Only big companies can offer creative benefits and work/life offerings, right? Wrong!
A report drafted from a partnership by the Society for Human Resource(SHRM) and the Families and Work Institute (FWI) identified dozens of small organizations—those with staffs of 20 or fewer—that think big when it comes to and work/life initiatives. Examples of some big ideas:
1. Recognition and shared learning. Each week, every employee is charged with spotting one thing someone else did well. On Friday, all the accolades are read aloud, and one employee is rewarded with movie tickets. (Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham, Ala.)
2. Building. No one works solo; everyone at this tech firm is part of a two-person team devoted to a particular project. The teams get switched up at regular intervals to keep everyone fresh. (Menlo Innovations, Ann Arbor, Mich.)
3. Pro bono work builds staff skills. Employees participate in volunteer activities at schools and community groups that call for cutting-edge engineering and management talents that the company’s regular projects don’t usually require. Result: 68% growth, 0% turnover since 2008. (Prizm environmental services, Gaithersburg, Md.)
4. Compensation tied directly to the bottom line. Bonuses are based exclusively on gross income. The better the business, the bigger the bonuses. It works, thanks to open-books management, where employees have full access to monthly financials. (DMC Athletics and Rehabilitation, Cedar Knolls, N.J.)
5. Career development for all. New employees get a mentor on their first day on the job. The company also sponsors monthly all-staff training. (The Alford Group consulting, Seattle)
6. An extremely flexible leave policy lets employees take paid and unpaid time off for a variety of reasons, with their jobs (or an equivalent) guaranteed when they return. After seven years, everyone is eligible for an unpaid three-month sabbatical. (McKinnon-Mulherin communication, Salt Lake City)
7. Office design that inspires. There are no internal walls, plenty of comfy couches, a pool table, bikes and even a swing set. The inspirational gifts company allows dogs at work and offers free lattes in the break room. (Compendium, Seattle)
8. Fully paid benefits. Yes, some companies still do it: HBL pays 100% of premiums for medical, dental and long-term care insurance. Naturally, it provides a 401(k) match, too. (HBL Architects, Houston)
9. Employees set their own schedules. It succeeds thanks to an electronic master calendar that everyone updates all the time. (American Geotechnics engineering, Boise, Idaho)
10. Make cross-training a competitive advantage. A provider of temp doctors to emergency rooms, the company extensively cross-trains all physicians so a qualified doc is always available when a client calls. (Idaho Emergency Physicians, Boise, Idaho)
Note: Find more examples and details on the SHRM/FWI initiative at www.movingworkforward.org.
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