (the social activities?  Only a select few could take part… everyone else had to work), and several other dysfunctional business practices.

Oh, and the performance management?  Well – to be honest – no one understood it and those that worked on developing it didn’t even have any human resources backgrounds.  In fact, almost the entire HR department (I soon learned) was made up of employees that started with the company several years prior and they were just promoted into these roles with no training in their ‘specialized areas’ of HR.  Many in the executive and management team were the same. 

I honestly believe that we need to groom people to take on these roles and when someone has the urge to grow with the company and seems to have the drive, ambition and a good skill set the opportunities should certainly be provided where possible.  However, the key is to give people the tools to work with so that they really can be a “top employer”. 

Have you ever heard the term, people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their managers?  Well, this is why being the top employer has to be more than perks.

So, now I’m wondering – was this just my experience – or are there others that feel their companies have a long way to go even though they are classified as a “Great Place to Work”?

-Guest editor, Kellie Auld

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5 Responses

  1. Great article! I have worked for a so-called “Best Place to Work” and you are completely right with all the negative aspects of the workplace. Nepotism and favouritism were a huge challenge and talking to the management team about it was taboo and so all my ideas fell on deaf ears.

    • Thanks for the feedback Mildred.
      While I think it is very important for companies to strive to be the best – I also think that there must be a commitment from the top to ensure they really are!
      I recently had the opportunity to interview the author of “Respect in the Workplace: Path to Profit” (www.ericapinsky.ca) and I think there are many organizations that are still a long way off.
      Someone needs to finally get the message that is it people that make our business successful – doesn’t it make sense to take care of our people to ensure success?

  2. I have heard a lot of our clients talk about issues with “Best Place to Work.” I am not at all surprised by your experiences.

    • Thank you for taking time to read the article Lara. I really appreciate the feedback and it’s nice to know (but also somewhat sad) that others may have had the same experience. I believe that businesses are on the right track – some just need some tweeking.

  3. Not too long ago I researched a number of Canadian (or Provincial) Best Company type competitions/programs and included a lot of detail about what they measured, who sponsored them ,etc. I also included some of my own commentary (of which is truly my own and any errors are mine). If you are interested in lookking at it, please go to my website or click this link.
    http://dcom.ca/Portals/0/BestCompanyBestEmployersResearch2009.pdf

    I hope that having a better understanding on what the components of the competition are scored will help in understanding what criteria makes a company a “Best” one.

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