Learn from the ‘best’: Tips from top small companies

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in HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

They say that imitation is the best form of flattery. So, improve your company’s productivity by borrowing the practices of the nation’s best small companies. The best part: You don’t have to bust your budget to do so.

The businesses on the Society for Human Resource Management and the Great Places to Work Institute’s list of 50 “Best Small and Medium Companies to Work for in America” have many things in common. The companies represent many industries, including staffing, financial services, information technology, manufacturing, chemical distribution and mining. Here’s what the companies share:

-Stellar communication with employees. All of the businesses seek employee input through surveys: 96 percent use e-mail and 88 percent hold town hall-style meetings. They update employees on finances and on progress against competition, and they share major projects in-house before launching them.

Example: Execs at Wisconsin-based Badger Mining Corp. visit plants monthly to talk with employees one on one.

-Flexible working schedules and time-off policies. One-quarter of the 50 best companies allow some type of flexible work scheduling, 28 percent allow telecommuting and 32 percent offer unpaid Sabbaticals. They offer an average of 18 paid days off to employees after one year.

Example: Texas specialty chemical distributor Ribelin Sales offers unlimited bereavement leave.

-Health care and employee wellness and fitness. Twenty-two of the best 25 small companies pay 70 percent or more of the premiums for employee health care. More than half subsidize off-site fitness center memberships, and 28 percent provide blood pressure screening.

Example: New Hampshire equipment manufacturer Schleuniger Inc. reimburses employees $300 a year for things such as health club memberships, yoga classes and diet counseling.

-Simple perks. Examples: Professional Placement Services in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., sends welcome gift baskets to new employees and a bottle of wine to their spouses.

Memphis advertising and marketing company Archer Malmo offers occasional free massages and manicures, and surprise outings during workdays.

-Executives show they care. Examples: Execs at Phoenix marketing and advertising firm McMurry Inc. gave up their parking spaces to employees when the lot became full, and they took 5 percent to 10 percent pay cuts when business slowed.

Executives at Chicago construction and real estate management company Urban Innovations periodically work maintenance and construction jobs alongside employees.

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