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Culture Is a Magnet (and So Is Free Food!)

June 26, 2013

Originally posted on WorldatWork

June 25, 2013—Scottsdale, Ariz.WorldatWork recently served as the Strategic HR Partner for the inaugural “CareerBuilder Top Companies to Work for in Arizona” awards program. WorldatWork was chosen to be the HR partner primarily to provide input and guidance to the employer questionnaire. The program’s goal is to provide new benchmarks for employers relating to the HR practices and benefits that are attracting and retaining talent in today’s market.

In all, 50 companies were recognized as a CareerBuilder Top Companies to Work For in Arizona based on a proprietary scoring system by Best Companies Group: 75% of the evaluation was based on the overall satisfaction scores from the employee engagement surveys and 25% on the scores obtained from the online employer questionnaire.

Peter Burke, president of Best Companies Group, reported that the aggregate employee engagement score for the cadre of Top Companies was 92% compared to the national average of 41%. Clearly, top companies know a thing or two about employee engagement.

Culture is more important than strategy for any business,” said Frank Hynes, vice president of talent acquisition at Charles Schwab. “Culture is a magnet,” he emphasized.  “Of course, free food is also a magnet,” he said jokingly.

Hynes later told me, “Everything a company does–marketing, new products, research, and so on—can be replicated by the competition in under two years but a culture takes 7-10 years to replicate. You can’t simply say, I want a culture like Google’s and expect to have it in just a few years.”

Based on the nomination forms, employers of all sizes are defining and investing in their own special cultures. Here are a few noteworthy practices:

  • At KPMG, female employees receive golf lessons, financial coaching, even a wardrobe consultant through a program called KNOW — KPMG’s Network of Women, a program aimed to improve retention rates of women. Our very own Kathie Lingle helped to launch KNOW when she worked for KPMG earlier in her career.
  • At AxoSoft (a developer of “Scrum” software used for project management), after one year of employment, employees receive a trip for two anywhere in the U.S. After five years, the trip is for anywhere in the world.
  • Hyatt Regency employees receive a free continental breakfast and hot lunch 7 days a week.
  • Stardust Non-Profit Building Services gives employees their birthdays off with pay.
  • Charles Schwab and Alliance Financial Resources give employees eight hours/year to volunteer in the community.

One of the goals of the Top Companies awards program is to foster a healthy competitive spirit among organizations, so let’s get started: what effective, new practices do you have bragging rights to that might top the ones I’ve listed?  Feel free to toot your horn here.

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