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The list you can stop worrying about

2 min read


Today’s post is by Martha I. Finney, president and CEO of Engagement Journeys and author of more than a dozen books about employee engagement and human resources. She joins SmartBrief on Workforce today as our editor at large and will be writing regularly for this blog.

I have a friend who used to work at one of those companies that always appears on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list. Year after year. After a deeply disappointing experience there, she swears that should she ever be a candidate for a job with a new company that happens to be on the list, she’ll withdraw herself from consideration. Immediately. Another friend, who currently works for a frequent flyer on the list, shrugs and says, “Yeah, well, that’s just a pet project from one person here. It’s an ego thing.”

I have always admired the research organization behind the list, The Great Place To Work Institute. Its principals have contributed much to the body of knowledge around what it takes to create and sustain a thriving workplace culture. But it appears that making the list itself has become more important than actually deserving to be on the list. In fact, if your ambition is to be on the list, you have set the bar way too low.

Instead of competing to be on the list of great places to work, employers should shift their resources and focus to actually becoming the place where great employees want to work. Great employees don’t necessarily care about the extras that companies crow about. Sure, they appreciate them. But if the core culture of the company is completely inauthentic, if the leadership’s actions don’t match their grand pronouncements, you’re going to have disenchanted people.

Great employees don’t need fancy; they need authenticity. They need to believe in their company’s mission. They need to believe in their company’s leadership. They need to believe that their leadership respects them. Put those fundamental three elements in place, and all the other essentials will naturally follow.

You will have become a great place to work. And that’s the bar you should be aiming for.

Image credit, porcorex, via iStock