Becoming a Great Place to Work

What does it take to become a great place to work?  Over my career, I have worked at some amazing companies.  Each place taught me something about what makes a company great (or not so great).  But, where I have learned the most about being a great place to work is at my current company, CHG Healthcare Services.  This week is one of my favorites every year.  We celebrated our sixth consecutive year on Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list, ringing it in at #16 for the second year in a row with the last four years in the top twenty.  Although this award isn’t why we focus on building a great place to work, it is certainly an accolade we are proud of achieving. So, what have I learned in my close to five years at CHG about creating a great place to work?

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1.  Trust is at the core of cultural success.  In fact, Fortune’s evaluation to achieve a spot on their Best Companies list requires that you have a culture of trust (as measured by an employee survey) that measures “management credibility, the respect with which employees feel like they are treated, and the extent to which employees expect to be treated fairly.”  Take aside the theory on this…my personal experience aligns with this.  An environment that is steeped in trust accelerates the degree to which people want the organization to succeed and thus drives their contributions.  Plus, it is just a better place to spend your days.

2.  Transparency and vulnerability builds trust.  In order to achieve this level of trust, employees and leaders must be transparent with each other as to both the current reality of the business as well as our individual engagement in the organization’s cause.  Some of my most powerful moments as a leader have been moments when I share the real person I am with my team, or when I share explicitly that I don’t know the answer to the problem or issue at hand.  Through these moments, my team realizes that it is both okay to be who they are, as well as to admit when they don’t know the answer.  By doing this, we resolve the challenges faster and to come up with better solutions than any of us could ever do on our own.

3.  Accountability builds trust.  As with all businesses, at CHG, we are aiming to grow our company’s bottom line results.  Sometimes, I read about companies building a great culture through adding high-end benefits, sabbatical programs, super cool workout facilities, etc.  Although all of these are great, and do with certainty make a work environment better, they aren’t by any means the only thing that makes a great culture.  Delivering on the results we set out to achieve, through personal and team accountability, creates wins for the organization and for individuals.  If we are accountable and deliver what we say we will deliver, we build a culture of trust.

4.  We need to have fun, and be proud of what we do.  Work is work, but the more my team members and others around me at CHG can enjoy what they do, the people that we do it with, and be proud of the work that we do, the better our culture becomes.  In order to be proud of what you do, it may take something different for every single person within the company.  As individuals, we need to find our way to be proud and make it happen.

5.  Building a great place to work never stops.  I think that one of the biggest mistakes that people make when working to build a great culture is that they see it as a project or an initiative as versus a sustainable organizational commitment.  There is no big bang, no silver bullet to building a great culture.  Instead, it is a series of steps, both small and large, that get harder the better you get.

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