Top 10 Effective Workplaces

effective-workplace-model-icons[1]When it comes to creating an effective workplace, there are some employers that really get it, and today, the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is announcing the top ten in the nation.

Earlier this year, FWI and SHRM released its list of the best employers in the country when it comes to what we like to call “sustainable workplaces.” These organizations offer employees everything from traditional workflex options such as telecommuting, to more innovative approaches such as compressed workweeks, employee control over hours, and unlimited time off.

Among the nearly 300 employers that received the annual workplace excellence award — also known as the Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility after the initial funder of the initiative – there were worksites that ranked among the highest based on employee feedback.

The worksites below had the highest scores overall, according to their employees, when assessing flexibility, engagement, supportiveness, culture and the ability to use flex-work options without penalty. The best part is that smaller companies are leading the way despite the common wisdom that they can’t be flexible with so few employees.

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Here are the top worksites based on average employee scores across all categories: (We look at worksites as opposed to an overall company because we believe effective work is best judged on a micro-level where you can see if employee programs on the books are actually being utilized effectively on the ground.)

1. Pure Visibility – Michigan
Pure Visibility, an Internet marketing firm, has a policy of letting employees and managers figure out how work will get done by using a liberal time off system. Leaders developed a unique time off program that is offered on a “use as you need” basis where employees don’t need to accrue vacation time or sick time. As long as employees’ work is done or covered and they have approval from their manager they can take off as much time as they need. Employees are also able to work flexible hours during the week. In addition, employees can take time during the day for things like personal appointments. A virtual distributed computing network enables employees to work remotely. Staff members use video conferencing for team meetings. While having unlimited PTO is a great recruiting tool, it’s been a great retention tool as well. Leaders say employees are happy and productive.
(The company has 14 employees in the U.S.)

2. Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education – Arizona
At the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education employees are able to bring their children to work and run errands during the workday. Leaders at the Foundation know that creating an effective workplace leads to employees who are more focused and dedicated; but such benefits are a two-way street. Kids can join their parents at work, but only if they are not too disruptive. Such offerings have helped the company retain employees. Connectivity is also part of the organization’s plan to give employees the option to occasional work from home if needed. Over 70% of employees have company cell phones that are synced with company calendar and email. Employees have desktop remote access, enabling them to work anywhere with an Internet connection. Given that perks only work to help the workplace run smoother when they’re used, leaders at the organization work to minimize feelings of overwork, by encouraging employees to use PTO to avoid burnout. The Foundation is also thinking outside of the box when it comes to hiring, working with Arizona Area Agency on Aging to hire staff and volunteers.
(The company has 14 employees in the U.S.)

3. Noble-Davis Consulting – Ohio
A unique and entrepreneurial outlook at administrative consulting firm Noble-Davis, including allowing employees to set their own work hours, produces productive, engaged and happy employees. Each employee receives 25% of the fees collected for each of their clients. This allows them to set their salaries based on the number of clients they are willing to take on. Work isn’t assigned – staff members volunteer to take on new clients, empowering them to decide if they have time for more work. There are no set work hours. Employees are simply expected to do good work completed in a timely manner. One employee with a physical disability that hinders driving and walking works from home and employees have taken it upon themselves to take turns cooking meals for her family. Several employees with caretaking responsibilities also work from home. And a new phone system will allow the receptionist to work remotely as well. Noble-Davis leaders value employees’ results — not face time or hours worked. The lack of turnover speaks for the success of flexibility: only one person has left the firm and stayed in the industry over the last 10 years.
(The company has 19 employees in the U.S.)

4. Rose City Mortgage – Oregon
Rose City Mortgage trusts its employees to make decisions on work/hours/schedule that are best for them and their families. This mortgage broker’s employees need only a computer and a phone to work anywhere and engage both for flexibility, though the company encourages employees to work 40 or less hours per week. Employees are able to set their own hours, and they’re also encouraged to take time to spend with their families, doing volunteer work, or just enjoying a hobby. The firm also provides training as a way to help low-income employees be able to break the cycle of poverty by succeeding in the mortgage business.
(The company has 15 employees in the U.S.)

5. InSysCo – Virginia
At InSysCo, a software development and business support firm, the flexible culture extends to all employees regardless of the reason they need flexible schedules, and employees are also given the autonomy to figure out their own work schedules. Leaders strive to hire individuals with excellent skills who will fit into the culture of personal responsibility. Technology plays an important role in enabling employees to work remotely and utilizing flexible work schedules. Team members stay in communication with texting, personal e-mails and video conferencing. Leaders say that allowing employees to make their own decisions about how, when and where they can work improves motivation and productivity. Leaders say InSysCo is highly successful because of flexibility and employee empowerment, and that’s also contributed to the firm’s low turnover rate.
(The company has 150 employees in the U.S.)

6. Ingenuity Marketing Group – Minnesota
Leadership at marketing agency Ingenuity Marketing Group sees job autonomy, employee respect and flexible work options, as a low-cost benefit they can provide to attract, engage and retain the best talent. All positions at Ingenuity Marketing lend themselves to workflex initiatives and the company has found that their employees experience high job satisfaction when they have the ability to schedule their own workflow and downtime in relation to project deadlines. The firm has been able to create an effective workplace thanks to a host of initiatives including: remote access and flexible scheduling; cloud-based project management and timekeeping software; the ability to “bank time” during busy periods for additional paid time off within a calendar year; and respect for the interests, passions and needs of employees that increases focus and engagement at work, allowing for well-rounded lifestyles and reduced stress. Team building and wellness merge at Ingenuity, with a picnic and yoga session near a local lake serving as a recent retreat.
(The company has 10 employees in the U.S.)

7. Mom Corps – Georgia
At staffing company Mom Corps, employees basically decide how they’re going to get their work done and handle their own work-life issues. The firm takes a ROWE approach, and all employees work from home full time, meeting face-to-face as-needed, but mainly relying on technology such as web-conferencing and collaborative software to complete day-to-day tasks. There are few restraints on where or when employees work – as long as the work gets done. Though flexibility often focuses on child or elder care, employees are encouraged to work flexibly no matter the cause, whether it be child care or a yoga class – there is no priority bias. Employees are attracted to the company’s flexibility, even willing to take a lower salary in exchange for the flexibility offered. Leaders attribute the company’s success – retention is 90% — to workplace flexibility.
(The company has 142 employees in the U.S.)

8. Prince, Perelson & Associates – Utah
An attitude of working smarter — not harder – is a mantra at Prince, Perelson & Associates, recruiting and professional placement firm. Leaders make efforts to accommodate flexible schedules for employees who are in positions that typically offer flexibility. Employees are cross-trained so there is always a back-up person who can “fill the gap” when necessary. Management members encourage cross-training and job-sharing duties so all employees can feel confident their responsibilities will be tended to in their absence. Employees are also encouraged to create a schedule that fits their needs, as well as the company’s needs. Leaders decided to increase flexibility to obtain and retain top talent in an increasingly competitive industry. This culture has proven successful, as the average employee’s tenure is seven years.
(The company has 27 Employees in the U.S.)

9. capSpire – Arkansas
Leaders at capSpire, a company that provides consulting and software services to the energy industry, have developed a workplace environment of trust and open communication. Employees often work from home and any request for flexibility is considered and most often the team member is granted the needed flexibility. Employees are not required to work a 9-5 schedule. Leaders empower employees to adjust their schedules based on their needs. Male employees receive two paid weeks off for the birth of a child. Employees receive insurance with no premium cost to the employee. Employees are able to take as much time off as they need and are encouraged to stay totally off the grid while on vacation. Leaders say that though the consulting industry can experience rapid turnover, they have only lost four employees since 2009. Leaders continue to believe employee happiness goes hand in hand with employee productivity.
(The company has 32 employees in the U.S.)

10. Humanix – Washington
Employee empowerment is a key part of staffing agency Humanix’ strategy to foster a happy and productive work environment, and in turn boost the company’s bottom line. Pets are allowed in the office, as are children when school or child care is closed, and each staff member also receives 20 hours of paid volunteer time each year. Employees are able to work out a flexible schedule that meets his or her needs and the needs of the business. Laptops can be checked out to use from home when needed. For those positions that can’t be done at home, including front office and switchboard jobs, management has incorporated cross training so that other staff can cover these positions when needed. One employee with a rare disease is able to work from home when her limitations prevent her from coming into the office. A wellness and stress reduction committee works to improve health and wellness in the office. In addition, one orientation room has been converted into an exercise room. Retention of staff is one of the management team’s top priorities, as it saves money and improves productivity and engagement, and leaders at the firm believe all the measures they’ve implemented contribute to a low turnover rate. In an industry with an average tenure of 18 months, Humanix employees average eight and a half years.
(The company has 16 employees in the U.S.)

And here are the top worksites, large and small, in individual effective workplace categories, as reported by employees at these firms.

Supportive and engaged workplace:
Ultimate Staffing Services – Oregon
Mediaura – Kentucky
Tar Heel Basement Systems – North Carolina
Microsoft Corporation – Wisconsin
Treasure Valley Hospice – Idaho
Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education – Arizona
Rose City Mortgage – Oregon
Mom Corps – Georgia
Ryan – Kansas City, Kansas
OpenSky Corporation – Connecticut

Ability to use workflex options without penality:
Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education – Arizona
Noble-Davis Consulting – Ohio
Winona Workforce Center – Minnesota
Ingenuity Marketing Group – Minnesota
Catholic Charities – Minnesota
Cascade Employers Association – Oregon
Rose City Mortgage – Oregon
Humanix – Washington
InSysCo – Virginia
Mediascope – Minnesota

Culture of flexibility:
Pure Visibility – Michigan
Ingenuity Marketing Group – Minnesota
Mom Corps – Georgia
Point B – Arizona
Ryan – Kansas City, Kansas
5AM Solutions – Maryland
Prince, Perelson & Associates – Utah
InSysCo – Virginia
Ryan – Boston, Massachusetts
BambooHR – Utah

Access to flexibility:
FMYI – Oregon
Ryan – Denver, Colorado
BDO – Minneapolis, Minnesota
BDO – Memphis, Tennessee
BDO – Raleigh, North Carolina
capSpire – Arkansas
Mediaura – Kentucky
5AM Solutions – Maryland
BDO – Kalamazoo, Michigan
KPMG – Des Moines, Iowa

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