Secrets to employee satisfaction

| Print |  Email
Articles - March 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010

What do the Top 10 Best Companies do that keeps their employees motivated, loyal and upbeat? It’s as big as paying 100% of health care insurance and as small as a contest for the ugliest shirt. And let’s not forget the free massage.

Microsoft // No. 1 Large Company

Here’s one company where you won’t hear the usual gripe about needing new laptops. Employees at Microsoft’s sales and customer service branch in Portland are using software so cutting edge it hasn’t been released yet. That means these 49 tech-savvy employees work from home whenever they want without customers knowing the difference.

“Microsoft cares much more about quality of work, impact you have and value you bring,” says Chris Preston, Northwest sales manager. “Where you do that work is not important.”

Letting employees work in their PJs shows the faith Microsoft has in its workforce. Employees have autonomy (and accountability) in dealing with clients, who happen to be some of the biggest firms in town. The lofty clientele means employees have “an outsized impact,” Preston says. One worker writes, “I get the chance every day to change the world for the better.”

Photo of Portland Microsoft employees; from left: Bill Allen, Chuck Britton, Laurie Pottmeyer, Brian Lake, Sara Rice, Sarah Goodwin and Jeremiah Talkar. PHOTO COURTESY OF MICROSOFT
From left: Bill Allen, Chuck Britton, Laurie Pottmeyer, Brian Lake, Sara Rice, Sarah Goodwin and Jeremiah Talkar.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MICROSOFT

Microsoft treats its employees like royalty. Benefits are excellent (employees can call a doctor at any hour for a phone consultation or home visit to avoid the emergency room) and Microsoft pays employees for volunteer work of their choice and matches their charitable donations, up to $12,000 a year each. 

-ADRIANNE JEFFRIES

Hitachi Consulting // No. 2 Large Company

Pay and benefits at this Portland-based IT and business consulting company are “fair,” in the understated words of Vice President Mike Broberg. Employees are entitled to 30 days of paid time off, paternity and maternity leave, comprehensive dental and health including alternative care, and so on. But the things that make Hitachi Consulting a great place to work are harder to quantify.

Camaraderie, for one. Hitachi’s 30 employees overwhelmingly cite “the fun people,” “the wonderful people,” and “the smartest, [most] hard-working, talented people in Portland” as the reason they love their jobs. Employees eat lunch together in the conference room every day. They also have dinner together, hit happy hour together and compete against each other during Funquest, a citywide scavenger hunt — all archived in a mosaic of photos tacked to the hallway wall.

Empowerment, for another. Junior employees get 300 hours of training a year on average. A group of employees from the lowest to the top levels decides how to spend the generous community philanthropy budget. “We enable and encourage those in the office to be involved and define what that looks like and own it,” Broberg says. “As a result they’re more happy with it.”

-ADRIANNE JEFFRIES

Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront // No. 3 Large Company

The 209 associates of the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront Hotel gather in one room every month for a “total hotel rally” where managers give news updates, recognize acts of exemplary service, and of course serve some great food and drinks.

“One of the most famous or routinely used slogans is, ‘If we take great care of associates, they’ll take great care of our customers,’” says Lance Rohs, general manager.

And as one associate puts it, Marriott really “puts its money where its mouth is in respect to caring for and paying its associates.”

Associates have comprehensive benefits — which were extended for workers when hours were cut back due to the recession — plus travel and hotel discounts, health club access, flexible schedules, and the chance to join committees influencing operation and procedure at the hotel.

After 25 years with the company, associates can stay at any Marriott hotel, anywhere in the world, for free. And if they’re not satisfied, associates have the chance to vent once a year when the company does its Associate Opinion Survey.

-ADRIANNE JEFFRIES

Click through to the next page for secrets of the 100 Best Companies 2010!



 

Comments   

 
wellnessaloha
0 #1 Wellness Alohawellnessaloha 2010-05-29 07:53:08
Thank you for the tips.Now I know what should be the do's and dont's..thank you.,Wellness aloha
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
karl
-1 #2 Duh!!!karl 2010-06-03 15:08:42
Seems like a lot of folks don't get what makes a great company to work for--seems like a no-brainer to me!
The Number one reason, Benefits.
The number two, pay...and on, and on, and on...So why are so many taxpayers up set with Government when they provide those exact things?
We all make choices in life and public service is a choice...just like say, a small business owner...IT'S A CHOICE!
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Editor's Letter: Power Play

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014

There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


Read more...

The short list: 4 companies engaged in a battle of the paddles

The Latest
Thursday, December 04, 2014
pingpongthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Nothing says startup culture like a ping pong table in the office, lounge or lobby.


Read more...

Corner Office: Timothy Mitchell

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

A look-in on the life of Norris & Stevens' president.


Read more...

Legislative Preview: A Shifting Balance

January-Powerbook 2015
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY APRIL STREETER

Democratic gains pave the way for a revival of environment and labor bills as revenue reform languishes.


Read more...

Three problems with Obama's immigration order

News
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

BY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR112614-immigration-thumb

By now, anyone who knows about it has a position on President Obama’s executive order on immigration. The executive order is the outcome of failed attempts at getting a bill through the normal legislative process. Both Obama and his predecessor came close, but not close enough since the process broke down multiple times.


Read more...

The short list: Holiday habits of six Oregon CEOs

The Latest
Thursday, December 11, 2014
121214-xmaslist1BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

We ask business and nonprofit leaders how they survive the season.


Read more...

Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS